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Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Posted to Media on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 05:39:52 PM EST (promoted from Diaries by Acefantastik). RSS.

The release of an English translation of French feminist Elisabeth Badinter's book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women has unleashed a storm of angst in the feminist blogosphere.  The premise?  Attachment parenting, breast feeding, natural childbirth, the need to make sure your child has the best organic whole grain snacks - all of these requirements for being a perfect parent that upper class Western women impose upon themselves - are setting back women's social advancement by re-confining them to the home and childcare duties.  Anything to this, or maybe just more #FirstWorldProblems?

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1

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:46:16 AM EST

none

I think that there's something here, but underneath the issues raised by feminists is a more fundamental tension between modernism and its rejectionists.  Technology was supposed to allow us to transcend the social structures and inconveniences of pre-modern life - with infant formula and breast pumps, microwave ovens and frozen food - processed, quick, cheap, convenient.  Of course these innovations weren't always all they were cracked up to be and so now we see this backlash of rejection - the slow food movement, the "mommy wars", anti-vaxers, people who garden with their own feces...but what is most interesting here is that these folks also seem inexorably drawn back to the old social structures as well.  I'm not sure whether it's causation or mere correlation, but certainly the upper classes seem more inclined to engage in all of these activities - because they have the leisure time and the option to do so, most likely, but is there also some element of their success being drawn from this as well, or are all these phenomena (both their success and their proclivity to idealizing a more traditional lifestyle) simply a side effect of some other factor?  Certainly there is some irony in the fact that the poorer classes are the ones most likely to have "women's equality" (in the sense that everyone in the household works, and women are the economic equals of the men - or in the case of African-Americans, actually more likely their economic superiors), while upper class women continue to disproportionately choose to put other things before their careers in the quest for social perfection.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:26:50 AM EST

none

Certainly there is some irony in the fact that the poorer classes are the ones most likely to have "women's equality" (in the sense that everyone in the household works, and women are the economic equals of the men - or in the case of African-Americans, actually more likely their economic superiors), while upper class women continue to disproportionately choose to put other things before their careers in the quest for social perfection.

Ironic indeed.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:52:00 AM EST

none

It should be titled How Modern Motherhood Undermines Feminists' Image of the Status of Women, because biology never changed.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

gerrymander.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:46:12 AM EST

none

Or, the even shorter: Motherhood Undermines Feminists' Self-Delusions.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

thefadd.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:27:33 PM EST

none

No, the title ought to be Feminism's War On Women because that's what this is.

I HAD HAD SEX WITH HUNTER S THOMPSON. HE CAME IN MY MOUTH AND I SWALLOWED IT. I SHOULD HAVE HAD HIS BABY. WE WOULD BE BALLIN' LIKE KOBE'S SON!!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:53:12 AM EST

5.00 (astute)

Her title "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women" - is telling.  Why does she see caring for children to be a lower status role?  In my ideal world, all women should be able to be at home, as the primary care giver for their children, and be recognized as co-equals with their husband.  

Instead of fighting for society to better value mothers and their contributions to the family, it seems the modern feminist movement has itself contributed to making the role of "house wife" (good lord, how much baggage has that term accumulated?) a lower status roll, by entirely rejecting it as a valid option.

If anything modern motherhood is a return to normalcy, recognizing that maybe we don't want to use technology as a means of ignoring real biological differences.  Sure, Daddy can strap on a boob harness and feed junior milk that mommy pumped, but why?  Because some feminist rabble rouser says breast feeding your kid is giving into to the demands of a patriarchical society?  Thank god more and more women are realizing that this is all utter bullshit, and that doing what comes naturally both feels good and is best for their children.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:44:32 AM EST

5.00 (interesting)

Why fetishize the "natural" order of things?  In "nature" humans probably lived about 40 years on average at best, infant mortality was quite high, rape was common, violent death was common...and on the flip side, let's not forget that for most of recent human experience, most mothers both worked on the farm AND raised the children - the notion of "stay at home mothers" whose only job was to raise the kids, cook and clean the house is actually a very recent, middle and upper class phenomenon that didn't really exist before the late 18th century (and then only in urban areas).  Childhood as we conceive it didn't really exist in the "natural" order either - kids were working almost full time on the farm by the time they were eight or nine (or in the factory).  Humans aren't animals - gender relations are what we make of them.  I don't have a problem with having a stay at home parent when you have infant children around, but I think that it makes both economic and social sense for both parents to have career options and for households to have two potential breadwinners - it's too economically risky otherwise, particularly if we're never going to have universal health insurance that's not tied to the workplace.  

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:21:06 AM EST

5.00 (correct)

Humans aren't animals...
Actually we are.
...gender relations are what we make of them
So you might get pregnant?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:28:29 AM EST

3.00 (mindless)

Actually we are

We're capable of transcending our biology in ways that most animals are not.

So you might get pregnant?

gender ≠ biological sex, but you're not an idiot, so you knew that.  To put it in simple terms for you - I may not get pregnant, but I might be the primary caregiver for my child.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:43:47 AM EST

5.00 (astute)

In what qualitative ways are we capable of transcending biology in ways that other animals cannot?

What has you becoming a primary caregiver got to do with the biological influence on "gender relations"?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 12:02:22 PM EST

none

In what qualitative ways are we capable of transcending biology in ways that other animals cannot?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_vitro_fertilisation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrogacy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celibacy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_cloning (hasn't been done yet, but we probably very easily could if the ethical & legal issues were ignored)

What has you becoming a primary caregiver got to do with the biological influence on "gender relations"?

If it's not self-evident, explain to me why you though whether or not I could get pregnant was relevant to the statement "gender relations are what we make of them" so I understand where you're coming from.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 12:27:08 PM EST

5.00 (astute)

None of your examples of "transcending biology" have to do with gender or "gender relations." (I don't know why you cited suicide, especially when the Wikipedia page has a section on "Other Species.")

Biology imposes constraints on human behavior, including societal and interpersonal behavior. The fact that one sex can get pregnant and the other cannot is one of the strictest (and most blindingly obvious - but apparently not to you) of those constraints.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:34:33 PM EST

none

Again, gender ≠ biological sex.  If you can't or won't grasp that we've got nothing to talk about.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 05:59:19 PM EST

5.00 (correct)

I understand that you are using the term to mean behavior rather than physiology, is that correct?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 06:02:16 PM EST

none

Yes.  I think there is a useful distinction to be made by calling gender a social construct, and sex a biological reality, particularly since there is some variation across cultures in terms of what it means to be a man or a woman (gender roles), but obviously male and female biology has very little variation.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 06:18:52 PM EST

none

Fine: gender is a social construct based on biological reality. The variation of gender roles between cultures is as insignificant as the variation in diet between cultures.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 06:51:40 PM EST

none

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 07:24:46 PM EST

none

There are female eunuchs?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:11:40 PM EST

none

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:35:10 PM EST

none

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

gerrymander.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:54:57 PM EST

5.00 (astute)

Sex reassignment surgery does not grant working testicles or ovaries. Neither does it alter a body's hormone production. Unless a person has a (vanishingly rare) genetic disorder which grants functional use of both sets of sexual organs, there is no real choice in gender.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:59:21 PM EST

3.00 (infantile)

So an infertile woman isn't a woman?  Good to know, I'll tell my wife that.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

gerrymander.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 03:57:16 PM EST

none

Tell her? Just plug cables for a keyboard and mouse into your ears -- that will totally turn you into a computer, and she can read it for herself.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 04:03:50 PM EST

none

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 12:13:22 PM EST

none

Who is fetishizing?  I am just saying that hell, sometimes it's nice to accept the natural order of things rather than just reject it out of hand.

