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    The New York Times War On Stay-At-Home Mothers
    By Hank Campbell | May 10th 2011 01:00 PM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    The 1950s were a golden age in America economically - a huge chunk of the middle class had a car and a house and a good life with only one parent working; a pipe dream in today's economy, but income taxes were only on the rich and government was not promising to do everything and taxing people to do it.

    But the 1950s were also a paradox; racism was still acceptable to many and so were other forms of discrimination, like against working women.

    We all know that, but The New York Times, as usual, cannot see what it does not want to see about a time when America was good, and perhaps better overall than today, and solicits writers who agree.   No one agrees that the 1950s were awful more than history professor and author Stephanie Coontz, who continues to revise the 1950s and now contends that stay-at-home mothers made entire generations of men neurotic, even citing passages from other works claiming the American soldiers of World War II were basically unfit to defeat the Nazis, even though they did.

    Gosh, it was such an awful time.  What could ever rescue it?   Feminism, of course - but she only credits the parts of the assault on motherhood that suit her political-cultural agenda.  Despite faithfully reciting all the other slams on 1950s mothers as facts, the notion that overprotective mothers created homosexuals, also popular 60 years ago, is "repellent and now-discredited" and being a stay-at-home mom led to  "widespread feelings of inadequacy and depression" but stay-at-home mothers have less depression today.  What gets the credit for that?   Feminism, of course.  And if men are better parents today, you can thank feminism.  Less domestic abuse?  Feminism.

    Feminism, in her capable hands, is positively Smurf-like in its ability to transform into anything that will look like a cultural positive, yet cannot be blamed for anything negative.    I wouldn't ordinarily object, it is The New York Times after all, so a story like "World destroyed - women, minorities impacted most" wouldn't surprise anyone, but people actually still read the thing.  Worse, it seems some men believe this stuff; a respected academic and surgeon had to leave his post over a study outlining how women might react to men.   And the objection from his fellow female surgeons was citing a study about men and women reminded them they may have felt discriminated against when doing their residency a decade ago.
     
    Feminism, like debates over gun control and unions, had its day.  It was once obviously necessary, but tearing down stay-at-home moms and the generation of the 1950s in order to continue to try and make feminism continually relevant now isn't productive.    The fact is, individual idiots aside, there is equality so no -ism is necessary and plenty of women are biased against men, as any social science program in universities can attest.    Women get more than 50% of the Ph.D.s and have no problem competing for tenure track jobs with men.   Statistics about less money for the same work are clearly flawed now whereas once it was really the norm.   Continuing to insist that without 1960s warmed-over feminism we are all doomed isn't cultural accuracy, it is historical revisionism, something I hope a history professor like Coontz will avoid in the future.

    Comments

    Gerhard Adam
    Of course, it makes it easier to state your case when any opposition is automatically labeled as sexism.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I suppose historians are only going to get published if they come up with a contrarian view and try to rationalize it.  Even Slate call her 'a good leftist' for her willingness to put blinders on and engage in black-and-white thinking in an us versus them way.  I didn't even know Slate knew how to spell leftist.
    The day for woman=good sainted victim and man=bad abusive bully is well over.

    The time where feminism tells women to do anything from bra burning to having a career is over.

    Feminism now needs to be a lot more nuanced and understand that original feminism was for white and straight women - it didn't speak to or for non-white women or the lesbians who did a lot of the work, but got little of the rewards and none of the recognition.

    Feminism needs to continue to be pro-woman but it has to drop the anti-man part. Feminism needs to extend and offer that equality and inclusion that it once demanded. There are good men out there and women need to recognise that.

    I wrote an article once about lesbians who batter their partners and I asked the woman I was interviewing about where men belong in the woman's movement - why, I asked, can't a man work at a battered woman's shelter - isn't it important that the women learn and see that there are good men?

    No she said, men who are allies need to work on the sideline with other men - battered women are too traumatized to have a man in the shelter no matter how good.

    But, I said, by your logic, then only men should help lesbians who've been battered.

    Hoisted by her own petard, she asked me if I really wanted to be blacklisted in the women's community - and, I decided, that I would rather speak the truth and be blacklisted than be silenced and included.

    There are a lot of good men out there who don't deserve to be dumped on and there's some crappy women out there who do deserve to be dumped on.

    But none of those individuals represent their whole gender, sexuality or other group identifers - so if we treated everyone as an equal, regardless of group affliations, until they demonstrate that as an individual that they are undeserving of equal treatment - we'd all be able to move on with the business of living, without worrying about what one person gets and other doesn't

    Hank
    Feminism now needs to be a lot more nuanced and understand that original feminism was for white and straight women - it didn't speak to or for non-white women or the lesbians who did a lot of the work, but got little of the rewards and none of the recognition.

     Feminism needs to continue to be pro-woman but it has to drop the anti-man part. Feminism needs to extend and offer that equality and inclusion that it once demanded. 
    You make some terrific points!
    if feminism really means that it's for women to make a choice, then stay at home moms (and dad's) now, need to have respect for their choice.