Letter: Family values

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I agree with Natasha Walter (Comment, 15 March) that a society which regards Kim Sparrow's efforts to bring up her daughter as less productive than, say, selling double glazing, is in a bad way. This is not simply a feminist issue but illustrates a deeper problem.

Families, while necessary to the world of business, are not an integral part of it. Workers must be fed, washed and rested to work again and a new generation of workers must be reared and trained. This domestic work is necessary for the accumulation of capital but in itself produces no profit and individual firms have no direct interest in paying for it.

The mass entry of women into the job market on equal terms with men has served to weaken the unions and lower the price of labour. To point this out renders one vulnerable; who, save chauvinists - and losers - can object to equality of competition? Once children enter the picture however the price of a market society becomes clear. I am resolved to avoid entering a contest with women for most-favoured-victim status, but it is worth noting that Mr Brown and New Labour have nothing to offer men as fathers. Unpaid parental leave is useless because even if men could afford to take it they fear losing their job or promotion to whoever is willing to work a more insane number of hours.

If sexual equality is to mean anything more than a politically correct excuse for the exploitation of labour we must put a price on "family values".


Higher Foxdale, Isle of Man