"the notion of "stay at home mothers" whose only job was to raise the kids, cook and clean the house is actually a very recent, middle and upper class phenomenon that didn't really exist before the late 18th century (and then only in urban areas). "

Really?  So a female Masai went out on the hunt and tended the cattle?  In almost every culture there have always been gender divisions in occupation, and these are driven by the biological differences between man and woman.  It's only in modern times that we've been able to contemplate using technology to create more similar roles for man and woman.  But just because we are able to do so does not mean that it's neccessarily a good idea.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:33:27 PM EST

none

My grandmother grew up on a farm in the 1920s - her and her sisters all milked cows, picked potatoes and otherwise contributed to the household in a significant way.  This was not uncommon in rural areas (still isn't uncommon in rural areas).  In much of Africa women are more responsible for agricultural work than men are, actually.  Many "obvious" gender labor divisions, aren't.  I agree that most societies have created gender labor rolls for men and women, but in most cases those roles end up being somewhat equal amounts of work (or the women actually end up doing more work).  Technology took most of women's traditional labor in the West - cooking, baking, laundry, cleaning...things that were in the past very labor intensive - and made them significantly less burdensome.  Rather than finding new useful work to do to fill up that extra labor time, some subset of women seem to use it to obsess over micro-managing every aspect of their household and their kid's lives.   That is the modern "innovation" that is the biggest problem here, not women working outside the home or whatever it is you seem to be upset about.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

gerrymander.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:49:16 PM EST

none

Women tend to value work which is close, routine, caregiving, and relatively risk-free. Men tend to value work that is distant, sporadic, confrontational, and with greater relative risk. Social and technological change which modifies the weighting of particular tasks may swing those tasks across the gender line, but the tendency to classify tasks as men's or women's work remains constant.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:08:00 PM EST

none

I don't necessarily disagree with that (although I think "tend" is a very important caveat there), but what does that have to do with the argument joshv and I were having?  If anything, I'd say that in today's society workers that are capable of doing routine work with close attention to detail are probably more (or at least as) valuable than (as) confrontational risk takers.  Certainly it doesn't stop women from pursuing a career, or make it physically impossible for men to engage in childcare.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 06:15:34 PM EST

none

...I think "tend" is a very important caveat there...
It is important to note that gerrymander was wrong to hedge on that: division of labor by sex is a universal human behavior, which very strongly suggests it is biologically driven.

Certainly it doesn't...make it physically impossible for men to engage in childcare
This is why we think you are so funny. Of course it is physically impossible for men to engage in childcare the way a woman can.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 06:45:04 PM EST

none

It is important to note that gerrymander was wrong to hedge on that: division of labor by sex is a universal human behavior, which very strongly suggests it is biologically driven.

Religious belief could have also been called a universal human behavior, not so long ago.

This is why we think you are so funny. Of course it is physically impossible for men to engage in childcare the way a woman can.

Yeah, woman have boobs, I get that Ken.  Tits tits tits.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 07:26:21 PM EST

none

Religion is a universal human behavior.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:15:20 PM EST

none

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#Europe

I wouldn't call rates of atheism that range as high as 33% "universal" in a meaningful way.  

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:34:30 AM EST

none

A universal human behavior is one that occurs in all cultures.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:39:29 AM EST

none

We're talking about individual level choices here, though - if 20% or 30% of individuals make choices that go against the norm, then public policy should accommodate that, no?

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:42:21 AM EST

5.00 (astute)

We're talking about individual level choices here, though...
Quite correct. To go back to joshv's original point above:
...recognizing that maybe we don't want to use technology as a means of ignoring real biological differences.
Generally speaking, people do not wish to pretend biological differences do not exist when they plainly do exist. The feminists (some of whom are angry and irrational by any reasonable standard) are arguing that social pressure to conform to the ideals of feminism is good, but social pressure to conform to more traditional roles is bad. They have a right to hold whatever opinion they wish, of course, but where feminists' ideals can be shown to conflict with reality it is reasonable to say those ideals may be detrimental to society.

...if 20% or 30% of individuals make choices that go against the norm, then public policy should accommodate that, no?
What public policy are you referring to?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:59:16 AM EST

none

The feminists (some of whom are angry and irrational by any reasonable standard) are arguing that social pressure to conform to the ideals of feminism is good, but social pressure to conform to more traditional roles is bad. They have a right to hold whatever opinion they wish, of course, but where feminists' ideals can be shown to conflict with reality it is reasonable to say those ideals may be detrimental to society.

There are feminists and then there are feminists - it's not exactly a monolithic group.  I don't think that social pressure to conform to either group is all that great - my desire to score some cheap points may have occasionally obscured that, but ultimately I think that people should have the option to do whatever they want within their financial means, without much social opprobrium in either direction.  From a practical economic standpoint, though, I'll stick with my assertion that it makes more economic sense right now to have two parents who are capable of being sole breadwinners than just one, and so it does bother me to see women being pressured to engage in child-rearing methods that are so intensive that this is impossible.

What public policy are you referring to?

Nothing in particular, just speaking in the abstract.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:10:33 AM EST

none

I don't think the feminists that are saying women ought to work are the problem, but the feminists that think that women are entitled to a choice, either to work or not. Those feminists are dangerous because they undermine women's equality (equality in even negative situations) and because they are the caricatures for anti-feminists to use as straw men.

Women ought to work but ought to realize they have opportunity costs for making that choice, which could mean having children later => more complications with pregnancy, or having little or no relationship with their children, save for some meaningless biological relationship.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:17:19 AM EST

none

Women ought to work but ought to realize they have opportunity costs for making that choice, which could mean having children later => more complications with pregnancy, or having little or no relationship with their children, save for some meaningless biological relationship.

Why don't we, as a society, value making it possible for women to both have meaningful careers and have children at a reasonable age?  Why does anyone (male or female) with kids work at a job that requires them to spend so much time away from home that they can't both work and have a meaningful relationship with their children?

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:29:38 AM EST

none

Because as Americans were assholes and think that anyone that doesn't work at least 40 hours a week or more is a sloth.

And to be fair, there's a certain portion of the population that uses 'work' as an excuse to actually AVOID their families. They got suckered into marriage and kids (or maybe pressured into it from tradition) and they do everything possible to avoid that.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:55:50 AM EST

none

Why does anyone (male or female) with kids work at a job that requires them to spend so much time away from home that they can't both work and have a meaningful relationship with their children?
Presumably because they want to make enough money to buy the things they want to buy - including things for their children. Why do you try to make the obvious things seem complicated?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:30:10 AM EST

none

What kind of person values "things" more than a meaningful relationship with their kids?  

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:45:45 AM EST

none

I don't know.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:59:15 AM EST

none

"Things" - like a house, clothing, transportation, food, education.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:29:29 PM EST

none

"Things" - like a house, clothing, transportation, food, education.

Most people in most places can work a 40 hour work week plus or minus a few hours and take care of all those things, particularly in a dual-income household.  In my experience, most of the men and women I know that work significantly more than 40 hours a week also make a very significant salary, and live upper middle class (or upper class, period) lifestyles.  They could dial their lifestyles back, work lower compensated jobs with more free time to spend with their families, and still do very well for themselves by most peoples' standards.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

rickb928.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 11:44:07 PM EST

none

"Presumably because they want to make enough money to buy the things they want to buy - including things for their children. Why do you try to make the obvious things seem complicated?"

