The Republican attack on women as breadwinners continues with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) saying that America’s educational troubles started when women began working outside the home in large numbers, the Washington Post reports.

Gov. Bryant, responded to a question about how America became ‘so mediocre’ in regard to educational outcomes, saying, “I think both parents started working. The mom got in the work place.”

“Bryant immediately recognized how controversial his remark would be and said he knew  he would start to get e-mails. He then expanded on his answer, saying that “both parents are so pressured” in families today. He also noted that America seemed to be losing ground internationally in regards to educational outcomes because other nations began to invest more in their own school systems and make progress.”

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

Leave a replyComments (127)
  1. slamfu June 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    He’s partially correct in the fact that parents have a huge impact on our children’s education, but about as far off base as can be by assigning blame to women wanting to work. Our teachers have been neutered by both nutty parents who think they know best over educators how to run the school system, and weak kneed school administrators that lay all the responsibility of education on the teachers, but don’t back them up with the authority to do their job. A classic recipe for a dysfunctional system.

    But to look at this flawed system and come away with the conclusion that women in the workplace is the problem really takes some willful ignorance and intentional bias on the part of the person passing judgement.

  2. roro80 June 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Understanding so little about education should bar this guy from having the tiniest influence on the educational system.

  3. zusa1 June 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I believe he is probably correct, but that doesn’t mean the problem can only be addressed by women leaving the workforce. My two sons went through the public school system and are now in college. It is too much for parents to expect teachers to be the ones ultimately responsible for their kids education. They are a resource to get that done, but the responsibility is the parent’s. It takes a lot of time and effort to make sure homework is getting done, tests are prepared for, and grades are kept up. With both parents working, even with just two kids, we had to make adjustments. Sometimes hard choices have to be made, and you are not always sure you are making the right ones.

    Another change has been the chronic over scheduling of kids in extracurricular activities. When I was young, most kids had a lot of down time. Not so anymore.

  4. ShannonLeee June 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    It is an even greater insult to single mothers. I’m tired of the cult of the “traditional family”.

  5. Today June 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I agree that parent(s) obviously have the biggest impact on their child’s education and becoming a socially responsible and productive adult. However, I believe that our once great public school system is being purposely underfunded and destroyed to open the door to corporations and the wealthy to usher in charter schools. The wealthy will send their children to the very best charter schools and the children of the taxpayers will have to send their children to whatever is left over.

  6. adelinesdad June 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Can we agree that even good things can, and almost always do, have downsides? Wind farms kill birds. Economic growth raises gas prices. Welfare helps make some people dependent. Etc. This point is both obvious and seemingly incomprehensible to most partisans.

    With that in mind, given that the quote in question was immediately followed up by “and that’s not a bad thing”, I think it’s quite unfair to suggest that he’s trying to pressure women out of the workforce. Given the whole context, I think he’s making the rational point that when both parents are feeling pressures on their time, pressure that didn’t exist to the same extent generations ago because women generally stayed home, that’s going to have an effect on their kids’ development including their education. The solution doesn’t have to be to push mothers out of the workforce. It could be to make it more socially acceptable for men to do it, or for options to be available for both men and women to better balance the work and their families. The governors comments did not spell out a prescription.

    Now, like most complex problems there are complex causes, and he did go on to make the point that this is just one of many factors. A bigger but related concern is the increase in single mothers who are stretched much further. Like health care, the education system is not a closed system–it’s problems partly stem from factors outside of the system itself, into society as a whole.

  7. adelinesdad June 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm


    The data that I’m aware of shows funding per student increasing steadily throughout the last century, which seems to contradict your theory. That’s not to say there aren’t problems of equity, however, I just think they are caused more by factors external to the education system: specifically, the sharpening geographical divide between the rich, middle-class, and poor.

  8. zusa1 June 4, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Well said, ad. Thx.

    “It could be to make it more socially acceptable for men to do it”

    That what my sister’s husband did and the husband in a couple we’re friends with. Both families are conservatives.

  9. roro80 June 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Obviously the fact that almost all households need two incomes is the fault of moms, as opposed to the garbage policies like union busting and outsourcing that have decimated the middle class. Obviously it’s women who should be doing homework with the little ones after a hard day of work, because when else is dad gonna watch the game? Women are genetically inferior to men, as PhD in Smartology Erick Erickson, told us a couple of days ago, so the real solution here is for husbands to forbid their wives from working like they did back in the good old days like the ’50s. It was way better back then in Bryant’s home state of Mississippi back then. Obviously.

  10. adelinesdad June 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm


    Where did the governor say anything like that? In fact, he specifically addressed that misinterpretation of his words. Again, it is not inconsistent to point out the downsides to a trend while at the same time believing the trend to be good overall. In fact, recognizing the downsides is essential so that they can be mitigated before they undermine the good effects of the trend. In other words, not throwing the baby out with the bathwater requires that we be able to distinguish between the two.

  11. ShannonLeee June 5, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Looking glass or kaleidoscope?

    Yes, let’s ignore the fact that women working was his #1 answer… Of all of the numerous reasons.

  12. adelinesdad June 5, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I’m pretty sure I didn’t ignore it. Firstly, I pointed out that what he said is being mischaracterized, which is independent of the question of whether he is right. Secondly, I provided a defense for the plausibility of his theory that it has some effect, which at least makes it a better first answer than some other common ideologically-driven ones. Thirdly, I pointed out that he did go on to say that there are many other factors.

    So while one can debate whether his answer is better or worse than another, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of reasonable answers. He could have phrased it in a gender-neutral way to avoid the controversy, though, but that doesn’t justify the mischaracterization. Just my opinion.

  13. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 10:45 am

    As I said in the previous thread, in which data was given showing that a large majority of the population thought women working makes raising kids more difficult: I’d love to have a free nanny and housekeeper too, but nobody’s signed up for that job. So let’s add free tutoring service to the list, shall we?

    And how can you say it’s a mischaracterization? This is a traditional-family-only, traditional-values Republican. Do you not have any idea what that means? He easily could have said “Dads haven’t stepped in to take their half of childcare and help with homework as moms have gone to work”, which, if the problem with education is “too little parent involvement”, is every bit as valid. In fact, “too little parental involvement” would have been a lovely way to phrase this. That’s not what he said, though, is it? Kids are stupid because mom isn’t being a good enough mom, mom isn’t sacrificing her own career aspirations or economic stability for her kids. Which is what women are supposed to do. Not dads — moms.

  14. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

    roro80, This is what he said:

    Gov: “Oh there’s…I’m going to get in trouble if I…do you want me to tell the truth? Should I tell the truth? Ummm, it, you know, I think parents became, both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place. It’s not a bad thing. I’m going to get in trouble. I can just see. I can see the emails tomorrow, but, but, now both parents are working, they’re pursuing their careers. That’s a great American story now that women are certainly in the workplace too.” (motions to female interviewer).

    Female interviewer: “So its the mother’s place to teach them to read?”

    Gov: “No, no, no. But, but I think there was that loving nurturing opportunity that both parents had a little bit of time. My dad was a reader. Now he was a mechanic, so he didn’t go to college but he was a reader. But he had a little bit more time with me. In today’s society, parents are so challenged. Not just the mom but the mom and the dad. They’re working overtime. They’re trying to balance both of them in the workplace. Now that’s just one of the small features that we see. I think….” (end of video)

  15. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

    And prey tell why was the governor so sure he was going to “get in trouble”?

  16. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Because it’s difficult to have a discussion about any downsides that came about from both parents working.

  17. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    No, it really isn’t.

  18. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    It’s ok for the left, taboo for the right. No matter what is said, it is never said “the right way”.

  19. ShannonLeee June 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I have to wonder why all of those stay at home welfare moms are doing such a poor job?

  20. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Having been through it, anyone who thinks both parents working full time is not a factor is not being objective.

  21. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    zusai, you tried to argue biological inferiority/submissiveness of women, like, two days ago. In earnest. So I’m going to go ahead and laugh at your idea that “no matter what is said” by you or “the right”, it’s just that you are right-leaning that makes me offended at your opinions on woman’s place in a household and society. It doesn’t matter how you say it — right way, wrong way, nicely, full of euphamisms, with or without curse words — if you’re going to make arguments like you tend to, trust me, it’s not the rhetoric I’m objecting to. Of course, feel free to reject the rantings of a mentally inferior submissive ladybrain like me…

  22. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    roro80, I am a female engineer and my husband and I have each at one time quit our job while the other worked when both of us working didn’t.

