The Thinking 

Work and Domesticity

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Should Smart Women Sweep?

August 25, 2009


Mopping and sweeping floors goes with the territory when you are a woman at home. The broom is the universal and most primitive of kitchen appliances. No home which is truly lived-in goes a single day without need of sweeping. There is constant precipitation from above.

Sweeping has the reputation of being boring and mindless, but I can’t say that it is. I rarely think about the floors. I look at them, technically speaking. But, I am elsewhere. I think of other things.  “Laborare est orare,” said Benedict. To work is to pray. To work manually is also to think. There is some mysterious harmony between the hands and the thoughts, between a mere broom and the highest flights of the imagination.

It’s myth that women have been freed from drudgery by working outside the home. In fact, they have been further chained to drudgery. The woman who never engages physically in homemaking, or does it only in a hurry, leaves uncultivated an integral part of the self and the mind. We are not lessened by these tasks; we are made whole. Women are innately territorial. They crave to put the physical stamp of personality on their homes, which is the projection of their inner horizons. There’s nothing low or animal about this impulse. It is part of our higher nature and so too is any physical task that goes into cultivating it. It protects our separateness and our intellectual integrity.

The physical chore is not a violation of our higher nature, but in accord with it.  We can’t both want the freedom and independence of our domestic worlds and yet scorn what it takes to set them apart, to make them physically and spiritually distinct. To make our own meals, sweep our own floors and tend our own gardens is not servile. To depend on others at all times for these things is.

More importantly, sweeping is fascinating, captivating, deeply intriguing. Why try to sell it’s virtues when they so clearly speak for themselves? We are alive. As we sweep, we are alive and our minds are free. It’s impossible to fully articulate how this sense of liberty pervades our lives. The mind – even more than the body – longs to be free.






Should Smart Women be Housewives?

August 1, 2009


Jen writes:

After reading several of your posts, I’m intensely curious to know how you believe the mother’s childrearing “cycle” should go. If a housewife/stay-at-home-mom places the utmost importance on education for their children, a HUGE reason for staying home to literally raise their own children, what would be the expectation for their children to grow up to be? To further clarify, I read an article written a few years back about how many students at Ivy Leagues have decided to discontinue their careers and become stay-at-home moms once they have children.
Should the quest to give their children a chance to have amazing learning opportunities (given at Ivies and top-tier schools) be dropped down in prominence over the teachings of cooking and cleaning? I’m vastly serious here.

I’m curious to where this cycle began. Many of those children were also raised by their moms (as opposed to daycares and the like I mean). But did those moms invest energy, time and resources in preparing their little girls for the ivy league just to have them quit…….and eventually do the same to the grandkids? What if their children were truly gifted in the sciences or math? Should they not pursue becoming doctors just because they want to have children some day?  What’s your opinion on this?

Realistically……can a child (who is gifted in math/science) grow up to attend an ivy and become a physican, but eventually become the stay at home mom they wish to be?

The line is just fuzzy for me (maybe ’cause it’s late) on where the hard-work of education brought on by the mom’s payoff by raising successful children who will eventually do the same. Hopefully you can help me on this. I would love your input. Thank you.

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Legal Feminism

June 2, 2009


On my recent ballot for Common Pleas Court judges in Pennsylvania, eight out of the fourteen candidates were women. If the trend in law education continues, women could be a majority of lawyers in the coming years. About 47 percent of law school students are currently female, but women have been gaining steadily in undergraduate enrollment and graduation over men.

Of course, overall women lawyers do not accrue the same power and success as men. That’s for a funny reason. They just happen to be women, not neutered automatons. They just happen to bear and raise children and to enjoy caring for their husbands.

Still, feminist legal organizations remain at a fever pitch about the under-achievement of women lawyers. At an “unprecedented and historic summit” earlier this month in Texas, 150 top women legal leaders adopted the “Austin Manifesto,” calling for the elimination of “the barriers that have thwarted the advancement of women in the legal profession for the past several decades.”
They are demanding that 30 percent of equity law partners, tenured law professors and general counsel be women by 2015 and 10 percent of equity partners be minority women by 2020. They also intend to strong-arm the profession to “restructure the compensations systems to reward the full range of contributions by attorneys.” That’s code for over-compensating those who work less.

With more women in top positions, we are sure to get more of the sort of legal crusading typified by Sonia Sotomayor. Women like to bring the crusading spirit to almost everything they do. It’s downright scary in a judge.