Um, in many cases, it is to make enough money to pay someone else to rais their children.  And hopefully have a few bucks left over to buy more things.

Oh, and very often (as I have a nephew and niece who do, I know of this first-hand) to get insurance benefits because one or the other of the jobs in the household doesn't provide it.

Now, if one parent focused on raising the children, and the other focused on work, some important changes would have to be in our society:

  • Single-income households would have to find employment that paid a livable wage, sufficient to support a family.

  • Health insurance would either have to be a universal benefit of such employment, or affordable enough to be acquired on the market, or would become paid for (or deliverd by) the Government, at some level(s).

  • Since the job market would be hiring out of a much smaller pool of candidates, with mothers pretty much out of the market for much of their most productive working lives, there would either be higher rates of employment among those available, or work would get a lot more productive.

But our society is rife with dual-income familes that abet industry's willingness to pay less and less for work.  Since very few of us require that livable wage, they can get away with it.  And new industries spring up - day care, preschool, maybe more I'm not recalling right now.

Of course, if extended families could be kept intact, a previoius generation could pitch in and care for the children once they were weaned, but that's gone the way of so much else also.  Mandatory or scheduled retirement lets that generation be much more independent, and so unavailable for the role of caregiver.  There are exceptions, yes, but the rule is that grandparents are visited, not included, for many.

Many other technological advances are responsible for this also - cars and the Interstate highway system make it so much more feasible to move away from the readily available (maybe) support system of you parents, and then they are just not handy for that childcare role.  

Just saying, technology has given us the ability to distort traditional roles fairly easily.  Along with those distortions, other such as wage devaluation have reinforced some social changes, and here we are. Women work because one income isn't enough, and pay someone to raise their kids.  Those who can afford to seem to prefer a more traditional role.  Those who can't (we call them 'poor') are forced onto the treadmill.

Oh, and our Government is more than willing than ever to fill the role of caregiver, with preschool especially.  

We can't go back.  So what do we do now?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:11:25 AM EST

none

Single-income households would have to find employment that paid a livable wage, sufficient to support a family
How much is that?

Health insurance would either have to be a universal benefit of such employment, or affordable enough to be acquired on the market...
How much is "affordable"?

Since the job market would be hiring out of a much smaller pool of candidates, with mothers pretty much out of the market for much of their most productive working lives, there would either be higher rates of employment among those available, or work would get a lot more productive
And/or the economy would shrink, making us all worse off, on average.

But our society is rife with dual-income familes that abet industry's willingness to pay less and less for work
How can that be true if incomes have gone up and up?

Mandatory or scheduled retirement lets that generation be much more independent, and so unavailable for the role of caregiver
Are you calling for the abolition of Social Security so that the elderly will be forced to move in with their children?

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 05:24:58 PM EST

none

Why does anyone (male or female) with kids work at a job that requires them to spend so much time away from home that they can't both work and have a meaningful relationship with their children?

You appealed earlier to the right of individuals to make choices (a stance with which I agree), so I wonder if you don't think an employer should give consideration to a person willing to work 50+ hours per week (to advance their "meaningful career" but at the expense of time with their family) over someone who wants to work only 30-40 hours per week and spend more time with their family?  Or do you just think the former should be forbidden (either by social opprobrium or government fiat)?

Because as long as the former is an option, there's going to be someone who takes it, and they will beat out their competitors in the latter category when it comes to advancing their career.

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:37:41 PM EST

none

I don't have a problem with people working 50+ hour weeks - I have a problem with people with kids working that much.  There are jobs out there that don't require that kind of time commitment.  They often aren't as well paid (although not always), but that's a trade-off you make to, you know, see your kids while they're still kids.  Work the long hours before you have them, or after they've graduated from high school and moving on with their own lives, but why have kids if you're not going to spend much time with them at all?  I guess that might sound strange from a guy who was just ranting about how people spend too much time micro-managing their attempts to raise perfect children, but I think there's a sweet spot to be had...and at the end of the day, I probably understand the people who stay at home and micro-manage more than I do those that have the kids and don't want to have anything to do with them.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:53:06 PM EST

none

Work the long hours before you have them,

But part of your complaint was social pressure for women to delay motherhood in order to advance their career.

As for the rest, I understand that you don't think working long hours when you have kids is a good idea, but in the post I was replying to you wondered why society wasn't set up to allow women to have both a meaningful career and spend lots of time with their kids.  For purposes of discussion, I'm assuming that "meaningful" implies long hours (thus the conflict with raising kids), and I'm wondering what changes you would like made that would still allow individuals to make their own choices (as you advocated earlier).

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 06:20:57 AM EST

none

you wondered why society wasn't set up to allow women to have both a meaningful career and spend lots of time with their kids.  For purposes of discussion, I'm assuming that "meaningful" implies long hours

I think a person can have a meaningful career working 40 hour weeks while they have children.  The main thing I'd like to see in the US is expanded maternity leave (and I'd expand it to men as well) - I'd require 6 months of mandatory leave for each parent for each child they have, and make each parent eligible to collect an equivalent amount of money from the government during that time as if they were receiving unemployment benefits (assuming they were employed before they had the kid - unemployed people who have kids wouldn't be eligible).  I'd fund this through a new payroll tax.

Allons-y!

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Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 06:48:40 AM EST

none

You don't mind high unemployment?

85

^ 84

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:01:09 AM EST

none

I prefer that to a low birth rate or to forced female withdrawal from the labor force.  It's amusing that it's not counted as "unemployment" when someone like joshv's wife is forced to quit working because that's the only way they can afford to raise kids.

Allons-y!

89

^ 85

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 08:32:02 AM EST

none

It's amusing that your solution to any problem is a new welfare program.

101

^ 89

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:31:41 AM EST

none

Well, do you have another solution?  Or do you just reject that there's a problem?  Easy to say when you're someone that's making a salary that's high enough that you probably can support a family on one income...but do you realistically think that's going to be an option for the majority of the population, say, ever?

Allons-y!

119

^ 101

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:32:40 PM EST

none

When did it become such a problem?

121

^ 119

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 01:01:48 PM EST

none

When the birth-rate (excluding recent immigrants) fell below replacement level.

Allons-y!

86

^ 82

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:05:43 AM EST

none

So, what happens when someone chooses to only take six weeks of leave and they're rewarded by their employer with that next plum assignment (which comes up when their competitor is in their fifth month of leave anyway)?  Or when employers start discriminating against those they deem likely to take large quantities of leave in the hiring process?  (Yes, it wouldn't be perfect discrimination because they wouldn't be allowed to ask.  It would be worse.  A shotgun blast to everyone with a uterus between the ages of 25 and 35.)

I guess what I'm getting at is, it's not that our society doesn't allow women to have a career and kids that you're complaining about, it's that our society doesn't subsidize people (enough) who choose to have kids.

88

^ 86

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 08:18:32 AM EST

none

So, what happens when someone chooses to only take six weeks of leave and they're rewarded by their employer with that next plum assignment (which comes up when their competitor is in their fifth month of leave anyway)?

