All These COVID-19 Economic Relief Packages Leave Out Childcare And Are Sexist As Hell

COVID-19 has destroyed the basic social compact working parents signed up for when we decided to have children. Now, we’re forced to do it all. At once. This is impossible. The other option is to lose our jobs like tens of millions of other Americans.

This is a childcare emergency.

There are no personal solutions to fix it.

Color-coded ‘schedule charts’ for the kids or sweet website recommendations for how to view the Louvre collection virtually, from a pogo stick, while the kids learn how to meditate following prompts in ancestral languages aren’t going to solve it.

Re-opening the tattoo parlors, barber shops, bowling alleys, and movie theaters? Also worthless.

We need to just say it out loud:

The federal government’s economic relief packages for COVID-19 are sexist as hell. In leaving the childcare crisis unaddressed, the whole response is sexist as hell.

Parenting and childcare are economic activities that are not being compensated. Guess why? This has always been considered women’s work, even when men and non-binary folks do it, and that’s why it’s been under-appreciated and underpaid.

I’m seeing lots of government aid packages and promises for businesses that promise not to lay off their workers. Where are the government aid packages and promises for businesses that:

  • Reduce hours for caregivers on staff without reducing their pay
  • Give caregivers on staff PAID LEAVES OF ABSENCE even if they theoretically can ‘work from home’ at 3 a.m. while the baby sleeps for 20 minutes
  • Provide incentives for social-service organizations that are currently closed to innovate on safe provision of childcare for essential workers and also workers, period

Why are our legislators not talking about the childcare crisis facing working families in communities around the country? 

Our schools, summer camps, and childcare providers are closed. It is critical that the *actual government* address this issue. Legislators, cabinet secretaries. All the schools have closed and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is doing what, having a manicure in Georgia? Have you heard anything from her since the coronavirus crisis began? How about Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia? Has he opened his mouth once about the extreme challenges faced by working parents ever (duh, childcare affordability has always been a crisis), much less now when we’re all tearing our hair out and struggling to breathe?

Where are the think tanks with papers about ways to climb out of this childcare crisis in a way that also offers protections for public health during a global pandemic?

The time for innovation is now. If ‘relief’ and ‘reopening’ ideas don’t prominently feature the needs of working families, they are not worth printing on paper.


You Are Eligible To Apply For An Internship

Less than two weeks ago, an organization I respect let me know I “matched new jobs.” The jobs included “summer internships.”

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Today I received another email. I “matched new jobs.” This time the jobs included “paid summer intern.”

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Let’s talk about this.

I’m quick to stick up for young feminists no matter who wants to give me shit for it and identify as the oldest possible millennial, but I’m 35. I’m a suburban mom. I have worked in a variety of professional positions, consulting roles, and management positions and have co-founded a new organization.

My quibble and reason for writing is not what anyone thinks of me. I’m in my work to make change, not to be loved. If you think I’m intern-level, okay. Susan B. Anthony nailed this:

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really earnest must be willing to be anything and nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with the despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”

The problem is that automated recruiting software thinks that someone with my experience level — someone working in professional positions since 2002 — might be a good intern. Or maybe, after almost two weeks go by, a paid intern.

What is wrong with recruiting software? What is wrong with our economy? Where are the jobs?

I remember meeting up with a former unpaid intern I worked with who had subsequently graduated in the top third of her law school class and been offered a variety of additional unpaid internships in Washington women’s organizations. The unpaid internship is a despicable thing, but what bothered me at least as much was the sense that a smart, capable law school graduate is internship fodder.

None of this is to throw shade on older interns. It takes a great kind of chutzpah to embrace a fresh start and initiate a do-over as an adult, and looking back, I think the oldest people in my college classes must have been the coolest.

But something is dramatically wrong when our economy seeks to make interns of people qualified for jobs.