Saturday, October 24, 2009
Maria Shriver Misses the Point
Maria Shriver Misses the Point
Friday, October 23, 2009
Maria Shriver's new report, "A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," has received a full dress media rollout. We are invited to examine the changes in women's lives over the past several decades and to deplore, as usual, the obstacles to full equality that women supposedly face. Published in cooperation with the Center for American Progress, "A Woman's Nation" claims to be reckoning with the new era but arguably fails to grapple with the most profound challenges to women (as well as children and men).
Some of what's in this report is a recycling of long-discredited data. Heather Boushey, for example, regurgitates the statistic that women only earn 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. But as the Hudson Institute's Diana Furchtgott-Roth and other economists have shown, this number conceals more than it reveals. It is only true on average. But when you begin to compare like with like, the discrepancies narrow considerably. Comparing men and women who both work 40 hours per week, for example, reduces the pay gap by 10 cents per hour. You have to look carefully at what is being compared. Among workers labeled "full time," hours worked by men tend to exceed hours worked by women. When men and women performing the same job are compared -- whether supermarket checker or first-year associate at a law firm -- the pay gap nearly disappears.
"A Woman's Nation" declares in one breath that the "war of the sexes is over" but in the next launches a broadside about women's educational opportunities. It requires some ingenuity to complain that women are educationally shortchanged, when, as even the chapter's author, Mary Ann Mason, acknowledges, "Women today receive 62 percent of college associate's degrees, 57 percent of bachelor's degrees, 60 percent of all master's degrees, half of all professional degrees (law and medicine) and just under half of all Ph.D.s." But there is a problem lurking beneath the surface of this evident success. Though they dominate higher education, too many women are still choosing "traditional female majors" like education, health care (including nursing), and psychology.
Some people look at these data and see free people making free choices. The report doesn't see it that way. Some unseen hand (the patriarchy?) is herding women students into psychology class and blocking their enrollment in engineering and computer science. Women shouldn't cluster in the "helping professions," the report complains, because those jobs don't pay as well as some others. That women may prefer these fields anyway is not considered. Yes, Mason admits, women choose fields that offer job flexibility so that they can fulfill family responsibilities. But that just shows how much the world must change to make these tradeoffs unnecessary.
The solution to the educational "problem," the report argues -- and here we come to the nub -- is more government action. "Our government has already started" to tackle these problems, the report chirps, through laws like Title IX. But Big Brother must do more! Title IX must be used "as a tool to level the playing field for women in the sciences, just as it has done successfully for sports." In other words, schools must be coerced into "equalizing" these programs or risk the loss of federal support.
There's so much for benevolent government to do. The U.S., the report laments, "is the only industrialized country without any requirement that employers provide paid family leave." Employers must be required by law to offer generous family leave, flexible working hours, and other benefits. The government must "increase support to families for child care, early education and elder care to help working parents cope with their multiple responsibilities." Would that be the same government that is already trillions in debt?
Hundreds of pages, lots of photos and charts, and it's the same old song. It completely misses the most important fact about modern women's lives -- the decline of family stability. And not just women's lives. The decline of marital stability and the rise of unmarried parenting (currently almost 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents) has not only been a catastrophe for children, it has also made combining work and family harder than ever. Just at the moment women entered the workforce en masse, marriages -- so essential to providing stability to home life -- unraveled.
The solution, says the Shriver report, is for our "social insurance" programs to "recognize" how family life is changing and increase benefits for a range of domestic needs. See how it works? The more that families disintegrate, the more demands are made upon the government to step in to fill the gaps. That's a downward spiral from which there may be no escape.
and on the same subject...
Feminists Psychoanalyze Themselves Again
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The feminists are going through one of their periodic soul-searching psychological examinations of what the women's liberation movement did or did not do for them, and why they are not happy with the result. Feminist dominance in newspapers, magazines, book publishers, television and academia makes it easy to command a full media rollout for their agonizing.
The media are glad to divert public attention from the failure of Barack Obama's stimulus to create jobs. So, we have ponderous discussions: Maria Shriver's report (with help from a liberal think tank) called "A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," a Time Magazine cover story headlined with the double entendre "The State of the American Woman," Gail Collins' book "When Everything Changed" and articles from all the feminist columnists.
We wonder if it's just a coincidence that this torrent of words immediately precedes Halloween. The writers are scared of their own research because it contradicts much of their gender-neutral ideology.
These well-educated writers long ago identified the major goal of the women's liberation movement as getting more wives out of the home and into the labor force. They've been strikingly successful with this goal -- women are now half the labor force, and 40 percent of women are essential family breadwinners.
In the current recession, the majority of workers laid off have been men (especially from construction and manufacturing). Jobs where women predominate have not been much affected.
Even so, the feminists demanded that the Obama administration give half the stimulus jobs to women rather than to the shovel-ready work that was the reason for passing the stimulus funds. Whatever the feminists demand from the Democrats they get, and the stimulus money was directed to jobs in education, health care and social services.
So what are the feminists complaining about? They want the taxpayers to provide high-quality daycare and paid family leave, to pass laws to prohibit employers from ordering women to work overtime (as men are often required to do) and probably to force men to assume half the household and baby-care duties.
The feminists are still crying about President Richard Nixon vetoing a federal program to make daycare a middle-class entitlement. But Nixon's action was popular then and still is because the majority of Americans don't want their tax dollars to pay for babysitters for other people's children.
No doubt this will come as a shock to the feminists, but Time Magazine reports that "a majority of both men and women still say it is best for children to have a father working and a mother at home."
Women's percentage in the labor force keeps rising because of who is going to college. Thirty years ago, the ratio of males to females on college campuses was 60 to 40; now it's 40 to 60, and women receive the majority of college degrees.
But the feminists are griping because women students choose humanities majors that lead to lesser-paid jobs than male students, who in larger numbers choose math and science. The feminists want government to remedy this gender difference by bribing women with taxpayers' money to make other choices.
Joanne Lipman, who has held several of the biggest jobs in publishing but still whines that "progress for women has stalled," nevertheless makes a couple of sensible comments. She writes that feminists defined "progress for women too narrowly; we've focused primarily on numbers at the expense of attitudes."
She's right about that. Attitude is the problem with feminists -- as long as they believe they are victims of an oppressive patriarchy, they will never be successful.
Women won't be happy as long as they believe the false slogan (repeated in most of these current articles) that women make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. The Equal Pay Law was passed in 1963, but it requires only equal pay for equal work, and women in the labor force don't work nearly as many hours per week as men do.
Lipman also urges feminists to "have a sense of humor" -- a very constructive proposal. When I tell a joke during my college lectures, I can identify the feminists by the students who are not laughing.
Only one sentence in all these feminist articles confronts the fundamental reason that today's women are not as happy as women were in 1972. Time Magazine wrote, "Among the most dramatic changes in the past generation is the detachment of marriage and motherhood."
That's what the feminist movement did to America. All those impressive statistics about women holding well-paying jobs and receiving college degrees will not produce happy women as long as 39 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers who lack a loving husband and look to Big Brother Government as provider.
And one more glaring point: The lack of grandchildren isn't mentioned in these exposes of women's unhappiness. In rejecting marriage, most feminists also rejected the grandchildren who could have provided a significant measure of women's happiness.
Posted by Brett at 2:44 PM