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11/05/2005 Archived Entry: "A new social problem -- women want children and hearth!"

A new social problem: "The priorities of many of today's elite young women...are surprisingly conventional, according to one survey. The most fortunate and educated women say they will conform to traditional gender roles after completing their Ivy League degrees. They are choosing careers as full-time mothers and expect to be supported financially by their successful spouses."

My comment: Who cares what voluntary arrangements couples arrive at? Every arrangement is seen by someone to be a social problem and indication of vice/irresponsibility/*fill in pejorative of your choice*. Stay-at-home motherhood is a problem only for feminists who believe women should make one choice (or select from a pre-defined set of choices) rather than believing women -- and men -- should be free to make any choice for which they assume responsibility.

I have a different response to the suggestion that "elite" women are choosing domesticity at "alarming" rates. I question whether what is stated is true. There is such a hue-and-cry about motherhood right now. On a political level: Populations not replacing themselves sufficiently to sustain current population levels and enable massive social security programs. On a social level: Women who are successful (especially financially) are increasingly painted as lonely spinsters, sans children, sans joy... But those younger "elites" who choose to escape their fate by choosing motherhood are called selfish for wanting the best education possible *and* domesticity later on. Commentators are flapping in the wind on the subject of motherhood and have been for the past few years. I do not denigrate the importance of the presence and size of future generations of taxpayers (at least, its importance to the state -- I really don't care). But this has the feel of a manufactured problem to me. One of the reasons it feels manufactured is that I look around at the women I know and they are almost all both mothers and working women. They *have* to be both in this economy. Perhaps my associates are not elite enough to be included in the surveys designed to showcase a problem among the bling-bling set; that's a definite possibility.

Another reason it seems manufactured is that I don't see any hard data. For example, the above story states, "More than 60 percent of Yale women surveyed concluded that when they become mothers, they plan on working only part time or not at all." But how many women were surveyed? How was the questions phrased. E.g. "Do you wish to be a lonely Wall St. spinster or have children and a supportive husband?" And were they from the Physics or PhyEd department? Even if 60% of all women at one elite university indicated this desire...stats are not based on speculation of future actions or day-dreaming about ideal situations. Call me cynical about these so-called surveys. 5 out of 4 times, they are proven wrong.

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