    Different is not inferior.

  23. slamfu June 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Assuming I accept Gov. Bryant’s logic, I can only surmise his mother held down no fewer than 8 jobs at a time while raising him.

  24. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    If that’s true, zusa, you should know better.

  25. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    “If that’s true”

    Let me check…yep…still female. :)

    “you should know better”

    I think I do. I have no problem questioning why things are the way they are despite what the answer may be.

  26. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Look zusa, I’m very glad that you and your family have gotten to make all the choices that were best for YOU. If you want to be submissive — go on with your bad self. If you feel personally inferior in mental capacity and superior in nurturing to your husband, that’s great. If you were able to get by on a single income for a full family, be it you or your husband bringing home the money, all the power to ya. If you find abortion personally repugnant, it’s fantastic that you have the choice to take as many unplanned pregnancies to term as your body will turn out. That doesn’t mean that sh*tting on families who make other choices, either out of need or desire, is ok. It doesn’t make it ok to ponder — as if it were a rational question — whether or not maybe it’s best if women stay home and nurture and submit to their husbands because of biology. (BTW, I had to take tons of science and statistics to get my engineering degree — why didn’t you?)

  27. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm


    I think we’re done. Peace.

  28. slamfu June 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I retract my earlier comment. Going over what the Gov said, he was doing his best to frame his opinion in a gender neutral way. This appears to be the PC police looking for a fight. Could he have phrased it better? Maybe, but with most of the GOP these days sounding more like Allen West or Todd Akin, this guy is making an effort to be civilized and should not be bashed on out of reflex.

  29. adelinesdad June 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Slamfu, did you just change your mind during a debate? That is remarkable and respectable.

    roro and zusai, clearly women as a group are different than men as a group, though of course there are variations within each group and some overlap as well, and to suppose those differences are limited to reproductive biology I think is absurd. For that reason, I’m all for choices but don’t think the measuring stick of equality should be that men and women should make identical choices in identical numbers. The measuring stick is that all should have the maximum number of choices available to them. I wouldn’t use the words “submissive” and of course not “inferior” in describing those differences. I wasn’t involved in those prior threads you are referring to so I won’t get involved in that further for now.

    roro, you’ve applied labels to the governor and then inferred his views from them based on your view of what those labels mean, even though those inferred views directly contradict what he said. I’m afraid I can’t take that line of argument seriously. To be clear, when he said “I don’t think that’s a bad thing”, do you think he is lying? And how do you support your view that he is lying about what he thinks?

    As for your alternative suggestions, you say he could/should have said:

    “too little parental involvement”. That’s probably what I would have said, actually, but that beds the question, why? Laziness? Overabundance of entertainment? Employer demands? Excessive ambition? Sure, he could have phrased it in the vague uncontroversial way, but that doesn’t get to root causes and therefore doesn’t advance the discussion very much.

    “Dads haven’t stepped in to take their half of childcare and help with homework as moms have gone to work”. The thing that changed between state A and state B was that women went to work outside the home in greater numbers. I could also say that increased carbon dioxide isn’t the cause of global warming, it’s our failure to scrub it from the air fast enough. That’s true, but it’s rhetorical gymnastics. Also, I don’t often hear feminists talking about how men should stay home more as one of their core principles. Nor did it get started encouraging women to work outside the home because of financial pressures requiring dual incomes. What I do hear often talked about is better work policies to help working parents, or more availability and affordability of child care. The impression given to me is that feminists take it a given that more women working will mean more total hours worked per couple, and I don’t think most feminists see that as a bad thing. So, although feminists were/are right about a lot of things, pointing out one potential negative consequence of that view seems like a reasonable point to make.

  30. roro80 June 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Your comment is entirely made of straw, ad. But I’m having a lovely evening, so it will be tomorrow before I get to it. But in preparation, you may want to look a little harder into what most feminists think.

  31. zusa1 June 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Commenting Rules

    4)…..The key word for commenting is civility. Civil discussion, civil debate, civil teaching, presenting ideas and opinions in a civil manner.

  32. adelinesdad June 5, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    You might be right, roro, that my comment had some straw in it, though “entirely” is quite an absolute. Anyway, supposing the arguments, motivations, or backgrounds of debate opponents does carry that peril. Not to justify mine, but I’m curious if you see any straw in any of your comments in this thread.

    I look forward to hearing about how feminism champions offsetting the increase in workforce participation of women with the decrease in that of men. Like I said, I’m not an expert so I may have missed it.

  33. roro80 June 6, 2013 at 10:44 am

    zusa1 — I find it uncivil to talk about women as if they might be biologically subservient to men. Perhaps you find it uncivil for me to assume a woman who thinks that’s true would naturally be subservient to a man. Perhaps you are, instead, one of those women who thinks *other* women should be submissive to their husbands, while you are not? Perhaps you are similar on the case of abortion — ok for you and not for others? I don’t know. You say you’ve had the experience to know all these things first-hand, so the logic that you, yourself, are a submissive woman isn’t a stretch.

  34. zusa1 June 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Roro, You consistently misconstrue what I have said to fit your narrative. I can’t help but notice how the nature of your posts changed when I told you I was female. This is my last post to you since you aren’t able to resist personal attacks.

  35. roro80 June 6, 2013 at 11:13 am

    ad — the labels I’ve applied to the governor are “traditional values”, and “traditional family”. These both are listed on his website, so he self-labeled as such.

    “he could have phrased it in the vague uncontroversial way, but that doesn’t get to root causes and therefore doesn’t advance the discussion very much.”

    If you’d like to talk about problem statements that would point to a root cause that is solvable, he chose the absolute worst way to frame his answer. In fact it was this point exactly that I had thought to address earlier, but decided it wasn’t worth the time. “Women should stay home from work” is the least of all possible solutions to the problem of too little parental involvement. Where that is a possibility, it almost alway already happens. Look at the numbers — women stay at home with the kids, even educated women with ambition, in numbers that far, far outnumber men who do the same. The results are also clear: the children tend to do quite well (educated full time free tutors!), but marriages break up due to mutual resentment between the couple, and even among those marriages that do not, the women tend to make millions less over their lifetimes than equally educated men. This scenario is a major factor in the stats for women in upper management and executive level jobs.

    “That’s true, but it’s rhetorical gymnastics”

    Yes and no. We have more CO2 in the environment because we needed energy for a growing population. If we could find a way to scrub it without causing other problems, we could burn all we wanted without ruining the world. Then we’d have energy AND a clean planet. You need both/and solutions. In the situation we’re talking about, going back to a world where one person is the breadwinner and one is the homemaker is just not financially feasible for most families these days (again: thanks garbage conservative policies!), and is downright impossible for single-parent families, in the same way that going back to a non-powered world is not possible.

    As for feminists and what they/we think (we’re not a monolith, of course), one of the very most classic ideas is the inherent destructiveness of traditional gender roles, and how that plays out in marriage and families. This is actually pretty second-wave stuff (like, from the 60s and 70s), and most 3rd wave feminist writers (modern present-day) do some analysis on the manifestations of the gender roles in a hetero marriage. Of course there should be the ability of individual families to choose either parent to stay home with the kids! Again, this isn’t a feasible choice for most families these days, but in cases where it is, much ink has been spilled over the myriad reasons that even now, the choice is almost always that the woman will stay home and the man will work, despite the fact that women are usually just as educated and ambitious as their husbands.

    “Nor did it get started encouraging women to work outside the home because of financial pressures requiring dual incomes.”

    I’m sorry ad, but this just is not true. You’ve seen too many 80s movies about hot business women in brightly colored skirt suits with shoulderpads. Having more than kids and housework is important to huge numbers of women, but women aren’t so different from men that they just love getting up a 5am and going to an office to do data entry everyday. I have a great career, but I would quit tomorrow if I won the lotto, just like my husband would. People work because people need money. Middle class women began to work for a large number of reasons, a big one being because being financially dependent upon one’s husband is an incredibly insecure position. Furthermore, there’s a lot written these days in feminist circles about the housework wars, and how our culture and history plays out in individual couples’ experiences. Childcare is a huge part of that. Some recent things I’ve read can be found if you google something like “pandagon housework wars”. There’s a whole series of feminist analyses of this.

