There is no such thing as new news. It seems that at least once a year there is a story discussing the monetary value of the work performed by stay at home mothers. The most recent story was on CNN last week. Wendy Luhabe, a prominent social entrepreneur, explains:
A mommy salary, as a way of giving value to the work of bringing up children, so that it's not a resentful choice that women have to make...I just think that we need to create an environment that allows women to make the choices that they want to make
Luhabe is right. Women should be free and empowered to make the choices they want to make but is paying mothers a salary the right way to rectify gender inequality? Wouldn't becoming the formal employee of one's husband lead to more strife? What about women who are married to those jerks that have the nerve to ask "What do you do all day"? (Not me thankfully. I'd slap him. I love you pumpkin but I'd slap you). Once these men have to officially turn over a portion of their salaries will they start leaving checklists in the morning? Will there be performance reviews? Threats of docked pay?
10% of most people's salaries is not much money. I'd be getting 10% of nothing right now and I know my work at home is worth much more than that. I don't think money will help a woman who feels undervalued by her spouse and society feel empowered. The sacrifices many women make to stay home with their children are often penalized by our society. Society and the American workforce needs to change.
Change can begin at home but if a woman is made to feel marginalized by her decision to stay at home with her children she needs to work that out with her spouse first. If you have a suspicion that your spouse is going to treat you like a lesser person because you no longer work outside the home you might be better off remaining gainfully employed, saving up some money, and getting a divorce. A mommy salary isn't going to make an unsupportive spouse suddenly respect and value what you do.
I can't summarize my thoughts on the treatment of women in the American workplace. It is an issue that I am *really* obnoxiously passionate about. It sounds trite but one change we can make is to support employers that treat families well but in this economy many people don't have te luxury of being choosy about a job. I understand that. My hope is that my passion will rub off on my children and they will learn that their value in the workplace and society isn't determined by their personal child rearing choices.
I don't believe in mommy salaries. Do you?