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Reviewing the role of women in hard times

This movement challenged the prevailing notion that women were supposed to spend their entire lives engaged in housework and raising children. It demanded equal pay for women in the workplace, publicly funded child care, and the legalization of abortion. It challenged sexist stereotypes of women and the ideal of the traditional nuclear family, which often tied women to abusive or oppressive relationships. This backlash has its roots in the assault on working-class people over the last three decades.

The intent of this class attack has been two-fold: This has meant a gutting of working-class living standards at the same time as the social safety net has been systematically shredded. Unfortunately, the largest and most established feminist organizations have failed to respond effectively to the escalating attacks on women.

When polls in late September showed Democratic candidate John Kerry losing his lead with women, his response was to appear on the morning show "Live with Regis and Kelly. The economy and jobs 24 percentthe war in Iraq 17 percentand health care 16 percent remained the top concerns of voters.

Thus, the prevailing media image of women today is that of a white suburban mom in a minivan whose top concern is "national security. Restoring the family The main ideological aim of the backlash has been to reassert the centrality of the traditional nuclear family. Perhaps the most striking example of this is President George W. Family values advocates place most of the blame for social ills on the breakdown of the nuclear family.

Childhood poverty is blamed on single mothers. School shootings are explained by the phenomenon of "latchkey kids" whose reviewing the role of women in hard times put paid work ahead of parenting. Declining test scores are not attributed to reduced school funding and overcrowded classrooms, but parents who do not spend enough time helping children with their homework. While conservatives often couch their proposals in soft and "compassionate" language, the actual policies they advocate are reactionary.

As a member of the conservative Family Research Council put it: If you make it easier for mothers to have careers, you also reward divorce and illegitimacy. The pundits of post-feminism argue that women have achieved equality and are now suffering from an excess of liberation. They would like us to believe that the daughters of the Gloria Steinem generation are abandoning the workplace to dedicate themselves to the more fulfilling realm of home and family. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of articles, news stories, and books heralding this supposed phenomenon.

Titled "The Opt-Out Revolution," the story ran on the front cover of the magazine with the provocative statement: From this small and unrepresentative sampling, she concludes that there is a significant trend of women choosing to become stay-at-home mothers.

She paints this not as a return to traditional values reviewing the role of women in hard times as the new wave in feminism: For example, a large proportion of her story is devoted to the idea that women are biologically conditioned to play a nurturing and child-rearing role. She claims that much of the conversation among women today is "not about how the workplace is unfair to women, but about how the relationship between work and life is different for women than for men.

I think we were born with those feelings. In the words of one woman: However, the conclusion the editors chose to run on the front page was: Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels, the authors of the book The Mommy Myth, refer to "the new momism. This has left women to conclude that, if they are unable to successfully manage the multiple demands of paid work, housework, and child care, it is their own personal failure.

Women who work are fed heavy doses of guilt as news stories about bad day care, latchkey kids, and the dangers of "detached parenting" fill the airwaves. The mythology of the new momism now insinuates that, when all is said and done, the enlightened mother chooses to stay home with the kids.

Back in the s, mothers stayed home because they had no choice, so the thinking goes. Inexperienced women thought they knew what they wanted, but they got experience and learned they were wrong. Now mothers have seen the error of their ways, and supposedly seen that the June Cleaver model, if taken as a choice, as opposed to a requirement, is the truly modern, fulfilling, forward-thinking version of motherhood.

There is no sign of a mass exodus of women from the paid workforce. In reviewing the role of women in hard times women, including mothers, are doing the opposite; they are working longer and harder than ever before. In78 percent of women with school-aged children, 59 percent of women with children under the age of five and 54 percent of women with infants worked for pay.

Far from the idea that women working outside the home for pay is a matter of individual preference, most women work because they must. The family values crusaders may long for a return to the traditional family, but that family, to the extent that it ever existed, no longer does.

Only 9 percent of people today live in the traditional nuclear family of two married parents with a wage-earning father and full-time mother. Today, families may be headed by a gay couple, a single mother, an unmarried couple, or a combination of biological and stepparents.

  1. This scenario illustrates a trend that's creating a perfect storm in higher education — and blowing through all companies where millennials are working today. Declining test scores are not attributed to reduced school funding and overcrowded classrooms, but parents who do not spend enough time helping children with their homework.
  2. In theory capitalism could do without the family, but concretely it would cause such an upheaval to do so that it is hard to imagine it ever happening.
  3. Many of those struggling to deal with the new limitations are barely keeping their heads above water. Sixty-three percent of women work more than forty hours per week.

