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The Home Front

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

The Theology of Christmas



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Obviously, during this time of year, many of us are thinking a great deal about Christ. (My favorite part of the season is our candlelit Christmas Eve service at my hometown church — not the present-opening. Could that be the very definition of adulthood?) But sometimes theology takes a back seat to tradition, as this article, entitled “The Flawed Theology of Naughty and Nice Lists,” points out:

For years moms and dads the world over have preached Santa’s naughty/nice list theology to their children. If you’re good, you earn your way onto the nice list and a subsequent pile of gifts under the tree. If you’re bad, you join the ranks of naughty listers who get nothing but charcoal in their stocking. With such a threat looming large, what kid in his right mind wouldn’t be on his best behavior, knowing that ‘he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake?’

But isn’t this just really bad theology? Read more to find out how not to give your kids the wrong impression this season.

Also, I found this interesting piece, which compares Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to Handel’s Messiah. Here is the conclusion:

“For Dickens, Christmas is a reminder that we are all Scrooges, self-centered ungrateful nobs who yet have some hope of appeasing God through our personal reform.

For Handel, Christmas reminds us that we are all sinners, we are “in Adam,” and for that we are helpless to stop God’s righteous judgment towards our sin. Yet there is One who has paid the price to quench God’s wrath on our behalf.”

Who wins the theological battle in Dickens versus Handel? Click through to read more of that discussion.

Lastly, do you ever feel like people who remind you that “Jesus is the reason for the season” want you to give up all gifts and instead go down to the local soup kitchen on Christmas morning? Amy Julia Becker takes this on in her essay praising extravagance during Christmas:

And yet there is a spiritual dimension to gift-giving. From a Christian perspective, giving gifts reflects the celebration of the gift of God’s son on Christmas morn. Moreover, it reflects the idea that God has entered into the material world, and through that entrance, God has declared that the material world is good and worth celebrating, if not in excess then at least through extravagant generosity.

Read the rest of her article, entitled “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Jesus is Born!”

Christmas is obviously a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the birth of Christ. But these articles can also be great topics of conversation around the dinner table and push us even deeper into our understanding of the rich implications of that manger birth.

Raising Men (and Women) of Grit



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Amy Henry reflects on last week’s anniversary of the first person to reach the South Pole:

Have you ever wondered how people with such pluck got to the point where they were able to pull off such almost-inhuman feats? I do, and sitting on the couch watching Hogan’s Heroes reruns ain’t it. We’re spoiled in this day, thinking that if Pizza Hut takes more than three rings to pick up their phones, we’re being deprived. It makes me wonder how the explorers of tomorrow are living their lives today. Do they sit in 71-degree rooms waiting for their mothers to deliver their mac and cheese or are they outside, facing the elements, working a callous or two into their fingers? Do our kids know how to do without? Do our children have what it takes to go through extreme discomfort if their life’s pursuits (or life’s curveballs) require such a thing? Who is raising today tomorrow’s men (and women) of grit?

I hope I am. Are you? Read more here.

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Marriage: What’s in It for Men?



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A new report by Pew Research Center shows that barely half — 51 percent — of adults in the United States are married. In place of marriage are nontraditional living arrangements — including cohabitation, single-person households, and single parenthood — that may likely continue. The share of adults who are currently married could drop to below half within several years.

While the report says it’s “beyond the scope of this analysis to explain why [emphasis mine] marriage has declined,” senior writer D’Vera Cohn adds this: “I’m struck by the fact that a large percentage of people who say that marriage is obsolete still want to get married. I think they may be having two ideas in their head at once: one about the institution of marriage and what its status is in society today, which is to say that it’s a lot less dominant, central, or important in society, [and another about] their own wishes for their future, in which they personally would very much like to be married.”

Indeed they do. But some major changes have to take place first.

For starters, parents have to stop getting divorced for less than dire reasons. Many, if not most, of today’s 20- and 30-somethings are products of these divorces and thus have no role models. They may be looking for love, but they have no idea what to look for. Susan Gregory Thomas, author of In Spite of Everything, is a great example. Her parents split when she was twelve, and in an article about her book she laments the lack of guidance available to young people. “Why would we take counsel,” she asks, “from the very people who, in our view, flubbed it all up?”