  36. roro80 June 6, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I have not changed a bit, zusa. I am more disappointed, as many men just simply lack the experience of being a woman, and therefore are pretty clueless as to what comes along with that. I find it personally insulting when someone thinks they can go out and advocate against my basic rights and humanity, just because they have personally made other decisions.

  37. roro80 June 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

    And I don’t really see what’s a personal attack in saying that I’m supportive of your family’s decisions, just not the assumption that every family will be able or wanting to make those same decisions.

  38. adelinesdad June 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    roro: “he chose the absolute worst way to frame his answer”

    Because you’re not listening past the first sentence. I realize the labels are self-imposed. I’m saying that what he says he thinks carries more weight than what you suppose he thinks because of your interpretation of his labels, whether self-imposed or not, especially when what he says he thinks contradicts what you suppose he thinks. Only a mind reader could say someone is lying about what they think (and even then would have a tough time proving it). It is possible to show actions that someone has taken that is not consistent with what they have said, but you have not attempted to do that and instead insisted that he is lying because what he said doesn’t conform to your interpretation of his label. That’s the argument I said before I can’t take seriously.

    Since he didn’t say “Women should stay home from work”, about 90% of what you said is missing the point. As for the other 10%, and maybe some of the other stuff that is not relevant but still interesting to me, I’ll have to come back to that when I have more time.

  39. roro80 June 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    So he gets to trumpet his support for the traditional family to all the residents of Mississippi, who take that to mean X, Y, and Z things, where those things are all strongly supported by the majority of voters, and yet I, who do not support those ideas, am not allowed to think that what he is trying to signal with those words to his voters is what he means? I am in vehement agreement with ShannonLee on this one — the cult of the “traditional family” is a farse, and defining “family” in one single way is fundamentally harmful to pretty much everyone, even those who have “traditional” families. You seem to want to pretend that those words don’t mean to him what they signal to all of his voters.

    ad, I was speaking *specifically* to the idea of root cause/corrective action in those 90% you call “missing the point”; you brought up root cause. If root cause is “women went to work” — which he most certainly stated is the cause of mediocre educational results — then the obvious corrective action for that root cause is that women not work outside the home. Any other action or solution may or may not solve the problem, but does not address the root cause. If “too little parental involvement” is the root cause, then we have numerous ways to address that — either parent stays home, more involvement from both parents when they aren’t at work, each parent works part-time, lots of weekend time, flex schedules, extra tutoring, special family time, blah blah blah. So no: not missing the point. Evidently your point is THE point, and mine are all just peripheral. Needless to say, I don’t see it that way.

  40. adelinesdad June 7, 2013 at 1:11 am


    I have an aversion to “signalling” or “code word” arguments. The problem is that I can say that any politician I don’t like is signalling something. I can say Obama is a closet socialist and is signalling to his buddies when he says things like “spreading the wealth around” and “you didn’t build that”, etc. And you can’t prove I’m wrong. I prefer to stick with what people actually say and what the words actually mean in the context in which they said it.

    As for causes and solutions, let me return to my original point, which yes I think is the point you are missing. I can say that economic growth, by increasing the demand for energy, raises the price of energy which hurts some struggling families. Would you object to me phrasing the issue that way? What is the solution to this? By your logic, if I say this, my solution must be that we need to stop our economy from growing, which is obviously no good. But maybe I really want a more secure and diverse energy supply so that small changes in demand don’t cause dramatic changes in price. Does my original phrasing of the problem prohibit me from proposing this solution?

    Returning to the 10% I mentioned, you say that children of well-educated stay-at-home moms do quite well with their “educated full time free tutors” (they are actually quite expensive, given the income they forgo as you mentioned). But that arrangement has other major downsides for the woman and family, particularly if it is not chosen freely. That’s my point. There are upsides and there are downsides. Pointing that out, as even you just did, does not mean the entire trend is bad and should be reversed. Rather, we should attempt to mitigate the downsides.

  41. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 6:00 am

    As for feminists and what they/we think (we’re not a monolith, of course),

    Unlike people who espouse traditional family values.

    Or professional women who choose to stay at home.

  42. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 9:01 am

    The first is a dog whistle.

    I have said absolutely nothing in judgment of women who stay home for their kids. I have no judgment for them. Choice is what I advocate.

  43. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Telling zuzai that her choice was to be subservient is hardly neutral or nonjudgemental, roro.

  44. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Also, roro, since you mentioned that feminists are not monolithic, roro, do you think that some of them don’t really respect the choice of staying at home and might favor policies that make it more difficult to do so?

    If so, then why shouldn’t those of us on the conservative siee also be justified in hearing dog whistles?

  45. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 9:49 am

    She argued 3 days ago that women are biologically submissive. I didn’t think that was neutral either.

  46. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Second point: much less common now than in 2nd wave feminism, but fair enough.

  47. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I missed that thread at the time but reread it earlier today. I read her as saying that females generally may be less inclined toward domination than males are, which is a much mosre positive description than to say that a woman is choosing subservience. It’s a matter of puttong domination in it’s proper perspective and giving that trait the negative connotation it deserves, rather than choosing submissiveness out of weakness.

  48. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 10:04 am


  49. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I mean, I was there. She really does have the choice to navegate her relationships in whatever way she wants.

  50. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

    In any case CStanley, I really don’t understand this conservative tendancy to think that advocating for non-traditional choices means that progressives are trying to ruin individual people who make traditional choices. Saying gay people should be able to get married does not hurt straight people or straight marriages or marriage as an institution. Saying couples should be allowed to get divorced doesn’t mean that anyone wants to go in and MAKE people get divorced. Being pro-choice doesn’t mean that I want to hurt anybody’s baby, or that I don’t like kids, or that I hate moms, or that I think having kids is bad/wrong/whatever, or that I wish you or anyone else had been aborted, or particularly that anyone should be forced to have an abortion or take birth control or use a condom. I’m a straight, white, cis-gendered married person who is hoping for kids very, very soon, and frankly I don’t actually know what sort of arrangement will work out as far as childcare for my particular family. I do know I sure wish the laws of my country made those choices easier for me and all pregnant people.

    Back to an earlier point: while there are most certainly feminists (mostly quite a bit older now) who look down on and judge women who decided to be housewives instead of working, I can think of not a single one who wanted to legislate against those choices, as is so common with conservatives. I don’t like abortion — outlaw it! I think gay people are icky — let’s keep them from marrying, and fire them from their jobs while you’re at it! Big difference, ne?

  51. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I don’t have much time roro but my main reaction to Sahara you wrote is that it’s not, for me, about telling people what choices to make but rather it’s about insisting that any social engineering that one advocates for must be objectively analyzed. If it fixes some underlying disparity, great, but if there are other negative effects on society than we should be willing to debate without assuming that the people raising concerns are simply trying to undo progress.

  52. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I guess you’re going to have to give me an example, CS. I don’t see what needs to be analyzed, or how it’s even in any good taste for a committee of anyone to discuss the merits of allowing individuals the right to choose their own paths. That’s not “social engineering”. It always makes me laugh (cry?) that conservatives think “freedom” and “personal liberty” has more to do with taxes than with who a person marries or what is living in a person’s body or whether or not a person gets to work for a living.

  53. DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist June 7, 2013 at 11:06 am


    I have been following this debate with interest and have stayed out of it because it is mainly among you, roro, and ad.

    However, this statement of yours intrigued me CS:

    it’s about insisting that any social engineering that one advocates for must be objectively analyzed.

    What kinds of “social engineering” are you referring to? Freedom of gays and lesbians to marry each other? Ability of women to seek any and all careers they wish? The right of gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military? Just curious, not seeking confrontation.


  54. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Yes I would say those are examples Dorian. I’m not expressing a negative opinion about those changes, just that the results of change should be evaluated in toto.