Then they don't get that plum assignment.  That's fine.  There are going to be consequences to having kids, I don't dispute that - but it's a hell of a lot easier to take six months of state mandated maternity leave and then come back to your job and pick up where you left off than it is to quit working for four or five years and then try to re-enter the workforce, having to explain that four or five year gap in your resume to prospective employers.  Are you trying to argue otherwise?  No system is perfect, but it's absurd to argue that six months of mandatory leave (as compared to the three months that is currently mandated) would somehow completely destroy the female labor market.  Again - I'm not saying that people who chose to have children should be guaranteed the same level of work success as someone who forgoes having kids and makes work his or her life.  I'm just saying that people who have kids should still be able to work and have a career if they choose to, and shouldn't feel like they have to postpone having children until they're in their mid-30s (and past their reproductive prime) because when they're younger there's no way they can afford to do it.

Or when employers start discriminating against those they deem likely to take large quantities of leave in the hiring process?  (Yes, it wouldn't be perfect discrimination because they wouldn't be allowed to ask.  It would be worse.  A shotgun blast to everyone with a uterus between the ages of 25 and 35.)

Employers already do this to women of childbearing age - that's why I would expand it to both men and women, which would at least equalize the discrimination somewhat.  Such discrimination is, by the way, illegal, which of course doesn't stop it entirely but it does blunt it.  Almost every other advanced country in the world has more generous maternity leave than the US does, and yet somehow they manage to get by.  Your concern-trolling about the plight of women under this new regime is touching, but not convincing.

I guess what I'm getting at is, it's not that our society doesn't allow women to have a career and kids that you're complaining about, it's that our society doesn't subsidize people (enough) who choose to have kids.

Yes, that's what I'm saying.  Children are important to society as a whole, and people who chose to have them should have that process made less difficult, unless you think it's just peachy to end up like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, etc. - countries where the population is rapidly aging and nobody is having kids.

Allons-y!

97

^ 88

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:22:14 AM EST

none

Your concern-trolling about the plight of women under this new regime is touching, but not convincing.

Thanks, Amanda Marcotte.  I'm not "concern trolling".  I'm pointing out the perfectly predictable but unintended consequence of your suggested policy.  It's important to note it because it's the exact opposite of the effect you requested via rhetorical question originally (why doesn't society allow women to have both meaningful careers and children?).

Yes, that's what I'm saying.  Children are important to society as a whole,

Then say that, and I won't have to point out that what you are saying doesn't seem to match your argument in order to figure out what you mean.

unless you think it's just peachy to end up like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, etc

Yes, please stuff words in my mouth right after you accuse me of trolling.  When you're done being a dick about being asked to rectify your position, maybe you'll realize I never said a word against society's role in raising children.

102

^ 97

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:38:48 AM EST

none

I'm pointing out the perfectly predictable but unintended consequence of your suggested policy.  It's important to note it because it's the exact opposite of the effect you requested via rhetorical question originally (why doesn't society allow women to have both meaningful careers and children?).

This is where we disagree and it's why I'm being a dick to you, because I just don't understand what you're getting at.   Are you saying that my regime would be worse for women than the current regime, or not?  If so, explain why - I've already laid out why I think it would not be.  

Allons-y!

110

^ 102

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:25:06 AM EST

none

This is where we disagree . . .

Are you serious?  I've personally heard people in positions to make hiring decisions state that they wouldn't hire someone if they knew she was about to get pregnant.  And that's just the ones who consciously thought about it and were stupid enough to say it out loud (and under the current less generous system). If you don't think employers would be more leery of hiring someone who was likely to take multiple six month absences, we simply live in different worlds.

Are you saying that my regime would be worse for women than the current regime, or not?

I guess what I'm saying is that we are using different definitions of "meaningful".  Your earliest complaint was that society didn't allow women to have both a "meaningful" career and raise children.  Since it's already possible for a woman (or a man) to find employment that involves fewer work hours in order to spend more time with her family, I interpreted "meaningful" as high-powered, fast moving, and long hours.  In other words, you wanted to know why women couldn't "have it all".  My question to you, then, was how you get society to allow women to "have it all" without sacrificing the individual's ability to make choices which you earlier put forth as the ideal.

We are all of us, no matter how gifted, endowed with only 24 hours per day.  Hours spent on one activity cannot be spent on another, and the person who chooses to spend more hours on career advancement is generally going to be the one with the "meaningful" career.  The only way to allow the person who wanted to spend more time with their kids to compete with the person who didn't for a "meaningful" career would be to take away that choice to spend more time on the career.

Instead, it seems that by "meaningful" you meant "fulfilling" and all I can say is we are already there (see ms sue's comment below) and what you are actually arguing for is childcare subsidies, (to which I am not ideologically opposed though I find six months of maternity or paternity leave a bit much) not choice.

113

^ 110

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:52:56 AM EST

none

Are you serious?  I've personally heard people in positions to make hiring decisions state that they wouldn't hire someone if they knew she was about to get pregnant.  And that's just the ones who consciously thought about it and were stupid enough to say it out loud (and under the current less generous system). If you don't think employers would be more leery of hiring someone who was likely to take multiple six month absences, we simply live in different worlds.

Exactly, this happens already with the three months mandated unpaid leave.  To summarize my previous arguments - first, do you really think doubling it from three months to six months is going to have that much more impact?  If you're a business that won't hire women who might have kids, then three months or six months, doesn't matter, you won't hire them.  Second, if we expand this to men as well, that creates such a large pool of people who might potentially take leave that it makes it harder for businesses to figure out who will and who won't, and so eventually they'll just have to write it off as a cost of doing business and stop distinguishing.  

Instead, it seems that by "meaningful" you meant "fulfilling" and all I can say is we are already there (see ms sue's comment below) and what you are actually arguing for is childcare subsidies, (to which I am not ideologically opposed though I find six months of maternity or paternity leave a bit much) not choice.

I feel like we're parsing hairs here - as you said, people are "endowed with only 24 hours per day.  Hours spent on one activity cannot be spent on another" - so yes, childcare subsidies in one form or another are going to be an important part of that, because those basic childcare functions ("caring" for a child as opposed to "raising" it, to use the distinction I outlined below in my response to joshv) are one thing that a person can "outsource" to get some time back.  I disagree with you that we're "already there" in terms of the balance between choice and subsidy - it's not that easy to move between jobs or find jobs that allow you to work flexible hours.  Mandating that employers give employees of childbearing age some flexibility would do a lot to alleviate that.

Allons-y!

114

^ 113

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 11:43:19 AM EST

none

Second, if we expand this to men as well,

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, men have the same right to the leave as women.  Men don't take it as much as women now.  What makes you think they'll take it more if the benefit is expanded?

I disagree with you that we're "already there" in terms of the balance between choice and subsidy - it's not that easy to move between jobs or find jobs that allow you to work flexible hours.  Mandating that employers give employees of childbearing age some flexibility would do a lot to alleviate that.

Ok . . . what do you mean by "meaningful career"?  It sounds to me like you mean "society doesn't allow for work-life balance" not "society forces women to choose between a high powered career or spending time with kids".  The latter is true.  It's true for men, too, and I don't see how anything you've suggested would change that (because people who choose not to avail themselves of those benefits are always going to out-compete people who do use them in career terms).

The former is true, too, but it has nothing to do with having kids and everything to do with education, skill level, and choice of industry.  Work-life balance is available, regardless of whether you have kids, if you have the right combination of those three, but exercising it will still likely entail a career sacrifice (you might have flexible hours that allow you to cut out early to see your kid's play or go rock climbing with your other single friends, but if the next guy over chooses to stay and produces 30% more, chances are he's getting the next promotion).

116

^ 114

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:11:12 PM EST

none

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, men have the same right to the leave as women.  Men don't take it as much as women now.  What makes you think they'll take it more if the benefit is expanded?