Second, we must retract the message Boomers sent young women about female empowerment. Indeed, it isn’t a coincidence that marriage rates have plummeted alongside America’s fascination with the feminist movement. Empowerment for women, as defined by feminists, neither liberates women nor brings couples together. It separates them. It focuses on women as perpetual victims of the Big Bad Male. Why would any man want to get married when he’s been branded a sexist pig at “hello”? In the span of just a few decades, women have managed to demote men from respected providers and protectors to being unnecessary, irrelevant, and downright expendable. Consider these examples:

Author and journalist Natalie Angier begins an article in the New York Times by writing, “Women may not find this surprising, but one of the most persistent and frustrating problems in evolutionary biology is the male. Specifically . . . why doesn’t he just go away?”

In a CNN interview with Maureen Dowd about her 2005 book, Are Men Necessary? Dowd says, “Now that women don’t need men to reproduce and refinance, the question is, will we keep you around? And the answer is, ‘You know, we need you in the way we need ice cream — you’ll be more ornamental.’”

Lisa Belkin, a blogger for the New York Times wrote, “We are standing at a moment in time when the role of gender is shifting seismically. At this moment an argument can be made for two separate narrative threads — the first is the retreat of men as this becomes a woman’s world.”

In an article in The Atlantic titled “Are Fathers Necessary?” author Pamela Paul wrote, “The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution.”

Women have also been raised by their feminist mothers to “never depend on a man.” As a result, couples no longer think of themselves as one unit but as separate entities sharing space. “The confusion over roles is there, as are the legacies of a self-absorbed, me-first, feminist-do-or-die, male-backlash society,” wrote Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee in The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts. Honestly, are we really surprised marriage is on the decline?

The concerns of men frequently arrive in my inbox. The latest is from Mark Trueblood, who had this to say: “From a man’s perspective, men take on an untenable risk. The culture of male disposability runs deep — some say even at the level of our DNA.” Because of this, he says, “Men are making a lifelong commitment to eschew marriage, cohabitation, and even dating in some cases. We do so for all the reasons you can guess, and more. As far as I am concerned, this is the wisest lifestyle decision for men in the United States at this point in time. And I say so as a conservative/libertarian who fully acknowledges the power of a functioning nuclear family.”

Mark Trueblood is not an anomaly. Countless men’s-rights groups have popped up across the country, and even more men happily shack up with their girlfriends with no plans to get married — which may sit well with women for a while, until their clocks begins to tick, and they become desperate for a baby. All of the sudden men look more appealing — but the men don’t want to marry them.

There may be more than one reason Americans are delaying or eschewing marriage, but almost all of them can be attributed to feminism. Feminists assured women their efforts would result in more satisfying marriages, but that has not happened. Rather, women’s search for faux equality has damaged marriage considerably (some might say irrevocably, but I’m an optimist) by eradicating the complementary nature of marriage — in which men and women work together, as equals, toward the same goal but with an appreciation for the unique qualities each gender brings to the table. Today, men and women are locked in a battle. The roles have changed too drastically, and the anger runs deep.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t call that progress.

— Suzanne Venker is co-author of the new book The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know — and Men Can’t Say. Her website is www.suzannevenker.com.

How Should Parents Deal with ‘Santa Truthers’?



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If you’re teaching your kids about Santa, you’re afraid that your children will meet one of those kids in school or on the playground. You know the kind: the ones who purposefully burst the holiday bubble by telling everyone Santa is a myth or a conspiracy theory.

On the flip side, if you’re not raising kids who believe in the big fat man with the red suit, you fear your kids will be the one to ruin it for the rest of the class.

How should parents deal with this delicate issue? Here are three parental responses. What are yours?

Do You Watch Dexter? You Might be a Democrat!



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Are Real Women Liberal?