  55. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I believe that allowing people to marry the people they love, have families that look like they choose, and have opportunities to succeed in whatever careers the individuals are able and willing to take up is the exact opposite of “social engineering”. Saying “you must have a family that looks like this”, “you must marry someone with X, Y, Z characteristics”, and “your career options are limited to A, B, and C” is so much more engineered and controlled.

    Again, I also find the idea of some sort of mass committee (let’s call it “government” for short, eh?) with data and projections to tell us all whether our individual life choices are valid to be essentially anathema to the entire idea of “personal freedoms” and “liberty” and all those good things we’re told conservatives want.

  56. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Well I would prefer that the government were far less involved in many things, including marriage.

  57. DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist June 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    @ CS

    While I disagree with your concept that God-given human traits and characteristics such as sexual orientation somehow represent “social engineering that one advocates for,” I thank you for your feedback.

  58. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I believe that allowing people to marry the people they love, have families that look like they choose, and have opportunities to succeed in whatever careers the individuals are able and willing to take up is the exact opposite of “social engineering

    I think the difference in our views on this is the basic difference between the way conservatives/ libertarians and liberals view freedom.

    The conservative viewpoint is that people should not only be free as individuals in making choices, but also in institutions and other associations. So, socially there are persistent mores, which to some degree coerce behaviors. The power of these institutions and mores has an effect on individual decisions, not always to the good, but on balance we think it is positive.

    The progressive view values the individual above all and often seeks protection for individuals for going against the grain of society. That’s what I consider social engineering, because it involves government to redress as an ariter of the individual against coercion by society, whereas the libertarian idea involves mainly guarding individual freedom from government coercion.

  59. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    ad — for some reason your comment hadn’t appeared on my screen until just now.

    About “signaling” words and phrases — I guess we could pretend that “traditional family” and “traditional values” have no meaning. I find it patently unfair that I have to do so when nobody else (but you, evidently) does. He either supports the causes of “traditional values” politicians and voters, or he does not. I thought, since he says he supports traditional values and traditional families, that he does. Is that really a stretch?

    It’s pretty frustrating that you make a bunch of irrelevant assumptions about feminists and why people work and blahblahblah, which I then go ahead rebut in detail, since they are wrong, and then you dismiss all of that as irrelevant. Neat-o.

  60. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    CStanley — Those are all nice words, but isn’t how it plays out. How is the government saying “you can get married, you cannot” anything but government interference in individual liberties? The only government action that needs to happen to change that is the government NOT stepping in and saying “you can’t do that”. How is it MORE personal liberty and LESS government involvement to ban gay people from getting married? It’s total cognitive dissonance. And sure, progressives do think there need to be protections for some people, but there are lots of cases — abortion, marriage rights, etc — where that’s got nothing to do with it at all. Very simple “get out of my life” stuff.

  61. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    What I consider marriage is a religious sacrament, so the government really shouldn’t have a say in it, roro.

    Since gay people have legitimately petitioned for access to the civil institution, and I don’t have a problem with that as long as churches are free to define their own sacramental rite. My preference would be for the civil institution to be called something other than marriage, but that would be for everyone who is getting state recognition for a relationship.

  62. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    And it can be religious for you, but again, why oh why oh why do you insist that it must be for everyone? I am legally married — not domestically partnered, not civil partnered. I am an atheist. Whoops! Not a religious sacrament, not your word. Also: lots of churches would like very much to extend the sacrament of relgious marriage to LGBT people. Why is the government infringing upon the rights of those churches?

    Anyway, this isn’t really about marriage rights, of course, but you specifically pointed to that as one of the ways progressives are trying to socially engineer without full knowledge. I think it’s very clearly conservatives who are trying to “engineer” every family to look like their own. Why? I really have no clue. Again: I do not at all understand why conservatives think that anyone who looks or acts differently than themselves while being happy and living their lives is some sort threat to their own decisions. I don’t understand why you want to call marriage something other than marriage when two people of the same gender want to enter into it. It’s not a goody or a cookie in limited supply that we straight people need to sequester lest the gays take our yum-yums. There’s a lot I don’t understand about the conservative mindset.

  63. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I simply believe that a lot of heterosexuals and now, homosexuals, are the ones who are doing the redefining. At what time in history was marriage not considered necessarily a lifetime commitment? And if it’s not that, but instead a partial commitment to partnering woth someone for a while until one or the other or both partners decide they want to move on, than what is the legitimate state interest in being involved in that relationship anyway? If it’s just to be a loose alliance like that, then it shouldn’t have any status other than a partnership civil contract IMO.

  64. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    “At what time in history was marriage not considered necessarily a lifetime commitment? ”

    The answer is “many different times” or, actually, “always”, but I have a feeling that’s not the answer your rhetorical question was expecting…?

    And, by the way, being an atheist doesn’t mean I think of marriage as “loose alliance”, my husband and my best couple friend is a gay couple who have been together almost 20 years (not uncommon for those couples who have been waiting for soooo long), and there are tons of straight people and religious people who get divorced. You’re going to have to do better than “marriage is a lifetime committment” as a reason the word marriage shouldn’t be applied to marriage among LGBT people.

    And sure, you’re allowed an opinion, but why mention it if you’ve got so little invested in it that you don’t have a solid reason for that opinion? If you do, what is that reason?

  65. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    “I simply believe that a lot of heterosexuals and now, homosexuals, are the ones who are doing the redefining.”

    I also don’t really understand what you’re going for here. There is a government-defined set of laws that govern marriage, both state and federal. Relationships are and always have been defined by the people who are in them.

  66. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    This isn’t really about atheism vs religion or heterosexuality vs. Homosexuality to me, even though there’s some confluence.

    It’s the distinction between two concepts that have been intermingled which I think should be distinct- the sacrament of marriage and the civil institution. The two things used to be more similar before no fault divorce and before the sexual revolution when sex and marriage was much less separated from procreation than now. It’s my opinion that we ought to acknowledge that the current civil instituion that we call marriage is no longer similar enough to the sacramental institution to be called the same thing.

    I’m not judging or commenting on any particular secularly married couple, just talking about the rules that govern each group of people. Hopefully you can at least see that I’m not saying that gays are threatening hetero marriage, I’m saying that the horse has long been out of the barn from what heteros have done.

    As to the expectations not being permanent, I say BS. Even when people just kept up appearances, there was a reason for that. The ideal was “till death do us part” and there was stability that gave reason for the state to sanction these unions. Of course there was infedelity, and unhappiness, I’m not suggesting otherwise. But the whole rationale for society creating a platform for marriage was for the unions to be permanent in most all cases and to support two parent households.

  67. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Sure. Your church could change the name of the sacrament if they want something all to themselves.

    The history of marriage is easily google-able. There is a word for “marriage” in every culture since the beginning of culture, and it has meant something subtlely or wholely different in every one of those cultures. I presume your father didn’t trade you for a dowry or a dozen goats, and I presume your husband doesn’t have more than one wife, and I would suppose you were probably in love with your husband at the time you married him. I would also guess your marriage wasn’t a strategic plan for bringing peace or war, ally two families, or paying a debt. Since you are relatively young, it’s not a given that your viriginity was checked upon and reported to your husband’s parents just prior to the wedding as a condition of the engagement. Likewise, there have been many cultures where dissolution of a marriage was acceptable socially, and even in our own past, prior to the sexual revolution, it happened. If the two didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t consumate the marriage, it’s always been ok to annul. If they did, divorces would still be granted, but the children and all wealth was considered property of the man, so a woman would have a lot of incentive to stick around whatever the circumstances (and no, I do NOT think this was in any way positive for anyone). For men, it’s always been fairly easy to get some on the side without leaving his wife, and cost him little to keep around a wife he was no longer insterested in. I feel like you have this June Cleaver idea of what families used to be like, and you are longing for a time that never really existed. Yes, divorce is more common now. No, I don’t think that is a bad thing in and of itself. If you couldn’t get out of something even if you desperately needed to, what’s the “commitment” required to keep two people together? I know my husband wants to be with me, even when we’re fighting, because if he didn’t, he could leave me. He knows the same for me. Nobody says a prisoner feels loyal to her cell because she doesn’t leave…

  68. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    “This isn’t really about atheism vs religion or heterosexuality vs. Homosexuality to me”

    The laws are, though.

