Disclaimer: This one’s for the working moms, because I’m a working mom. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect and appreciate that being a stay-at-home mom is a lot of work; in no way am I implying that working is “better” or any dumb thing like that. Do what you want to do, or what you have to do—none of it is easy. Unless you’re super rich. Then I suspect everything’s easy all the time.
Last year was a hard year, because the department where I worked lost its funding and had to shut down, and so I lost my job. Trouble was I was on maternity leave at the time; on my birthday, I got a phone call saying I would not be returning to work but asking me to come in on what was to be my first day back. Eleven days later I went “back to work,” and was handed a letter and a severance package and escorted off the premises. And so began the frustrating process of finding a new job.
I interviewed for so many jobs, with big companies and start-ups and everything in between. I had recently been named one of Vancouver’s Top 30 Mom Bloggers for my food blog by local website VancouverMom.ca, so I put it on my resumé because I was interviewing for content management/social media-related jobs and I felt it lent me credibility as far as being good at the Internet, and besides it would probably come up in a Google search anyway so whatever. I also detailed my professional accomplishments, education, and provided great references, and was in many ways an attractive candidate—I was invited to interview frequently, probably based on the strength of my cover letter and the breadth of my career achievements to date.
Some interviews went well, and others went poorly, and others were just okay but one thing that happened over and over again was some variation on the same question, a question I came to dread: “So, with a baby at home, how do you expect to make this work?”
There are a lot of things to say about this, but the main thing is: If you ask a lady how she plans to work and also keep her baby alive, assuming it would be difficult for her to do both, then you are a dick.
If you ask a lady about her reproductive plans in a job interview, you are a dick.
If you ask a lady any question you would not ask a man in a job interview, you are a dick and you shouldn’t be representing your company in as vulnerable a situation as a job interview. You should not forget that an interview involves two parties, and the employer is not the only party invested in the outcome of the interview.
We’re interviewing you as much as you are interviewing us, motherfuckers, and if you ask us about our uteruses and what we’ve done or plan to do with them, what you are saying is that you are a company that’s low on discretion and high on misogyny, and that you are okay with that.
I don’t want to work around that kind of douchebaggery. Swears aside, in real life I am a professional lady with accomplishments that I used my brain for and a degree in Getting Shit Done (also Fine Arts). The baby has a father. His father will mind him. Or daycare will. Or, fuck, I don’t know, the cat and a box of Cheerios and a PVR full of Disney Junior shows will.
The point is, I want to work, and I am a mother, and I am capable of being a bad ass at work and at home because I can manage and enjoy a range of challenges and responsibilities and I am caffeinated enough to get everything done on time. I’m not working because I have to. (Well, actually I am. I’m fucking poor due to a long period of unemployment and I live in one of the most expensive cities in North America and daycare costs as much as rent. But you know what I mean. Right?)
Do you ask men over 35 whether they’re up to date on prostate exams? Mens be getting butt cancer all the damn time according to ads and I’ll bet that takes them out of the office for more than a few days. Do you employ any flabby middle-aged men? Do you screen them regularly for heart disease? Do you ask men in job interviews about their family relationships and how they imagine they’ll be able to achieve work-life balance?
No. Because that’s fucking stupid. It is generally expected of men that they will work because it is generally expected of men that their wives will take care of all that other distracting shit, especially the children.
In his condescending article for The Philly Post, mansplainer and doughy white penis face Gene Marks says that “Most men still expect their working spouse to assume responsibility for the household chores. Most men turn immediately to their wives when their kid has the sniffles (“you don’t expect me to miss work, do you?”).” HAHAHAHA FUCK YOU GENE MARKS.
Yes, I expect my husband to deal with annoying crap like household chores and his share of the person we made. I would not have the energy to be nice to him if I had to do every goddamn thing around here. I would not have married him if I thought I was going to have to do all the chores because I could have stayed single and done all the chores and had the freedom to sleep corner-to-corner and wear a Forever Lazy. I would love to wear a Forever Lazy. But I have to spend what I would have spent on a Forever Lazy on groceries.
I know that the reason for Gene Marks’ piece of shit excuse for an opinion column is the recent statement Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg made: “that she believes employers should be able to speak freely with female employees about whether they plan to get pregnant.” Cool beans. And I think that yes, go ahead, ask that question. But only if you would also ask a man that question, with the expectation that he would take his share of parental leave. You assume he won’t? When you assume you make an ass out of you and me!
What about gay men? They can adopt babies and then there are no ladies around to do all the work. What about single fathers? Widowers? What about people with aging and dependent parents? What about ladies who say they don’t want kids, and then get pregnant by accident—would you call them out for fraud? The idea of tip-toeing around gender is bullshit. Either you want my rad brain powers or you think I can’t do awesome stuff because I have a vagina-liability. Either you think I’m a capable human being, equal to a man with the same level of education and experience, or you don’t.
From our BFF Gene: “Most men raise their eyebrows and give each other a nudge when a good-looking girl appears at a meeting. We check out the way they’re dressed. We’re shocked (still) when they make off-color jokes (she seemed like such a nice girl!). And most men still don’t feel comfortable golfing and drinking with their female colleagues because we can’t make jokes about sex and farting.”
Dick, please. I’d like to talk to your HR manager, because I think your company has a much bigger problem than a few ladies and their hypothetical babies.