|Careers, Choices, Costs, and Biases|
|America’s massive news gathering apparatus and round-the-clock coverage should have us surfeited with all the news that’s important. Yet two liberal-leaning authors have just tackled a subject that has consistently been off-limits to public debate.
Sylvia Hewlett, in her much publicized book Creating a Life, breathlessly reveals what she calls a “well-kept secret,” namely, that “at mid-life, between a third and half of all high-achieving women in America do not have children,” and most of them did not choose to be childless. Bernard Goldberg, in his best-selling book Bias, tells us that “the most important story you never saw on TV” is “the terrible things that are happening to America’s children” because “mothers have opted for work outside of the house over taking care of their children at home.”
These social commentaries are two sides of the same coin. The feminist movement, which flowered in the 1970s, persuaded young women to opt for a career in “a man’s world,” and whether they ended up with or without a child, they don’t relish suggestions that they were mistaken in their priorities.
Hewlett’s book is a compilation of depressing interviews with women who broke business barriers and achieved enormous career success, now earning six-figure incomes, but are not happy. They confide in Hewlett how they yearn for a baby, enduring expensive and humiliating medical procedures trying to get pregnant, or traveling to the ends of the earth to adopt.
Goldberg’s book, which is an exposé of the biases of the media elite, describes how female media executives who do have children drop them off every morning in daycare or leave them with a nanny, and then are fiercely hostile to any criticism of the plight of the children. The feminists have made it taboo for the media to report or debate the social costs of the fact that millions of American children have been left to fend for themselves, “with dire consequences.”
Goldberg says that these feminists have so completely intimidated media elites that all the TV anchormen routinely dismiss any negative news about daycare with their favorite epithet, “controversial,” and even tough Sam Donaldson “turns into a sniveling wimp when it comes to challenging feminists.” Feminists react to any discussion about the troubles of latchkey kids or about daycare’s diseases and behavior problems as though it were a personal attack on the mothers as well as on the feminist movement.
A New York Times front-page article labeled Hewlett’s book “the publishing world’s mystery of the year” because it’s been a total flop in the marketplace after receiving unprecedented free publicity. Why is anybody surprised? Even Oprah, 60 Minutes, the covers of Time and New York magazines, and the morning and evening television shows can’t make women buy a book that rubs salt in the wound of the central feminist mistake.
While Goldberg worries about the plight of home-alone children, Hewlett is busy portraying career-minded women as victims. She thinks that when 49% of $100,000-a-year women executives, but only 19% of men executives, are childless, that proves hard-hearted employers and government have discriminated against women during their childbearing years.
Hewlett thinks she has made a sensational discovery that women after age 40 are less fertile than they were in their twenties. Our oppressive male-dominated American society has forced women into a “cruel trade-off”: if they focus on their careers in their youth, it’s extremely difficult to get pregnant after age 40.
Hewlett’s solution for the problems of the successful career women is preferential treatment (not equality!) by both employers and government. She wants employers to give every working parent a “time bank” of six months of paid leave to be taken at the employee’s option until each child reaches age 18, plus a Mommy Track of reduced working hours without diminishing pay and promotions.
Hewlett thinks European countries are much better for women, especially Sweden, where mothers can limit their workday to six hours until each child is eight years old. She doesn’t tell us that few Swedish women earn $100,000 a year.
Like a typical feminist, Hewlett is full of plans for more government spending and regulation. She wants even small companies to be forced to give women paid medical leave, tax incentives for companies that give women paid time off, and legislation to prevent employers from requiring longer hours of work.
Goldberg shows how the media elite “have taken sides.” Instead of anyone saying on television that kids would do better if a parent were home after school, we get so-called experts calling for more quality daycare and legislation to enable employed mothers to continue working out of the home and spend less time with their children.
The April 2001 study was financed by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers followed more than 1,100 children in ten cities in every kind of daycare setting, from care with relatives and nannies to preschool and large daycare centers.
This study found a direct correlation between time spent in daycare and a child’s aggression, defiance and disobedience. They scored higher on things like getting in lots of fights, cruelty, bullying, meanness, talking too much, and making demands that must be met immediately.
All television coverage deemphasized this study as “controversial.” The advocates of “it take a village to raise a child” argued, without evidence, that better quality daycare might produce different results, that the real problem is that employed parents are tired and stressed, and that there are other variables, including viewing television, the divorce of parents, and the amount of father care. But this new study is the most comprehensive to date, its findings are by significant margins, and its findings held true regardless of the type or quality of daycare, the sex of the child, the family’s socioeconomic status, or the quality of the mother care.
Why is anybody surprised that social science research confirms reality? True science always verifies reality; it’s only junk science that manufactures illusions based on ideologies.
