Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Some more on elite viewpoints and families

Went by the Curmudgeon’s place the other day(need to do that more often) and found this post on the ‘problem’ of women who decide to stay home while the husband works. One linked article is from (fG)Britain on the bloody awful cost of child care:
The research shows that average childcare charges around the country have rocketed - rising faster than the rate of inflation for the seventh year in a row. Critics say this makes a mockery of Government attempts to persuade more women to return to work, because the fees are beyond the reach of most families, including the middle classes. The average cost for a nursery place for under-twos across the whole of England is £159 per week, compared to average earnings of £457 a week. This brings the annual bill up to £8,268, close to the cost of sending an older child to some independent day schools. However, the highest reported cost was for a childminder, in West Sussex, who was charging £750 a week or £39,000 a year. This is more than the annual salary of a nanny, who can earn around £30,000 a year. It is also more than the annual fees of £26,490 for Eton College. The average fee for childminders in England is £144 per week for a child under two and £142 for a youngster of two and over. This increase is broadly in line with the inflation rate. However, out-of-school club charges have risen by more than six times the inflation rate, with typical costs of £43 for 15 hours a week.
And so forth. Say almost $300/week for under two, slightly less for over, round it to $15,000/year. For ONE kid. That’s one hell of a bite out of a paycheck. So if mom & dad decide to forego the money she’d earn outside the home and she stays home with the kids, what’s the problem?
A 2003 policy paper on equality for women, backed by four Cabinet Ministers, claimed there were "real problems" over women who stay at home to bring up their children. The document suggested that mothers who stayed at home were failing to repay the state for the cost of their time in education.

Got that? She stays home, she’s not ‘repaying the state’. She shouldn’t worry about taking care of her kids, oh no: she should be working so the government can tax what she earns, and spend it on socialist bullcrap. And let's pass on the fact that the money for that education was taxed out of people.

But author and academic Patricia Morgan said: "When there was this great campaign to get all the women out to work because they were unproductive at home, it was somehow assumed that childcare outside the home was a "non cost". "But we are now discovering what they found out in the Soviet Union and Sweden - that out of home care is extremely expensive. Unless you are earning a huge salary someplace like the City, it's a case of is it worth it? It's ludicrous."

And that neglects one very important thing: the kids. There are studies showing, over and over, that kids who have mom(or dad in some cases, but one of their parents) at home when they’re little do better. In school, in later life. But that’s not NEARLY as important, it seems, as getting mom out paying more in taxes, and putting the kids in care the government has more control over. Damn.

The other article is from here, and boils down to ‘women who stay home are failing feminism’. Illustrated with such gems as
I stumbled across the news three years ago when researching a book on marriage after feminism. I found that among the educated elite, who are the logical heirs of the agenda of empowering women, feminism has largely failed in its goals. There are few women in the corridors of power, and marriage is essentially unchanged. The number of women at universities exceeds the number of men. But, more than a generation after feminism, the number of women in elite jobs doesn't come close. Why did this happen? The answer I discovered -- an answer neither feminist leaders nor women themselves want to face -- is that while the public world has changed, albeit imperfectly, to accommodate women among the elite, private lives have hardly budged. The real glass ceiling is at home.
Ok, here we have another ‘educated elite’(phrase sound familiar?) who are not taking their rightful places among the ‘elite’ because of the glass ceiling at home. After lots more women went out into the workplace,
But then the pace slowed. The census numbers for all working mothers leveled off around 1990 and have fallen modestly since 1998. In interviews, women with enough money to quit work say they are "choosing" to opt out. Their words conceal a crucial reality: the belief that women are responsible for child-rearing and homemaking was largely untouched by decades of workplace feminism. Add to this the good evidence that the upper-class workplace has become more demanding and then mix in the successful conservative cultural campaign to reinforce traditional gender roles and you've got a perfect recipe for feminism's stall.

