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Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Care Crisis

Pieces from an excellent article by Ruth Rosen

The Care Crisis
What women talk about when men are not listening. (Hint: it's not sex.)

If you think its about sexual prowess, you'd be wrong. If you think it's about size, forget it. And if you imagine we follow the various pissing contests going on among male liberals, you're too self-absorbed. It's about what I call the Care Crisis.

During the last week, I've had a series of conversations with intellectual, liberal women who, like most of our male friends, companions and husbands, want to restore American democracy, end the war and free up our nation's wealth to support the health and well being of our nation's citizens.

We care about the common good. We believe in a public good. We agree with those liberal men who are writing about how Democrats will have to be more than a "collection of aggrieved out-groups," to quote David Brooks (New York Times, April 27). We agree with Brooks that "the message voters respond to best is notions of shared sacrifice for the common good...people are ready for an appeal to citizenship."

Multiculturalism and identity politics, gloats Brooks, are dead. Fine by me. Gleefully, Brooks announces that "Democrats are purging the last vestiges of the New Left and returning to the older civic liberalism of the 1950s and early 1960s."

But here's the rub: Notice the years Brooks chooses as the historical moment to which we should return--before American women began demanding the equality that is essential to their citizenship.

In these conversations you men never hear, this is what we discuss: For four decades, working women have poured into the paid labor force. Yet American society has done precious little to restructure the workplace or family life. The result? Working mothers are burdened and exhausted, families are fractured and children are often neglected. The dirty little secret, we repeatedly tell each other, is that it is both profitable and convenient to our government, business and many men, for women to wear themselves out trying to do the unpaid work of caring for children, caring for the elderly and caring about the social networks of our communities.

It's as though Americans are trapped in a time warp, certain that women will still do all this caring, even though they can't, because more than half are outside their homes working in the paid workplace. And so, we have the mounting Care Crisis.

But somehow male progressives and liberals continue to view these problems as those of a special interest group and part of identity politics. Yet it is the core dilemma faced by most middle class and working class American families, all along the political spectrum........

Read the rest of this excellent article here

My Comments:


What can I say? Other than I agree with every word Ruth Rosen has written here.

I come from the UK, and the situation here is very similar. In a society where the cost of housing and general living has risen out of all proportion, average families cannot survive without wages from both parents. The Government is also 'encouraging' women to go back into the workplace as soon as possible after having their children, because they know that UK society would not survive financially without the millions of women in their, mainly-low-paid, 'service industry' jobs.

But the 'care facilities' offered to working mothers is appalling: tax credits that go nowhere near covering the cost of childcare; a severe lack of good, reasonably-priced nursery places; and employers who still get around employment laws and take advantage of working mothers by paying them low wages.

And many women are exhausted by having to care for children, elderly parents, the home, (often lazy partners too) and anything else this still-male-dominated society assumes it is 'their duty' to care for.

So it's time for women to make their frustrations known in voting booths everywhere. Before it's too late.

And I'll let Rosen sign off:

"True, it's boring to discuss the vital needs of working mothers and families, when nothing ever changes. But while you're talking about the common good, consider this: There is nothing more vital to the common good of our nation than the well-being of our working mothers and their families. And that, dear gentlemen, is where the votes are."



posted by summersun70 at 8:12 AM

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