I wanna be a Soccer Mom
As you may have already heard, the New York Times came out yesterday with a new and not-much-improved version of its 2003 faux trend story on women who choose to chuck their jobs and stay home. This time around the women don't "opt out;" they don't even bother to buy in:
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. [LINK]Standard feminist response: most women in this country don't have that choice, you elitist, sexist twit. A response that, while well-deserved, serves in fact to reinforce the ideological premise of the article, which is: If given a choice, women will choose to stay at home. That's exactly why these Times articles focus on women of privilege to make their point.
I'd submit instead that the article says little about women, but speaks volumes about Ivy League kids. Take Yale student Angie Ku who is happy to dabble at having a job until the kids come along: "It doesn't necessarily matter how far you get. It's kind of like the experience: I have tried what I wanted to do."
A career is an "experience," like that junior year abroad or signing up for crew. Just something you do -- something that apparently requires hundreds of thousands of dollars in college fees, since I suspect flipping burgers at McDonalds wouldn't quite fit the bill.
Nope, this isn't about devotion to motherhood quite simply because a college kid -- especially one studying in the cloistered confines of an Ivy League school -- has little concept of what it means to come a distant second in your own life priorities. Right now, the only notion of maternity that these young women could possibly entertain is the fantasy of being radiantly pregnant a la Catherine Zeta Jones, haute couture regalia included. Call me a party pooper, but I doubt these students would so willingly embrace their chosen fate if they had any inkling of the sleep- and time-deprived, exhausting reality of parenting.
While we're on the subject of fantasies, let's not overlook the fact that this life plan requires a commitment-eager Mr. Right with the wherewithal to keep both mom and baby in the style that her parents -- or at least her alma mater -- have taught her to aspire to. And that the hallowed union will not become yet another divorce statistic -- a probability that still stands at about 50 percent even for happy homemakers. Before you know it, you're starring in The First Wives Club instead of that Doris Day flick.
Let's face it, young people are downright delusional when it comes to their future -- and none more so than young people who are being groomed for a life of privilege.
What's true are the statistics which indicate that the national trend is moving in precisely the opposite direction. Nearly 72 percent of mothers with children younger than 18 go to work. Double-income families, where both husband and wife were the family breadwinners, increased from 39 percent in 1980 to 55 percent in 1993. Sadly, all the newspaper articles in the world aren't going to change that reality.
There's nothing wrong per se about this select group of students choosing to stay home with their kids -- as long as it's not used as fodder for the illusory claims about women that New York Times reporters so dearly love to make.