The new study corroborates the 1986 findings of one of its principal investigators, Dr. Jay Belsky, who shocked the child development world with an article entitled “Infant Day Care: A Cause for Concern?” Belsky reported on the evidence then piling up that infants who spent long hours in daycare were at risk of behavioral problems later.
At that time, the daycare industry and the “village” advocates in the child development field were preparing to launch a national advertising campaign for federally funded, federally regulated daycare as a new middle-class entitlement. They felt threatened by this article by Belsky, then just a young associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.
So, the daycare industry lowered the professional boom on the upstart professor who dared to challenge the then prevailing feminist notion that commercial daycare was what infants really needed so that their mothers could be fulfilling themselves in the labor force. The word went out: don’t buy Belsky’s textbook, shun him at professional meetings, label him a misogynist.
The reason the daycare issue arouses such bitter antagonism is not only that it challenges the liberals who want to expand government social services by having the “village” take over raising children. The daycare issue also strikes at the heart of feminist ideology that it is oppression of women for society to expect mothers to care for their own children.
Feminist ideology teaches that equality for women depends on the government relieving women of the burden of child care so they can advance in the labor force. Any evidence that shows commercial daycare inferior to mother care, therefore, must be destroyed and the messengers vilified.
Remarkably, Belsky didn’t kowtow to the Politically Correct gestapo as so many academics have done. He is now a professor at the University of London and this time he was joined in his research by some of the country’s most respected child development experts.
In 1988, the daycare industry, with lobbying help and media access from the Children’s Defense Fund, went ahead with its lavish national advertising campaign, proclaiming the lack of sufficient daycare a national “crisis,” and offering the ABC Child Care Bill sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) as the solution. Their three-year congressional and media battle failed; the American people are not willing to provide tax-paid baby-sitters for other people’s children.
Hillary Clinton made another attempt to peddle the notion of a daycare “crisis” as her “frontier issue” in 1997. She hosted an exclusive shindig at the White House featuring all the usual suspects who want the “village” to raise children, such as her friend Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, but the American people turned a deaf ear to her cries of “crisis.”
The conservative solution to child care needs has always been tax credits, i.e., let the parents spend their own money for the child care of their choice, and don’t force mothers taking care of their own children to subsidize babysitters for employed moms. Fortunately, we’ve made some progress in legislating child credits into the income tax code.
But the feminists and liberals haven’t given up lobbying for an expensive new entitlement. Early childhood education and universal preschool are just their latest synonyms for federally financed and regulated babysitting.
It is a testament to their courage and skill that many thousands of people were successfully evacuated despite mass confusion. The fewer than 3,000 officeworkers who died were mostly trapped above the explosions and could not have been evacuated under any scenario.
The feminists had made repeated attempts to sex-integrate New York’s fire department through litigation, even though the women could not pass the physical tests. They even persuaded a judge to rule that upper body strength is largely irrelevant to firefighting. But September 11th called for all the masculine strength that strong men could muster. Firefighting is clearly a job for real men to do the heavy-lifting, not affirmative-action women.
President George W. Bush sent our Special Forces to the rugged and remote Afghan hills and caves to get the terrorists, dead or alive. Fighting the Taliban is a job for real men. When the national media interviewed some of our Marines, one of our guys said, “There’s no place I’d rather be than here.” America is fortunate that the warrior culture has survived 30 years of feminist fantasies and that some men are still macho enough to relish the opportunity to engage and kill the bad guys of the world.
Watching the war pictures on television, we almost expected to see High Noon sheriff Gary Cooper or John Wayne riding across the plains. Feminists should go to see the movie Black Hawk Down and reflect on the reality that women could not have done what our men did in Somalia.
For several decades, the feminists have been demanding that we terminate the discrimination that excludes women from “career advancement” in every section of the U.S. Armed Forces, assuring us that hand-to-hand combat is a relic of the past and that all our wars will now involve only pulling triggers and pushing buttons. Tell that to our troops who trudged over land mines and jagged rocks where there are not even any roads.
In the 1980s and ’90s, the feminist assault on the right to be a masculine man became increasingly obvious and hostile. It was not just a semantic parlor game when they insisted that the words manly, masculine and gentleman be excised from our vocabulary.
The feminists are playing for keeps. They attacked the right to be a masculine man in the U.S. Armed Services, the kind of man who would rush into a burning building to save a woman or search the Afghan caves for Osama bin Laden.
The feminists have intimidated our military into using a training system based on gender-norming the tests, rewarding effort rather than achievement, and trying to assure that females are not “underrepresented” in officer ranks. It’s bad enough that men are forbidden to question the double standards or preferential treatment given to women; it is dishonorable to induce them to lie about it.
The feminists have used the courts to try to criminalize masculinity. Feminist lawyers first created judge-made law to expand the statutory definition of sex discrimination to include sexual harassment, and they now prosecute sexual harassment on the basis of how a woman feels rather than what a man does.