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 If you’re the parent of a daughter, you probably remember the doctor shouting, “It’s a girl!” after you or your wife gave birth. (Unless you found out the sex beforehand, that is.) But did you ever wonder how the doctor knew your daughter’s gender? I’m guessing not.

According to Dr. Logan Levkoff, a nationally recognized sexologist, our biology is “only a small (and sometimes not at all) part of our gender” — and this is especially true, she says, when it comes to women. In a piece for the Huffington Post called “The True Meaning of Womanhood,” Levkoff writes that since women are our nation’s “moral compass,” they have a duty to stand up for what’s right. And what’s right, she says, is to not “block or deny access to rights, freedoms, information, and services.”

In other words, real women are liberal.

She didn’t use the word liberal, of course — that’d be too obvious. Instead she wrote that women demonstrate their moral nature via social justice. “I believe that being a woman is a state of mind and a commitment to social action.” This may sound harmless (albeit stupid), but it’s Levkoff’s definition of a state of mind and social action that matters. A woman can’t harbor any ole’ state of mind, or take any ole’ type of social action. She has to harbor a very specific state of mind and produce a very specific type of social action. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, for example, have “all the right body parts” — but “all the wrong sensibilities.”

They aren’t real women because they aren’t pro-choice, says Levkoff. And Bachmann supports the idea that women should be submissive to their husbands — and her heroine, Phyllis Schlafly, waged a battle against the Equal Rights Amendment. “Is this true womanhood?” asks Levkoff. Well, actually, yes. Millions of Americans would say these positions are very pro-woman — and for good reason. That Ms. Levkoff disagrees is fine. That she suggests real women are liberal borders on heresy.

You might be tempted to write someone like Ms. Levkoff off as a left-wing loon. Fine, except for one thing: Levkoff has a considerable platform. She represents the media elite who ban together and preach their message, using their considerable power, to the most vulnerable among us. As her website boasts, “When a news story breaks about sex, the media calls on Logan. Her expertise and advice is featured on network television, cable, and publications across the country.”

As a sexuality educator, one of the questions Levkoff poses to her students is, “What does it mean to be a woman?” She then tells them their body parts aren’t what make them male or female, at which point the students are understandably confused. That’s when the social engineering begins. ”This can be a hard lesson for students to understand, particularly when contemplating women,” she writes.

Well, yes, I would think so. But, accordingly to Levkoff, that’s not because it doesn’t make sense. It’s because “the most common visuals of women in our media include caricatures of traditional women’s roles.” Really? The most common visuals in the media are housewives? Point me to those channels — I’d like to see that.

What makes women like Levkoff so dangerous is not just what they say but what they don’t say. Left-wing women couch their views in benign terms that appeal to people’s emotions. Rather than say, “Here are my beliefs, and I think they’re worthy of consideration,” the beliefs are presented as normal, good, something any girl or woman in her right mind would believe. That’s powerful stuff — particularly when you’re young. The most natural thing in the world is to want to go along with what it seems like everyone else is thinking or doing.

As parents, we can counteract the messages women like Ms. Levkoff preach; but not without a great deal of effort and understanding as to how pervasive the propaganda is. So my advice to parents is this: Don’t turn away from the monster too long, or it might swallow your kids whole.

Scholastic’s One-Sided ‘Occupy’ Coverage



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Michelle Malkin has been writing about Scholastic’s lop-sided coverage of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement:

Scholastic Inc. is a nearly century-old educational publishing company that distributes books, magazines, and other teaching materials through the schools.

If you have kids (or remember from your own grade-school days), Scholastic puts out news bulletins that get sent home weekly or monthly.

One of those items is Scholastic News, which bills itself as “America’s Leading News Source for kids.”

Reader Edward has a daughter in fourth grade who brought home the December issue of Scholastic News — and he wasn’t too happy when he saw the publication’s coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Click through to see their news article, biased poll, and to find out how to contact Scholastic to talk to them about their reporting.

What Feminism Means



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If I had a dime for every time I heard a young woman tout her definition of feminism, I’d be rich. “Feminism to me means . . .” It’s true that feminism is a word that means different things to different people, but the goal of feminism is still the same no matter how many adjectives we ascribe to it.

