Women Family Issue
Published 30 Jun 2017
In his essay, “The case against androgynous marriage,” Stephen E. Rhoads (1999) makes the statement that “Feminists can hardly look at married men without a certain measure of disgust. Men won’t do their share of housework and child care. In the typical two-earner family they contribute about half as much housework as their employed wives and less than half as much solo child care.” Yet, this is an unfair statement to men. Rhoads uses no qualifying statements in his claim, making a sweeping generalization that all men do not share fairly in the housework and in caring for the children. Though he attributes this thought to feminists, he does not give any evidence that feminists actually believe this. Furthermore, he offers no evidence or any hint at research done that shows this claim to be true. Instead, he regurgitates the stereotype, referring to the “typical two-earner family” as if any family would relish being considered “typical.” He makes no exception or allowance for such families (of which I am aware) with fathers who do most of the household chores.
Kristin Maschka (2003) makes several claims in her essay “The fiscal value of nurturing.” She asserts that “Our entire system of basic protections from economic risk is linked to paid labor, leaving behind those who do uncompensated chores or cut back on paid work to care for family.” This claim is based squarely on several points of evidence that she supplies. She cites not just the difference between wage earnings of men and women, but also the difference in wages earned by mothers and childless women. Maschka also provides evidence that demonstrates how social security is based on wages earned in the workplace—and ends up providing less benefits to those who have had to reduce their workplace earnings in favor of caring for their children. These differences demonstrate clearly her point that those women who spend time caring for their children are placed at an economic disadvantage because of their labor of love, which goes uncompensated.
The article “Homeward Bound” by Linda Hirshman (2005) makes some strong points about the direction of women in the workplace and at home. Yet, despite all the research, it fails to prove its thesis, expressed in the statement that “among the educated elite, who are the logical heirs of the agenda of empowering women, feminism has largely failed in its goals.” The fact that the highest educated and wealthiest women choose to stay at home with their babies (rather than work) does demonstrate to some degree that women desire to nurture their offspring. Yet, Hirshman fails to provide any insight into what the goals of feminism actually are. For, if one assumes that the goal of feminism was indeed to remove women from the role of housewife and to place them in a dominant role in the business world, it certainly has failed to do that. Yet, Hirshman does not consider that the goal of feminism might have been to give women the option to do this, should they desire to. What Hirshman proves is that many women opt to take care of children rather than work in the corporate world, and this option was not even available to them before feminism came along. Therefore, feminism cannot be said expressly to have failed.
Paul Roberts makes an interesting point about the effect of fathers on their children’s emotional development. In his essay “Fathers’ time” he writes, “links have been found between the quality of father-child interactions and a child’s later development of certain life skills, including an ability to manage frustration, a willingness to explore new things and activities, and persistence in problem solving” (1996). Roberts explains the dynamic between fathers and children and shows how the way a father plays has the effect of widening the children’s social scope from the idea of nurturing that is usually provided by the mother. His methods of explanation are very clear and convincing, as he shows how each behavior typical of a father triggers responses by a child that might be considered in the light Roberts presents them in his quote. As a result, it is possible to see how a father-child activity might promote persistence, the management of frustration or imbue a child with the willingness to explore novel arenas.
- Hirshman, L. R. (2005). “Homeward bound.” American Prospect. 16(12), 20-26.
- Maschka, K. (2003). “The fiscal value of nurturing.” USA Today. November, 26-27.
- Rhoads, S. E. (1999). “The case against androgynous marriage.” The American Enterprise. Sept-Oct. 35-39.
- Roberts, Paul. (1996). “Fathers’ time.” Psychology today. May/June, 48+