I’m just now catching up on my magazines for the month. Usually, I read them at the gym, but between the flu and my Guitar Hero related tendinitis, I haven’t worked out in 2 weeks.
I’m on the elliptical trainer reading Marie Clarie when I read something that makes me almost fall down. It came in the cubicle coach section, where people can get advice on workplace problems.
Q: Dear CC: When we’re on deadline, our manager often makes the work of those with young kids a higher priority so they can be the first ones to leave. I get that juggling parenting responsibilities and work is tough, but I shouldn’t have to pick up the slack for my overextended collegues, should I?
A: It’s not about who’s a breeder and who isn’t. It’s about who has earned the perk – through great work, seniority, ass-kissing, or whatever your particular office values. CC’s experience is that those with kids use the work day more efficiently than most. Gone are the lunchtime shopping expeditions, the visits to the gym, the gabfests around the coffeepot about the meaning of last night’s “very special” episode of Big Love. And remember, young thang, the day may come when you need your officemates to help younow and then on account of kids, a sick parent, a rehabing spouse, or those Tuesday and Thursday night MBA courses. Here’s hoping you’ve accrued sufficient good karma with the breeders by then.
That’s right my single brothers and sisters in the workplace, we apparently are slackers. The act of either impregnating someone or giving birth suddenly makes you work through lunch, become productive, and not talk about TV shows.
My first reaction to this is “Fuck You”. My second reaction is “Seriously, Fuck You.” 18 hours later I’m still sort of stunned by how stupid this answer is.
I usually like Marie Clarie. It’s like a classier Cosmo. All the dating and sex stuff mixed in with stories about landmines and social issues. So, to have the magazine call single people lazy and unproductive is sort of stunning. Aren’t we your core readership. Shouldn’t you be more understanding of our perspective.
I totally understand where the letter writer is coming from. I’ve been asked to stay late and work on a project, even when I’ve already had plans in place. When I try to explain that I’m planning on meeting some friends for dinner they just roll their eyes.
“You can meet up with your friends at anytime. But I have a date with my husband.” As if she can’t go out with him anytime.
It’s just assumed that because I’m unmarried and unchilded that whatever I’m doing is less important than what they have going on.
My life is important. The things that are important to me are just as important as the things in your life are to you. If you can spend your lunch hour shopping for school supplies, I should be able to spend it shopping for shoes. If you can spend an hour at the watercooler talking about how adorable little Contessa is, then I can talk about TV shows. If you can be hour late for work because your kid had a doctor appointment, and not have it counted against you, I should be able to do the same thing because my cat has to go to the vet.
The idea that the act of becoming a parent makes workers more productive is laughable. I can’t even count how many times have I seen my co-workers leave early to see a school play, or spend an hour on the phone trying to find a babysitter. The idea that the reason that they are allowed to skip out early because they are working harder is a sham. It has nothing to do with parents being more efficient than single people (honestly, I don’t think I’ve actually left my desk for lunch in 3 years). It’s about bosses who are afraid to appear like a jerk for coming down hard on the poor parents.
I am sure that being a parent is hard work. But it’s also something you decided to do. I’m all for being compassionate towards the needs of working parents, but can we have some compassion for us single people too? Do we always have to get stuck with staying late, coming in early, and covering for our co-workers who have family emergencies?
I suppose the thing that annoys me most about the Marie Claire letter is the idea that it’s okay to take advantage of us, because one day we’ll have kids and can take advantage of other people.
But what if that never happens? What if I never get married? What if I can’t have children? Or if I just don’t want to? Marie Claire is just another voice telling us that we don’t really matter until we take on the names of wife and mother.
No wonder there is so much pressure on us to get married and have kids. It’s the only way we can achieve a level of respect.
If you are as pissed off about this issue as I am, send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org).