When people ask me to define feminism, I go straight to the source: feminists themselves. Gloria Steinem defined it clearly just last month. She said the goal of the feminist movement is to “free everyone from the prisms of gender.” The system, she says, is crazy: We must change it. Like their friend in the White House, change is feminists’ favorite word.

What, exactly, must we change? In a word, biology. Feminists want to change male and female nature, which as most of us know is like trying to stop the ocean from producing waves. But more to the point, why? What’s wrong with more wives than husbands choosing to care for their babies and more husbands than wives choosing to slay the beast to make it all possible? What’s wrong with more women than men choosing nursing or relationship-oriented fields and more men than women choosing math and engineering?

If you’re a feminist, everything’s wrong with it. Biology separates women and men and makes them different. And the goal of feminism is sameness. Feminists want men and women to be exactly the same, so much so that we cannot distinguish between the two. They should live parallel lives, coming together as necessary and breaking up at will.

That’s what feminist Linda Hirshman pronounced in our debate this week. Hirshman is No. 77 in Bernard Goldberg’s 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America for her elitist stance that no mother (no parent, actually) should stay home with her children because an educated adult’s place is in the office (which begs the question as to who, precisely, should rock the cradle — dimwits?). When asked whether she believes the number of women checking out of their marriages today is a good thing, Hirshman proudly claimed yes. It’s evidence, she said, of their willingness to get out of a potentially damaging relationship and stand on their own.

That millions of women are getting divorced for reasons other than spousal abuse is lost on Hirshman. That’s because feminists begin their day with this mantra: “men bad, women good.” They never preach this message in an obvious way, of course — which is why they’re able to get so many young, impressionable women on their side. Feminists talk only of fairness and rights, and who could argue with that? Young people are always looking for a way to assert their rights. So when Gloria Steinem says reproductive freedom equates to the “right to decide to or not to have children,” young people absorb the idea that abortion is critical for women to be able to determine how many children they will have — as if there’s no other method available. As if without it they’d be stuck at home with ten screaming babies.

Over and over I hear young women’s misconception about feminism: that it’s about choice. No, feminism isn’t about choice. It’s about so much more — and, hopefully, when young women are older and come out of their feminist fog, they’ll understand this. Lord knows they wouldn’t be the first.

The Tops



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An NR family member just highlighted this Christmas recipe on her Facebook page.

Entertainingly edible. 

Happy Pearl Harbor Day?



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It’s hard to know exactly how to acknowledge Pearl Harbor Day. I think I’m like many young Americans who suddenly realized how much pain and heartache these days represent, only after 9/11 awakened us to the real suffering hiding behind the cold numbers on the calendar. 

As you think about the day, Anna Quinn does a great job thinking about “The Greatest Generation,” in this piece about a disabled woman she used to know –  a woman who epitomized the traits of that era even though she couldn’t walk:

Once I had a dear friend whose birthday fell, unfortunately, on December 7.  Every year her favorite cousin would call to congratulate her with the words “Happy . . .  Pearl Harbor Day!”

She loved to tell me about his teasing, but in truth, I could not comprehend the darkness of December 7, 1941, her twentieth birthday. As with most other difficulties in her life, she handled her birthday with grace and wry humor.

Her difficulties prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor were not inconsiderable. She survived the 1932 super tornado that devastated her small town of Northport, Alabama, riding the storm out in a bed with her brother. And then she contracted polio, which left her in leg braces.

A handicapped girl in small town Alabama in the forties could have easily chosen to live quietly at home. Instead she earned a B.S. from the University of Alabama, a Master’s from UNC, and eventually a Ph.D. in Library Sciences from Columbia. She worked at many universities, finishing her career as a librarian at Georgia Tech.

Read the rest here.

Who Decides Someone’s Real Value?



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The Economist is hosting a debate on the statement, “This house believes women’s place is at work.” Independent Women’s Forum senior fellow, Karin Agness, wrote about it here, highlighting AEI’s Christina Hoff Sommers’s simple, devastating refutationt: “Women do not have an assigned place.”

