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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/20/20

We Need A Safety Net For Parents/

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The collapse of child care and traditional schooling is having a devastating effect on women in particular.

Unfinished Business: A Conversation with Anne-Marie Slaughter on Women, Men, Work and Family
Unfinished Business: A Conversation with Anne-Marie Slaughter on Women, Men, Work and Family
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This week my students turned in papers relating news articles to what they learned in class about parenting. Every single student's paper is about how the pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing inequalities.

I'm a teaching assistant in a family sociology course, and inequality is one of the most important things we study. We strive to understand how inequalities are being produced, maintained, and especially during the coronavirus crisis, deepened.

With child care centers closing down and schools going virtual, taking on extra child care has fallen disproportionately to women. As a result, many women are falling behind at work or leaving paid labor altogether. The Washington Post reports the percentage of American women in the labor force is at its lowest since 1998.

Sociologist Jessica Calarco put it, "Other countries have a social safety net. The U.S. has women."

Part of the problem is the gender wage gap. Women tend to go into lower paid jobs, but jobs associated with women pay less because so-called "women's work" is devalued. Part of the problem is just plain sexism. But another part is more complicated.

In most heterosexual couples, the man earns more. In 2017, women earned more than their husbands in only 30 percent of couples. Often women marry men a few years older than them, so their husbands have also had a few more years of work experience and norms raises.

When they have children, if one of them needs to cut back hours of paid labor, it often makes financial sense for the woman to do it.

But conditioning is still part of the problem.

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild found that women in dual-income couples usually work a "second shift" at home. Why? Because many women as well as men still believe that cooking, cleaning, and child care are "women's work."

Over the last half century, women's and men's housework has become less unequal, but not necessarily because men are doing much more. Instead, families now simply lower their standards, rely on technology (microwaves, dishwashers, etc.), and outsource (daycare, eating out, hiring house cleaners).

But all that takes money. And when it comes down to it, society places pressure specifically on mothers to take on the responsibility of raising children.

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 Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This op-ed was distributed by

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Jill Herendeen

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Yes, & Ann Crittenden wrote about this in 2001: women's lib does pretty well, right up until the female worker's biological alarm clock goes off and she decides to start a family, because face it, our captains of industry figure it's not their job to support their workers' families. As I've discussed at some length in my 2014 book WHY THE U.S. GETS THE WORST CHILDBIRTH OUTCOMES IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD, OTHER (industrialized) countries don't have this problem because those countries didn't leave that choice up to their captains of industry. Instead, their governments legally adopted the UN's 1948 UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, which includes these: "16(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State." and Art. 25, "(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection." Whereas all Americans seem to have is a vague promise about "life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness," access to which has historically rested entirely upon on the contents of one's own pockets. And now Americans are having even free public education, crappy as it all too often is, pried from their grasp by the whims of fascist governors who claim to be protecting our health in a plandemic which is really about the reckless proliferation of deadly wireless technology and ending what few freedoms we thought we had as individuals.

Submitted on Saturday, Nov 21, 2020 at 3:59:50 AM

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