Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday Five: Season Launch

Before anyone races to point it out, I know that there are six rather than the usual weekly five, but that's just the way it it goes. Canberra Repertory Society have announced the plays they will be producing for the next season, and I'd like to hear your thoughts. I was on the committee that helped to select the plays, so please don't be too hurtful in your comments.

One factor I would point out is that this is a sub-committee, which recommends a number of plays (15 in this case) to a committee, who decide upon the final plays - nothing is one person's opinion, and I'm sure we all know how committees work. I think each play is a good choice individually. 

6 plays in Canberra Rep's 2016-2017 Season:
  1. Uncle Vanya - Anton Chekov (28 April - 14 May)
  2. Witness for the Prosecution - Agatha Christie (16 June - 2 July)
  3. Macbeth - William Shakespeare (4 - 20 August)
  4. She Stoops to Conquer - Oliver Goldsmith (22 September - 8 October)
  5. Noises Off - Michael Frayn (17 November - 3 December)
  6. Wait until Dark - Frederick Knott (23 February - 11 March)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Let it Rain: The Wife Drought

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb
(Ebury Press)
Pp. 255

Annabel Crabb is a political commentator, an author, journalist and television show host. She examines the position of women in the workforce, the inequality of wages, and the perception of parenting in this book, subtitled, ‘Why women need wives, and men need lives’. While she makes some interesting points, all of her examples are drawn from politicians, TV presenters, writers and journalists. The debate is, therefore, heavily skewed towards middle-class professions, making it not really typical of real life for most people.

There is no question that women earn less than men on average, but the reasons for this are less clear. Often women don’t get the higher-paid jobs because they don’t have the experience – but how will they ever gain the experience if they aren’t given the job? Part of the problem is perception. Because there are currently more men in higher-paid positions, the trend is likely to continue. Another part of the problem is that the emergent workforce doesn’t see it as a problem at all, because it isn’t for them. Yet.

Firstly, there is marriage; secondly (in this model, at least), there are children. Each stage makes a difference to a person’s income and status. Until relatively recently (October 1966), legislation forbad married women from working in the public sector. Although things have changed, they are still fairly regressive in the upper echelons of the pay scales. Of the 1192 senior executives (half male; half female) who responded to a ‘Leaders in a Global Economy’ survey, three-quarters of the men had a wife or spouse who didn’t work. Three-quarters of the women had a husband who worked full-time. “The men got wives, in other words. And the women didn’t.”

Having a wife is considered an asset for a worker. Employers tend to see men with wives as more reliable, and remunerate them accordingly. “Marriage, for men, means being paid more money. The phenomenon known as ‘the marriage premium’ is recorded in many countries, and in Australia married men earn on average about 15 per cent more than unmarried ones.”

Stage two: children. “What proportion of nuclear families has a dad who works full-time, and a mum who doesn’t? Sixty per cent. What proportion has a mum who works full-time, with a male ‘wife’? Three per cent.” On the whole, due to earning capacity and public perception, it is the man who goes to work and the woman who remains at home. After all, “A mother who works is a ‘working mother’. A father who works is just a normal guy.” Crabb argues that this situation must change so that men leaving work to look after children has to become considered as normal as women doing it.

Part of the alpha-male culture which needs to change is that currently the man has to be seen to be the major breadwinner. In this corporate world, men are expected to get to the office early and leave late, and are told that weekends are for families. This isn’t the point of this book, but what about people who work in retail/hospitality – any job that isn’t a Monday-Friday; when are they meant to spend time with their family?

The book is well-argued with many statistics, but it is pretty narrow in its focus. Early on, Crabb states that she is going to boil all the arguments down into two simple and broad categories – ‘Men are awful’ and ‘Women are hopeless’ – and then address them. She proceeds to do so, but only those in a particular demographic, which (while pertinent to anyone working in politics), lessens the general nature of the argument.