WSJ contributor James Taranto has finally cracked the case of absentee fathers, much to the joy of single women and fatherless children everywhere. Just kidding. Fair warning: you might want to find yourself a helmet before you finish reading this post, because Taranto's conclusions will most likely have you beating your head against the nearest brick wall.
In a recent critique of fellow contributor Kay Hymowitz, Taranto claims that the reason so many kids are growing up without fathers these days is not because of dead beat dudes turning into dead beat dads, but because of "female careerism" and of course, the Pill. Normally, I'd summarize his main points for your convenience but in this case, there are no other words to use except for Taranto's own.
“The first is the rise of female careerism--the expectation that most women will spend most of their adult lives (rather than just the period when they are single) in the workforce. Women have less incentive to wed, since marriage no longer means trading in a job for a provider husband. Female careerism got a big boost with the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace.”
First of all, what? Female careerism? Does this phrasing rub anyone else the wrong way, or is it just me? Slate contributor Amanda Marcotte brings up an excellent point in her coverage of Taranto's article: Careerism is defined as a pathological need to be employed. To drive the point home, Merriam Webster defines the term pathological as "extreme in a way that is not normal or that shows an illness or mental problem." By using the term careerism, Taranto is essentially stating that women entering the workforce who don't plan on leaving after having children are unnatural and should probably get checked by a doctor, perpetuating the idea that women should find a meal ticket and snuggle up in their Forever Lazys on the couch and pop out babies rather than being productive, contributing members of society in other ways.
But wait, it gets even better!
“The second is the introduction of the pill, which the Food and Drug Administration approved for contraceptive use in 1960. It made non-marital sex far more easily available, reducing the incentive for men to marry. As George Akerlof and Janet Yellen argued in a 1996 paper (yes, that Janet Yellen, and Akerlof is her husband), the pill very quickly broke down the old institution of the shotgun wedding. With reproduction under female control, it became a female responsibility. Men no longer felt obligated to marry women by whom they fathered children. The paradoxical-seeming result is that a technology to reduce 'unwanted pregnancy' massively increased out-of-wedlock births.”
Yes, my friends, I am sad to inform you that Taranto is actually serious. In his gross analysis, he manages to turn the hands of time and crash land into the 1940s. He's right, too, because everyone knows that the best way to create a happy, healthy environment for a child to grow up in is to ensure that neither parent is invested in their partner for any reason other than financial stability. In fact, the most successful marriages are the ones in which a man feels obligated to marry the person he's knocked up, emotional connection be damned. Right?
Photo via Forever Lazy
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