  69. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Marriage has meant something different to different cultures, but it meant something specific in our culture for most of its history until fairly recently. I think the difference should be acknowledged.

    As I said earlier, the name of the institution is not the major issue to me, so long as the rights of churches are preserved and protected.

    Regarding June Cleaver, your assumptions are partly wrong but I suppose a lot of us do feel that what was good about that era has been lost when changes could perhaps have been made to correct for negatives without wiping out much that was good. And my feelings about the personal commitment that my husband and I have made have nothing to do with divorce law. The point though is that a societal chamge to no fault divorce chamged the nature of the contract so much that the idea of the commitment being based solely on erotic love (which waxes and wanes) has taken a stong hold. Much of that is due to cultural forces, not legal ones, but they have augmented each other to create major change in the institution.

  70. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    CStanley — your history is just incorrect. I really do suggest you look it up.

    There’s no precident that individual churches would ever be forced to perform any wedding they don’t want to, nor should they be in my opinion. Any adults of any religions are allowed to marry now under the law, but a Jew and an atheist aren’t going to walk into a Catholic church and be allowed to demand a wedding by a priest. The only officiants legally bound to perform wedding are civil.

    I’m curious what you would put in place of a no-fault divorce law. People who don’t want to be with each other any longer just shouldn’t have to be. There are already large disincentives to divorce without having to blame it on one person or the other, or making people lie that they cheated or beat each other, or worse, make them actually beat or cheat on each other.

  71. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Oh — no worries on spelling. I only worry about that if the comment with the error is telling someone else their spelling or grammar is wrong… :)

  72. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Roro, the thing is that there are a lot of unprecedented things that are now starting to happen. I agree that there is a longer and more established history of separation in this area so that churches will hopefully retain the right of conscience on this. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t erode, and the time to raise the issue is when the laws are being revised.

    I don’t know offhand how I would change no-fault divorce laws. It’s possible there is no better alternative legally, but perhaps recognizing that the social changes and these laws concurrently weakened the stability of marriages, could help swing the pendulum back somewhat.

  73. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Thinking on it some more, I think that there probably would have been better ways to change divorce law to give women equal access to the process that men always had. No fault was an overcorrection IMO. Maybe ERA, had it been ratified, would have helped- along with some legal challenges from women who had standing to challenge state divorce laws which were being applied in a biased manner.

  74. roro80 June 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    “the time to raise the issue is when the laws are being revised”

    Sure. The laws being passed to allow marriage equality all indicated that individual churches cannot be forced to marry any people they don’t want to, but that counties must issue licences to these couples.

    So I was just looking up some stats on this, and I’ve found a few very interesting things. The divorce rate plummets for couples who marry after the age of 30 (when only about 3-4% of the population are virgins). Athiests/agnostics are the least likely relgious group to divorce, Baptists the most likely. Red states have more divorce than blue states. Couples where both partners have a college degree are less likely to end in divorce. I guess I have a hard time reconning these statistics to the idea of liberal ideas about sex and marraige leading to higher divorce rates. It doesn’t seem that religious marriage is any better. It doesn’t sound like a majority of people trumpeting “traditional values” makes marriages more likely to last. It looks like, if anything, the opposite is true.

  75. CStanley June 7, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I’m sure I don’t have to mention that that’s not conclusive. I’m too lazy to look up stats on Catholics and Mormons which I believe would compare much more favorably. Last I remember, Catholic divorce rates were in the low 20s so better than the average….but I don’t remember whether they separated out for practicing vs. nomitive only Catholics.

    All of that is not to say that churches can and should do better. Catholic churches require either pre-cana counseling or a retreat (ours was very good IMO) but should do even more.

  76. adelinesdad June 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    roro: “It’s pretty frustrating that you make a bunch of irrelevant assumptions about feminists and why people work and blahblahblah, which I then go ahead rebut in detail, since they are wrong, and then you dismiss all of that as irrelevant. Neat-o.”

    I don’t know what to say, roro. I’m not arguing that women should stay home if they don’t want to, so I have nothing to say against your explanation for the downsides of staying home against one’s will. And I agree with your description of the upsides and downsides of either option.

    Anyway, I’ve had my fair share of long comments ignored over the years. I know it can be frustrating. I’m pressed for time at the moment, but I’ll give it another go and try to catch up with this thread tomorrow. In the past, in discussion like this, I’ve seen the comments get closed before we’re through, which can be frustrating but may be just as well. If that happens before I can get back to this, let me just say that I appreciate reading your perspective.

  77. adelinesdad June 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Caught up on my reading.:)

    With regards to marriage, I’m torn between the libertarian and conversative view on this one. The libertarian view that I think is CStanley’s preference is that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all. The fact that it did was an act of “social engineering” in the sense that it was government trying to proactively encourage certain behavior. The libertarian view is that if two people (or more, for that matter) want to have a ceremony and call themselves married, go for it. The government, according to a libertarian, only sees people as individuals. Such a marriage would only mean anything to the government if it came with a contract–the conditions of which are entirely up to the parties involved.

    I reject libertarianism generally because of that individualistic view. Humans are social animals. Conservatives argue that government got involved in marriage to promote good social behavior (yes, social engineering). Therefore, it’s not about individual liberties, but about social good. Exactly what the social good of marriage is is a central question. Is it to moderate the passions? Make babies? Raise children? Economize? The person who long ago decided to get government into the marriage business probably didn’t think to write down his reasons, assuming they were obvious to his contemporaries. Nor does that matter much now. The question is, for the conservative: what is the social good of marriage now? Overriding all of this is the conservative principle that relates back to the original post: with any social change, even ones that we all agree are good, we have to ask what negative consequences might come, whether the positives are still worth it, and how we might mitigate the negatives. And yes there are always negatives.

    To the liberal/progressive, the question isn’t about social good but about individual rights again, like it is for the libertarian. But this time they want government to recognize a different sort of marriage, instead of retreating to merely enforcing a contract. But if we have that discussion in the context of individual rights, rather than social good, as we have been, I don’t see why this position is better than the libertarian one. Let whoever wants to be married be married. And they can decide if that comes with a contract and what’s in it.

  78. adelinesdad June 9, 2013 at 12:04 am

    p.s. I used to be more sympathetic to libertarianism due to its simple principles but always felt uncomfortable with it at its extremes. It’s only after I read the first half of Anarchy, State, And Utopia by Robert Nozick, considered the Father of modern libertarianism, did I realize the error of thinking of society merely as a collection of individuals. There are very few straight lines in nature. We should not expect truth and justice, natural concepts, to be described with straight lines and circumscribed with perfect circles.

    To any liberal perplexed by conservatives on this or other issues, I’d highly suggest reading “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt, a liberal and an atheist. He explains the value of the conservative view of social institutions balanced with individual liberties.

  79. adelinesdad June 9, 2013 at 12:28 am


    I’ll try to do your previous comment re: feminism some justice now. I asserted that “I don’t often hear feminists talking about how men should stay home more as one of their core principles.” The point being that the “cause” of the problem of lack of parental involvement, from the feminists perspective, cannot be that men have failed to step up, since that was not the expectation of the feminist movement.

    Your response is that feminism has long been about challenging gender roles which includes not only women’s role in the workforce but also men’s role at home. (Though I think you do admit that this was not a foundational principle of feminism, but something that evolved later). I don’t question that your knowledge of the literature far surpasses mine. I can only comment on the aspects of feminism that gain broad enough appeal to get into the mainstream culture. Arguably, these are the only aspects of a movement that matter. From that perspective, while the growing percentage of women in the workforce is a topic frequently discussed on the news and in political and social discussion, rarely does one hear any talk about whether/how the percentage of men staying at home has changed. The few stories I remember hearing on that are side-shows, really. The idea of “Mr. Mom” has crept into our language. But from my perspective there is not the same scale, momentum, and encouragement for this trend as there is for the trend of women entering the workforce in greater numbers. Similarly, with regards to women’s challenges with having a career and a family, the solutions discussed are focused on more access to childcare, rather than encouraging more men to stay home and take on the role of primary caregiver. I suppose this could be just women giving up on men stepping up, but I don’t get that impression.

