“Motherhood as a Retreat From Equality.”

A lesson from the NYT, via writer Katrin Bennhold [emphasis mine]:

Playgrounds can tell you a lot about a society.

I used to cycle to work through the Square des Batignolles, our local park in western Paris, and was always struck by the almost uniform ethnic segregation: mostly white toddlers chasing each other and their caregivers, brightly clad West African women chatting away on the benches rimming the sandpit. On those same benches on Sunday afternoons, I would socialize with other young, professional French mothers.

Here in Germany, the only adults populating playgrounds on any day of the week appeared to be mothers — often mothers with a university education who not long ago earned a respectable income.

It is preferable to feminists to pay immigrants to care for their children in order to respectably pursue wealth. Oh, wait, socialists don’t want wealth. Wait. It’s about respect! And feminists prefer not to be beholden to men–including their own husbands, apparently–for money. That’s it. Oh, it is:

Does she mind being financially dependent on her husband? Putting her professional life second to his? “I don’t think about it that way,” she said. “I put my child first.”

I met several German mothers like Jutta on the playground and was torn between sympathy and impatience.

How dare you put your kid first! Abandon your kids. Put yourself first. Make your choices to mirror mine, or else risk my impatience:

Most of them grew up with education and ambitions similar to mine: combining children with career and sharing family responsibilities with the partner. They all think of themselves as equals to their husbands. In practice, the roles they have assumed still bear a striking resemblance to those of their mothers, who had a much narrower set of opportunities and rights at their disposal.

Funny, even with a wider set of opportunities and rights at my disposal, that I think raising my pre-schooler is the best job in the world. That I write her stories down, read to her daily and teach her how to write numbers and letters. That I cook, clean and keep my family organized. That I provide a semblance of routine and stability for my military family. That I serve other military families sans payment. The horror! What a waste of a graduate degree!

Financially, it makes no sense for me to work. We would bump ourselves into another tax bracket and have to pay for someone else to raise our kid. Why? To have the respect of earning $5 an hour once all is said and done? Not being beholden to my husband for money? No, thanks. Ann Althouse explained it beautifully:

Why don’t more couples do the math and figure out that they should not do all that extra work for the government? Life is so much simpler with the 1-earner family, and the spouse who doesn’t bring in the dollars can provide great economic benefits by directly performing work that would otherwise have to be paid for, most notably child care. Since this economic benefit isn’t taxed, it’s a double benefit. Instead of buying inferior childcare (or other services) with after-tax dollars, you perform the work that is worth that much money, and you’re not paid, so you don’t pay taxes on the value it represents.

Of course Katrin writes of Europe, where childcare is a government responsibility (oh, it’s a “right”), and she predictably calls for more government to fix the glaring disrespect of women who choose to stay home with their own children even if there are preschools and nannies available. For their own good, of course. And for the children. For society! Um, for feminists and respect and giving the state more money!

H/t: Hot Air headlines

Related, part II: “We voluntarily choose to be powerless and adjust to self-inflicted victimhood. That’s cowardice.”

A Pundette “Recommended Read.” Thanks!


13 Responses

  1. […] highlighted Ann Althouse’s explanation of the tax benefit of having a stay-at-home parent before. A refresher: Why don’t more […]

  2. Perhaps we should read the book, instead of an article about the book.

    • Kathy, I think we can pick up the flavor without having to eat the whole dish. Thanks, but no thanks. I will continue to selfishly waste my education on raising happy, smart and religious members of society rather than engage in some rat race only because a handful of angry feminists feels I should compete with my husband in order to not depend on him for money. Or something like that.

  3. That Althouse post stuck with me, too. She pretty much summed up all the reasons I am “stay at home.”

    That this NYT chick views people like me with “sympathy and impatience” is amusing. She can feel as much sympathy and impatience as she wants. It doesn’t change the fact that: a) I gave birth to two children, and b) nobody in the world will do a better job than me raising them.

    I struggled with the question whether to continue my career as a mom. Then it hit me. Assuming I found a nanny good enough, well, great. My kids would be fine. But I would be jealous of the nanny’s time with my kids.

    Many families out there don’t have the luxury of choosing to stay at home. Like JAGC above. Some, however, could do it. But they are scared of the money loss.

    We halved our income when I quit. But we never missed a single dollar. We save so much in restaurant, gas, clothing, maid service, lawn care, financial planning and taxes, child care, and now (hello homeschooling) tuition.

    I’m writing too much. G’night, PJ.

  4. I know a lot of women who would like to stay home, but can’t. If you bought overpriced property in mid 2000s, you often don’t have a choice.

