Page 4, 2nd December 1988

2nd December 1988
Page 4
Page 4, 2nd December 1988 — 'Real women' work for The age Voices from the economic independence of wisdom ranks on NFP
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'Real women' work for The age Voices from the economic independence of wisdom ranks on NFP

WE are indebted to Lynette Burrows (November 25) for calling our attention to the confusion of myths and realities surrounding women "stuck at home." Why do women seek work outside the home, especially when according to the HMSO Social Trends 1988 survey, 75 per cent of working women dislike their job? Answer: they do it for the money. It takes two average incomes to support a house, a car, a holiday, for two adults and two children.

In our society we value economic independence so that women soon feel inadequate when they must ask for personal money in addition to household expenses. Should we consider the case for wages for housework?

Our society is structured so that we go out to work for company, for stimulus, and for the satisfaction of using our creative gifts and skills for the benefit of the larger community. Women would be more willing to take time to care personally for their children if we could be assured that we could re-enter the job market in due course. But now that we have fewer children, and live longer once they are self-propelled, what are women supposed to do with the rest of their lives? An evening meal for two is hardly a day's work. Much of our confusion stems from mistaking a vocation for marriage and parenting as a career for women — a confusion that never entangles men.

The debate about girls serving on the altar confuses myths and reality in the same way. If girls on the altar were really "handmaidens" there would be no objection to them, rather the resistance, as the priest in a former parish of mine expressed it, is because boys will refuse to come forward if they have to serve with girls and because girls might start asking to be priests.

Girls may well have a vocation to serve but we prevent them from making a career in ministry.

The real question is who has most to gain and who has most to lose from keeping women unpaid at home and in the unskilled low-paying jobs in the workforce. And who has the power to decide on any changes we may choose to make. Can women realistically expect protection and dignity as housewives? Do women have their feet washed at the Holy Thursday liturgy in your church?

Alexina Murphy Roehampton LYNETTE Burrows seriously confuses a number of issues, mainly by demolishing arguments no-one has raised, like girls playing rugby. (Where are all these girls? Will sightings be reported in your newspaper?)

More importantly, there are two points about women remaining exclusively in the domestic situation: (1) Housework is unpaid. The woman is entirely dependent on her husband. This is fine if the husband fulfils his reponsibilities for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, many marriages, even Catholic ones, break up and the woman is left to fend for herself and possibly her children, without money and with little prospect of a decent job. Ms Burrows should remember that the majority of working women do so from necessity. (2) After years spent entirely in the home without the daily stimulation of a

RE Lynette Burrows article (November 25): I have never had the slightest desire to play rugby, cook, or play with dolls. My mother bought me dolls because she had a vision of a daughter with beautiful dolls, but I much preferred cats and books. I cook because it is economically necessary. I am indifferent to whether activities which interest me are normally pursued by women or men, and I daresay girls who play rugby do so because it interests them and they see no reason why they should be excluded on the grounds of gender.

It is complete nonsense for Lynette Burrows to claim that children are not conditioned according to gender: there is research which shows that adults behave differently to a strange baby according to whether it is dressed in blue or pink. It is quite ridiculous to see "caring for people" as a female characteristic, and perhaps why so many more women than men suffer from depression. A major cause of depression is being removed from one's real feelings — such as anger at being expected to be caring and demure all the time!

The truth is that if housework and childcare were exciting, men would have taken it over years ago. Because women's access to education and jobs has been restricted, they earn less than men, so that a woman is in a weak position to insist that she and her husband share the chores. Whether or not some women prefer to stay home and be variety of people, the confidence needed to begin a new job is seriously eroded and the whole business of returning to work can be traumatic. I speak from personal experience and from that of running courses for women considering returning to work. Obviously, women who have had lots of people around them at home do not suffer in this way, but there are a great many women who live in large cities on large estates who see almost no-one except their own small children all day: and before anyone starts lauding the wonders of small children, let me remind them that an adult needs a modicum of adult conversation to remain intellectually alive, no matter how much she loves her children.

Mary McDade Senior Lecturer in Educational Studies Leeds Polytechnic economically dependent on their husbands is not the point: some men no doubt would prefer to stay home, but they too are deprived of choice.

