Papers such as USA Today, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that high-level Obama shill Hilary Rosen said that in choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, Mrs. Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life."
This illustrates our basic modern conflict about the proper role of mothers - should they stay home and raise their children? Or should they go out and "do something worthwhile" by getting jobs? Put another way, is Betty Friedan's "problem that has no name" an actual problem or simply the manifestation of millions of individual private choices of no wider concern?
Having experienced motherhood up close and personal, I'm very well aware that raising children is a huge amount of work. Early feminists suggested that wives be paid for the housework they do. That notion ran aground on two inconvenient truths - a) we have nasty words to describe the relationship between a man and woman when the man pays the woman for services, and b) why should a couple engage in financial transactions which would needlessly increase the family tax liability?
Traditionally, a woman needed a man to support her and her children. Women learned not to offer themselves to a man unless he married her, and she wouldn't marry unless he had grown up enough to have a job. Feminists found this arrangement to be highly unsatisfactory - they didn't like the fact that women had to be dependent on men and pushed for government programs so that women could be independent without the bother of having to earn enough money to support themselves. That's what the "liberation" of "women's liberation" means - not having to depend on men.
|Didn't work for Betty Friedan.|
With the advent of welfare, which pays a woman's living and child-rearing expenses provided she has no man around, women were less dependent on men. Now that women can get jobs if they want to work and welfare if they don't, they don't really need men to support them.
Men are perfectly happy not to support women if women don't require it. The New York Times reports:
It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.
Why should a woman marry a man if having a husband chops her welfare payment, reduces her day care subsidy, or cuts medical benefits? Why should a couple subject themselves to the "marriage tax," whereby married couples pay more tax than unmarried people earning the same total amount? Whether by accident or design, government programs have created many barriers to marriage which are hard to overcome.
Why should a man marry a woman who prefers to support herself? Having her pay her own share of the rent is a whole lot easier on him and earning her own money helps her maintain her independence from him. If she stays independent, though, the nature of men is such that her children are hers, not his.
An increase in fatherless children is certainly a trend:
Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.
We're undertaking an unprecedented social experiment - we're going to find out whether our society can raise children to be productive adults without fathers. The statistics we've collected so far give no grounds for optimism:
The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.
Studies as well as an infinity of anecdotes and stereotypes suggest that children who grow up without fathers are twenty times more likely to end up in jail than children who're raised with fathers.
Reviewing the academic literature, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University recently found that children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.”
So what has this to do with Mrs. Romney? She, like both Mrs. Bushes before her, chose to stay home and raise her children so that they'd experience better educational, social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes. All available evidence suggests that indeed they have, certainly in comparison to your average brat.
Knowing how much work motherhood is, I say, "Bully for her!" Anybody who says she "never worked a day in her life" is an ignoramus.
We're finding out that feminists may have had a point in saying that a woman without a man was like a fish without a bicycle - the industrial revolution has progressed to the point that women can live perfectly well on their own when permitted to do so.
The feminists overlooked the minor detail that children without a man - to be specific, their own biological father - are far more likely to end up poor, on drugs, or in jail. Independence may be OK for women, but it's turning out terribly for their children.
As more and more children grow up to be convicts instead of taxpayers, the drain on our society has nowhere to go but up. This, too, is another force that makes an overall collapse more likely.
Will men voluntarily stop having sex because they don't want to bring about fatherless kids? Not hardly. Are men going to hang around and take on a father's responsibilities just because it might be the right thing to do? Even less likely.
Will women stop having sex without marriage, as once was generally practiced by all save professionals in the field? Maybe, but there'll have to be a sea change in our cultural attitudes towards the desirability of children having fathers.
Yes, Ann Romney is a throwback to the past. If she's also a harbinger of the future, it'll be a far better one, at least for the children.