Sunday, March 24, 2013

Older Women And Work

I got the following comment from Lady Lydia in response to my post on the new breed of women:

People think women are just going to run like a new washing machine for ever and ever, and that she can just go to work outside the home when she reaches 50 years of age, and the children are grown. The problem with that kind of thinking is they are not taking into account the stamina and health of women age 50-70. You reach a point where you know you can't keep up the pace the world expects of you and need to have more rest. Yet the rest of the world wants the 40-70 year old women to get up and get a job outside the home. Do they think these women are going to have the strength of teenagers?

That's how I basically feel about the issue. While technically I probably don't fall into the category of older women yet I'm not that young any more, either. You definitely feel that you are getting older, and that your level of energy is lower than it used to be. You need more rest and sleep. The children may be grown, but you still have your husband and the house to take care of. Your parents enter their old age and need more help and attention from you etc etc. Why the rush back to the office?

I'm not speaking here about the families in dire financial circumstances, but about those who can exist quite comfortably on one income. It must be countless times that I read on supposedly conservative sites advice to women to marry young, get children in their twenties and embark on a wonderful career when they are in their forties.

Well, I have nothing against marrying young (though statistics seem to point out that those who marry very young often have less stable marriages), and having children in one's twenties used to be quite normal, but as for the rest of the plan, I'm not so thrilled with it.

I know that some women like Phyllis Schlafly can pull it off, but let's be realistic here. There is a reason we send children to school when they are young. You learn better  when you are younger, not when you are 45+. It's difficult to start a career when you are that old. Companies prefer to hire younger people, and they search for someone with experience of working in a certain field.

 Not that it's impossible, though, as some women were left widows and managed to get back to work and to do quite all right, but if you really want to have a career it makes sense to start when you are young. Younger people have more drive and ambition, more energy and stamina.

The idea behind that particular piece of advice seems to be that women miss something important when they choose to stay home and they need to try and get this important experience before it's too late. Either that, or it can come across as women having a duty to work outside home which they only can be freed from for a certain time, when the children are very young, and then, back to work you go.

If you are really a traditionalist, you'll agree that men and women are different and naturally occupy different spheres. Men are protectors and providers and guardians of the society as a whole, while women excel in domestic sphere and are to guard the home. Home is where most women thrive. Remember that not so long ago men tried to protect even the unmarried daughters from the workforce. Think Jane Austen, for instance, after her father's death she and her sister Cassandra were both supported by their brothers who made a good career.

I'd say to each his own, but if you are financially comfortable and your husband agrees why not staying home even without children/with grown children? Your relationship with your husband will be better if you have more time to take care of him (a hint: husbands like attention, lots of it!), and now that the children are grown you'll have an opportunity to do things you always wanted to do, but never had time for, like learning to play the piano. Or as the lady in the original article stated, to have the best kept lawn in the neighbourhood. Why not? 


  1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I agree wholeheartedly!

  2. I like the one article that stated feminists did a great thing by making it a choice. Society has also pushed women to having a career through something men have brought on themselves. They are not always the faithful husbands they should be. This can be a psychologically intolerable situation leaving the woman with no means to provide for herself. Why not have her prepared before that happens? If everyone fulfilled their roles properly this wouldn't be necessary. I wish I could have stayed at home when younger but my ex decided he would rather run around. My husband now is perfect! I still have to work part time but we are both working towards me getting to stay home. I do work with some older women and they're benefits to that as well. Older workers don't make rash judgements that can harm the company. They have the wisdom of years. They don't call in sick because their children are sick and have to stay out of school, etc. They usually aren't trying to climb the corporate ladder and are more pleasant to be around. Another great post. Enjoying your blog.


    The author of the above article shows by using historical examples how women always had a choice to work or not, and that feminists actually took away the freedom to stay home and the protection which women used to enjoy.

    You don't fight fire by pouring gasoline on it. If our ideal is the traditional family, we should strive to change the laws to protect women who choose to stay home, for instance by restoring the alimony for faithful wives abandoned by their husbands, which feminists sought to abolish. Also a company may surely benefit from the experience of older women, but it doesn't mean that they have a duty to leave their own home behind and to go to work so that the company can make more profit.

  4. As eligible for the "older woman" label in the posting above, I can surely speak for my OWN situation, no one else's. I worked for 40-something years and now have "retired" due to health problems. I'm in my 60s and I can surely vouch for the fact that yes, I need more rest time, and yes, I need more "concessions" than the work place was willing to let me have. My expertise? I have 30+ years of training in medical transcription, which is now a dying field despite the growth of socialized medicine, etc., and the need for accuracy in medical records. My husband and I are trying valiantly to avoid me going back into the work force. Live comfortably? Well, in many respects not really, and in some respects yes, we are. But I know my "home time" is valued by my husband and myself, so we guard it as much as possible. Nevertheless, the older woman DOES have a harder time in the work place with today's emphasis on "youth".....and no, we have NO duty to work for a corporation which merely tolerates us in order to tap into our knowledge and expertise.

    Kathleen in IL

  5. I mentioned living comfortably because I mainly meant those couples where the husband earns a good income on his own. I have tremendous sympathy for those ladies who want to stay home but have to work due to cicrumstances, but if the family can afford it,it makes little sense for the woman to go back to work when she is older. Often the husband is against, but she is egged on by other working women, or wants to prove her independence. It just makes no sense to me.