The war has ended, let peace and prosperity reign!
Celebrate the servicemen returning,
Coming back here and taking our jobs.
We have the Sex Disqualification Act now,
But we’re still expected to work the same
Long hours as our male counterparts.
Still disqualified from equal pay and benefits,
Earning half the amount of men in most industries,
Not based on half the ability but
Decided only on our sex.
Still we’re here, keeping the home fires burning.
Chin up, come on old girl,
Back to “women’s work” we go.
We’re allowed to work on assembly lines now,
But of course none of us are allowed to supervise.
Only one in ten married women work because it’s
Not possible to do a full working day and manage the
Laundry, dishes, cleaning, sewing,
Care, cooking, child-growing
Of a family.
Well done! Well done, sister suffragette –
We have the vote, we made a change!
But only if you’re a woman of a certain age.
30 years or older please
Because a woman has no wisdom at
19 or 20.
Screen screen screen, screen,
One more hour and I swear I’ll scream.
Too many small boxes filled with faces,
All in one Zoom or Team or FaceTime
But separated by walls, the divisions between us both real and virtual,
Only one face per rectangular box.
My mind feels like it is melting in this flat upright world of screens.
How can I explore when the only Explorer I have is Internet?
Now of course obsolete. Who browses that way any more?
What will we say that about in 6 months or 6 years?
What more will we lose and let fade away…
Chin up, come on old girl,
Don’t think like that.
You’re still safe within the four walls of your home,
Staring safely at the untouchable screen,
Routinely seeing the same faces in their boxes.
Look but don’t touch
Those people I can see,
As I ache to hug the people closest to me.
So unspeakably grateful to have work to do,
No one coming over here, taking our jobs.
Equal pay for all!
(Except for that pesky 12-25% gender gap we don’t like to mention.)
Did you know there are still no sectors of the economy where women are paid the same as men across the board?
You don’t want to get me started on diversity on boards.
We keep those home fires burning and we have to work so hard to
Keep those home fires burning,
Because those bills aren’t going to pay themselves and that fire needs lighting by someone!
A lower salary is better than no salary, am I right ladies?
Who says we can’t have it all?
No, no there’s no discrimination here!
“Go to work, or don’t,” has been uttered and it’s utterly unclear.
That is if you have work to go to, of course.
Is it a relief to be furloughed or has it become yet another thing to make us feel low?
For business or pleasure our link to the outside world,
To each other is through these rectangular portals,
The screens to another dimension.
I’ve dreamed in Zoom –
I saw boxes floating in front me as I walk down a street,
Heads suspended in small rectangles, obscuring my vision of what should be in front of me,
Screens replacing reality.
Some of us have started sewing ostensibly for sanity.
Masks, patchwork, blankets, clothes.
It’s more than make do and mend now.
It’s make, create and hold on to something physical, hold on to reality as we
Try not to disappear…
I have turned to cooking.
I step into the kitchen away from the computer,
Taking in the solid comforts of hob, the pots, the pans and the oven
As I prepare my next comfort food.
I chop, mix, scrape, knead, stir, bash, fry, bake, grill, caramelise, sear, boil, toast.
I feel calm as I cross the threshold and leave my flat phone, tablet and computer worlds behind.
I find unexpected solace in hoovering, cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the kitchen floor, clearing pots and pans away.
For those minutes and hours I forget about the boxes looming on the horizon, waiting for me.
In this pocket of domesticity, I don’t have to look too far ahead and
My view is filled with 3-dimensional objects of all shapes and sizes.
I, a woman,
Turn away from work, back in time towards the odd relief of
Cooking and cleaning.
And I can’t help but think as the wartime words pour out from the mouths of our leaders,
What would the women of 1920 make of this?
The women who lived through a real war and fought so hard
For the right to vote and
For the right to work and
For the right to be seen as equal.
What does it mean in 2020 to be this woman?