Few years ago somebody wrote “So women moved into a lot of formerly male occupations, and after a few years discovered something we could have told them: very often, work sucks.” And finding yourself in a job you don’t actually like that much, but feel you ought to stay at because of ‘feminist ideals’, sucks even more. Especially if, like a lot of women, you want to get married and have a family. And be there when the kids are little. But let’s take a look at that “choosing” to opt out:
What is going on? Most women hope to marry and have babies. If they resist the traditional female responsibilities of child-rearing and householding, what Arlie Hochschild called "The Second Shift," they are fixing for a fight. But elite women aren't resisting tradition. None of the stay-at-home brides I interviewed saw the second shift as unjust; they agree that the household is women's work. As one lawyer-bride put it in explaining her decision to quit practicing law after four years, "I had a wedding to plan." Another, an Ivy Leaguer with a master's degree, described it in management terms: "He's the CEO and I'm the CFO. He sees to it that the money rolls in and I decide how to spend it." It's their work, and they must do it perfectly. "We're all in here making fresh apple pie," said one, explaining her reluctance to leave her daughters in order to be interviewed. The family CFO described her activities at home: "I take my [3-year-old] daughter to all the major museums. We go to little movement classes."_ Conservatives contend that the dropouts prove that feminism "failed" because it was too radical, because women didn't want what feminism had to offer. In fact, if half or more of feminism's heirs (85 percent of the women in my Times sample), are not working seriously, it's because feminism wasn't radical enough: It changed the workplace but it didn't change men, and, more importantly, it didn't fundamentally change how women related to men.
She’s so tied up in her view of feminism(“You MUST go out and work in Elite Positions or you are failing Feminism!”) that nothing else will do. She sees the very idea of “I have a choice, and I want to stay home with the kids” as demonstrating a failure.

Thereafter, however, liberal feminists abandoned the judgmental starting point of the movement in favor of offering women "choices." The choice talk spilled over from people trying to avoid saying "abortion," and it provided an irresistible solution to feminists trying to duck the mommy wars. A woman could work, stay home, have 10 children or one, marry or stay single. It all counted as "feminist" as long as she chose it. (So dominant has the concept of choice become that when Charlotte, with a push from her insufferable first husband, quits her job, the writers at Sex and the City have her screaming, _I choose my choice! I choose my choice!_)
Let’s pass on using quotes from Sluts in the City as part of her argument. Let’s stick with her seeing ‘choice’ as a good thing only when women choose what she thinks they should. Which is an awful lot like the current “Freedom of speech only counts if you don’t offend someone” bullcrap.

Great as liberal feminism was, once it retreated to choice the movement had no language to use on the gendered ideology of the family. Feminists could not say, "Housekeeping and child-rearing in the nuclear family is not interesting and not socially validated. Justice requires that it not be assigned to women on the basis of their gender and at the sacrifice of their access to money, power, and honor."_

Gee, for the last quite a while who was it that said being a housewife was not interesting? Was not socially valid? Was not something a woman should want to do? Why, the radical feminists. The ones for whom the ability to choose what you do wasn’t and isn’t good enough: you have to choose the RIGHT things or you are failing feminism and all women. And that ‘sacrifice of their access to money, power, and honor' bit bothers me. That raising kids apparently doesn’t count as honorable(and obviously doesn’t lead to money and power; at least not the kind of power the statists want). I think you can gauge just how important that is by how badly so many people want to take as much of it as possible away from the parents.

I’m going to skip around a bit here:
Here's the feminist moral analysis that choice avoided: The family -- with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks -- is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government. This less-flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral responsibility only of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust. Women assigning it to themselves is equally unjust. To paraphrase, as Mark Twain said, "A man who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as a man who cannot read." Women who want to have sex and children with men as well as good work in interesting jobs where they may occasionally wield real social power need guidance, and they need it early. Step one is simply to begin talking about flourishing. In so doing, feminism will be returning to its early, judgmental roots. This may anger some, but it should sound the alarm before the next generation winds up in the same situation. Next, feminists will have to start offering young women not choices and not utopian dreams but solutions they can enact on their own. Prying women out of their traditional roles is not going to be easy. It will require rules -- rules like those in the widely derided book The Rules, which was never about dating but about behavior modification.(speaking of which…) The preparation stage begins with college. It is shocking to think that girls cut off their options for a public life of work as early as college. But they do. The first pitfall is the liberal-arts curriculum, which women are good at, graduating in higher numbers than men. Although many really successful people start out studying liberal arts, the purpose of a liberal education is not, with the exception of a miniscule number of academic positions, job preparation. Feminist organizations should produce each year a survey of the most common job opportunities for people with college degrees, along with the average lifetime earnings from each job category and the characteristics such jobs require.(because nobody produces such studies now, of course)

… So here's an easier rule: Marry young or marry much older. Younger men are potential high-status companions. Much older men are sufficiently established so that they don't have to work so hard, and they often have enough money to provide unlimited household help. By contrast, slightly older men with bigger incomes are the most dangerous, but even a pure counterpart is risky. If you both are going through the elite-job hazing rituals simultaneously while having children, someone is going to have to give. Even the most devoted lawyers with the hardest-working nannies are going to have weeks when no one can get home other than to sleep. The odds are that when this happens, the woman is going to give up her ambitions and professional potential. It is possible that marrying a liberal might be the better course. After all, conservatives justified the unequal family in two modes: "God ordained it" and "biology is destiny." Most men (and most women), including the liberals, think women are responsible for the home. But at least the liberal men should feel squeamish about it. … If a woman making $50,000 per year whose husband makes $100,000 decides to have a baby, and the cost of a full-time nanny is $30,000, the couple reason that, after paying 40 percent in taxes, she makes $30,000, just enough to pay the nanny. So she might as well stay home. This totally ignores that both adults are in the enterprise together and the demonstrable future loss of income, power, and security for the woman who quits. Instead, calculate that all parents make a total of $150,000 and take home $90,000. After paying a full-time nanny, they have $60,000 left to live on.