FMLA is unpaid - women do often receive at least some paid time off, though (my wife, for example, can receive a full paycheck for her entire three months off as long as she has enough sick time and vacation time save up to cover 50% of the three months), but men almost never do.

Ok . . . what do you mean by "meaningful career"?  It sounds to me like you mean "society doesn't allow for work-life balance"

Yes, that is exactly what I mean.  I can understand why you were initially confused, but I honestly thought I had made that clear quite a few posts ago at this point.

Work-life balance is available, regardless of whether you have kids, if you have the right combination of those three

I think that it is far less available than you are claiming.  Even if you have the right combination of those three, it still takes at least some luck to fall into a situation where you can make it all work.  Mandated leave and more government support for childcare would make it much easier to strike that balance.  

Allons-y!

120

^ 116

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:39:55 PM EST

none

I can understand why you were initially confused, but I honestly thought I had made that clear quite a few posts ago at this point.

You'll have to pardon me for my extended confusion, but honestly, "meaningful career" is a horribly ambiguous term to use when you meant "full time job with flexible hours".  It would have been easier for me to understand if you had explicitly stated I was mistaken when I first broached the high-powered job definition (especially because there is clearly a greater conflict between "high-powered job" and "spending time with kids" than "generic full-time job" and "spending time with kids").

Even if you have the right combination of those three, it still takes at least some luck to fall into a situation where you can make it all work.

It takes some luck and / or a decision that it's important to you.  I turned down one position because the HR person's actual words on work-life balance were, "We're big on work-life balance.  I mean, you need to pick up your kids from school?  That's no problem.  Come in at 8, leave at 3 to pick up your kids, come back at 4, and just work until 8."  He said it without a hint of irony, so I went to the company that offered telecommuting (that I wasn't planning on using) and actual flexible hours.  I would have been paid more at the first company, but I'd rather be a human being.

131

^ 113

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Payool.

Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 02:35:04 AM EST

5.00 (interesting)

Second, if we expand this to men as well, that creates such a large pool of people who might potentially take leave that it makes it harder for businesses to figure out who will and who won't, and so eventually they'll just have to write it off as a cost of doing business and stop distinguishing.

For what it's worth -- in Germany men and women are equally entitled to 12 months of total parental leave, which can be shared between the parents. If each parent takes at least two months of leave, the maximum is extended to 14 months. Even under these circumstances, according to this article (in German) only 25% of fathers choose to take any parental leave, and three quarters of those who do take only two months of leave (the minimum to get the "bonus" noted above).

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/ein-viertel-der-vaeter-geht-in-elternzeit/4196474.html

112

^ 97

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

gerrymander.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:49:00 AM EST

none

I'm pointing out the perfectly predictable but unintended consequence of your suggested policy.

That is pretty much the textbook definition of "concern trolling". You're making the mistake of thinking that verifiable truth matters more to some people than emotional truth.

115

^ 112

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 11:47:51 AM EST

none

"Concern trolling" implies that I don't really think the consequences I'm bringing up are going to happen or that they're not significant.  It's a standard Amanda Marcotte accusation when the "misogynist" and "patriarchy" wells have run dry.

117

^ 115

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:14:48 PM EST

none

I've always defined concern trolling as pretending to care about something you don't actually care about, to try to subvert another person's argument.  See the urban dictionary definition.

Allons-y!

118

^ 117

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

John Adams.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:27:46 PM EST

none

Right.  I should have elaborated "don't really think the consequences are going to happen or don't care if they do (or would be happy if they did)".  Either way, you were a dick for throwing it out there when not only have I never indicated that I didn't think there was a societal role in raising children, I'm pretty sure I argued in favor of it with someone (The Plague?) not too long ago.  But I am sorry for calling you a dick.

122

^ 118

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 01:04:29 PM EST

5.00 (funny)

Hey, if I'm being a dick, call me a dick.  I don't mind.

Allons-y!

106

^ 86

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Gaius Petronius.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:06:21 AM EST

none

You make a point about subsidizing women more to have kids. they've tried that in Europe with poor results. France offers lavish benefits, like cash grants to parents, free medical care and daycare services, and long maternity leaves. Even with this largesse, France has a birthrate of about 1.9, which is below replacement. Other EU countries offer similarly nice benefits, but even with that France has the highest birthrate in Western Europe. One wonders what the point is of a European Union if you run out of Europeans.

107

^ 106

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:11:06 AM EST

none

Subsidies aren't everything, but they help - countries that put them in place have seen improvements in their birth rates.  You need both a cultural shift towards valuing children, and subsidies to help make it possible.  I think the US still has a culture of valuing children (at least, moreso than Europe), but we're rapidly approaching the point where it's becoming economically unfeasible for most people to have kids at an ideal age.  Live with that situation long enough and eventually we'll value kids as little as the Europeans do, and be in even worse shape because we don't even have the subsidies to make childrearing attractive.

Allons-y!

44

^ 41

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:53:26 AM EST

none

How does it undermine women's equality to say they have a choice?

128

^ 25

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

socky.

Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 05:58:17 PM EST

none

I got down to here and mainly I am ashamed that I mentioned this site recently to an acquaintance. does it get less basement-repressed-fury later?
are any women posting here any more?
does anyone really think sentences that start "women" or "men" that don't end in incontrovertible descriptions of genitalia are of any argumentative value?
can any of you recommend somewhere that is just a little less unprocessedly angry?

129

^ 128

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 06:05:15 PM EST

none

This is one of the sillier topics of late.

130

^ 128

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:35:01 PM EST

none

You call this angry? Heh. This is merely "light banter" TnT style.

[I'm not that guy.]

132

^ 128

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

gerrymander.

Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 01:14:04 AM EST

none

If you want real fireworks, post a diary entry uncomplimentary about Foreigner's music catalog.

Go ahead. I dare you.

36

^ 13

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:42:59 AM EST

none

This they did when they were children right?  Did boy children perform these roles as well?  Sure - because at that age the biological differences are small - though there are some jobs that require more strength than a girl child will have.

But I am talking about the role of their mother.  Was mother out there milking the cows and picking potatoes while dad fed the baby cow's milk from a new-fangled bottle by the hearth?

As for technological innovation, it cuts both ways, it gives both mother and father more free time to spend with the children.  The average work week has decreased significantly because we are so much more productive.  It also frees up mommy to spend more time with  Jr. during the day, and it gives Jr. more free time because his only chores are cleaning up his room, taking out the garbage and maybe running the vacuum cleaner for a few minutes.

So everybody has more free time - but your answer to this surfeit of free time is that mommy should work more outside the home, and turn over those tasks to which she is more biologically suited to the father.  Huh.  Maybe Dad should instead take up a part time job so that he doesn't use his extra time to "obsess and micromanage" using all his spare time.  Maybe Jr. should get a job to get out from under his harpy of a mother.

For some reason, you seem to have a very negative picture of the stay at home mom.  Let me give you a different one, my sister.  She had two kids, 5 and 7, and then had an oops, who is now almost 1.  Several months ago she decided that her job just didn't give her enough money to pay for child care for the new one - so she quit and now stays at home.  She doesn't rush everyone here and there in an overbooked social schedule, she doesn't take the kids on enforced "play dates".  She doesn't plop them all into the health club's day care room while she does Pilates.  She's just a normal everyday mom who does all those normal every day things that moms do.  She's not rich by any means, in fact they can barely afford to have her stay at home - though given the jobs she can find, it's cheaper than her working, at least for right now with an infant in the house.

