Before I begin, I wanted to clarify something – I re-read part II and realized that I implied that the only reason women were in the workforce was as a back-up plan when their breadwinner husbands abdicated their responsibilities. That is not what I wanted to say. In actuality, plenty of women join the workforce because they are driven, ambitious ladies in their own right. In some cases (mine included), women join the workforce out of necessity, but it’s not why they stay; we stay because the benefits outweigh the costs, be it the money, power, or intellectual stimulation. So, now that I have set this up properly, what I MEANT to say was that the number of women in the workforce is higher than it would otherwise be if formerly breadwinner husbands didn’t become deadbeats. Which is relevant because the people behind this documentary are trying to link the increase in women in the work force to the impending demographic crisis, and they are presenting the info in a manner that blames women.
Now that I have that out of the way, I am going to go into rant mode. This is my reaction, and it gets personal. So if that’s not your thing, go read something else.
The documentary states (several times) that by virtually every social measure, two-parent biological families are the best. Well, let’s just say that they are. Not such a difficult concept on the whole. But what does that mean? Is it a prescription? Does it mean that every single woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant should marry the baby’s father? Or maybe every unexpectedly pregnant single woman should have an abortion because she’s not married? Does it mean that divorce should never happen? And if divorce is necessary or a spouse is widowed, is remarriage bad? Remarriage does, after all, introduce a non-biological element to the family. These considerations are curiously absent. The producers also seem to be blissfully unaware that because of the ease of divorce, the remaining marriages are largely a self-selecting population of healthy, stable relationships. You mean kids in healthy families do better than in unhealthy ones? You don’t say!
Let me go off on some of the things the documentary brings up as supposed evidence of “a society obsessed with focus on the self.” It’s been a while since part II, so you’ll forgive me if I occasionally repeat myself:
Well, let me turn that back around on the conservative crowd – I have only seen one person dare to suggest that in the conservative value system, people ought to get married young. Everyone else – “oh, when you are YOUNG you are supposed to get out and enjoy life!” And don’t get me started on the expectation that we are supposed to spend our hormonal, fertile years celibate (because, of course, we’re not married). Plus, weddings are expensive. Takes time to save up.
You know those college degrees? The ones that let us earn enough money to actually support a family? Yup, the very same. Guess what? Those things are EXPENSIVE. We spend a LOT more time than our parents did getting our financial footing. Who in their right mind is going to choose to have a baby when they are young? Of course, birth control isn’t 100% effective, so sometimes kiddos come along before we think we’re ready, but we figure it out. But on the whole, that’s upwards of 90% of kids that aren’t getting conceived until later in their parents’ lives.
Cohabiting is not conducive to childbearing
Maybe, maybe not. Lots of assumptions baked in here. You would still preserve that two-parent biological family, after all! Why would it make any difference? People tend to have pretty strong desires when they want kids, regardless of their marital status. And never mind the growing population of married people that don’t want children – they don’t fit into the stereotypes that the documentary’s producers want to perpetuate, so we’ll just pretend they don’t exist.
So as I sit there over Thanksgiving and watch this with my mother (grew up in a nuclear Catholic family with 6 kids, married her college sweetheart (my dad) right out of college and is still happily married today), I naturally object to the biased, highly subjective speculation. And when I do …
“I thought you would be interested in the economics!” she says. Well, yes, I was – for the 20 minutes they talked economics. The remaining 2 hours was all about how I am contributing to the upcoming economic Armageddon because of my … err … nontraditional background. You’ll forgive me if I actually notice (!) that I am being insulted. But it’s sad – my mother’s attitude is exactly the same as most social conservatives I have seen - completely and totally blind to the way they callously criticize everyone who doesn’t fit their copy+paste template of “how it ought to be,” and then the balk when people dare to call them “insensitive” and “cold-hearted.” Oh-so-typical of people who have never had a real problem in their lives. Totally oblivious to what it takes to get by for some people. As I’m sitting here being told that I am partially responsible.
I got pregnant at 20, but did I have an abortion? No.
Tsk, tsk – no 2-parent family? You didn’t marry the father?
Well, no – we weren’t right for each other. Right before we broke off our engagement we fought every other night, which left me crying with horror at the thought of spending the rest of my life with him. I ended up marrying someone else, but left my unfaithful, abusive husband at 23.
Oh good! You got married … What? You initiated a divorce? Tsk, tsk. And then you went to college and joined the workforce? Oh my, pass the smelling salts.So let’s review – we begin with a perfectly legitimate, well-supported idea that we are headed for a population and economic decline worldwide. And from there we go into this unsupportable, values-laden speculation on the state of modern life. Conveniently enough (according to them) the solution is to go back to the 1950’s, but the logical leaps to get to that conclusion are so mind-boggling … more than anything, it just makes me sad for the obviously prevalent intellectual laziness in our culture that this type of unsupported drivel actually gets produced.