You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Katha Pollitt makes a very good point in favour of government assistance for parents, against the complaints of the "child-free" movement:

'... Rightly (conservative version) or wrongly (liberal version), the workplace is structured to suit men, preferably men with stay-at-home wives. The qualities rewarded there – self-reliance, ambition, single-minded devotion to work – make women unfit for marriage and vice versa.

By the time they are ready to settle down, their male contemporaries are married or looking for younger, softer women; if it’s not too late for a husband, it’s likely to be too late for a baby; if they manage to produce one, they’ll confront the fundamental incompatibility – practical, psychological, emotional – of motherhood and career.

With some variations, this narrative of forced choices and biological deadlines, in which feminism is either irrelevant or itself the problem, forms the theme of many recent highly publicised advice books. Sometimes the young unmarried woman is told she is having too much fun and will pay later; sometimes she is told she is miserable, and no wonder – while men postpone commitment, her eggs are already scrambling...

None of these writers [whom Pollitt is reviewing -- most prominently, I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson] seems to believe that caring for an infant could be made less exhausting, less harried, less solitary. But surely it could be quite different. After all, men (and now women) who join the military get a plethora of benefits from a grateful nation: in the United States, for example, they get scholarships, free medical care for life, extra points on civil-service exams and much more.

... If governments are worried about low birth-rates, as many are, they could do a lot better than lecture uppity women one day and offer paltry child bonuses the next. Free tuition for life would be more like it, along with free childcare, mandatory paternity leave (men in Britain have recently been granted two weeks’ paternity leave) and a Real Men Change Nappies campaign...'

-- Katha Pollitt, "In the family’s way: Superwomen who want it all, companies which depend on men with stay-at-home wives. How can they fit together?," The Guardian (9 September 2003)

But then she goes and spoils it all with an obligatory Bush-bitch on her favourite topic:

'... As the growing movement against abortion shows, self-determination for women is still controversial...'

Nice day's work, Katha. You're trying to refute the "child-free" lobby's complaint that "having children is a voluntary lifestyle choice, a hobby that parents should fund out of their own pockets". But then you impliedly concede that it's okay for children, like pet animals, to get put to sleep (Freely Safely And Legally) if they become inconvenient to your lifestyle. Put a band-aid on that foot gunshot wound ... And you wonder why young women these days don't want to label themselves "feminists".

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