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

Kate Middleton and Moms Who Aren’t Princesses

With much of England and half the U.S. on Kate Middleton Baby-Watch this week, I’m writing about motherhood in the Guardian. It’s great (and normal) that we’re all excited about a new (and royal!) baby. Babies are really cute, and all of them should enter the world into the arms of folks who are excited to welcome them. But our celebrity pregnancy obsession, coupled with our unrealistic and condescending view of motherhood (it’s THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WOOOOORLD!) make real political change difficult, and keep parents (mostly mothers) unsupported. A bit:

Marriage isn’t the only game in town

I played a lot of MASH as a child and adolescent. MASH, if you’re not familiar, is a game in which you draw a swirl on a piece of paper and from that, extrapolate your entire adult existence. It decides important things for you, like where you’ll live (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House), what kind of car you’ll have, and who you’ll marry. In the version I played with my female friends, we included not just options for people (dudes) we’d marry, but also where the wedding would be, and how many bridesmaids we would have (everyone in the game always had to be chosen as bridesmaids, in order to avoid strife and awkwardness.)

Our feminist foremothers didn’t fight for your right to enjoy your life.

Apparently they were fighting for… the obligation for you to feel guilty about having a life you like? The need to be told you’re selfish, shallow and immature for concluding that children are expensive, you don’t feel any strong pull to have them, and you prefer to use your disposable income to do the things you love? The rights of an advice columnist to trot out stories of women who can’t plan their families as a way to shame you for the fact that you not only can, but choose to? Ok then. Feminism!

The rise of female breadwinners, and the betrayals of U.S. policy

Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about the new stat that 40% of breadwinners in American families are women. With women making up half the workforce, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re an increasing proportion of primary earners. But the 40% stat doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, yes, but not because they’re married to men who make less. Those women make an average of $23,000 per year. The third of breadwinner women who are married to men are significantly wealthier, with a combined family income averaging $80,000. And when you look at divorce and marital satisfaction stats, the happiest couples are those who both work, but where the husband makes more money. Stay-at-home moms have higher rates of depression and marital dissatisfaction, and unhappiness comes in again at the end of the spectrum where a wife out-earns her husband. A strong majority of Americans also believe that the best situation for a child is with a mom who stays home (only 8 percent believe the same about a kid with a dad who stays home). These problems are complex, but traditional ideas about gender play a strong role, and those ideas shape the social policies that leave working parents between a rock and a hard place. Our particularly American gender traditionalism coupled with our idealization of individualism-as-freedom (without recognition that such individualism has generally been a male pursuit, enabled entirely by an unpaid female at-home support system) creates major cultural disincentives to implementing the kids of policies that could actually help families. The full piece is here, and a section is below:

Vote for Huma

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine features Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, and details how they’re rebuilding their marriage and Weiner’s political career in the wake of his boner-photo tweet scandal. I wrote about it in my Guardian column this week, and more broadly the script that politicians follow when caught cheating: Lie, then admit, then apologize with wife in tow, then stage a come-back. And sure, sometimes (often) we should forgive them because their stupid personal flaws don’t impact their ability to govern. But also, I’d like to see political wives have more options. People stay in marriages for all sorts of reasons, and staying in the relationship after an affair isn’t necessarily a bad or wrong choice; none of us are inside these marriages, so we have no idea. But it would be nice if there were more acceptable public models:

Jada & Will Don’t Have an Open Marriage; Does It Matter?

Here’s an interesting development: Jada Pinkett Smith recently addressed the open relationship rumors that have surrounded her marriage with Will Smith for years. During Jada’s HuffPost Live interview with Marc Lamont Hill, he asked if they have an open relationship and she said…