I don't know what you think I am upset about either.

37

^ 36

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:41:54 AM EST

none

This they did when they were children right?  Did boy children perform these roles as well?  Sure - because at that age the biological differences are small - though there are some jobs that require more strength than a girl child will have.

She did this right up until she got married to my grandfather, then she kept doing it when he took over the farm.  Some of my earliest memories are helping her unload (50lb+) haybales from a wagon onto a hay elevator so my uncles could stack them in the hay mow.  This was when she was in her late 50s / early 60s.  Spend some time in a rural area and you'll be surprised by the amount of physical labor that women do (and have been doing since time immemorial).

So everybody has more free time - but your answer to this surfeit of free time is that mommy should work more outside the home, and turn over those tasks to which she is more biologically suited to the father...

What makes sense for any given family is going to vary, but do you really dispute my point that a family with two potential high income earners is more economically secure than a family with just one?  Particularly since in this economy no one has a guarantee of lifetime employment anymore?  I don't think having either parent sacrifice a career to stay at home makes sense if it can be avoided - if the least damaging option is for one parent or the other to take four or five years off, rather than each taking two, then so be it, but make that decision based on whose job will be impacted less by the off-time, not by gender.

Allons-y!

50

^ 37

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:19:43 PM EST

none

Well my income is much higher than my wife's was or could be, and my wife's support at home allows me to increase my income and gives me flexibility to take work that requires travel.  Suppose I need to get a contracting gig that requires travel?  No can do if my wife is working, at the very least it makes it much more difficult.  

I can also work more hours and work with fewer interruptions to my day than if my wife worked as well.  That increases my income over the long term.

52

^ 50

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:34:14 PM EST

none

And what happens if/when you have a heart attack, get hit by a bus, what have you?  Do you have a life insurance policy large enough to make up for 20 years or so of lost income? (I'm guessing you're in your mid-to-late-30s - adjust that plus or minus if I'm wrong)  Will your wife be able to afford individual health insurance for just her and the kids?  I'm really am curious what your strategy is to hedge against that risk - not trying to throw out a "gotcha" or anything.  

Allons-y!

54

^ 52

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:41:27 PM EST

none

Yes, 20 year term life policy that's large enough to provide for my family if I die tomorrow.

55

^ 54

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:50:01 PM EST

none

Though we are a bit exposed to the risk of a long term disability - say for example if I am brain damaged in an accident and no longer able to spend my days arguing on the Internet.

56

^ 55

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:44:03 PM EST

none

say for example if I am brain damaged in an accident and no longer able to spend my days arguing on the Internet.

Considering the general discourse level in the comments of, say, Yahoo News, I don't think that would be much of a hindrance.

Allons-y!

39

^ 36

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:47:58 AM EST

none

turn over those tasks to which she is more biologically suited to the father

Of course because all women who are mothers are excellent mothers and all fathers are horrible with their children and should avoid them by working.

49

^ 39

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:08:50 PM EST

none

I am horrible at nursing my child.  I lack the equipment.  Even when I tried with a bottle and pumped milk, the kid hated the experience.

I "avoid" my family about 40 hours each week, about half my waking hours.  And I will say, without guilt, that I enjoy the time away.  I also enjoy the heck out of spending time with my kids.  Similarly my wife enjoys time away too.  It's harder for her with the kids the age they are, but I've watched the kids while she went on a mini-vacation - I typically take care of the kids in the morning, and put them to bed at night, and she regular has her "girl's night out" with her friends.  

But she is definitely the primary care giver, and I am the only bread winner.  It works for us and gives my kids a very high quality of life.

53

^ 49

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:37:35 PM EST

5.00 (astute)

40 hours a week isn't the kind of workload I'm critical of.  I have a family member who has three little kids that makes six figures working for a major corporation, and he's traveling probably three weeks a month (he does get to work from home the week or so that he's not traveling, so that's something, I guess).  That's kind of crazy to me - sure the money's good, but you don't get those years back.  His dad worked 50-60 hour weeks in a corporate managerial position, though, so that's what's "normal" to him, I guess.

Allons-y!

20

Milky

Ephraim Gadsby.

Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 02:33:30 PM EST

5.00 (informative)

It's amusing to contrast the "curtailed" lives of modern women,  "oppressed" by breast feeding, with the life of Badinter's father.

57

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:11:57 PM EST

5.00 (brilliant)

I shouldn't be involved in this exchange at all. I'm older than most of you. My kids were thankfully born well before the whole "attachment parenting" mania struck well-to-do young families. I've also never made enough money to consider having a stay-at-home spouse. But what the hell:

Even if I had made enough to allow my first wife to stay at home with our daughter, she would never have dreamed of it. She, being an intelligent woman with not inconsequential amounts of talent and ambition, would have gone bonkers inside of six months. And although I guess I would have had to change a few less diapers and generally would have had less to do with the day-to-day care of our child if my wife had stayed at home, it would have driven me bonkers to see the bright, motivated person I married reduced to some 1960s sitcom ideal of vapid womanhood. (Yes I know that line is going to drive josh and gerry apoplectic, but bear with me.)

Instead, she was was back at work in six weeks and back in grad school three weeks after that. She was already a registered nurse and was on her way to a masters specializing in geriatric care. She's now a nurse practitioner and makes more money than I'll ever see... which brings me to my ultimate point:

While a woman in her late 20s or early 30s may think she relishes the idea of being a stay-at-home mother, how is she going to feel when she is 50 and the spawn are out the door? No career. No resume. No accomplishments.

It's not a life I'd want. None of my wives wanted it either. Maybe that's just a result of being late Boomers/early X-ers. Maybe it's the inevitable result of not having enough money to have such "problems." I dunno.

I just wanted it noted somewhere in this discussion that it is quite possible to be a libertarian-leaning conservative and not think that a return to mid-20th century gender roles is a good idea.

[I'm not that guy.]

58

^ 57

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:16:00 PM EST

none

"She, being an intelligent woman with not inconsequential amounts of talent and ambition, would have gone bonkers inside of six months."

"While a woman in her late 20s or early 30s may think she relishes the idea of being a stay-at-home mother, how is she going to feel when she is 50 and the spawn are out the door? No career. No resume. No accomplishments."

Imma have to steal those from you, well said.

59

^ 57

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:45:36 PM EST

none

My wife went to college and worked for ten years before having kids so I don't think our experiences are similar.  Regardless, if you have all your kids in your 20s, there's nothing stopping you from going to school in your mid-30s and starting a career in your 40s.

And again, I have no idea where this "1960s sitcom ideal of vapid womanhood" comes from.  Why the hell are you and others so insistent on devaluing what women do in the home?  

And I find "No career. No resume. No accomplishments." simply insulting.  Does raising kids well count for nothing?

60

^ 59

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:52:19 PM EST

none

Raising children is essentially a choice, you did not have to have children. Going to work and earning a living so you can feed yourself is not really a choice, unless you won the lottery or are like Mitt Romney with a rich daddy.

90

^ 60

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 08:48:28 AM EST

none

Raising children is not a choice for the species - so some of us are going to have to do it or they'll quickly be none of us left.

91

^ 90

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:01:26 AM EST

none

Oh alright, we to have to worry so much about extinct with 6 billion people on the planet and growing. Seriously, I can't even believe someone would pull such a lame ass argument.

96

^ 91

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:19:02 AM EST

5.00 (astute)

Um, do you have any idea how quickly population extinction comes with a the reproduction rates of say Italy?  Only takes a couple generations.