  5. Well, don’t you realize that if more people actually did the math and had a stay at home parent they couldn’t buy all those gadgets that they use to pacify their children with? What about the trips to Europe? What about the house that has the extra bathroom? I mean their kid may only have one video system instead of two.

    Many women must work, it is not financially viable for them to do otherwise. Many families could have a stay at home parent and choose not to.

    • I’d much rather be home sans that tv than working to support something stuipd, JACG. But you and I both know that priorities are skewed for many. For the women who must work–if they looked at how much they truly made in the end, after paying for childcare, then not as many must. I remember a friend who busted her rear waiting tables realized she made a 100$ weekly after childcare. That didn’t include taxes. It’s harder to convince yourself that you’re paying bills when running yourself ragged for nothing.

      • I must work. Not for income, but for medical insurance. Hubby is self employed. Obamacare ruined the policy that we had, it made it so expensive that our carrier no longer sells it because of all the mandates. I am lucky that I can get away with just 21 hours per week. I have an amazing support system so my kids are with people who care about their well being and are being loved. I don’t worry about them, but I do feel bad when I miss certain things. That is what I find so difficult to understand women who can stay at home and decide not to, you don’t ever get those moments back. They take the first step only one time.

      • Oh, JACG. We have friends (self-employed) who are ready to close up shop for the same reason. Glad you’re able to work 21 hrs for insurance–not many places do that.

  6. Hi, I just discovered your blog through a trackback on Hotair. I, too, read this article this morning and was completely outraged. I agree with everything that you said about it. I would add, however, that what upset me the most was the way she described women who choose to stay home with their children, or not work full-time.

    “Bascha Mika, author of a controversial best-selling book, “The Cowardice of Women,” published in Germany this year, thinks women have largely themselves to blame. According to her, they aren’t putting enough pressure on politicians, are failing to negotiate equal terms in relationships and often voluntarily retreat into a traditional mother role that spares them other hard questions about identity and purpose in life.”

    “We are collaborating with a system that reduces us to motherhood,” she writes. “We voluntarily choose to be powerless and adjust to self-inflicted victimhood. That’s cowardice.”

    I take great offense! I am not “reduced” to motherhood! I am not a coward! I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and worked until my first child was born. I am now a stay at home mother with 3 kids – by my educated choice! I am an educated woman who can think for myself. I am not a victim and I am not powerless. It drives me crazy that these feminists say they are fighting for women’s rights to have a choice in whatever they do. But it’s really only if that choice is to be in constant competition with your husband and pawning your kids off to other people so you can try to make as much money as possible and be “successful” and “independent”.

    I am successful because I seek to honor and glorify God by putting my family first, not some selfish ambition to promote myself and my own needs and wants. Being a wife and mother IS asking those “hard questions about identity and purpose in life”. My identity is a child of God and my purpose is glorify Him – NOT myself. I’m not some brainwashed victim who doesn’t understand that the chains are off. I LIKE being a wife to my husband and a mother to my children. I LIKE that I don’t have to run an endless rat race every day in the work force. I LIKE being able to “work” (and don’t you dare tell me it isn’t work!) in my PJs every day if I want to. I WANT to be the one who holds and kisses my children all day long, teaching them what their “identity and purpose in life” is.

    Anyway, I could go on and on…

    Thanks for your blog. You have a new reader in me. I consider myself a political junkie mom too!

    • Misti, thank you for your comment! I’m intrigued by your response and will include it (if you don’t mind) in another post. Mika’s quotes were an in-your-face assault. The author by contrast seemed more moderate in demanding the same things. I wondered about that after I posted last night (as I sat up with my daughter in bed at midnight!). Anyway. The riches of the NYT’s feminists: more than one post!
      As for successful and God–you know the answer to that. There is no God to these people. And that’s why they seek to destroy life for everyone else.

      • I don’t mind if you use my comment. I just wanted to clarify something though… I didn’t mean to imply that if you don’t have a college degree that you are not an educated person and can’t think for yourself. I just know that for the feminists it seems worse to them to have been to a liberal environment (colleges/universities) and come out not thinking the way they do.

        I also know many moms who really want to be able to stay home with their kids, but can’t for financial reasons. I know there is a whole other argument as to why they feel they can’t (maybe they really could), etc. But I think those women would be an affront to the feminists too. They’re in the work force but don’t want to be.

        The god of the feminists and others like them is SELF. It’s all about MY success, MY independence, MY freedom, MY choice, MY, MY, MY. It’s all about me, me, me. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything. It’s the sin of pride that started with the fall of Adam and Eve.

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