The feminists’ attack on the right to be a masculine man is in full swing at colleges and universities. Feminism is a major tenet of political correctness, and the female faculty are the watchdogs of speech codes. Subservience to feminist orthodoxy on campuses is not only mandatory, it is nondebatable. Women’s studies courses and many sociology courses are tools to indoctrinate college women in feminist ideology and lay a guilt trip on all men, collectively and individually.
The feminists use Title IX, not as a vehicle to ensure equal educational opportunity for women, but as a machete to destroy the sports at which men excel. Since 1993, 43 colleges have eliminated wrestling teams, 53 have eliminated golf, 13 have eliminated football, and the number of colleges offering men’s gymnastics has dropped from 128 to 23.
The feminist battalions are even on the warpath against the right to be a boy. In elementary schools across America, recess is rapidly being eliminated, shocking numbers of little boys are drugged with psychotropic drugs to force them to behave like little girls, and zero-tolerance idiocies are punishing boys for indulging in games of normal boyhood such as cops and robbers.
Of course, when you wipe out masculine men, you also eliminate gentlemen, the kind of men who would defend and protect a lady — like the gentlemen who stepped aside so that, of the people who survived the sinking of the Titanic, 94% of those in first-class and 81% of those in second-class were women.
During the Clinton Administration, members of DACOWITS swaggered with the protocol rank of three-star generals, met with high-ranking administration officials, and directly influenced (some would say dictated) important national security policies. Who else would have the chutzpa to surreptitiously use Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s automatic signature pen to sign the confirmation papers of their pals selected by former Secretary Bill Cohen before Bill Clinton left office?
DACOWITS demanded that women be assigned to submarines, to the crews of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (the vehicles that launch rockets during land-combat operations), to the helicopter crews of Special Operations units such as the Army Rangers, and even to land combat units that directly engage the enemy.
Such policies, if ever adopted, would compromise training standards, weaken morale, worsen deployment problems, hurt recruiting and retention, and endanger the lives of the men who would have to depend on female soldiers to carry their share of the load. Such policies ignore the fact that only about 3% of women score as well as the average man on the Physical Fitness Test, and most women can’t throw a hand grenade far enough away to keep from killing themselves.
One of DACOWITS’s longtime goals is to get women assigned to duty on submarines. Women on subs is a terrible idea, grossly unfair to submariners, whose undersea life is difficult enough. Submariners operate in an extremely hazardous environment, more unforgiving than outer space.
Picture, if you can, 130 people living together for six months at a time, in the space of a medium-sized house. Submariners patrol the oceans in cramped quarters that lack fresh air, sunshine, and privacy. Sleeping areas and sanitary facilities are one-half to one-third smaller than surface ships, well below requirements for the other Navy ships. Each shower serves 50 enlisted submariners, compared to 25 sailors on surface ships.
About 40% of the crew must “hot bunk,” meaning that three sailors share two bunks in rotating shifts. Junior crew members frequently sleep on mattresses in noisy torpedo rooms. The ship alterations necessary to accommodate women on subs would further reduce living standards or, alternatively, make it necessary to remove operational equipment. These millions of dollars would be spent just to please the civilian feminists in the Pentagon, not to improve readiness or morale.
Female sailors of childbearing age would face particular medical risks on submarines. Air in a submarine is constantly recycled and concentrated elements in the atmosphere, such as carbon monoxide, cannot be filtered out. Such elements are reasonably safe for adults, but toxic for an unborn child.
When faced with a pregnant sailor who fears irreversible birth defects, a submarine captain would have to choose between two unacceptable alternatives: exposing the unborn child to toxic elements at a time of greatest risk, or compromising the secret mission by revealing the submarine’s location. Mid-ocean evacuations, accomplished by means of a basket dangling from a helicopter, are dangerous for all concerned.
The effort by the feminists to assign women to serve on submarines is not supported by men or women who know what Navy life is all about. A Connecticut newspaper published a letter from a female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Patty Marr, whose service includes two years in sea time. Her letter is worth quoting.
“I can speak from experience that `women at sea’ is no success story. Average women do not have the upper body strength of the average man. I passed all my tests, but I could not lower a submersible pump into a flooded space. Who would you prefer in wartime?
“The Navy discriminates against obesity, illness, disability, age, and yes, sex. The military’s mission is to effectively fight wars, not be an equal opportunity employer pandering to every special interest group. Should we make submarines handicapped accessible?”
DACOWITS’s goal has always been careerism for female officers at the expense of combat readiness. With a real war going on, this is no time to try to appease the unappeasable feminists in their perennial pursuit of an androgynous military.
The Bush Administration allowed DACOWITS’s charter to expire on February 28, 2002, and a new committee is being formed. It remains to be seen how pro-combat-readiness it will be. The feminists will never give up their goal of trying to feminize the military, but we hope the days of social experimentation in the military are over.