The Corner

Elizabeth Wurtzel Should Get Out More

The Atlantic has her screed against stay-at-home moms and their undermining of feminism. Here’s a taste:

To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income. In any case, having forgotten everything but the lotus position, these women are the reason their husbands think all women are dumb, and I don’t blame them. 

Given the author is a lawyer in New York, I have no doubt that she hasn’t met many stay-at-home moms from Peoria and sincerely has no idea how a single middle-class income could support a family. But believe it or not, there are things that exist that Elizabeth Wurtzel doesn’t know about.

Wurtzel’s skewed impressions of stay-at-home moms could have been fixed with a simple Google search. From the New York Times:

65 percent of married women who stay home with children under 18 years old live in households that earn less than $75,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the United States Census Bureau.

. . . 

Across the country, 70 percent of married women over the age of 25 with children work outside the home. The median income of those households is about $87,700, compared with $64,000 for households where the mother stays at home, according to an analysis by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College of the City University of New York.  

What’s more, for lower-income women, staying at home is sometimes a way to save money. Once you add together daycare costs, transportation, additional restaurant meals, etc., having a second parent working is incredibly expensive — and can more than eat up the additional salary.

I found Wurtzel’s piece especially infuriating because my own mother stayed at home — and not so she could go “to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits” or “go shopping at Chanel and get facials at Tracy Martyn.” And no one, least of all my father, thought she was “dumb” for it.

That’s fine; I have no right not to be offended. But can’t an Atlantic writer at least be bothered to check her impressions against the data?

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