That should really be the end of the discussion.

Anyone who recoils from the idea that women’s role would be restricted to homemaking and child-rearing should recognize that it’s just as limiting to confine women to the role of worker. Yet I’m always struck during such discussions (or books such as Linda Hirshman’s Get to Work), by the total lack of value many modern feminists are willing to bestow on family life and civil society.

It can sound like a pathetic, everyone-gets-a-trophy line of argument, but stay-at-home parents’ contributions to society are real. Scholars differ in their assessment of how much impact parenting styles have on individual children’s outcomes, but it’s clear that communities pay a price when there is a lack of at-home parents.

Feminists’ glorified image of work-life also seems disconnected to reality. As Mark Steyn notes in his latest book, a growing number of jobs provide little real value outside of navigating the modern economy’s bizarre, bureaucratic labyrinth. Sure, the local compliance officer gets a paycheck which shows that someone valued his service, but just how meaningful is his impact on society really?

Intuitively, most people know that the size of the paycheck you receive isn’t the only way to measure your worth or contribution to your family or society. Yet the feminists can’t seem to escape the money-as-everything mentality when assessing women’s roles.

— Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum.

Christmas in the Britain Means Stocking Up on the Abortion Pill



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Fantastic. The Brits treat the morning-after pill like a stocking stuffer. Telegraph:

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) will encourage women to stock up on the emergency contraceptive over the Christmas period.

They will have to register their details on a website and will be phoned by a nurse for a 15-minute consultation intended to weed out young teenagers and assess suitability.

However, the charity has admitted that under-age girls will almost certainly obtain pills through the scheme by lying to them. Some children “will not be completely honest about their age”, a spokesman said. Under-16s would usually need a prescription to prevent a possible pregnancy in this way.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said last night that he would prefer the pills to be issued after a face-to-face consultation but stopped short of saying he would intervene.

Other critics likened the scheme to dialling for a pizza and warned that teenagers would abuse it to obtain the morning after pill without their parents’ knowledge. They said it could fuel promiscuity and encourage unprotected sex, risking a rise in sexually transmitted diseases. BPAS said the service was vital at a time when many surgeries and pharmacies would be closed and because chemists’ shops charged up to £25 for the emergency contraceptive, too expensive for some women.

The rest here.

Return of the Mainstream Biblical Epic?



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Rebecca Cusey reports:

Anne Rice’s “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” an exploration of the early days of Jesus’s life, is coming to the big screen. Rice, who famously wrote about inky-hearted vampires in “The Vampire Chronicles,” converted to Catholicism in the late ’90s and wrote “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” and “Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.” 

 

War Is Over, If You Want It to Be -- Really?



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I’m in a hotel room in Des Moines, working on a writing project while The Sing Off’s Christmas special drones on in my room. Though I’ve watched the show pretty religiously with my kids, it’s background noise tonight. I’m collecting information, organizing it into a longer book format, researching, ordering room service, trying to pretend I don’t know where the workout room is.

The show seemed happy enough, though I didn’t hear one Christmas song that wasn’t Santa-centric. (Perhaps I missed some? I heard the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick,” ”Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Justin Bieber’s “Under the Mistletoe,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and even “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” If I missed one, let me know. Again, it’s basically background noise tonight.) I enjoyed listening to host Nick Lachey and judges Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds performing on stage. (Okay, wasn’t so enthused about Nick. Have you noticed the weird shoulder shrug thing he does while announcing performers? My daughter pointed this out, and now I can’t pay attention to anything else he says. It’s like his body physically emphasizes punctuation marks.)

Anyway, I was listening to a torturous rendition of “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” — a 1971 song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono – and realized that they were singing this in honor of the soldiers who were coming home for the holidays.  

