Why is it single people who get stuck working weekends? It’s a valid concern, but unfortunately one that a recent article in The Globe and Mail asks only rhetorically.
Instead, Zosia Bielski uses 1,000 words to offer a soapbox to “childfree” extremists. Leading with the valid concerns of Steven Bereznai, a writer whose newest book details the social stigma associated with being both gay and single, the piece devolves into a tirade from lawyer and blogger Piper Hoffman, who argues that there is no “moral distinction between having children and having a life goal of, say, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or something.”
Really? No moral distinction? Propagate the species, raise the principled and creative thinkers and workers of tomorrow, or fly to Tanzania to risk your life getting to the top of a big rock?
Hoffman and others like her believe that child, spousal, and parental benefits are “inherently discriminatory” against those who live alone, be it reluctantly or by choice. They argue that employees who don’t claim benefits for their dependents should have access to an equivalent amount to put towards their own interests: a gym membership, a dog agility class, or a vacation.
While they’re right that many benefit schemes discriminate against single people, their assumption that “discrimination” is always a morally negative practice is invalid. As a society, we favour decisions and practices that benefit society as a whole.
I’m not saying that spouses and families are for everyone. And I agree that the questioning and badgering of single adults is alarming and needs to stop.
But supporting families isn’t a practice that puts down single people. It’s a recognition that the food, clothing, medicine, and caretakers necessary to raise a child are expensive, and children are essential to our survival as a society and as a species.
The choices we support are an indication of our values. While travel and exercise are certainly worthwhile, they won’t pay taxes, spread love, or put food on the table when current generations are unable to do so on their own.
Employers should make sure that when it comes to making schedules, they take care to ensure that all employees have time to pursue their interests and passions. But as a single person, if someone occasionally calls in sick on the weekend, I don’t think it’s morally reprehensible to ask me to work before you ask Martha, recognizing that she needs to drive her son to hockey practice, and would have to pay a babysitter to care for her young daughter.
If recognizing that kids are expensive is “fetishizing child-rearing,” then fetishize away. Call me conservative, but I don’t want to live in a world where mountain-climbing and parenting are moral equals.