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The Down-Side of Feminism - Livin' the Good Life

Mar. 13th, 2009

03:55 pm - The Down-Side of Feminism

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I was in an email exchange with my friend, Jill, today, and we were discussing our views regarding the problem with mothers working outside the home. I told her I felt a "post" coming on! Then I realized that I had already written about it... nine years ago. I am posting this letter I wrote in April of 2000 because I still think it's true today. I realize that it has the potential to ruffle a few feminist feathers... but you know how I am!

"I am quite concerned about the trend of women training for careers. I see the necessity of it on the one hand. It has a great advantage in that should a woman remain single, or she should become divorced, she can support herself comfortably doing something she’s interested in. On the other hand, a woman who has invested years and large amounts of money into training for a career feels a certain obligation to use that education, and should she have children which, let’s face it, most women do, her children may very well pay a price. How? They will not have the benefit of being raised by their mother, because their mother will be at work. I’ve been around long enough to observe many scenarios and how they’ve worked out. In many cases I’ve seen well-educated women marry men who don’t make much money, and when the time comes to decide who will stay home with their child, there is no contest. The woman can make more money, so she goes to work and dad stays home. (Or, more commonly, they both go to work, and their child goes to daycare.) That may be all right for some, but what about the mom who WANTS to say home with her kids? She’s got a dilemma! Maybe the solution is, “Don’t marry a man who doesn’t make considerably more money than you do!”
Another problem with married women making lots of money is that when they set up their household it is based on two incomes and it becomes increasingly necessary to HAVE two incomes to maintain their high standard of living. So, their children are doomed to being raised by a babysitter before they are even conceived!
One solution I thought of was, before the wife becomes pregnant, to put all of her income into a savings account or investments and live on the husband’s income alone. So, when her motherly career begins and she stops working, they won't have to lower their standard of living. It will be exactly the same. This seems like a very wise way to plan for the future. Her saved income will turn out to be very useful when unexpected expenses come up later... which they will!
There is another aspect to all this that never seems to be mentioned, probably because it’s politically incorrect. Men have traditionally been the protectors and providers for their families. I think that healthy men, if you get to the bottom of their hearts, want to feel that they can take care of their families. I believe that men feel emasculated knowing that they can be done without. A hundred years ago, most men were willing to work their butts off for their families, because they knew they were clearly necessary. Today there is an unprecedented number of dead-beat husbands and fathers. Could it be that the cultural climate today, making guys out as “bad guys”, has truly made men view themselves as good-for-nothing? Sure, maybe you can make more money than your husband, but does that mean you have to? Couldn’t you be happy living on less? Does more money equal more happiness?
One solution that seems to work well for some couples is to run a home business. This solves the child care question and allows the work load to be shared. Both the child care and bringing in income is a joint effort. I believe that this arrangement sets the stage for close families. I know it worked well for our family. Even though I did the lion’s share of the childcare and Steve did the lion’s share of the income producing, we were well aware of the joys and stresses each other were experiencing due to our close proximity and could love and support each other through it all. Because we lived and worked together, we stayed closely in touch. Neither of us had much more than a high school education, but we were resourceful and innovative and determined to live our lives in a certain way. To be sure, we were materially very poor in the early years. But we had the satisfaction of knowing that the way we lived was our CHOICE and that it was good. From the very beginning, I remember Steve and I being told that we lived an idyllic life. People envied us, even though we were dirt poor! I think we were just very satisfied with our lives, doing what we liked to do while making time to smell the roses, and that that was what people noticed and envied. Our happiness had nothing to do with money. And people are fascinated by happiness."