Category: Domesticity

Quick hit: We Bought a Huge Effing House, and Now We Can’t Afford More Kids

An Elle Decor essayist has come out with a horrible confession: She and her husband sacrificed a child to buy their dream home.

(How awesome would it be if that were the actual story? “Our realtor didn’t mention the fiery, bottomless hellpit in the basement into which we have to throw a small child at the peak of the new moon to keep our mortgage rate low. She said it was a walk-in wine closet.”)

Alternative family structures

So when I was growing up, I had an understanding: one would grow up, fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, marry him/her, have kids, and be happy. As I got older, this understanding was expanded to include…

The Feminist Anti-Contraception Crusaders

The right-wing anti-sex “real woman” backlash seems to have hit the feminist movement this month, with the publication of books telling women to swear off the Pill and to swear off sex. I’m writing about it in the Guardian: That we’ve come a long way, baby, but gender relations remain fraught, and living with a wide variety of choices that look wide-open but end up constrained is much more challenging than having one or two paths to choose from. It’s easier, in many ways, to offer simple proscriptive advice about “real” femininity than to have to figure out how to be a woman when the definition of “womanhood” is increasingly broad:

A Woman’s Right to Chores

Now that I have begun to take notice of this trend, it makes me tile-scrubbingly angry. Why is it that in television commercials for cleaning products, women are still doing all the work? We’re still the only ones trailing our fingers ruefully over dusty tabletops, fretting over grass stains on soccer uniforms, and grimacing through smudged windows. Just once, I’d like to turn on the TV and see a man drying his hands complacently on a dishtowel after washing a sink full of dishes. Am I dreaming too big here?

The rise of female breadwinners, and the betrayals of U.S. policy

Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about the new stat that 40% of breadwinners in American families are women. With women making up half the workforce, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re an increasing proportion of primary earners. But the 40% stat doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, yes, but not because they’re married to men who make less. Those women make an average of $23,000 per year. The third of breadwinner women who are married to men are significantly wealthier, with a combined family income averaging $80,000. And when you look at divorce and marital satisfaction stats, the happiest couples are those who both work, but where the husband makes more money. Stay-at-home moms have higher rates of depression and marital dissatisfaction, and unhappiness comes in again at the end of the spectrum where a wife out-earns her husband. A strong majority of Americans also believe that the best situation for a child is with a mom who stays home (only 8 percent believe the same about a kid with a dad who stays home). These problems are complex, but traditional ideas about gender play a strong role, and those ideas shape the social policies that leave working parents between a rock and a hard place. Our particularly American gender traditionalism coupled with our idealization of individualism-as-freedom (without recognition that such individualism has generally been a male pursuit, enabled entirely by an unpaid female at-home support system) creates major cultural disincentives to implementing the kids of policies that could actually help families. The full piece is here, and a section is below:

Selfish singles are good for society.

My latest in the Guardian is about that “Rise of Post-Familialism” study that has everyone in a tizzy, panicking that Western nations are facing a baby-shortage and selfish, indulgent single people are ruining the world. I take the position that the very things the study and conservative commentators brand as “selfish” are actually just smart, and the logical responses to both social progress and continued constraint. It’s one of my favorite columns so far, so I hope you’ll read the whole thing. A bit of it:

But the moral case against individualism and choice doesn’t have legs. It’s a moral good when people have a wide array of choices and increased personal freedom – not just for the individual, but also for children, family and society. And the evidence backs that up.