My point is, reproduction isn't some sort of luxury "choice" - it's a necessity that most of us will have to undertake.  Sure, you can chose to create a society where that's not supported or valued, but that society will not last long.

103

^ 91

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:52:10 AM EST

none

I'm with joshv on this, at least - it worries me that in almost all cases, secular industrialized societies (even industrializing societies that haven't gotten there yet, like China) have very low birth rates.  Even the Arab world, which is neither secular nor particularly industrialized, is slowly falling to replacement rates or below.  Considering that the world as a whole becomes more secular and more industrialized every year, as we move along this will be more and more a pressing concern, I feel - I don't worry about species extinction, but I do worry about the economic consequences of shifting from net population growth to net population decline.

Allons-y!

104

^ 103

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:56:39 AM EST

5.00 (astute)

Not that I am really all that worried about a population collapse, in the long term they are self correcting, as booms usually follow the busts - but my general point is that reproduction isn't some sort of luxury choice, and societal values should encode the need to reproduce, or those societies will be replaced by those that value reproduction more.

123

^ 91

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

ThePlague.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 02:47:55 PM EST

5.00 (astute)

Closer to 7 billion per google.  That's what absolutely amazes me about the breeder proponents wanting to subsidize children even more than they already are:  you are paying people for doing stuff they will do anyway or, if they don't want to do it, no reasonable amount of welfare is going to be an inducement.  It's completely insane, but that's the sort of logic you get with the "conception to the grave" nanny staters.  Apparently, humans can neither breed nor not breed without government regulation.  Heh.

the secret to happiness is to have you pay for my cocaine and mountain climbing-p0157

124

^ 123

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

zyxwvutsr.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 03:23:21 PM EST

5.00 (funny, astute)

The argument being made here, as far as I can tell, is that we need to use welfare to encourage more births to ensure that we have a large enough population in the future to tax for more welfare.

61

^ 59

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:56:42 PM EST

none

And you know what... most (if not all) working women realize that it's not all that hard to be a stay@home mom. For real. Yeah, publicly they might not say it (hedging against a situation where they at one time become stay@home moms and don't get ridiculed or become hypocrites incase they want to bitch/complain about the hardships of being a mom) but off the record most women that have working experience will take being a stay@home mom in terms of "ease" of situation.

62

^ 61

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:59:10 PM EST

none

I never said it was hard or difficult.  It's probably much less stressful and certainly gives my wife more "free" time than she would otherwise have.

105

^ 62

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Degee.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:02:03 AM EST

none

I can't think of many things more stressful than being responsible for the safety of a human life.

LingQ: the best place for learning languages.

63

^ 61

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:02:43 PM EST

none

And let me just say that of course the difficulty of the 'job' increases as you have more children but that's your choice as well. It's not 100+ years ago when you had multiple children because there was fear of losing children to disease and such early on, and as a labor force for household income. Nope you fully decide to have one child or multiple children, that's on you, so it's kind of pointless for someone to complain about that as "hard work". Yeah well I knew it was going to hard work to be a coal miner so I ain't trying to be one. I'm not going to pick coal mining as a hobby and then bitch that it is such hard work.

64

^ 59

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:11:34 PM EST

none

Why the hell are you and others so insistent on devaluing what women do in the home?

Because quite frankly unless you have a practicing catholic-sized litter of offspring, it simply is not that hard. It certainly is in no way intellectually challenging. Sorry man but it just isn't. [shrug]

[I'm not that guy.]

65

^ 64

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:14:23 PM EST

none

So the time my wife spends with my kids is worthless because it's not hard and it's not intellectually challenging.  Good to know.

67

^ 65

gasoline for the campfire

T Slothrop.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:32:05 PM EST

none

Worthless? Of course not. But worth less? Yeah.

[I'm not that guy.]

68

^ 67

Re: gasoline for the campfire

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:34:35 PM EST

none

And I quote: "No career. No resume. No accomplishments."  "No" not "Less".

69

^ 68

Re: gasoline for the campfire

T Slothrop.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:45:27 PM EST

none

Ok, have it your way then - worthless. Worthless in the sense that she is going to be 50 with a huge hole in her resume and nothing to show for it - other than a few (hopefully) decent kids. And that is something she could have had almost as easily without sacrificing her career.

So tell me again what the upside to staying at home is?

[I'm not that guy.]

71

^ 69

Re: gasoline for the campfire

joshv.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 05:03:28 PM EST

none

And compare this to working your ass off for some asshole boss who never recognizes your work, sacrificing time with your kids for your career and getting layed-off at 50 after having topped out as a mid level manager.  Your kids hate you, you are now "over qualified" for every single job you might apply for, but you've got "accomplishments" of the sort you apparently value.  Yeah!

66

^ 64

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Ephraim Gadsby.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:17:43 PM EST

none

Most jobs aren't intellectually challenging, particularly ones women gravitate to.

70

^ 66

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 04:02:56 PM EST

none

More intellectually challenging than changing diapers and chasing toddlers, I should have specified. I'm not trying to imply that all working mothers are theoretical physicists. But I stand by my point that most jobs - that pay significantly more than minimum wage, anyway - are more intellectually challenging than childcare.

[I'm not that guy.]

77

^ 70

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Degee.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:09:01 PM EST

none

If raising kids is not intellectually challenging, then you are not really doing it right

LingQ: the best place for learning languages.

78

^ 77

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:36:24 PM EST

none

Stay-at-home childcare of infants and toddlers is not the same thing as "raising kids".

I like to think I taught my kids far more than they learned in school up until mid-high school at least. I taught all three of them to read. I instilled in all of them a love for the written word. I taught them all how to read music and some basic music theory. I taught them all how to drive a car and how to consistently hit targets both stationary and moving with a variety of firearms. I taught two of them how to play poker better than most adults and one of them how to play chess. Most importantly, I'm relatively confident that I instilled in them a set of basic values that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. It has been one of the most rewarding and intellectually challenging experiences of my life.

And it was all done while working 50-70 hours per week outside the home, with spouses who worked 40-50 hours per week.

[I'm not that guy.]

79

^ 78

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Degee.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:02:27 AM EST

none

"Stay-at-home childcare of infants and toddlers is not the same thing as "raising kids". "

Sorry, I do not see the distinction.

LingQ: the best place for learning languages.

80

^ 79

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 12:19:24 AM EST

none

I honestly don't know how to explain it any more clearly. One can "raise kids" without being a stay-at-home parent. Millions of people have done it. Changing diapers and chasing toddlers is not intellectually stimulating. Teaching your kids about the world is. You don't have to give up your life to do that, either.

[I'm not that guy.]

81

^ 80

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

Degee.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 05:26:59 AM EST

none

I am not sure how "Changing diapers and chasing toddlers" takes up more than 5-7% of the time of a caregiver.  There is quite a lot of other time during which your intellect is in play... if you so choose.

LingQ: the best place for learning languages.

83

^ 78

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 06:34:49 AM EST

none

So I am confused, if a mother stays at home and does the same things you did, she has no accomplishments.  You on the other hand appear to be very proud of your accomplishments with your children.  So what's the difference?  Is it that you are a man?  Is it that you did it while working full time?  Is the accomplishment of a well-trained and well-educated child somehow lessened when it's done without a full workload outside the house?

92

^ 83

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

improper.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:04:46 AM EST

none

He made it perfectly clear he was talking about small children, he wasn't talking about children who are of school-going age (which would be argument against SAHMs because they don't need to be home when kids are at school). So what actual "raising" are these mothers doing as SAHMs?