    This is why I think it is fair to say that while feminism has many beneficial effects on society, one of its negative side-effects (and any social change has them) is less time and energy for parent/child interaction. Therefore, what the governor said (not what you are assuming he meant) is a reasonable framing of the problem.

  80. adelinesdad June 9, 2013 at 12:40 am

    p.s Here is Obama saying that a strengthening economy leads to higher gas prices. And he also sees high gas prices as a bad thing. Does this mean that Obama favors weakening the economy? Is his framing of the problem appropriate then?

  81. adelinesdad June 9, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Lastly, regarding this: “I guess we could pretend that “traditional family” and “traditional values” have no meaning.”

    They do have meaning. But I think it’s fair to let those who define themselves with those labels also define what the labels mean. And based on his comment it seems he defines them differently than you do, as do I think most others who apply those labels to themselves.

  82. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Ok that’s a lot to respond to. For now, I’ll start with this: the fact that you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean feminists haven’t been talking about it. For, like, 40 years now. It’s ok that you don’t know much about feminism, but please don’t pretend your ignorance on the subject means others don’t think about these things, or that that ignorance means anything other than what it is. Men talking their share is an entire chapter in Sheryl Sandberg’s best seller “Lean In”, which is arguably the most widely known and media-promoted piece of feminist writing right now. If you want to be married mom who rises in the ranks, you must must must have a husband who does half of the childcare and housework. The rarety of this is a huge factor in why women aren’t CEOs, why women still earn less, etc. Of course this is a major topic of discussion in feminist circles.

  83. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 1:11 am

    On the marriage subject: the marriage contract is already set. It is a civil institution. Going back to when government “got into marriage” would mean predating our independence from England by a huge stretch. The societal benefits are well understood, regardless of initial intent. The question now is just whether or not we want to discriminate against particular populations. In some cases, the answer is an obvious “yes”: children can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to get married, for example. So: are gay people allowed to enter into the same contract as straight people?

  84. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I don’t dispute that the economy has an effect on gas prices.

    And please don’t condescend by pretending we don’t both know what a politician means when he says “traditional family values”.

  85. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Anyway, I do appreciate the conversation.

  86. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I can’t help but go back to the onitial comment with which I joined this thread because, roro, you don’t seem to want to extend the same courtesy to “family values conservatives” that you demand for feminists.

    AD said:

    Similarly, with regards to women’s challenges with having a career and a family, the solutions discussed are focused on more access to childcare, rather than encouraging more men to stay home and take on the role of primary caregiver

    This is one of the core problems I have with feminism. Just my perspective but I think the movement devalued childrearing as something that can (should?) be outsourced. And frankly, in order for two people to both pursue careers, there is (in most cases) no other way to go about it. My reasons for staying home are partly due to unique circumstances (a child with special needs and husband’s career is extremely demanding, as well as more financially lucrative than mine so that we can support the family on his income but not mine.) But even with typical kids, if either spouse has a career that is demanding it would be grueling to juggle a second career as well as family responsibilities. Only if both parents have low stress and flexible hour type careers could it be done in such a way to allow adequate attention to the kids IMO, and the odds of that are very low. Having extended family able to fill some of the parental role would help, and childcare of VERY high quality would mitigate the time deficit, but those things are in short supply (and cost prohibitive in the case of nannies.)

    Now I suppose that roro will say that third wave feminists want to change the workplaxe so that those things won’t be true, but I don’t think that is possible or even necessarily desireable. I tend to think that having a division of labor in the home just makes more sense, and that this is a big reason our family structure evolved that way with industrialization.

  87. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    CStanley — There is a huge difference between “traditional values” and “traditional families” and “feminism” in many ways. The former are used as campaign slogans, are all over the media, people can immediately identify those in the public sphere who support the ideas therein, and those who do not. The meanings are well known. There may be a handful of women pols these days who quietly and secretly identify as feminists, but it’s not a word you hear very often except among the hard right-wing to signal “uppity ugly woman who makes me mad”. There has been a specific and long-term campaign of misinformation with regard to feminism which has most decidedly not gone on with the “traditional values” phrase. Of course there’s going to be a difference in people’s knowledge of the two subjects. ad came on here and said a bunch of stuff about feminism which wasn’t true, I told him that it wasn’t true, and then he told me it didn’t matter whether it was true because he didn’t know it, so others don’t know it, so obviously feminists aren’t doing a good enough job, or something.

    As for the rest of your comment, basically the only solution, then, is for women to leave the workplace if they want kids. I am still, time and time again, baffled by the fact that conservatives (and you, in particular in this thread), feel that saying that others are going to make different choices than you do is a direct attack on your personal decisions, and you go on attack in defense. So let me repeat: saying that others will and can and should make different decisions than you is not an attack, you have no need to defend your own choices to me or to anyone else, and it’s pretty offensive that you use your own insecurity (or…whatever it is that makes you do this?) as a reason to go on attack against others. Both mom and dad have jobs? BAD PARENTS. Nice. You don’t know the family, you don’t know the situation, but two parents working means bad, bad, bad. Daycare? BAD. Nannies? BAD. Grandparents? Fine. You have a somewhat unique situation with a special-needs child, but the fact that you make less than your husband is NOT unique. In fact, it’s almost a universal. That pay gap feminists talk about? Yeah, we weren’t actually just kidding about that. So that choice, where a couple looks at the numbers and sees that the husband makes more than the wife, and they oh-so-rationally choose for the wife to stay home with the kids? Almost always comes out the same way as it did in your family, CStanley. And where both parents do work, at demanding jobs, women almost universally take on the brunt of the housework and childcare. This burns them out and wears them down, often eventually leading to either divorce or dropping out of their career. Not because it can’t be done, but because the husband will not step up and do his share.

  88. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    God grief, roro, you don’t see that I’m simply stating why I made my personal choice and why I don’t agree with the political agenda of feminists? When did I say any of those things attacking other women’s decisions? I wish everyone the best in the choices they make. Parenting is hard…very hard. We should all support each other. On a personal level I take my hat off to anyone wo can make it work by having two careers and raise kids well at the same time. I won’t join them in supporting policy that helps encourage others to do this though because I genuinely don’t think that’s the best solution.

  89. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Devalued child rearing, outsourced child rearing, there’s only one way for the kids to get as much attention as they need, odds are low, etc. Sure, just your personal reasons CStanley. Not to mention starting from the assumptions that (a) there are two parents involved, and (b) they can both get by on one salary.

    The best solution is not a single solution. For YOU, the choices you made may have been the best ones. Again: I am not asking for a defence of them, just please dont try to block others from making different ones. For others, not only are they not the best solution, but they are not a possible solution at all. That’s why I do support feminists in trying to make more choices possible.

  90. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    And saying “I don’t think your choices are the best solution”, then saying you will not support political efforts to make those choices possible and more feasible, is specifically denigrating those who make those choices. Maybe they ARE the best (or only possible) solutions for them. It’s not your decision or your business to say, is it?

  91. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Yeah, you need go and reread what you wrote. “Simply” giving your reasons is not what happened.

  92. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Opinion does not equal attack, roro.

    And I fully acknowledge that many women don’t even get a choice in the matter, and I’m enormously grateful that I’m not in that position. It doesn’t change my opinion that kids will generally be better off with one parent being primarily at home.

    I also of course recognize that men often default to breadwinner and many do not pull their weight in the household. Still doesn’t change my opinion about what generally is needed by the kids.

    Whatever policies and/or social prescriptions might address those problems without shortchanging the kids, I would likely support. And when families find themselves in a situation where only one parent is in the household so obviously has to work, or in a household that can’t get by on one income, I sympathize rather than attack. But it still doesn’t change what I think is best for kids.

    I’m sorry but this is something I feel strongly about and see from experience. You often talkmabout people’s experience being important because others can’t have the same perspective. Well, my experience while now havong been a parent for over 19 years is that I see a lot of kids floundering when the parents are overtaxed. .that obviously doesn’t mean that all kids with stay at home parents do well and all kids with working parents do poorly- it’s a generality, but. a strong one. And knowing also, as a parent, what is involved in keeping an emotional connection with your kids through different stages, I simply feel that it’s an uphill battle if your time with them is limited by externalities and that it’s the rare person who can navigate that well.

    • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist June 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      hi there, this thread has gotten off track with comments about commenters. Read the commenters rules at the top of the home page. Most of the time, though I will try to find the time, there’s really little time to edit remarks that break civility. Remarks that try to mind read others’ minds, engage in baiting, and other trying to ‘correct’ or personally insult/callout/ attempt to chap others re what they are REALLY doing, saying, thinking, that is wrong [in their opinion] etc will be deleted now most of the time. I’ve noticed long periods of time of just and interesting discussion can be stirred into boorish and boring reading by any commenter deciding they ought step outside the premiere rule of civil discussion.

      Please keep to the topic of the post, not the writers nor commenters.

      Our readers scroll right past such personalized chaff about other commenters, not staying on the page long enough to read others comments. They also scroll past the long unparagrahped renderings as well as comments that go on for a long time. Readers read for quick content, analyses, interesting teachings, facts.

      If a commenter wants to be uncivil, badger, attempt to dominate, sit ringside to get splattered with offal, etc., there are millions of sites on the internet where one can go do so, and have at it to heart’s content day in and day out, night and day. Just not here.

      Always appreciate your thoughts in depth that contribute to learning and discussion. I learn alot by reading your comments often. So do many others.

      archangel/ dr.e

  93. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    And saying “I don’t think your choices are the best solution”, then saying you will not support political efforts to make those choices possible and more feasible, is specifically denigrating those who make those choices. Maybe they ARE the best (or only possible) solutions for them. It’s not your decision or your business to say, is it?

    Two things here.

    First,it’s possible to support the goal of legislation or policy without thinking it is the best way to accomplish that goal.

    Second, there are always tradeoffs and WRT some of the feminist policy I think the costs are too high for society and/ or for kids,

  94. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    So, again, in your opinion, which you will back up with your vote, is that the only way for a woman to be an adequate parent is to stay home from work. You will “sympathize” with those who cannot make the same decisions, but you will continue to make those decisions as infeasible as possible. And I’m supposed to think your opinion is correct because your decision is your experience. Again: good for you, I’m happy your life is what you want it be, genuinely. Your insistence that its the only valid way is still baffling to me. I get why you made the decisions you did – not that you’d need to justify it to me. But you have had 1 experience with your 1 family and your specific set of circumstances that led to your particular decisions. Millions of other families have different circumstances that necessitate different options.

    Of course, I seem to recall having this same structure of discussion with you about reproductive choice a few years ago, with the same issues: you made a decision that you say worked out well for you, so we should make it so other women must make the same choices. I don’t understand that viewpoint.

  95. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Oh, I guess a third point on that comment is that I reject your assertion that disagreeing on policy is equal to denigrating.

    Does that mean that ANY time that you might disagree with a policy someone advocates for, even if you agree with their underlying goals, that you are denigrating them? Or for that matter, even if you disagree with their goals, I don’t see how that is denigrating.

  96. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    So, again, in your opinion, which you will back up with your vote, is that the only way for a woman to be an adequate parent is to stay home from work

    Actually I specifically said that that’s not universally true, and also never advocated for the woman to be the one who stays home. In any case.

    Maybe it will help to get into specifics more…one type of policy I could support would involve encouraging flex time. That acknowledges that what is needed is time for either parent to be with the kids more.

  97. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    ut you have had 1 experience with your 1 family and your specific set of circumstances that led to your particular decisions. Millions of other families have different circumstances that necessitate different options.

    And I have one vote that is based in large part on that experience, while those millions of others castbtheir votes accordingly. My experience perhaps brings some perspective that is unique, as does theirs.

  98. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Your comment was clearly judgmental, CStanley. Telling a person who needs to get daycare for their kids that she is outsourcing parenting is not a neutral statement. Saying that two working parents aren’t going to give adequate time to their kids is not a neutral statement. Saying that only your way will be good for kids- implying that parents who do otherwise (by choice or necessity) don’t really care about their kids enough, how is that not denigrating?

  99. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Because I didn’t say that the parents making those decisions don’t care enough about their kids?

  100. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Sure, I just don’t see why you’d use that vote for blocking the abilities of others to make the best choices for them. In the same way we can support the needs of, say, black communities, even though we’re not black, we can support those whose circumstances are different. Empathy is neat.

  101. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Just that if they don’t do what you did, they will flounder, they will not be able to get adequate time, that your decision is the only way that doesn’t hurt kids. Sure.

  102. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    When I made thise statements about “outsourcing parentin, it was in reference to what some of the feminist policies encourage, not the choices that parents are forced to make. i tend to think that most parents don’t want to put their kids in full time daycare.

  103. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Well, twisting words is neat too, apparently.

  104. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    And overlooking that policies can have downsides as well as upsides, and people should vote according to what they believe will maximize upside and minimize the down.

  105. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Sure, I just don’t see why you’d use that vote for blocking the abilities of others to make the best choices for them. In the same way we can support the needs of, say, black communities, even though we’re not black, we can support those whose circumstances are different. Empathy is neat.

    False analogy. I don’t have any experience as a black person. To whatever degree that I’ve had experience in black communities, I bring that to the forefront in considering whether or not I support a particular policy involving black communities. I actually do have some experience, but it’s more limited than my experience as a parent and interacting with tons of parents of all different socioeconomic conditions and family conditions. My experience doesn’t give way to blind empathy because I see how policy might playnout more clearly in the situation that I’ve had more contact with.

  106. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    What did I twist, CStanley?

    Interesting backtrack on “outsourcing parenting”. So when feminists advocate for the availability of high quality affordable healthcare, for those who need it, that’s “outsourcing parenting”, but not when families send their kids to said daycare. That’s a logic pretzel I can’t really wrap my head around. Do you or do you not think that high quality affordable daycare is needed? Or should we imagine that being unsupportive of policies that encourage its availability will magically make it exist and/or make it not needed?

  107. roro80 June 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    ^hopefully it’s obvious I meant “daycare” above, not “healthcare”.

  108. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Twists: there were several, but the worst was the one I already pointed out (and it’s hard to cut/paste from a previous comment page).

    I said:

    Well, my experience while now havong been a parent for over 19 years is that I see a lot of kids floundering when the parents are overtaxed. .that obviously doesn’t mean that all kids with stay at home parents do well and all kids with working parents do poorly- it’s a generality, but. a strong one

    And you restated it as:

    So, again, in your opinion, which you will back up with your vote, is that the only way for a woman to be an adequate parent is to stay home from work

    1. I said nothing gender specific at all, so men can fulfill the primary parenting role. Or, two parents tag teaming it by each working shorter hours.
    2.i made the point of saying that of course some kids do fine with two working parents, and vice versa (some kids with a full time parent don’t do well.)

    I don’t see what is denigrating to working parents in my version but the meaning was altogether different when you got done with it.
    Maybe I could word things more delicately but I’m being pretty blunt about the need to consider what is best for kids even if that doesn’t fully expand choices for parents.

  109. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    The magical thinking, IMO, is that we could provide high quality childcare for everyone who needs it, if more parents don’t stay home with their kids.

  110. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Too late to edit my comment above but I wanted to add:

    Can you explain what you mean by “policies that encourage it’s availability”WRT high quality childcare?

  111. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    .So when feminists advocate for the availability of high quality affordable healthcare, for those who need it, that’s “outsourcing parenting”, but not when families send their kids to said daycare

    The difference is the assumption that this is the best we can do for families. Is “daycare affordability” really the first choice for most, or would the preference be for one parent to be able to be home most of the time, either by having one parent forego paid work for a while or for both to be able to adjust their hours?

  112. sheknows June 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    This may be the longest debate in TMV history. Have been trying to follow it, but got lost when arguments changed emphasis like horses in midstream, several times I think.
    Well You are both presenting excellent cases. :)

  113. dduck June 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I remember 157 post marathons with way-out posters, insults and cursing and lots of fun.
    It like the old WWF contrasted with today’s Olympic wrestling. I do miss the nut jobs that have been banned but I guess this is probably better.
    And, once again thanks to dr.e for all your dedication and hard work herding cats (and some dogs).

  114. zusa1 June 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I would have liked to have joined in again, but I have been busy taking science and statistic courses (my husband said it was ok).