Does this seem tone deaf to you? As the wife of a soldier, I appreciate that the show is honoring our soldiers in a time of war. I mean, I wish all of the shows would take a moment to think about the soldiers who won’t be spending the holidays at home. But seriously? Doesn’t the song choice seem strange to you? Does a liberal, hippie, Vietnam-era song provide comfort to anyone, except in some sort of nostalgic Forrest Gump soundtrack kind of way? Isn’t it only nice if it’s divorced from historic context?

If I’m right that the show’s producers made a decision to eliminate all religiously themed songs, then perhaps it makes sense. After all, there are meaningful Christmas songs that deal with war. For example, two stanzas of ”I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” refer to the Civil War and the other five emphasize God’s sovereignty and the ultimate triumph over evil. However, if you reduce Christmas to some sort of feel-good season without any religious significance, then what comfort can you offer the military?

He might be okay at delivering presents, but Santa’s just not that great at delivering hope or comfort to the homesick.

D Is for Deacon



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Elizabeth Ficocelli has an excellent series Catholic parents may appreciate: Introducing priestsnuns, and now deacons to young children, in short, well-done books. 

Is the 50/50 Marriage the Ideal?



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My father was born in 1922. He died just over three years ago, at the age of 85, and I can honestly say I never once heard him tell my mother what to do in her own house. Yup, that’s what I wrote: her house.

Technically, it was their house — my father did make the payments, after all — but he would never dream of telling my mother how to decorate it or how to situate the furniture. And he certainly wouldn’t tell her how the kitchen should be organized, what utensils should be used, or how to load the dishwater. My parents’ home was, with the exception of the garage and basement, my mother’s domain.

That’s the way things were back then: The house was her job, the office was his. This arrangement had its bumpy moments — she would complain that he didn’t “help out” enough in the kitchen,” and he would try to be of assistance, only to be told he wasn’t doing it right — but for the most part, it worked.

Today this family model has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Husbands and wives are expected to do everything 50/50. That’s how couples, men in particular, prove their status as enlightened beings. But is the 50/50 marriage — in which both spouses work, cook, clean, and raise children together in perfect harmony — superior to the old way? And does it even work?

In theory, perhaps. In reality, no.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for sharing duties, and that’s generally the way things work in our home. My husband and I rarely fight about who does what because we’re both self-sufficient and respect each other’s role. (Full disclosure: My husband works full-time and pays the bills; I write, as you know, but also take on the lion’s share of household and child-related matters). And our marriage dynamic has become all the more evident since we moved my 81-year-old (and still vibrant) mother into our home.

Oh, sure, my mother knew my husband does the dishes every night; she’s seen that many times. And she remembers his doing his part in caring for our two children when they were babies. But it wasn’t until my mother moved in with my family that she saw the extent to which my husband got involved on the home front.

When she wants to put certain utensils in a certain drawer in the kitchen, I might respond, “Well, you-know-who doesn’t like it there.” Or if she wants to prepare a dish (I do most of the cooking, but she helps out) a certain way, I might say, “Well, you-know-who doesn’t like such-and-such prepared that way.” At which point her eyes will open wide while she desperately tries to keep her mouth shut. But I know exactly what she’s thinking: My father would no more have had an opinion on these matters than he would fly to the moon. And he would eat anything and everything my mother put on his plate. My husband, on the other hand, has lots to say — so much that it makes my job that much more difficult.

The 50/50 marriage feminists have been touting for decades is supposed to be a recipe for the old model. Their argument is that women like my mother were unduly burdened, while husbands got off scot-free. But is this accurate?

My mother quit her career as a stockbroker (yes, women had careers before feminism came along) when my sister and I were five and three, respectively — and was never employed after that. As a result, her time was her own. Once my sister and I were in school full-time, my mother was free as a jaybird to do whatever she liked.

My father couldn’t say that.

Does my mother’s life, or mine, seem oppressive to you? That’s what feminists and the women they’ve enlisted in their cause believe — and what they want you to believe. Consider this shocking statement by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook: “We still haven’t achieved the goal of real equality for women in the workplace and men in the home. Women continue to need protection not only globally where many women lack basic civil and human rights, but also here where the most dangerous place for an American woman is still shockingly in her home.”