95

^ 83

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

T Slothrop.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:18:43 AM EST

none

Is the accomplishment of a well-trained and well-educated child somehow lessened when it's done without a full workload outside the house?

Not exactly, but you are getting closer to what I'm saying anyway.

My point is that raising kids is not a full-time job. It can be done and done right on a very part-time basis. So your wife's choice to stay home is about other things than making sure your kids are properly cared for. What those other things may be are beyond the scope of this discussion. She will not be a better parent and your kids will not be more loved or better cared for because she sits at home all day.

If your wife doesn't want to work that's between the two of you. But don't try to claim that raising your kids is a full-time job that is in any way comparable with working outside the home.

[I'm not that guy.]

98

^ 95

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:26:16 AM EST

none

"If your wife doesn't want to work that's between the two of you. But don't try to claim that raising your kids is a full-time job that is in any way comparable with working outside the home."

It can certainly be just as fullfilling as working outside the home.  I will grant that it depends on the woman and the other things that she's done in her life - but for some woman it's extremely fullfilling.  Though I imagine when they hear folks like you spouting off about how they sit around accomplishing nothing all day long, they might question their choice.

Your rather vicious denegration of the role of stay at home mother is not yours alone.  It's reflected in the modern feminist movement, and society at large, and it serves to deny woman a valid choice in their life.  Imagine a society in which both choices are equally valued and supported.  What would be so bad about that?  Instead we have a society where woman are made to feel guilty and useless no matter what they do.

73

I did both

ms sue.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 06:26:24 PM EST

5.00 (interesting)

I'm older than most of you here, even older than TS, I think. :-) I married young, after my freshman year at UCLA, which was not so unusual in my day. I graduated and  worked briefly for the federal government and was surprised and relieved to find myself pregnant -- hated that damn place and also thought that we had insurmountable fertility issues.

 I was what they now call a SAHM for many years. When our daughter was 15, I started doing some proofreading and ended up chairing the English department at a proprietary school for court reporting students. I taught for 13 years.

For me, personally, my opinion, based on my experience and my personality and upbringing and the zeitgeist at the time, and my hang-ups, etc.,  and nothing else: Those years teaching English were the most rewarding and exciting and self-fulfilling (in terms of feeling that I was making an important difference) years of my life.

If the reader thinks that this reflects poorly on me or that I don't love my daughter with all my heart and soul, you are  half right. I love my daughter with all my heart and soul, and this does reflect poorly on me.

87

^ 73

Re: I did both

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:31:15 AM EST

none

I guess all that I am arguing for here is that we step back from the idea that a women must work outside the home to be fullfilled, and that raising children doesn't really count as a fullfilling career choice.  I will grant, that given the number of children people have these days, it's at most a 20 year career, so that leaves of lot of time either before or after children (depending on when you have kids), and I don't pretend that it makes any sense for a woman to sit at home and tend to the needs of only herself and her husband.

But it should be perfectly acceptable to take those 20 years and dedicate them to your children without be told you've got "No career. No accomplishments." and that you spent those years in the "vapid" pursuit of some June Cleaver 1960's ideal.

93

^ 87

Re: I did both

improper.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:06:36 AM EST

none

Who is this mother that dedicates her 20 years to a child, especially one that is of school-going age by 5-6? I mean talk about overbearing, that sounds like George Constanza's mother.

99

^ 93

Re: I did both

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:27:31 AM EST

none

2-3 kids, birthed over 5-10 years.  Are you really that unimaginative?

94

^ 87

Re: I did both

improper.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:10:39 AM EST

5.00 (agreed)

Nobody is saying she MUST work (atleast I don't think so). People are saying that isn't a career and you certainly shouldn't get a reward or even a damn pat on the back for purposely having children fall out of you (as a hobby) and then claim it is so damn demanding of a task. You don't deserve a damn award for stuff people have been doing since the dawn of man. You decided to have children out of your own selfish desire to have biological children, it wasn't some altruistic selfless act to stave off the extinction of humanity.

100

^ 94

Re: I did both

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:30:16 AM EST

none

Who the fuck is asking for a pat on the back and a reward.  

I am merely asking that reasonable folks stop calling the choice to stay at home "worthless and vapid" and recognize it as a valid and valued path to take, either in addition to a traditional career, or to the exclusion of a traditional career.

108

^ 100

Re: I did both

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:13:02 AM EST

none

recognize it as a valid and valued path to take, either in addition to a traditional career, or to the exclusion of a traditional career.

Would you say that if the person was, say, staying home just to keep house, with no kids?

Allons-y!

109

^ 108

Re: I did both

joshv.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:17:07 AM EST

none

Were we talking about that?

111

^ 109

Re: I did both

port1080.

Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:38:13 AM EST

5.00 (astute, succinct)

Were we talking about that?

Well, it seems to me that TS is essentially saying that parenting contains two components - "raising your child," which amounts to instilling values, serving as an example, giving direction, discipline, etc., and "caring for you child," which would consist of what you'd expect a daycare worker to do - change diapers, make sure they're fed, and so on.  TS is saying that a person can do the former at a high level while also working full time, so really the only reason to be a SAHP is to do the latter, which is neither hard nor intellectually rewarding.  Your counter seems to be that it's okay to be a SAHP if you put extra effort into the "raising your child" activities - the things that are challenging and rewarding.  I'm honestly not sure where I fall on this - I don't think that most SAHP's are sitting around all day doing nothing but the manual chores, and I'd even go so far as to say they probably do a better job at "raising" than households that have two working parents, but I think they probably also ultimately spend more time on the "raising" things than is strictly necessary, and in some cases (but certainly not all) that can verge into being overprotective helicopter-parent types, which actually ends up being counterproductive - so being an SAHP ultimately is probably a wash, in terms of the impact it has on your kids, what matters more is how you parent within the type of parenting (SAHP or dual-income) that you choose.

So, wrapping this back to my question - if you can adequately "raise" a child while still working, then isn't the choice to stay at home ultimately very equivalent to simply staying home to keep house, without kids?  They're both choices of convenience and preference, rather than necessity.  I don't have the same level of judgmentalism about it that TS seems to, but I don't necessarily think SAHP's should be lionized either.  It's just a choice, one of many possible choices.  I think all parents end up with a great deal of their sense of self-worth wrapped up in how they raise their kids, so it's hard to see someone else making different choices than you and not feel like it's a personal attack.  Right choices are ultimately going to be situational, though, which is why I've mainly tried to stick with economic arguments for why it's wise to have a dual-income household in most cases - if you can conquer the economics of it and the SAHP is happy to stay home, and the breadwinner is happy to be a breadwinner and can be a good breadwinner while still having enough free time to spend with his or her kids, then why not?  Not everyone loves to work.

Allons-y!

74

Re: Reconciling Modern Motherhood and Feminism

thefadd.

Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 06:29:07 PM EST

none

useless 1970's retread ideas. who says traditional publishing is dying.

I HAD HAD SEX WITH HUNTER S THOMPSON. HE CAME IN MY MOUTH AND I SWALLOWED IT. I SHOULD HAVE HAD HIS BABY. WE WOULD BE BALLIN' LIKE KOBE'S SON!!

127

Mother, Summer, I

Ephraim Gadsby.

Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 01:25:36 PM EST

none

By Philip Larkin

My mother, who hates thunder storms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost,

And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can't confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate

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