Uccellina has written an interesting post over here about women, space and writing. As I've said in my responding comment, for me as a woman interested in pursuing creative projects, time rather than space is the issue. Maybe that's a single woman's thought: after all, I can close the door of my office when MWA starts banging around loudly. The cats don't provide that much distraction at home. But universally it seems to me that if women are wanting to write, they cry out for more time whether they're single or married. I don't know if that's the case for other artistic endeavours, but I suspect it is.
This is leading into another women and work post...I think I wrote one this time last year. Over the last couple of months, I've been starting to get da offers for next year's work and sniffing around a bit myself. A lot of these offers have been local and policy-related. Because I'm wanting to maintain some literary output (there is a very slow trickle of short pieces of various forms going on here), I've been making enquiries as to whether I could do this part-time or on a job share basis. Most of the responses have been fairly negative or grudging, to say the least. In one case, I was told that the employer had a no-part-time policy, and the only way I could get round this would be to offer to mentor an Indigenous person in the job.
This experience interested me because I wondered what it (a) presumed about an employer's right to own their employee's time (read 'life') (b) implied for childless and enchilded women seeking work.
I was quite surprised by the degree of vehemence expressed by some employers in not being prepared to negotiate about part-time work and in turn by their surprise that I didn't want to work full-time. Perhaps it was cheeky of me to be saying upfront that I only wanted to work part-time. But did it suggest a lack of professional and financial seriousness on my part in revealing myself not to be an out-and-out careerist? Am I supposedly some gun for hire, happy to give over most of my time to an employer, simply because I'm a single, unencumbered woman? (Also, some of these jobs are just so fucking boring day in and out, some of the committee work is so turgid and irksome. Don't they realise this?)
I wondered too what this meant for encumbered women seeking part-time work. In one instance, I put together an application with a friend of mine who has kids and is only able to work two days a week at present. She was actually 'in the position', but they wanted to expand it to full-time. They grudgingly accepted a joint application from us. When I looked at her cv, I thought 'she's no slouch -- it's really their loss if they don't keep her on.' How many good women applicants do you miss out on, if you don't make the time constraints a bit more flexible?
I was also quite candid as to say to potential employers that I wanted to work part-time in order to write. I think this came across as rather decadent and self-indulgent. People stop in their tracks; you can almost hear the wheels turning -- 'Good God, girl, you're meant to be saving Abl people from alcohol, drugs and dysfunction!' And then, even worse, sometimes they say something like, 'Yeah, I've always thought I'd like to write a novel myself some day.' To which I nod politely, keep a straight face and say nothing. As if writing a novel is something anyone can just throw off any old time, like deciding to de-pill a jumper one Saturday afternoon.
So anything over and beyond Maslow's hierarchy of needs needs time. And you're unlikely to be paid for it. You knew that, and I'm sure the time thing applies to men too but it invariably seems to come up in talking with creative women. Perhaps Virginia was using a spatial metaphor to incorporate time as well, if you know what I mean (the time was part of the space). Or maybe we have the space bit by and large now -- the material means -- just not the time.
(And my contract for my current job was renewed. And the mother in the jobshare option ultimately had other fish to fry.)