The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

The “Man-cession” and the War on Women


As Robert VerBruggen astutely pointed out yesterday, Elizabeth Wurtzel clearly needs to get out more. Last Friday, in an article published in The Atlantic, Wurtzel sought to knock some sense into the stay-at-home moms of America and revive the spirit and meaning of the feminist movement:

I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time — by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits — is her feminist choice . . . Let’s please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.

Wurtzel goes on to explain that being a mother is not a job, because every woman can have it.

But let’s face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation).

She wonders why anyone would want to be dependent and not “earn their keep.”

When it’s come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy. I don’t want everyone to live like me, but I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work.

In addition to the numbers Robert points out, Wurtzel’s feminist stances on motherhood making one dependent to “the men who run the world” seem to be out of touch in another way: A recent study shows that more and more men are opting to stay at home as “Mr. Mom,” while their wives work full time as the family’s main source of income. These men cannot possibly consider stay-at-home moms dumb if they opt to become one. The study, “The New Dad: Right at Home,” conducted by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, has revealed that the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled in the past decade from 1.6 percent (81,000) to 3.4 percent (176,000):

Nationwide, the number of stay-at-home fathers — while still relatively small — has more than doubled in the past decade. There were only about 81,000 Mr. Moms in 2001, or about 1.6 percent of all stay-at-home parents. By last year, the number had climbed to 176,000, or 3.4 percent of stay-at-home fathers, according to U.S. Census data.

And the “Mr. Mom” trend can’t be attributed entirely to the recent recession, either. 

“Contrary to media reports about laid off fathers who re-invent themselves as full-time caregivers, most of the men we interviewed report that being a stay-at-home dad is a choice, not simply a reaction to an unanticipated job loss,” said study author Brad Harrington, executive director of the Center for Work & Family.

Mothers and fathers who decide to stay at home make a conscious decision to do so, and for many it is a decision to be active participants in their children’s lives. Comparatively few, it seems, opt to have their children raised by nannies so they can go to “Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments.”


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review