I don't know where to start on this one. A friend of mine emailed me a link to a Christian-based website that wrote a piece about this July 6 "commentary" in the Austin-American Statesman. Here is the link to the story, but be wary you have to do one of those Godforsaken sign-up thingees to access it.
I had a hard time completely reading this piece. You probably already know this, but I'm a stay at home mom who works as a journalist by candlelight at night, when children are napping or when I can bribe the soon to be 10-year-old to entertain his baby sister. So, I feel this is an attack on me and every woman - working mom or stay-at-home mom.
The woman who wrote it, Gretchen Ritter, is the director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at UT and an associate professor of government and women studies. I weep for the femi-nazis that take classes under her tutelage. I am also pissed beyond belief that my tax dollars go to support a program that goes against everything I believe in. Seriously, I'm going ADD because I don't know where to start ripping apart this woman's piece.
Her first point about why it is bad for children for women to stay at home:
"It denies men the chance to be involved fathers. This is a loss for them and a loss for their children. What does it mean when fathers are denied the opportunity to nurture their kids in ways that are as important as their work? What do the children miss when they don't have fathers changing their diapers, picking them up from school, coaching soccer, making breakfast or dinner and doing homework with them? On both sides, the answer is too much."
Ok, let me counter that with first-hand experience. My husband is one of the manliest men I know - he is also one of the most involved dads I know. His picture is in the dictionary many times beside the words testosterone, manly and macho. But, he is also one of the best dads I've ever seen in action. He changes diapers, coaches no less than TWO soccer teams, he cooks as much or more than I do, he is in the floor doing horsey rides and wrestling and he helps them with their homework. He also makes a mean hand puppet to entertain children during bathtime.
Strike one for this femi-nazi.
"Women who stay at home also lose out — they lose a chance to contribute as professionals and community activists. Parenting is an important social contribution. But we need women in medicine, law, education, politics and the arts. It is not selfish to want to give your talents to the broader community — it is an important part of citizenship to do so, and it is something we should expect of everyone."
What? Somehow because I stay at home I'm Ted Kaczynski? I help my husband coach the boys' soccer teams. I volunteer at church and I show my children the importance of being a part of the community by contributing to the food bank, the homeless shelter and other charities. I volunteer at my children's schools and I'm always at career day talking about being a writer.
Strike two, bitchcakes. This next one is my favorite.
"Full-time mothering is also bad for children. It teaches them that the world is divided by gender. This sends the wrong message to our sons and daughters. I do not want our girls to grow up thinking they must marry and have children to be successful, or that you can only be a good mother if you give up your work."
First off, I see a dramatic difference in my children since I started staying home. My oldest child struggles in all that he does and he was in daycare for the first five years of his life. My two youngest are more articulate, more schooled on little things like colors, counting, etc. as well as more well adjusted. Maybe it is a coincidence, but I don't think so. My oldest had the odds stacked against him with a speech impediment, birth defect and a divorce of his parents. But, I think had I been able to be home with him, his chances of being a little stronger would have been greater. As far as addressing gender roles and differences ... HELLO you stupid bitch. The world is divided by gender. It isn't ideal, but it is life. I see some blurring of the boundaries, but deal with it. I don't want everyone to be gender-neutral. I love women because they are soft, patient and lovely. I love men because they are harder, hairy and strong. There is a reason for these things. My daughter plays equally with Hot Wheels and trucks as she does her baby stroller and dolls. My 5-year-old boy plays as much with the toy kitchen and vaccuum cleaner as his sister. So, back off on the gender thing. Strike three, you're out Frauline Ritter.
"The new stay-at-home motherhood movement parallels the movement to create the "perfect" child. It's not just that mothers are home with their children; they are engaged with their children constantly so they will "develop" properly. Many middle-class parents demand too much of their children. We enroll them in soccer, religious classes, dance, art, piano, French lessons, etc., placing them on the quest for continuous self-improvement."
God forbid we want to offer our children opportunities for enrichment and further education. I played softball, took zoo and museum classes. I took piano and art. I don't remember wanting to commit harey-carey as a result of it. I think it made me a better person overall. I grew up with a love for art museums, wildlife and sports. OOOH, the shame of it all.
"Finally, the stay-at-home mother movement is bad for society. It tells employers that women who marry and have children are at risk of withdrawing from their careers, and that men who marry and have children will remain fully focused on their careers, regardless of family demands. Both lessons reinforce sex discrimination."
Whatever. If bosses are going to discriminate against women it isn't because we may hop off the career path, but because we won't give the guy head under his desk.
"This movement also privileges certain kinds of families, making it harder for others. The more stay-at-home mothers there are, the more schools and libraries will neglect the needs of working parents, and the more professional mothers, single mothers, working-class mothers and lesbian mothers will feel judged for their failure to be in a traditional family and stay home their children."
This point above makes zero sense to me. I was a single working mom for a while. I never felt neglected by any part of society.
What pains me worse than this article attacking motherhood on all levels, I weep that this woman is taking my tax dollars and teaching this horse hockey to impressionable young women and men at UT. She is molding our future into thinking that parents are doing their kids a favor by working and putting them in daycare where people don't really care about them like those who love them. Let's put them in those situations, willingly, to be left in hot vans and smother to death, to walk away from daycare before someone realizes the kid is missing. I feel for moms who have to work and can't be with their children. I was there once and I know how bad it hurts to put your child in another's care and entrust your most precious possession to someone who is getting paid $8 an hour. It is tragic. But, how this woman can blame the ills of society on stay-at-home moms is beyond me.