Despite the media-induced anxiety about unwed mothers, divorce, and gay marriage, 90 percent of people, when polled, say society should value "all types of families. If one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, why do people keep trying? And why do politicians, writers, and policy-makers continue to focus their efforts on shoring up this institution? The family as a social unit functions as a source of comfort and refuge in an often difficult or hostile world.

In any society, people are bound to seek living situations that provide this sort of emotional bonding. Many families do provide this kind of support, even today. But many other families are a source of tension, anger, reviewing the role of women in hard times alienation.

The institution of the nuclear family as an economic unit is central to meeting the needs of capitalism. And within the family, it is primarily women who are expected to perform the unpaid domestic labor of raising children, cooking, housework, and primary health care.

Capitalism now relies on the unpaid labor of women within the home. While the Christian Right has a very specific and reactionary agenda, it is not the case that most politicians want women to return home and leave the workforce. Women today are a necessary and permanent part of the labor force, and their income has become critical to even a minimal maintenance of living standards for working-class households.

However, the politicians do benefit enormously from the family values backlash. This assumption justifies the double burden of labor women workers face daily. This is why politicians of all stripes embrace the family values rhetoric even as they institute policies that undermine the family itself. It is the great contradiction of capitalism: Women and the family today The institution of the nuclear family is increasingly important today.

As privatization, layoffs, and the shredding of the social safety net have become facts of life, the pressure on individual families, and particularly women within them, has become immense. This figure, reported by the Census Bureau forrepresents a 1. When economists examined the long-term earnings gap between mean and women, the results were even more stark. These statistics highlight a key problem in our society: The lack of government-guaranteed protections for women with children ensures that women pay a heavy price for raising children.

For example, the United States is one of only two Western industrialized nations with no system of paid parental leave or subsidized child care.

  1. Nothing is more time-consuming than raising children in poverty.
  2. Understandably, he became more hesitant to criticize the work of his female students than his male students. Part of what really gets the waterworks going is the humiliation I feel when somebody else is watching me try and fail to keep my composure.
  3. Joan Williams, author of What Works for Women at Work , has done this brilliantly with a gender bias bingo game that she produced.

In twenty-nine of the most advanced industrialized countries, paid parental leave averaged one-and-a-half years with the average leave lasting thirty-six weeks. Of those, 77 percent cited lack of money as the reason and another one-third said they feared they would lose their jobs. Hourly workers and divorced and single women were disproportionately represented among those not able to take advantage of unpaid leave.

One example among many is the public education system. Decades of funding cuts have created overcrowded classrooms and overworked and underpaid teachers. In this context, families have been asked to fill the gap.

Parents are now forced to pay for school supplies and other items once covered by the government. Parents are asked to spend more time doing homework with their children each night; they and their children are drafted into time-consuming fundraising committees to raise money to fill in the gap in school funding. And parents are pressured to volunteer in the classroom in addition to their paid work responsibilities. This is particularly galling because it comes at a time when women are working longer than ever and struggling to stay afloat.

Women are concentrated in low-wage industries and part-time work. They make up 60 percent of minimum-wage workers, and are also the most vulnerable when jobs are cut or health care disasters strike. Most states do not provide unemployment benefits for part-time workers, while women make up two-thirds of the part-time workforce. The unemployment rate as of was 8.

Of all female-headed households in the U. Myths are peddled about poor women being lazy and irresponsible, lacking a strong work ethic, or not caring about their children. While these myths have helped to fuel the attack on poor women and children, the numbers speak a very different story.

Eighty-four percent of all low-income children have a parent who works part- or full-time.

They are paying a heavy price in lost sleep, reduced time with their partners and children, and difficult hours. Four in ten working women work evenings, nights, and weekends on a regular basis. The figure is 61 percent for African American women and 53 percent for Latinas. One-third of these women work different shifts from their partners.

Sixty-three percent of women work more than forty hours per week. Despite the fact that a strong majority of women with young children work, child care provisions in the U.

Thoughts on Gender and Radical Candor

For families with children, child care costs are the third largest expenditure after housing and food. Publicly funded child care is almost non-existent. Only 10 percent of eligible children nationally receive assistance. And because child care is organized on the basis of profit, the child care workers themselves are dreadfully underpaid. Because of these conditions, one-third of these workers leave their centers each year.

Many patch together fragile networks of arrangements involving friends, neighbors, and split shifts with partners. Any disruption in these arrangements can spell disaster for a family.