  115. CStanley June 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    LOL, zuzai.

    Dduck- 157? Heck, I remember being involved in some that went to 300 or more.

    I didn’t curse though. That was the other folks. :-)

  116. dduck June 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Z, that sounds like so much fun who can blame you.
    I’ve taken a few sadistic courses in my time and I am not even a masochist.
    Yes, CS, I understated to increase believability.

  117. zusa1 June 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    :) dd

  118. sheknows June 9, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Well, then so how do you know when these things are over? Do you each keep score on who made the most points, or do you just suddenly stop because something came up….like the 2014 elections or something? :)

  119. adelinesdad June 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    sheknows, it’s over when everyone concedes that I’m right.:)

    roro: “If you want to be married mom who rises in the ranks, you must must must have a husband who does half of the childcare and housework.”

    Why only half? If mom goes to work outside the home, and dad doesn’t take on *everything* that mom used to do during that time, then there must be less time and energy devoted to family and parenting.

    I’m cherry-picking your comment, I realize. But, my relative ignorance of feminists noted, I’m doubtful that many feminists expected total hours per couple worked to remain constant as women entered the workforce in greater number. I could very well be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time and unfortunately won’t be the last.

  120. roro80 June 10, 2013 at 11:45 am

    For what I “twisted”, I meant that it was the logical conclusion from what you said. If one parent has to stay home in order for the couple to be good parents, because women pretty uniformly earn less than their husbands (for an analysis of why and to what extent, see:, that means that if one parent stays home, it will almost always be the woman. So, if one parent must stay at home in order to be good parents, then a mom has to stay home with her kids in order to be a good mom. We’d already discussed the rarety of women making more than their husbands, so I presumed that to be among the facts on which to base the statement. Your statement, plus this fact, has the effect of what you consider “twisting” what you said. I didn’t twist it, I merely gave its logical conclusion based upon the facts.

  121. roro80 June 10, 2013 at 11:53 am

    The idea of affordable, high-quality daycare isn’t “magical thinking”, and neither are policies that would/do encourage it. Licencing, oversight, education of parents and care-givers, subsidies, pre-K education options, etc — just thinking on it for 5 seconds.

  122. roro80 June 10, 2013 at 11:59 am

    “The difference is the assumption that this is the best we can do for families”

    No, the difference is the assumption that there exists exactly one “best”, and unless we can do that one “best” thing for everyone, we should ignore all the “better” we could do. There doesn’t, we won’t, and we shouldn’t, as I’ve tried to make clear umpteen times on this thread. It is a fact that mom staying home with the kids is not the best solution for many, many families. If it were, everyone would do it that way. It was for yours — again, super! — but it is indisputable that it is not the best for everyone.

  123. roro80 June 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    “Why only half? If mom goes to work outside the home, and dad doesn’t take on *everything* that mom used to do during that time, then there must be less time and energy devoted to family and parenting.”

    ??? I don’t understand what you’re saying, really. It could also be that there’s less time devoted to watching football, or less time devoted to pedicures, or less time devoted to exercizing without the kids, or less time devoted to cooking, or less time devoted to cleaning, or any number of things that might get less time when going from total parent work hours of 40/week to 80/week. Or are you saying women will never be happy until their husbands do absolutely everything around the house? I really don’t know what you mean.

    “I’m doubtful that many feminists expected total hours per couple worked to remain constant as women entered the workforce in greater number.”

    I’m not understanding how conservation of total hours worked has anything to do with anything. No, feminists have not promoted that. There has been much talk about the assault on the American worker over the last few decades (union busting, going from pension to 401k systems, cutting benefits, lack of PTO or sick time, outsourcing, etc), but I can’t tell if that’s what you mean.

  124. roro80 June 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    “The difference is the assumption that this is the best we can do for families”

    I guess CStanley that where I’m having a hard time is what you think could be done to get to a situation where one parent could always stay home with the kids. I mean, I can think of some things that would help — bring back manufacturing jobs in huge numbers, educate everyone for higher-earning jobs, raise the minimum wage so that a family can live on just one, give everyone free healthcare so families don’t need to take on extra jobs just to pay for routine healthcare or illness, greatly strengthen other aspects of the social safety net so people aren’t so economically insecure, subsidize single-parent households, etc etc. But something tells me that’s not what you or other conservatives are proposing…

  125. adelinesdad June 11, 2013 at 12:28 am


    That’s a good point. My assertion was based on the assumption that families with kids primarily are balancing their time between work and family-related activities. So, if more time is spent working, then less is spent with the family and, specifically, the kids. But it’s true that that time could come from other places as well. I was curious and found these statistics:

    If you compare the columns where both parents work to the ones where only the father works (we don’t have stats for if only the mother works), a few things jump out: parents who both work spend less time on household activities, caring for and helping household members, and leisure and sports. That makes sense as that’s pretty much the only time there is to draw from (well, besides sleep). The point I’ll make about these stats is that spending less time on any or all of those three categories, which I think is pretty much necessary if both parents are working, has downsides. And since spending sufficient time on all of those categories is important for a child’s development, I don’t think it’s a stretch to argue that one of those downsides could be a deficiency in childhood development. That’s not to say couples can’t make it work, of course, just that it’s harder, which means over the whole population fewer couples will be successful.

    By the way, I’m sure you’ll notice that these numbers do bolster your claim that men don’t step up as much as they should to help out with household work and childcare when both parents work. That’s true and balance is important. But the combined amount of time is more relevant to the question of whether children are getting enough attention.

  126. roro80 June 11, 2013 at 11:16 am

    “we don’t have stats for if only the mother works”

    As noted, it’s extremely rare.

    “The point I’ll make about these stats is that spending less time on any or all of those three categories, which I think is pretty much necessary if both parents are working, has downsides”

    Every choice has a tradeoff, ad. Some are clearly worse than others. Is it really important for a child’s development to see mom to spend 2 more hours a day doing housework? Is it surprising — or at all alarming or harmful — that a mom who doesn’t work outside the house would have time to make a 2-hour dinner instead of a 20-minute one? And when it comes down to it, and let’s make this really clear: data has no indications that children’s educations suffer in dual income households. In fact, for girls, there’s a positive correlation between educational outcomes with a working mom, for what should be obvious reasons.

    “I’m sure you’ll notice that these numbers do bolster your claim that men don’t step up as much as they should to help out with household work and childcare when both parents work.”

    My claim that that happens wasn’t based on anecdote (my husband is pretty good, actually); most of the time when I say something it is because I’ve seen the data on it. Not always, but usually. The google search I told you to do if you wanted info on this would have brought up analysis of this data.

    “But the combined amount of time is more relevant to the question of whether children are getting enough attention.”

    I’m sorry ad, but you’re going to have to back this statement up with anything resembling data or proof. You are feeling out what you think is right, and it just is simply not supported by outcomes. I would imagine that a stay-at-home mom who plops her kids in front of the tv or video games all day is doing less good than a working mom who spends an hour of quality time with her kids each day while other needs are taken care of by daycare or a nanny.

    Number of parental hours spent in the house is just simply not anywhere near the number one factor in predicting educational outcomes. You know what is? Poverty. All other factors aside, wealthy kids do better in school than poor kids. Wealthy kids with working moms do as well as wealthy kids with stay-at-home moms. This should make a lot of sense, as educational outcomes have fallen as poverty has risen, and our wealthy kids are getting just as good an education as they always have.

    Furthermore, I think there’s a lot of unnecessary handwringing over our education system. What we really need to do is to kill No Child Left Behind, scrap the tests that go with it, and use that money to fund art, music, PE, and other enrichment programs. We need to slow down math education to where it was 10 years ago — teaching a bunch of kids algebra when they were rushed through their multiplication tables is a waste of time, and will (and does) make most kids hate math. We need to suppliment with fun, hands-on technology training. Places like China, with much better scores on rote memorization tests, have a great system for teaching a certain way. But there’s a reason that everything innovative is still designed here or in Europe, and then manufactured in China. What we’re doing now is trying to force a culture that will never be like China or India into a system of education designed for those countries. We will not only fail at raising our rote skills, but we will simultaneously wring the advantages we do have (creativity, management, innovation, consumer product design, leadership) out of our kids. Really, really stupid.