Thursday, September 22, 2005

Like a cat, tied to a stick (Part II)

I saw a recent NY Times article referenced here, here, and here. The article is about female students at universities like Yale and University of Pennsylvania who are already planning to opt out of a career to be a stay-at-home parent, or plan to reduce their working hours during their child-rearing years. The article states:

Many women at the nation's most elite colleges say they have already decided that they will put aside their careers in favor of raising children. Though some of these students are not planning to have children and some hope to have a family and work full time, many others, like Ms. Liu, say they will happily play a traditional female role, with motherhood their main commitment.

It goes on to say,

"I've seen the difference between kids who did have their mother stay at home and kids who didn't, and it's kind of like an obvious difference when you look at it," said Ms. Abugo, whose mother, a nurse, stayed home until Ms. Abugo was in first grade.

Oh yeah, like, I totally know what you mean. This guy?

His mom stayed at home.

* * *

This article is the kind of really poor reporting that has altered the history of our nation. The formula is this: an interview of one of two people lends to the reporter's conclusion about a "trend" taking place in our society today. Consider the following trends:

  • Crack babies: To supplement the "War on Drugs," the 1980's media fostered the notion that thousands of babies all over America were born addicted to crack, and would be a serious burden on our society. Later research showed that babies of mothers addicted to crack had no lasting effects.

  • Welfare mothers: The media likes to report on myths of welfare, on black women with 4 children by 3 different men, yet over 70% of welfare recipients only have 1 child. More welfare recipients are white than black.

When I get my time machine finished, I will go back in time and publish a far better, and more responsible article in the New York Times. It will begin in a similar fashion, that some of today's young women have decided to become stay-at-home mothers, just like millions of women have before them. I won't say "many women," because as a responsible reporter, I will realize that I haven't surveyed the nation's 20 year-old women to determine if a significant portion of women have made this decision.

I will then discuss the options that mother's have, both as stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. I will not pit one against the other in some kind of cat-fight or mud wrestle. I will not vaguely suggest that one is better than the other, because I will recognize that likely every mother will be one or the other at some point. I will point out that despite being an industrialized nation with a strong economy, we still have no federally funded child care like nations such as France, Denmark, and Finland. I will discuss that a lot of research--done as much as twenty years ago by folks like Clarke, Belsky and Steinberg--shows that children who spent time in quality day-care facilities are "seen as being more socially competent and independent." Other more recent reports highlight the positive effects of day care on low-income children, including increased reading and cognitive abilities. I won't scare families from day care by writing about lone cases of child molestation at nanny facilities. I will encourage them to do their research. I will write about the top ten places for women to work, and encourage other companies be as positive towards women.

I will write an accompanying piece, a commentary! I will remind my readers that it's not just women that raise children, but men as well. I will encourage paternity leave as strongly as I encourage maternity leave for companies so to support healthy families in our society. I will remind my readers that families aren't punched from a stamp, that some children have two mothers, two fathers, step-fathers, step-mothers, half-brothers, single mothers, and single fathers. I will help to wake up a nation that has become complacent against one of the most important primitives of society: The Family. I will remind them that women's issues are everyone's issues.

That is, I'll do all of that once I get my time machine finished.

I'll leave you with this little gem from the article.

Ms. Ku added that she did not think it was a problem that women usually do most of the work raising kids.

"I accept things how they are," she said. "I don't mind the status quo. I don't see why I have to go against it."

Forgive me now, while I barf into my shoe.


RussianViolets said...

I want to find Miss Liu and beat the ever-loving shit out of her. Oh my fucking god!!!

patbergschneider said...

You crack me up! I just love your ability to break down issues so clearly. You get a big BRAVO on this post.

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