The most dangerous place for an American woman is in her home. Wow.

With this belief firmly planted in their brains, feminists tout a new model for marriage — one in which each spouse is expected to do the exact same thing. Sandberg explains that she and her husband share everything right down the middle: care of their two small children, full-time careers, cooking, cleaning, etc. What she doesn’t mention (as most high-profile feminists don’t) is that somewhere in the background is a full-time nanny who’s doing the hard work — some might say the real work — for them.

Most women, most parents, don’t want to give up the precious years they have at home to rear their children so they can pursue demanding careers that place them at the mercy of hired help. Much to the dismay of feminists such as Sandberg, most women — despite all their so-called gains — still choose to work part-time, if at all, once they have children. In doing so, they acquire a type of freedom men don’t have.

Husbands don’t have the luxury of leaving their jobs temporarily, and then when their babies are old enough to go to school decide whether or not they want to go back to work, change careers, or get part-time jobs. Millions of men don’t follow their dreams because they know women want husbands who are willing to carry the financial load. My husband is an academic at heart, an intellectual of sorts who’d spend his days reading and writing poetry if he could. But when he was in his 20s, he realized his dream to become the next Pablo Neruda would not provide for a family — so he gave it all up and went into sales instead.

It is men’s consistent work — full-time, year-round, all throughout their lives — that allows women the freedom and flexibility to find the balance they so desperately crave. If that kind of life, that kind of devotion to the daily grind, were recognized as equally taxing as “women’s work,” as it used to be before feminism came along, the idea that women are unduly burdened would seem downright laughable.

The 50/50 marriage is a fraud. No marriage is ever equal on any given year — and too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the soup anyway. No one dares admit this lest they be labeled a throwback who believe women “belong in the kitchen,” which is so ridiculous. But the greatest problem with the 50/50 model is that in order to follow it, the children of America can’t be raised by mom and dad — and the majority of parents, thankfully, don’t want that.

The 50/50 model is a feminist utopia. It works in their dreams, but not in ours.

Wasting a Precious Resource: Our Boys



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Scholars who take on the notion that overpopulation threatens our planet counter that human beings are our most valuable resource. Far from degrading our world, they make it richer and invent all of the products and processes that improve our quality of life.

I wholeheartedly agree with this perspective, but worry that one of the greatest problems confronting the U.S. (and, indeed, Western civilization) is that we increasingly fail to put these resources to good use — particularly our nation’s boys.

Much has been written on how women are gaining power in the new economy, out-performing men in education, and even increasingly out-earning them. Kay Hymowitz’s book provides a detailed look at the dysfunctional culture that dominates much of young men’s lives — at a great cost to them, and to women too.

David Thomas provides a more personal perspective on this phenomenon in the Daily Mail. He describes the successes of his ambitious, 20-something daughters, and his concerns for his teenage son. While he uses statistics and particulars from the U.K., they resonate just as well with the situation in the U.S. Both education systems are run almost exclusively by women and cater to female learning styles, which has profound consequences for boys.

I’ve been reading these types of statistics and arguments for many years, but they have a very different impact when you consider them as a parent. Debates about nature vs. nurture which used to seem like interesting academic questions become a little absurd once you have kids — particularly children of both sexes. The difference are so blindingly obvious, and clearly stem from more than choices of pink and blue, that the whole idea of a gender-neutral world becomes absurd.

It took my two-year-old son, who has grown up in a house dominated by two older sisters, with mostly girl toys and Angelina books, about five minutes in the home of another little boy to identify and become obsessed with guns and swords. He is more hyper, rambunctious, violent, and less easy to communicate with than my girls were when they were his age.

It’s easy to see how these attributes will be a liability in a few years. My four-year-old daughter was recently described by her preschool teacher as an ideal student: she listens, sits still, and follows directions. She is quiet, polite, and excels with fine motor skills, so she is enthralled by the many craft projects that dominate her preschool experience.

