Last week, the Post published an investigation by resident gender expert/increasingly irrelevant old person Laura Sessions Stepp on the effects of women’s empowerment on child-rearing. In order to engage Stepp a bit, let’s ignore the fact that she’s missed this issue by a decade or three and just skip on to her central question: With women now succeeding in the workforce as if they were men or something, “Who will take care of their children?”
Stepp keeps the queries coming: “Will women continue to run themselves ragged trying to be boss at work, full-time caregiver at home and on call for either obligation day and night?” Stepp asks. “Or will they look to their mates, who, should projections hold, may not be putting in as many hours at work as they?”
Stepp’s answers aren’t as important as her questions. Do we really need to continue to ask them? Can we not assume that women, men, childcare professionals, and villages will raise our youth while these crazy kids buy into this new trend of women succeeding in the workplace? Maybe Stepp, 56, is operating under some outdated assumptions here. To wit:
None of this is easy. We’re talking about changing habits of thought that go back to the days when women tended children in caves while their mates were out catching game and fighting off intruders.
Now, women are leaving the cave in increasing numbers and some men get nervous thinking women may one day lead the pack. Could it be that as men tiptoe back into the cave, we women worry that they’ll eventually take over?
Ah, leaving the cave: our eternal struggle. Allow me to suspend my rudimentary cave drawing for a moment to posit this question on the complex series of information tubes that we in the modern world refer to as the Internet: Why always with the babies?
Yes: They can grow into adorable little wunderkinder (already demanding iPods!). But can’t we consider for a moment the possibility that for some women, other obligations will now supercede their decision to have children?
I’m reminded of an Atlantic Monthly piece I linked to a few weeks ago called “Marry Him!” by Lori Gottlieb. In it, she admitted to having a child on her own through artificial insemination in a “fit of self-empowerment.” Later, after actually having the thing, she regretted not marrying first (even though she hadn’t met someone she really wanted to, you know, spend the rest of her life/raise children with). Having a baby wasn’t the magic life fix Gottlieb thought it was. But instead of considering that possibility, Gottlieb instead encourages women to succumb to that one-two punch of having the baby and “settling” on a man, too.
I’d encourage them to get a dog.