Monday, May 16, 2011

The Quintessential Greek Woman



“Herself again a wife – a mother – lovingly watchful of her children, ever careful that they should have a childhood of the mind no less than a childhood of the body, as knowing it to be even a more beautiful thing, and a possession, any hoarded scrap of which, is a blessing and happiness to the wisest? Did Louisa see this? Such a thing was never to be." ~Charles Dickens, Hard Times




Born into a society which boasts respect for ancient values while praising the virtues of modern day human commoditization, the quintessential Hellenic female is expected from day one to serve two masters: Tradition, and the expectations of the modern day industrial world.




In a country where 97 percent of the population is deemed literate with higher education levels surpassing the 50% threshold, the modern day Greek woman is pressured from early childhood, at the risk of being labelled a “doormat”, to achieve the highest education level possible, become a successful careerist, and by the time she is in her mid thirties marry, procreate (so as not to be chastised by members of her gender as barren or frigid) possibly with the “magic” of modern medical technology, while providing for her family, her employer, and the State at large.

Job equality in Greece is commonly implemented by adapting the human to the working environment and not the working environment to the human. In the not so distant past, the majority of the working population was male and job design adhered -and still conforms - to the working habits of a masculine dominated workforce.
Jobs were designed, implemented and supervised by fanatics of a Mediterranean form of scientific management where the labourer -blue or white collar- was expected to be complacent and thankful.




The modern day Greek woman is expected to work in this environment, to conform to the existing job parameters, and to work 12 hour shifts. Family and children are out of the question for the modern day quintessential Greek woman, who is always viewed with suspicion by potential employers, lest the employer incurs extra costs by a possible pregnancy.


It thus goes without saying that the tough Greek private sector and the frequent outrageous working conditions (which may frequently include double standards with overshadowing harassment tendencies) induce many a Greek female to opt for the once secure –regarded by many as inefficient- public sector; whose humane working conditions and limited hours, strong union representation, highly effective grievance mechanisms, and controlled environment allow a woman to rightly earn her daily bread while simultaneously reap the benefits and of a fulfilling private and family life.




The unavailability of public and company day care centres –taken for granted in western societies- which are considered a luxurious non necessity in the Hellenic working world -which prizes profits over posterity- leave underpaid and overworked Greek mothers in general and single mothers in particular at the mercy of expensive nannies; or out of reach private day-care centres.




The Greek corporate biosphere views the modern day Greek woman as equal to her male counterpart: If a man can dig a ditch in one half of an hour so should a woman in addition to the strict requirement that the quintessential Greek female maintain that much desired charm, sensuality, attractiveness and mystique that characterizes Mediterranean femininity.




The Quintessential Greek Woman:




Caring daughter,brazen careerist,welcoming lover,warm companion,lovely bride, loving wife, and responsible single mother in a society that demands everything, but returns nothing.

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