I had an interesting conversation with a new employee at work earlier this week. She told me that for many years she has been able to work part-time (three days a week). When I probed why she chose to work part-time, she breezily replied "Life is too short to work full-time". I then said "Yes, if you are able to afford to do so." Her response? "Oh, my husband works full-time so affording the days off has never been an issue."
I don't blame her at all for choosing a lifestyle with a nice work/life balance. But the conversation did make me think of all those feminists who look on men like her husband as patriarchal oppressors earning more than their wives. The reality in many cases is so different: this woman's husband does not have the luxury of thinking that life is too short to spend all his week at the office. That is where he will be and in doing so he is enabling his wife to live more enjoyably. But he gets little kudos from society for his sacrifices - instead he will be portrayed as a privileged male.
It is a case of reality being turned on its head. His wife is privileged and he is bearing a burden for her sake. But how often is this kind of situation openly acknowledged?