And so on, and on. Till we get to this:
Worse, the behavior tarnishes every female with the knowledge that she is almost never going to be a ruler. Princeton President Shirley Tilghman described the elite colleges' self-image perfectly when she told her freshmen last year that they would be the nation's leaders, and she clearly did not have trophy wives in mind. Why should society spend resources educating women with only a 50-percent return rate on their stated goals?
So we’re back to that ‘repaying the state’ crap. As the Curmudgeon said, "Failing to repay the state" -- ? Have you ever heard such a thing before? When has the state ever spent its own money on anyone? Its funds come from taxation -- from money taken from ordinary people like you and me, on pain of punishment if we refuse. If Generation N "owes" anyone for the cost of its education, it would have to be Generation N Minus One!"
And, in the case of many college students, their parents saved to help pay for it and the kids take out loans they’ll be repaying for years(often for an ‘education’ largely consisting of bullshit), but by God(except you shouldn’t say that, it’s not PC) they should repay the state by doing jobs- even if they decide they don’t like or want them- and being taxed to death for doing it.

Early feminism was pretty simple, it seems: women should have equal opportunity to try for a job, and if they’re qualified for it and do the same work, get the same pay as men; equal rights. Then came the bullcrap like this, “WE do not like being housewives and mothers, so you shouldn’t either; it is degrading.” So a lot of women force-fed this stuff as they grew up go out to be proper change-everything-feminists and discover after a few years that they want a home and family, and want to be there if they can with the kids. And that just pisses the feminazis off immensely(yeah, I think the phrase fits) because they can’t stand the idea of women not acting the way the ‘elites’ have decided they should(…” I taught a course in sexual bargaining at a very good college.” And you didn’t listen to me!”) “If you MUST reproduce, only have one. And have a nanny, no matter the cost, because it’s your duty to feminism to stay in the workplace, no matter the cost to you and your family.” Etc.

I don’t have the patience, to take some of this crap apart like Kevin(for instance) does; I just put up some of the more dumbass parts and point at them while I dance around and laugh at them. Or tell them what friggin’ idjits I think they are.


After I wrote the above I thought a bit more, and something else strikes me: both the Brit and American articles note the collectivist nature of the people who don’t want women to have the choice to stay home. ‘Paying back society’, ‘failing the feminist cause’; you don’t have- or shouldn’t have- an individual life: you have to make your choice(the one allowed) based on what’s best for the collective. Hell, these people might as well put an eyepiece on their Blackberry and walk around saying “You WILL be assimilated.” Though not in a good way.

Way back when I was still married and the kids were small, wife and I looked real hard at her getting a job(she’d stayed home after daughter was born), and two things were real evident: one was the costs of a job and daycare and taxes would just about cancel out the extra income; the other was that she badly wanted to be home with the kid(later kids). And it worked out. Barely at times, but worked. And I think the kids were much better off for it in the long run.

Back to that ‘costs of a job’ part. A lot of people, like the feminist studies professor, tend to add up taxes and childcare only. Add in transportation to and from the job(which can include parking), and work clothes, and that adds a lot to those other numbers. And let’s not forget the housework stuff. They like to quote the ‘men don’t do enough housework’ studies, but those often leave out a lot. Like mowing, and pruning. Like unstopping or repairing a drain; things the wife may not want to do(hell, some of it I didn’t want to do) or know how to. A couple of times I looked at getting a second job; both times she talked me out of it, with two main points: one was, with the shifts I often worked, I didn’t get to see the kids enough as was; the other was who’d do all the around-the-house and yard work she couldn’t(especially with kids to watch)? Everything’s a tradeoff, isn’t it?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pretty good take-down there. Do you suupose the "professor of feminist studies" would get it if she had a real job?

Scott said...

Didja notice how they never even think of lowering the tax burden to, you know, encourage more women to work?

Oldsmoblogger said...

It changed the workplace but it didn't change men....

This tells you everything you need to know. Every revolutionary movement (except, y'know, the American, which actually worked) seeks the same thing: the revolution in human nature. Which will not be televised, because it ain't coming, short of the Second Coming.