That’s nice to hear of course, but made me pause about the teacher’s perception of an “ideal” student. Clearly, in this instance, the ideal student is decidedly female. And as a mom, I sympathize. If I was in charge of 15 preschoolers, I would absolutely want a crowd of well-behaved children, quietly pasting hearts on construction paper, rather than a noisy mob rolling on the ground or wielding sticks. In other words, I’d rather deal with a bunch of little girls than little boys. But that’s not how schools are supposed to see it, and it’s clearly not good for boys to be surrounded by those who see their natural tendencies as a nuisance.

Like Thomas, I’ll be paying extra attention as my kids grow up to the academic climate in which I enroll my son. I’ll seriously consider and look for opportunities for boys schools when possible. I’m confident that my girls will do well in traditional school settings, but am not so sure that that’s the situation that will get the most out of my little boy. I don’t want him to get the message that school is not a place for kids like him.

When I was living in Virginia, a family down the street with three daughters had a bumper sticker on their car that read something like this: Girls Don’t Chase Boys, They Run Right Passed Them.

It’s cute, though needless to say, one would never see anything comparable on the car of a family of sons celebrating boys’ superiority to girls. It’s hard to imagine that such a male-applauding bumper-sticker even exists. Yet my neighbors bumper stickers was absolutely unremarkable. In fact, it’s the new vision of equality. As Thomas summed it up: “[Students] have been taught that men and women are equal — except for all the ways in which women are superior.”

That’s the message pushed in our schools and in society. Is this really what we want our boys growing up to believe?

— Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum.

ACLU Not Happy with Pro-Life ‘Siri’



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Catholic Online:

The ACLU is complaining, this time because Apple’s popular new virtual assistant, Siri, can’t direct you to an abortion clinic. The group has launched an online petition asking people to flood Apple offices with requests to “fix Siri.”

Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM) – The ACLU wrote on a blog post on Wednesday, “Although it isn’t clear that Apple is intentionally trying to promote an anti-choice agenda, it is distressing that Siri can point you to Viagra, but not the Pill, or help you find an escort, but not an abortion clinic. We’re confident that the developers at Apple want to provide iPhone users with accurate information.”

Apple has replied that the omission wasn’t intentional and that Siri is still in beta testing so there are “places where we can do better.” It is believed that as more and more data is uploaded into Siri’s database, then the digital assistant will be able to field more general requests.

World AIDS Day



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My friend Tom Walsh, who has been with PEPFAR since 2004 and was even the acting head of it in 2009, writes about an event today you might want to check into:

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine something that could bring together Presidents Obama, Bush (43), and Clinton . . . with Bono and Alicia Keys . . . and Kay Warren . . . and Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Barbara Lee.

But it’s happening. Tomorrow (Thursday) morning, the ONE Campaign and Project (RED) have organized an observance of World AIDS Day that will include all of the above, and others.

And they’re coming together for the best of reasons — to celebrate the progress we’ve made in 30 years of fighting this disease. Over the last decade, the PEPFAR program has made incredible strides at reversing the toll of AIDS, especially in Africa, the hardest-hit region. Recent scientific advances have made it possible to do even more, and tomorrow’s event will offer a window into the opportunities ahead of us. 

You can watch the event here live at 10 a.m. EST, or anytime thereafter.

Hipster Homemakers and ‘Extreme Domesticity’



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Okay, can you tell I’m avoiding some other writing projects? One more post on the Home Front, and — I promise — I’m going to leave you good readers alone. But I found Rebecca Cusey’s recent article about “Hipster Homemakers and ‘Extreme Domesticity’” very interesting. She asks:

Women are taking on burdens their grandmothers rejected: growing organic food, canning, baking bread. Is this movement a way to take care of one’s family properly or a symptom of an overly wealthy and neurotic society?

Her article goes on to explain her views on the matter, but she’s gotten some push back from (apparently?) some hip homemakers. Tara Edelschick’s reply to her post is the most well reasoned. What do you think?  

Are these “hipster homemakers” type-A personalities that carry their overachievement to the home front? Or, as Tara claims, is the real curse of modern motherhood (especially among the wealthy and well-educated) a certain defensiveness about the choices we make?

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