I recently walked into Whole Foods during my lunch hour. In between checking out the babes in sheer yoga pants, and trying to steal kimchi from the salad bar, I started to notice that the women, notably the white women in their late 20’s or 30’s, came in two types. Some were pleasant, vaguely feminine, and even vibrant with joy. They were strolling about the store with a pleasing energy, content to sample Gruyeres and Malbecs as they walked about.
Others were rushed, tense, even haggard. These women walked around as if they had the weight of the world on their shoulders; they held everyone in slight contempt, as if for not doing their part to keep civilization running. Why the difference?
That first, comely group were all mothers. Mothers of young children. It’s hard to miss the sheer joy these women experience, as mothers who spend their days pushing a stroller around farmers’ markets, driving a Range Rover to the yoga studio. All the while, their childless peers in middle management look on in disgust, as cowards and traitors to the cause.
The world of progressive upper class yuppies is cleaving into two. New York magazine has published a long article, describing how young women are starting to embrace motherhood as surely as their grandmothers did in the fifties. A young mother on a internet message board, as quoted by the article’s author, says it best:
“I was … blessed,” wrote one woman on the UrbanBaby message boards recently, “with the patience to truly enjoy being home with my kids and know that in the end family is what is important in life—not pushing papers at some crap job.”
After several decades, these women are starting to realize en masse what men have always known: work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For all but a lucky few, work is a way to make money, not a way to realize one’s self. As these women give birth, they feel the pangs of motherhood and the pull of domestic life. Meanwhile, work is as dreary as ever. These women are taking the work ethic they forged as a diligent student and employee, and applying it to the home. They are going about their domestic duties with an alacrity Martha Stewart couldn’t match.
Feminism owes much of its support to the pariahs and outcasts of society, to women who would shudder at taking on feminine roles. Little surprise then, that feminism is most advanced in America, the society of pariahs. The historical record suggests many feminists were lesbians, like Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony, or the literary character Olive Chancellor. These women have probably always existed, but they traditionally lived on the fringes of society. Like your gay uncle at family reunions, they were met with a mix of tepid acceptance and distance, if not outright ostracism. In the past century or so, they’ve become dominant, and accepted by society, at least in name if not in practice.
While more women than ever espouse feminism, it’s not clear that it’s something that women are actually satisfied with. After all, if women can’t be trusted to tell you what arouses them, why assume they know what they’re talking about when they say a career will make them happy? Absent propaganda and welfare to prop up feminism, women would drift back to a more traditional, feminine role.
Maternal Careerism Is Past Its Peak
Participation of married mothers peaked in 1997, and has since declined, and then plateaued. Admittedly, the statistics are not that strong. But I sense things are slowly shifting, especially among upper class married women. Things like how 28% of female Harvard College graduates with MBAs are housewives. Witness a recent headline from the Daily Beast: “They raise chickens. They grow vegetables. They knit. Now a new generation of parents is even teaching their own kids.” Are they referring to Little House on the Prairie? Actually, it says “urban parents” in the original headline, making it clear this is a yuppie phenomenon. And to make clear, they’re talking about white hipsters, not poor inner city minorities, as the word ‘urban’ is usually meant.
Parenthetically, I love how the author can’t bring herself to call these women ‘housewives,’ and instead uses the abomination ‘SAHM,’ for ‘stay-at-home-mom.’ She only calls the women before the 1960’s housewives. It’s as if she must christen these new ‘SAHMs’ as good, while the housewives of the 1950’s and before were bad. The women of prior generations didn’t get to experience being a worker bee, while today’s women do. So yesterday’s women were ignorant and sheltered, while today’s housewives are valiant and honorable for… making the same exact decision. Except she is less fertile and less beautiful than her grandmother would have been, at the time of marriage and childbirth. I suppose an ex-crackhead is superior to someone who has never touched drugs, because the ex-crackhead broadened her horizons and eventually walked away, while the abstainer avoided drugs entirely… or something. Never mind that the crackhead’s life has come under irreparable damage during that stint of ‘finding herself,’ or that many crackheads never actually quit the drug.
The real implication is that as a woman, you deserve applause for everything you do. You had a long career in middle management, and successfully retired to an empty home? You go girl! You got married at 30 and had several kids? Girl Power! There is no positive, coherent idea as to how people should behave; one can’t even note what makes women happy, and recommend they do that. But, as a woman, the one thing that you definitely shouldn’t do is limit your options. Don’t you dare get married at 23 and throw away that promising career in public relations. You must preserve your choice.
On occasion, I’ve made the mistake of disclosing some of my traditional views at work when asked. My confreres were offended and disturbed when they heard what I said. They said, “It’s okay if you just want this traditional life for yourself, as this private thing for yourself. But you can’t just go around saying your way is better! You’re not allowed to say that!” “But it is better; it would give people more meaningful, satisfying lives.” To the progressive, you can’t recognize that one way of life is generally superior to another, because that would be… imposing. Especially if you’re right, and your observations aren’t progressive.
Homeschooling On The Rise
In the 60’s and 70’s, homeschooling was the province of a few hippies and Christians. Since then, it has become a national phenomenon – from 1999 to 2007, homeschooling increased by over 75%, from 850,000 students to 1.5 million. The website Etsy, the eBay for hipsters and artisanal goods, even has a nice essay on one woman’s story as a merchant and homeschooling mother. The practice has broad appeal, with leftist academics and Evangelical Christians partaking. Elite colleges are increasingly receptive to homeschooled students, who do well in classes and are more likely to graduate on time. And contrary to what you might think, homeschooling is most common among middle income households, earning $25-75,000. Homeschooling is relevant, because it’s usually incompatible with a typical ‘career;’ at least one parent must spend lots of time with the child, and usually it is the mother. Homeschooling is especially pronounced where only one of the two parents is in the labor force.
While it’s inherently difficult to figure out what these homeschooling parents are teaching their children, it’s hard to imagine that it’s any worse than what public schools offer. Government schooling is as much about enforcing conformity and accepting ‘conventional’ wisdom, as it is about inculcating knowledge. Presumably, when it comes to homeschooling, there is no requirement to teach your son that homosexuals are saints, to suspend him for playing with his food, or to silence his heterosexuality. It’s hard to imagine that the rise of homeschooling is anything but a positive development.
Fertility in rich countries has plunged; yet some, citing evolutionary biology, predict fertility is due to rebound. Declines in fertility may owe to radical changes in our environment, like industrialization and the entrance of women to the workforce. But women still vary in how many kids they have, and that while some women have four kids while others have none is probably heritable, then the genes linked with higher fertility will spread, and fertility will rise. In other words, childless careerist women, and their male peers, are getting bred out of the gene pool.
Fundamentally, feminist women are like house cats—they are bred in such an unnatural environment that if released to the wild, to places like Russia or pre-Industrial Europe, they would fail spectacularly. They could hardly contend for a moment with the local talent. Without the constant sustenance and oversight from their guardians, they would starve. Without sexual anti-discrimination laws and confiscatory marriage policies, without the constant diversion of money and power to support them, they would flounder. They are parasites, who cannot subsist without their ignorant hosts.
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