Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Women are machines

... or at least that's what a Japanese politician claims, calling grown-up women "birthing machines" and demanding that they all should have more children to ensure the society does not "grow old". Well, Mr. Politician: Welcome to Germany.

I read about this man while browsing the 'news'-section of one of my favourite forums (MangaSzene). Obviously the Japanese have the same problem we have in Germany: There are only a few children born. The discussion of the thread did soon leave the Japanese situation far behind, anyway. It's been mostly about "why women don't want to have children" and "what to do against it". I've participated a lot in the discussion as well, because it's one of those things I've been thinking (and getting angry about) a lot.

A lot of older people claim that it's solely the fault of the women. We are too egocentric to give up our own career in order to have children as we're supposed to. But I know a lot of women who would like to have children if only they had a little more security while raising them.

What older people seem to forget is how insecure the situation of their children and grandchildren is today. When they were the right age to have children, there was plenty of work and most people spent their whole working life with the same company. You could be sure you'd always have a job. In a situation like this it's easy for a woman to stop working (at least for a couple of years), have children and raise them. There weren't as many divorces either (in the western part of Germany, but the East had it's own security, thanks to socialism and communism).

Would they have as many children today as well? That's what I often wonder about. Would they take all the risks having children means today, especially for women?

But back to the discussion in the forum. Interestingly the women usually had one point of view and the men had the other one (as far as you can guess the gender from the names, as not everyone freely gives it). The women quite often said "I would have children (or at least 'most women would have children') if it wouldn't mean the end of my career (meaning: the danger of becoming a poor single mother living on social support) and if society were a little more supportive" while the men said "women should just have children and forget about their careers". That's easy to say if you're a member of that gender which will not have to stop working because of a child.

There is a way to combine children and career, but it's not open to women in Germany. In the Scandinavian countries women are supported much better, they can go to work again after a couple of weeks and their children are well cared for. This is something women in Germany can only dream of (mostly, I think, because of our conservative party which was in control right after the war and never designed a sufficient system to build up enough kindergartens for all children).

In Germany the society wants children, because they'll be needed for our pension system (see the last post), but it doesn't want the children to behave like children. Admittedly, sometimes I curse the neighbours above me as well (the family has two teenagers - with a stereo nearby), but I do it softly and think "I wasn't any better when I was that age, let them soon find something better - and more silent - than Heavy Metal". Children are loud - or at least louder than most adults - and that's it. It is like that and it can't be changed. But people in Germany - especially old people (yes, the same who claim women these days are too egocentric to have children) - expect, it seems, children to be born, to hang around in stasis until they're about twenty and then go to work straight away to earn money for the older people's pensions.

I can fully understand why women these days don't want children - and as long as society doesn't change, there's not as many children as necessary born.

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