Why should it be the norm for a man to work full-time and his wife part-time? Why not the other way around? Because until men and women have equal access to work at all levels of ability, men will always earn more. This is detrimental to most somen, some men, and all children: many children hardly see their fathers during the working week, and so the restrictive conditioning continues.

Jacqueline Castles London W2

Belper bonanza

I HAVE endeavoured to compile a history of the Catholic church here in Belper, and having brought it up to date, I hope to continue to record the events in its life, with the idea of eventually handing over to someone else to continue or perhaps, publish in some form.

In this connexion, I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has a good -photograph of any of the undermentioned priests, who (other than Mgr Johnson) were at one time, our parish priests, and who served in the Nottingham Diocese.

(a) Fr Louis Drury (b) Fr Hickey (c) Fr William Henry McDonald (d) Fr Timothy Shanahan (e) Mgr Humphrey Johnson.

Edward West 8 Spencer Avenue, Belper, Derby DE5 ILA

or time of trial?

RE: "Bringing a Smile to the Opposition," (November 18). I am surprised at space being given to the above article filled with unhelpful observations concerning personal foibles of members of the Opposition by a man who should, one may deduce from his photograph, have reached a point where maturity and wisdom prevail over his pronouncements.

He should remember that this Government does not represent a majority of the British electorate, many of whom have little cause for smiling. It is small wonder that Labour shadow ministers and MPs look glum; to see so many benefits hard won by their predecessors for the nation, sold off, undervalued and underfunded must indeed be depressing.

Let us remember that if we are to follow Archbishop Worlock's lead (November 18) and engage in public affairs, we shall gain little if we are rude or offensive to those with whom we disagree.

East Runton, M Mayes Norfolk

More posers on ARCIC

YOUR leading article (November 25) concerning the SCDF pronouncement on yet another ARCIC "agreed" statement is commendable and timely now that fresh outbreaks of galloping ecumania are reported daily.

The congregation asked the attention be given to the "official documents" of both churches (or as we say "traditions") including the 39 articles.

Careful attention should be paid to paragraph 5 of The Nature of Christian Belief, an official document published in 1986 by the Anglican bishops, which make it clear that ". . . strict adherence to the precise sense of every Article" is compatible with membership of the Anglican Communion and that this principle must be upheld.

Batley John Berry West Yorks MRS KEAUFFLING is quite mistaken in believing/ that "the only correspondence extolling NFP comes from ifiitructors in that method".

I, at any rate, am not, but am merely a well-satisfied user of one of the natural methods.

She is mistaken, too, in believing (no matter what her doctor told her) that irregular menstrual cycles plus the longevity of sperm render the infertile period "almost nonexistant". Irregularity was a problem with the old Calendar Rhythm method which relied on "counting the days" and calculating the expected time of ovulation from the woman's previous experience of the length of her cycles. Quite obviously this was more accurately ascertained when cycles were of fairly consistent length. Irregularity is, however, no longer a problem with the modern methods of NFP, since these allow the woman to recognise her fertility or MAY I congratulate Margaret Keauffling for speaking out on a subject which must be very close to the hearts of every sexually active Catholic couple who find themselves torn between the "rules" and risks of NFP and the desire to join in spontaneous love, and indeed. to those who for many years faced the prospect of further pregnancies without any access of knowledge of methods other than NFP.

Family planning must be the result of a caring relationship, in infertility on a day-to-day basis. When the fertile-type of cervical mucus (which is capable of transporting the sperm to the ovum) is present she must refrain from sexual contact isf she wishes to avoid conception. When it is not present she need have no fear of conceiving, since she will be infertile.

Conception can in fact only occur on one day during a menstrual cycle since the ovum disintegrates after 12 to 18 hours. It can, however result from intercourse taking place up to five days prior to that day due to the 5-day maximum life-span of the sperm's ability to fertilise. Few couples have any problem in abstaining from sexual relations for just those few days each month, particularly if they are motivated by a desire to abide by the Church's teaching or simply by a desire to avoid the incursion of artificiality into their intimate lives.

Jane Dodd s Greenford, Middlesex which both parties weigh up the needs and desire of their love, against the "risk" of pregnancy_ As a registered nurse, I have often had the difficult experience of trying to help patients understand their illness , treatment or symptoms. I would therefore suggest that NFP is for the elite, who have more than a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and a very strong willpower.

Janet Rockett RUN/ West Glamorgan




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