The Mommy Wars


"Why feminists and conservatives just don't get modern motherhood. So, in the July, 2000 issue of Reason, the magazine for "Free Minds and Free Markets", Cathy Young gives us the word...Many conservatives hesitate to declare categorically that mothers should not work. But the right's defense of the choice to stay home often morphs into an indictment of mothers who don't make that choice. Assistant Attorney General of Arizona in the Wall Street Journal, Peter Thomas, castigated career-minded parents who put their children in daycare. Thomas called them "more respectable, less violent versions of Susan Smith," the North Carolina woman who drowned her two sons in a lake because they were interfering with her post-divorce love life...Consevative pundit Danielle Crittenden, winces at the unmanliness of fathers she watches at a playground fussing over young children and cooing at them in "unnaturally high" voices; she laments that she cannot imagine these New Dads in the role of warrior and suggests that their wives must be secretly yearning for real men. (She does not, however, go as far as Norman Podhoretz, who once opined that "Mr Moms" were no better than men who deserted their children.)...The idea that mothers today have been deprived of the choice to stay home is ridiculous: Slightly more than a third of women with preschool children are not employed and fewer than half work full-time...Men's lives are changing too. Both feminists and conservatives are included to dismiss the New Dad as a creature of wishful thinking, but father care is hardly fictional or marginal. According to the Census Bureau, nearly one in four fathers in two-earner families provide childcare while the mother is at work, and nearly one in five are the primary caregivers. With nearly one in three working wives not out-earning their husbands, more couples who believe that one parent should remain at home may decide that it should be the father. True "full-time dads" are still rare, and they still labor under a cloud of suspicion that they are slackers; but quite a few fathers avail themselves of broader opportunities to work from home...No one trust mother and father to know best. Liberals think parents don't understand what's good for their kids. Conservatives think working parents are deluding themselves to alleviate guilt...The conclusion: Any policy changes that would let families keep more of their earnings would help parents. So would policies promoting real flexibility in the workplace."

Source: July, 2000 issue of Reason by Cathy Young, author of Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality

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I'm not against mothers. I am against the ideology which expects every woman to have children, and I'm against the circumstances under which mothers have to have their children. - Simone de Beauvoir

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