Ladies of Leisure – it’s all your fault.

The Spin is strong in this one Luke. Ladies of Leisure, that is older women not participating in the workforce and not looking for paid employment, will be the ruin of us all apparently.

CLOSE to a million more mature women could be working but choose not to participate in the labour force, the Productivity Commission has found, adding to the danger of the ticking population time-bomb.

Oh noes, not a ticking time bomb!

898,900 out of the 2.7 million women aged 45 to 64 in this country are not in the labour force. Only 58,200 of these are unemployed.

These 839 800 ‘ladies’* could be working but aren’t. How could they do this to the economy? Who do they think they are? What to they think they are doing having leisure time while the rest of us work? Lets look at some options.

They could be enjoying their retirement. They could be providing hours of unpaid labour as volunteers, carers, babysitters, visitors, church wardens, community activists, helpers in schools, parenting [eta] children, or grandchildren and myriad other things that are of great, uncosted, benefit to the economy while still enjoying their retirement. They could have a disability and be unable to participate in a workforce that in general makes workforce particpation for people with a disability difficult if not nigh on impossible. They could have a disability and still be actively providing hours of unpaid labour that makes a huge uncosted contribution to the economy. They might be looking for work but not registered with Centrelink. They might be finding that jobs for anyone over 55 are hard to find, despite the media claiming that their experience is valued. The one thing that the majority of them probably aren’t doing is sitting on their bums and doing nothing to contribute to the economy. But of course “women’s work” doesn’t count does it?

* Ladies not women. Ladies suggests women sitting around daintily sipping cups of tea with little pinky fingers raised, obviously enjoying leisure time while others work to support them.

[eta] thanks to Lauredhel for picking up that they are talking about women from age 45 onwards which means that many may be still looking after babies, pregnant, have small children or be in the process of trying to have children. All obviously consistent with sitting on their bums and leisure time.

Categories: Culture, gender & feminism, Life, media, work and family

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10 replies

  1. “parenting grandchildren”
    And children! Their age window starts at 45, at which point some women are still having babies and many, many others have children in preschool or primary school.

  2. Right. And I suppose that if we do work when we’re under 45 we’re all evil bitches who are destroying the home life and self-esteem of all teh menz. :/

  3. Nothing at all to do with THE FACT THAT IF YOU’RE OVER 50 NO ONE BLOODY WELL WANTS YOU. GAAAAAAAH. Ahem. Sorry about that. *Cough*

  4. They might be perfectly capable of working, but unable to get a job in their field because they’re not 25 year old white men. They might be studying to improve their knowledge and skills, having left the workforce early to raise a family (and, now their family is raised, they’re trying to get back into the workforce only to find the skills they do have aren’t regarded as employable ones).
    Or they might be the ones who are listed with every place in the district for casual hours (making them “not unemployed” by the definitions of their generation) but not receiving any hours from any of them (making them “not in the workforce” either).

  5. *blink* But… I thought women in the workforce were destroying society by taking jobs that would otherwise go to more deserving men and it was our patriotic duty to clear out of the way…

  6. Really, Helen? Maybe we should swap – I keep missing out on jobs due to my too-young age (29). Nobody wants to take me at entry level because with my ‘resume that has an excellent depth for [my] age’ [note I am currently employed – just need to switch industry and location, piece of cake] they are worried I will be bored… but I can’t get anything at a higher level because they want a white 50 year old guy with 20 years experience. Maybe employers are also worried I will want kids soon. Who knows.
    On the topic – SPOT ON! All these ‘ladies of leisure’ are definitely engaged in important unpaid work. Even when my mum (SAHM for 15 years, paid work as librarian / laundromatte owner for a few years) decided to be a ‘lady of leisure’ for a couple of years, she was still doing housework for two others.

  7. Ladies suggests women sitting around daintily sipping cups of tea with little pinky fingers raised

    I don’t know about that.
    I see the “Ladies Of Leisure”, 1986-9’s most excessive all-female glam-metal supergroup. In front of a stack of Marshalls lit up by fluorescent rising spotlights, frontwoman and lead guitarist Jean Blood stands with her bottom teeth forward, while the crowd chant their demand for their #1 hit “Relaxed As Hell”. As fireworks go off the band jumps forward off the stage and rise on wires, flying, flying…

  8. That’s funny Liam, because I see a couple of middle-aged male comedian’s dressed up in period frocks on a successful British comedy skit show.

  9. YAY!
    For once it’s not me! Usually it’s the pain-ridden disabled people who are ruining the world.

  10. I only just got to this, but thought it was worth pointing out that the terminology (use of the word ‘ladies’ not ‘women’ was entirely the choice of the Christian Kerr and The Oz. The Productivity Commission report refers only to women.
    Similarly, all credit for the ‘ticking time bomb’ must also rest upon the level head of Christian Kerr. The PC report talks more about the possibility of slowing the ageing effect by maintaining the increase in female labour force participation.
    It is probably worth pointing out that one of the main reasons for LFP differences is the difference in wages. Not rocket science!

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