Vital Statistics

May 29, 2009


When President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law earlier this year, he once again fueled the myth that women sufffer from widespread pay discrimination. In truth, there is no serious wage discrimination against women and there is ample reason to believe that the end of customary employment discrimination in favor of men has forced many women into the workforce, led to dramatic declines in fertility and suppressed the wages of men.

Women have been far and away the primary beneficiaries of any gains in real wages over the last 25 years. From 1979 to 2006, real wages of men declined by two percent, while they increased by 24 percent for women. (See chart on median incomes here.)

The differences are the most dramatic at lower income levels, with male high school graduates experiencing drops of 15 percent and comparable women’s wages rising by four percent. Wages for college graduates rose by 17 percent for men and 32 percent for women, as women became more numerous in higher paying jobs.

Economists dispute how much the stagnation of male wages at the lower end has influenced – and been influenced by – employment gains by women. It is interesting to note that employment of married women of high-earning husbands has increased more dramatically than employment of women at lower education levels, where men’s wages have declined.



Sense and Non-Sense

May 27, 2009


A recently-released survey of American employees showed that 41 percent believe it’s better if the “man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and children.” This figure, downplayed by writers of the report as evidence of weak support for traditional roles, is strikingly high given the constant veneration of career women in the press and the historically high numbers of women in the workforce. Many more people than is generally acknowledged lack confidence in the current model for family life.    

Surveys that examine the effects of the cultural revolution of the last 100 years rarely take into account the full significance of the changes, and often blatantly downplay them. This report by the Families and Work Institute, funded in part by IBM, is no exception, presenting with rosy optimism figures that confirm the popularity of the dual-income model. A majority of the respondents, for instance, said that a mother who is employed outside the home can have “just as good a relationship” with her children as a woman at home, implying that the most important thing about the parent-child bond is the personal satisfaction it gives to parents.  

The report confirms the growing feminism of men, but concludes that men still endorse traditional sex roles in higher numbers than women. While 80 percent of the women who responded said working women can have just as good a relationship with their children as mothers at home, only 67 percent of men did.

A staggering 25 percent of women now earn ten percent or more than their husbands, according to figures included in the report. In 1920, less than one in ten married women worked outside the home.



The Farmer and the Housewife

May 8, 2009

                               In the foregoing speech by Roosevelt, he makes an important point. Democracy depends not just on vital laws and institutions, but on certain sensibilities. And, as Roosevelt noted, there are two types who represent a shared sensibility critical to a large democracy. They are the farmer and the housewife.

By farmer, I refer, as did Roosevelt, not to the big-business tycoon, but to the relatively small-scale grower. And, by housewife, I mean the woman who devotes the vast portion of adulthood to caring for and living in daily physical proximity to her husband and children.

Farmers and housewives have natural affinities. For one, they both live close to nature. I don’t mean they both live close to the earth or to the outdoors. I mean nature in a larger sense, as the physical world in all its daily cycles of degeneration and regeneration. Children are a part of nature, a rapidly changeable part of it, and a home, with all its cyclical physical needs, is a part of nature as well.

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Do Men Want Housewives?

May 7, 2009


The answer to this question is clear. Yes, men want housewives.

But, they also want career wives. The average man wants a woman who can be both. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want a woman who could be both, doing all a housewife does and bringing in a decent income too?

The problem is there is no such thing. Search high and low. Look east and west, north and south. Comb the face of the planet and you will not find a woman who is both a housewife and a career woman. A person cannot be in two places at once.  The laws of matter make it so. She also cannot devote her mind to two entirely different and entirely absorbing tasks at once.

Unfortunately, feminism tells men this dream is possible. Many women tell men this dream is possible. No wonder they are confused. No wonder they are surprised. They sought normalcy and they end up with abnormalcy. Wives who are critical and irritable, undisciplined children or no children, cluttered homes, terrible food, extravagant spending and large credit card bills – these are a few of the signs of abnormalcy.

Men want housewives. Men want working wives. But, they want happiness too.


Women and Work

May 7, 2009


It is an axiom of modern life that women must work. The days of single-income families are irretrievably gone. This statement is repeated so often that very few question its validity. More importantly, very few ask why this is so. Why must women work? What has changed? 

There have been significant changes to the American economy in the past 50 years and they have indeed affected the livelihood of the average family. Let’s look briefly at these changes and, as we do, let us ask ourselves, Are they irretrievable? Is there no going back?

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