Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Motherload: Life As Working Mom

So there I was channel surfing very late at night trying to find a really boring program to put me to sleep.
Mistakenly I thought I'd found it in the televised debate on the topic "Are Men Necessary?"
But this was a Munk debate and it was lively and funny at times and I was more awake than ever --debater Camille Paglia's thesis that feminists can't have it all and are concentrating too much on careers rang very true.
Now completely awake I plopped on the screening copy of The Motherload which made great sense after watching these feminists preparing to duke it out.
Director Cornelia Principe later told me on the phone that it's "certainly" partly based on her own experiences.
With an enviable 15 years in the documentary business plus a five-year old to look after she was frequently caught balancing the needs of motherhood and career.
And just at that point the cute five-year old interrupted and had to be told mom's going to be busy for the next few minutes.
Convinced she had a topic under explored on TV Principe set out search parties to find women stuck in the same situation as she found herself.
Most of the women she approached readily agreed to be interviewed --a very few were hesitant that male bosses might take criticism the wrong way.
And that's one of Principe's major points --in terms of top jobs women are stuck at 14 per cent, just about the same statistic for the past decade.
In terms of being able to work as long in a day as they want men still seem to have it all. Women at a certain point must race home and get supper ready.
"Yes, I did get some big names on camera," Principe laughs. "But I had to show the whole picture. And I also tackle the blue collar dilemma of women who simply can't afford much in the way of day care."
One well paid working mom says day care eats up half her salary a figure I found astonishing. But the woman also says that's the price for keeping things on an even keel at home.
In terms of marquee names Principe has former U.S. foreign affairs adviser to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter who explains she weighed the consequences and felt she had to be home with children at this particular moment. She went back to a family and life as a university professor because being on call for long periods during a crisis simply wasn't possible --she was worrying too much.
Slaughter's article in The Atlantic Monthy"Why Women Can't Have It All" touched off a storm of debate on the issue.
Also corralled is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook who talks about the dynamics of heading a world famous phenomenon as well  but also wanting to excel as a mother and knowing that at a certain time in late afternoon it's time to get home.
"I felt I betrayed my inner self" is a hugely revealing statement. But out of that comes a recognition there never will be a 50-50 world in terms of family responsibilities.
The road is even harsher for single mothers. And it's the worst ever for blue collar moms as more and more husbands get laid off from jobs which simply are not going to come back.
One delightful moment has a stressed mom  (Emilie)talking over the situation with her mom  via Skype. Mom who also worked outside the home happens to be former Canadian Supreme Court judge Louise Arbour --she now toils in Switzerland.
And an even more Canadian moment looks at the situation in the House of Commons where women M.P.s now constitute 25 per cent of all MPs --the highest ever.
The hour is jam packed with information --I was unaware how bad U.S. laws on maternity leave really are compared with Canadian laws.
Principe tells me she'd experienced the same feelings as the moms she interviewed --her cameraman on this shoot happens to be husband Matt Gallagher.
By the way men are not perceived as "the enemy" here --making The Motherload must see viewing for both sexes --and older children if they are still up at 9 p.m.
Principe produced, wrote and directed it for her company Border City Pictures. A U.S. sale might be iffy because a central thesis is we have it better in Canada in social services than our envious U.S. cousins.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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