Annemarie Quill: Stay-at-home role attractive

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After interviewing a doctor he showed me a cafe where other surgeons and trainee doctors hang out.

"I must bring my daughter here - she might meet her future husband."

He laughed and asked, "Why, how old is she?"

"12," I replied.

He laughed even more.

I was only half-joking, in the same vein as Jane Austen when she ironically wrote: "A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of ... There are certainly not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them."

Read more: Bay woman looks for love under glare of TV lights

Austen was scathing about a time when a woman had to marry for economic security, but also astute as that was the reality of 19th century England that a husband would be sought on the basis of income and social standing.

I am sure few women - if any - would want to go back to a time when this was the only option.

We can vote, access education, choose what job we do, and run for public office (although you would never know the latter in Tauranga given that no women, so far this year, have put up their hands to run for mayor or to run for council).

Read more: Women from Te Puke and Tauranga vie for heart of 'stud muffin' bachelor

We can choose not to have children. Or even if we do have children, we can continue working.

Great isn't it?

Is it?

When it comes to paid work, women and men in New Zealand are still not paid equally. Last year across all sectors women earned 14.3 per cent less than men.

The Government funds childcare businesses, but not mothers, which means if you work fulltime and have dependents, you may take home little after childcare.

Feminists may have wanted to get women away from the kitchen, but unless you have personal servants, that kitchen is still there at 5pm, sister. So is your washing, ironing, and husband. Baking and cleaning all day is starting to look appealing. Not to mention the coffee catch-up with other mums and walks up the Mount.

Read more: Bay women make world better place

Staying at home being focused on looking after children and the home would actually be very appealing.

How ironic that some working women now covet the stay-at-home role that feminists saw as oppressive. It is maybe why The Bachelor is so popular.

Because like Jane Austen it conveys that reality of how "a lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment".

It is compelling viewing, even though in our Bay of Plenty Times poll only 6 per cent said they were hooked, with 72 per cent saying they would rather stick needles in their eyes.

For those who are fans is it because we all still want to believe in our prince? Or hanker for those days when Mr Darcy would ask us for the next dance and tell us how ardently he admired us?

I've read criticism that it is anti-women. In my view that is taking it all a bit too seriously. This is reality television after all. All the women are there by choice. Getting the man may not be the only goal - some may be seeking their own fame. It is all really just great entertainment and for those who think it is an affront against women, the Bachelorettes are probably having the last laugh on us, like Jane Austen's characters in Pride and Prejudice "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?"

- Bay of Plenty Times

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