In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

The Revolution That Wasn’t

Surprise, surprise: The opt-out revolution is bunk.

Yale University’s Women’s Center released a survey last week finding that just 4.1 percent of Yale women plan to stop work entirely after having children, compared to 0.7 percent of men. A vast majority of women — 71.8 percent — reported they would take less than one year off work after their children were born.

Four percent does not a revolution make. via Feministing.

A Step Backward

Wal-Mart, already under fire for its shoddy labor practices, low pay, locking cleaning crews in at night, nonexistent benefits, encouraging their workers to make up a living wage by seeking welfare benefits, antitunionism, et al., is sinking even deeper into the mire of worker exploitation by introducing wage caps and relying more on part-timers.

Wal-Mart executives say they have embraced new policies for a large number of their 1.3 million workers to better serve their customers, especially at busy shopping times — and point out that competitors like Sears and Target have made some of these moves, too.

But some Wal-Mart workers say the changes are further reducing their already modest incomes and putting a serious strain on their child-rearing and personal lives. Current and former Wal-Mart workers say some managers have insisted that they make themselves available around the clock, and assert that the company is making changes with an eye to forcing out longtime higher-wage workers to make way for lower-wage part-time employees.

It’s one thing for a highly-paid professional like a doctor or a lawyer to be available around the clock; quite another for a part-timer with no benefits who barely makes minimum wage to do so.

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The “Intense Job” Gender Wage Gap

A professor at University of Indiana Law School compares female law school grads with male law school grads — and comes up with some interesting results:


Here are the consistent statistical differences:

1. Female IU graduates are more likely to be married to a spouse with an intense job;
2. Spouses of female IU graduates make more money than the spouses of male alumni (note, however, that the overall household incomes remain comparable);
3. When it comes to childcare, female IU graduates are much more likely to exit or reduce their involvement in the workforce than male IU graduates.

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Tag-Team Parenting

A report (pdf) from the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines the differences in the division of household labor and parenting across socioeconomic lines. According to the report:

— Less educated parents are more likely to work evening and night shifts. Among working mothers without a high school degree, only 58.5 percent have a day shift.

— Within two-earner, married-couple families with young children, the most common kind of childcare is formal daycare (29.4 percent), followed closely by relative care (27.3 percent), then parental care (25.5 percent). Lower-income two-earner married couples are more likely to use parental and relative care than higher-income families.

— While 27.1 percent of married mothers use parental care, only 10.3 percent of single mothers report parental care as their most common kind of childcare.

— Low-income mothers are more likely to report that they work their current schedule to address childcare needs (41.5 percent) compared to those in the top income quartile (30.0 percent).

— The older a family is, the more likely it is that the spouses have similar schedules.

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Why don’t more women breastfeed, again?

If you had any doubts that breastfeeding in America is a luxury, this story should clear them up for you.

When a new mother returns to Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle after maternity leave, she learns what is behind the doors mysteriously marked “Lactation Room.”

Whenever she likes, she can slip away from her desk and behind those doors, sit in a plush recliner and behind curtains, and leaf through InStyle magazine as she holds a company-supplied pump to her chest, depositing her breast milk in bottles to be toted home later.

But if the mothers who staff the chain’s counters want to do the same, they must barricade themselves in small restrooms intended for customers, counting the minutes left in their breaks.

And Starbucks is generally very well-regarded for its employee benefits. Certainly, the fact that the stores are a lot smaller and serve a lot fewer employees than corporate headquarters has something to do with this. However, it’s not the whole story.

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I so love my job

For the past several weeks, and also the next several weeks, I am looking through a document production to figure out just what the hell went wrong between our client and the company they supplied material to. Most of this involves looking through emails written by the purchasing manager of the vendee, a man whose writing style can best be characterized as Comic Book Guy Meets William F. Buckley.

Help me.

As We Suspected

Several people, during the whole Forbes career woman debacle last week, expressed the suspicion that the whole thing was done to drive traffic to the site. Not a very well-thought-out plan, surely, considering that some 35% of Forbes subscribers are female, and quite likely the very career women that Michael Noer was warning the male readers of Forbes (or, more accurately, about. Not to mention, many of their male readers are undoubtedly married to career women, though whether they’d take sufficient umbrage to cancel subscriptions is another matter.

Well. Seems that those suspicions were borne out. The NYT reports that traffic for has been down (along with subscriptions to the print version, which is a separate entity and apparently does not carry articles like “Don’t marry a career woman” and “Wife or whore? What’s the difference?” that appear in the web version). In fact, traffic may never have been as high as they’ve been claiming.

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Not Getting It

Slate’s defense of that Forbes article: It’s gender-neutral, we swear!

The blogs entries collected by Technorati accuse Forbes of culling the academic literature for fodder that will shove women back into the kitchen; send them back to the 1950s; and force them to put their buns in the oven and get their buns in bed.

But I’ve yet to read a blog item or a protesting e-mail from a reader that convinces me that the article—as opposed to the deliberately provocative headline—really insults women, career or otherwise.

Point one: The headline. “Don’t marry a career woman” sounds fairly insulting to career women — it says that there’s something sufficiently wrong with them to avoid marriage. If the article were titled, for example, “Don’t marry Jack Shafer,” I could see why Jack Shafer would find it insulting, even if the reasons given for not marrying Jack Shafer could apply to all Slate employees, or all journalists, or all people.

Some of the sensational findings presented in the Forbes piece appear to be gender-neutral and hence don’t bait feminists at all. For instance, Noer holds that the literature indicates that “highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex,” and “individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.” So, if career women are bad marriage bets, so are career men. It’s a wash.

Well, no. Because the article wasn’t about how career people are bad marriage bets. It was specifically about how career women are bad marriage bets, even if the reasons that it gave to support that assertion could be applied just as easily to men. I would even argue that the fact that the statistics behind the author’s assumptions are applicable to working people in general underlies feminists’ point that the article is deeply sexist — the writer takes what are often gender-neutral findings and applies them only to women, as evidence for why men should avoid us. That does bait feminists, and it is misogynist.

Noer also cautions against marrying career women because it’s “financially devastating.” “[D]ivorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%.” But if your overall net worth is going to drop an average of 77 percent, wouldn’t you want your net worth to be higher, which it could be if you marry a career woman, as opposed lower with a non-career woman?

Um, yeah. But he uses that as another reason why you shouldn’t marry a career woman. And this is where Shafer misses the boat through the rest of his piece. He’s making a lot of the same arguments that feminists are — that the Forbes article sites studies that could be interpreted in lots of different ways, and that the reasons they give for not marrying career women aren’t very good at all. Shafter seems to think that this somehow delegitimizes feminist anger over the piece, when in fact feminists are angry because it’s yet another article that reinstates traditional gender roles and seeks to remind us that if we’re successful or employed or at all independent, men won’t want us. It emphasizes the idea that male approval is the most important goal for women. And it takes, as Shafer points out, relatively gender-neutral observations and uses them as weapons against women in particular. That’s why it’s sexist, and that’s why we’re angry.

I’m also irritated at Shafer’s condescending tone and use of the word “careerist,” but that’s another matter. I should probably stop typing now, as I wouldn’t want to break a nail.

Why You Should Marry a Doormat*

Or, Forbes explains why smart men everywhere** should avoid those nasty career women.

1. You are less likely to get married to her.

And I thought that men were marriage-phobic and had to be corralled into the chapel. So wouldn’t this be a reason to date career women? We’re mixing up our masculine stereotypes here, folks, and it’s just not right.

Forbes is quick to note (in the last line) that the opposite may be true for black women — that having higher earnings and more working hours translate into easier marriagability. But, you know, black women don’t really count, so we can discount them in the headline and the rest of the article.

2. If you do marry, you are more likely to get divorced.

Women’s work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men’s work hours often have no statistical effect. “I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed,” Johnson said.

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New Orleans’ Women Being Left Behind

The Times-Picayune has a story about a study (pdf) from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which shows that, as bad as everybody has it in New Orleans, women have it that much worse:

When it comes to economic opportunity in post-Katrina New Orleans, women, particularly African-American women, have been largely ignored, according to a report on the local labor market released Friday.

Because of the acute shortage of affordable housing across the flood-ravaged Gulf Coast, the study also found that few single-mother families have been able to return.

According to Avis Jones-DeWeever, the institute’s director of poverty, education and social justice, the storm made an already-bad situation worse for the women of New Orleans.

“Research suggests that long before Katrina, women were living at the bottom,” she said, “earning significantly less than men in the city at the same level of education, and earning significantly less than their female counterparts nationwide.”

And since the storm, data collected by the institute shows that men are benefiting more from the rebuilding effort than women, Jones-DeWeever said.

Consider some statistics:

  • Before Katrina, women made up 56% of the local workforce; now they make up 46%.
  • The number of families headed by single mothers in the metropolitan area has dropped from 51,000 to less than 17,000.
  • Food stamp usage by those single mothers who have returned has quadrupled.
  • Black women are not being employed in professional and managerial positions in New Orleans.
  • The median earnings for men in their lowest-paid occupations range from $15,150 to $23,500 annually, compared with women’s earnings of $11,400 to $20,000 in their lowest-paid occupations.
  • At the high end of the scale, men’s median earnings range from $38,700 to $130,000, compared with a high range of $30,000 to $63,000 for women.
  • The statistics in the study are disheartening, said state Rep. Karen Carter, who took part in the institute’s midday news conference.

    “This report is quite tragic,” said Carter, D-New Orleans. “It’s unacceptable. Women vote. Women pay taxes. And women deserve better. The city will suffer if immediate action is not taken. It’s a crisis within the crisis that people are dealing with in their everyday lives as they try to rebuild.”

    And that rebuilding is projected to take 10 to 15 years. One common theme of the report is that women must be given opportunities to participate in the rebuilding and trained and encouraged to take those opportunities, particularly in the high-paying construction trades.

    H/T: Broadsheet.