c: Something interesting I ran into over the week. It’s out of Morocco, a televised makeup tutorial. Have you ever looked at one of those?
h: Oh yes I have.
c: This tutorial was intended to bring attention to The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The tutorial was advising women on how they can apply makeup to hide their bruises caused by domestic violence.
h: Oh, I just got the chills.
c: This tweet came shortly after the program aired, “great, a show that teaches you how to be a battered but still a sexy woman”. This is Morocco, one of the most iconic cities on the planet.
h: Yeah, the people are stunning, the food is fabulous and the landscape breathtaking.
c: But they have this old school attitude about feminine and masculine. One of the countries biggest pop stars is currently in jail in France for rape charges and there is outrage in Morocco because their beloved pop star is in jail and not that he raped someone. I saw this and thought, wow. But, what we actually wanted to talk about today was the commoditizing of the feminine. It’s not possible to quantify feminine so I was thinking what would it be like if we found a way to suspend al feminine qualities from the economy for a few days.
h: You had a word for that.
c: The monetizing of feminine? I read a piece a little while ago, somewhat of a conspiracy theory from Henry Makow, a psychologist, Ph.D. He asked this question to women — ladies do you know where feminism or the feminist movement comes from?
h: Women wanted to be seen as persons and have the right to vote and be seen as our own autonomous agents under the law.
c: No, he says feminism was a concept designed to make women feel unworthy for devoting their lives to the people they love. In the 1960’s, he says, our societies were subjected to an unprecedented campaign of social engineering designed to decrease the birthrate and destabilize society by pitting men against women. According to Makow, the entire campaign was financed and managed by one very powerful enterprise, the Rockefellers. They initiated and executed a media campaign designed to look as though it was a spontaneous, organic movement that was both radical and modern. Women were taught to abandon their femininity and challenge men for masculine roles. The ultimate goal of all this was based on expanding the economy through a guaranteed source, the expansion of the tax base. Add women to the foundation and instantly the money supply doubles in an economy.
c: So you take women outside of the home, you put them into…
h: The public sphere.
c: And now you have a larger tax base to draw from.
h: I think my challenge to what he says is to have more people contributing to the tax base doesn’t have to be a zero-sum gain for completely giving up on family values. Often we’ve seen across our history, and especially for people who don’t see the women’s movement as being good for society, they say that with this change there has been a deterioration of the family unit, whereas a different way to look at it is that if we are going to rebuilt what the family unit looks like it’s having two partners who are willing to create whatever balance works best for them.
c: I guess what he’s saying is that what has happened because of the shift is that women have lost all respect for their feminine qualities. Now that complete half of human nature has been put aside.
h: But one could argue that feminine values and feminine traits have been undervalued for a very long time, so this move towards something different like self-esteem and self-growth has a larger arena to the be exercised.
c: But at what cost?
h: Certainly the amount of time they have to contribute to the home has changed and that’s where a partner needs to step up to fill the void.
c: I’ve got an angle on that. Dr. Carolyn Heldman, chair of the politics department at Oxidental College, a private liberal arts college in Eagle Rock, LA. She says, “Our culture does not value house making. She says the most common occupation women have is child rearing and house making. More women are doing that than any other job on the planet. So what does it mean when as a culture doesn’t value the primary activity that women undertake? She quotes a Chase Manhattan bank that assigns a price tag to house making and their most recent estimate was $130.000.
h: A year?
c: A year. That’s how much the average mother would make with one child in terms of being a nurse, tutor, cook, chauffeur etc. Homemaking is invisible labor — labor that doesn’t matter or mean much in our society. Heldman also turns on the feminist movement by saying, “One of the great mistakes of second-wave feminism was to valorize what men do. Women have moved into the paid workforce but ended up upholding and valuing what men do more than what women have traditionally done.”
h: It almost feels like they have appropriated values men already put in high esteem and have internalized that. I think where the shift has to happen is what we see now in Scandinavian countries where there is mandatory paternal and maternal leave so both parents know what it’s like to run a home and have a deeper appreciating for what it takes to run a family. I think if we are going to see that change it’s when men understand what it takes to run a family.
c: I’ll jump in because I have an idea on that. Just to finish what Dr. Heldman was saying, her words were that if women don’t value what women do how can we expect men to move into that sphere. However, if we back up on what you just said, I put that responsibility on mothers. We’re in a culture where it’s understood, men do this work and women do that work. A mother is rearing a child from age zero, if she raises a boy without respect for domestic chores, how is he going to value things those tasks even if they hold value to the family.
h: Wouldn’t you say that is equally important for the father to reiterate those values. That the son who sees his father as involved starts to appreciate where the father also sees value.
c: That would be a father who is well trained by a mother. I think it all starts with the mother. She has to show the boy that these things are valuable to the family as a whole. You as a young boy are doing these roles to support the family. Now that young boy when he grows to be a father, he can now raise a family where girls and boys can now accept those roles.
h: I can understand why you say it needs to start with the mother, but you have to be a bit older before you can harness what these family values mean. In conversations with the men in my life, they are grateful for the women’s movement in that a lot of them came from households where their father did not feel it was socially appropriate for them to be involved parents, and there was a disconnect. They really missed that from their father. That’s a general theme, and now that they are thinking of having kids to have a little more societal freedom to have a closer relationship with their kids. So I just want to challenge what you’re saying, I think that when fathers, and mothers, and also to look at same-sex relationships, whoever takes those roles, but both parents are saying that this is how a family is run a family takes care of each other’s goals by caring for each other.
c: What I’m saying is that the generation of men today never had that experience, so to expect that from them at the age they are now you may as well throw a rock in the air and hope it will fly. You have to start that mindset with children and since the mother is the one who typically natures first she has to teach her young boy child that these are your roles as well. It drives me crazy to see how these roles are separated in families where the girls have to do these type of chores and the boys are off the hook. How does that young boy ever learn to value responsibilities in the home traditionally assigned only to his sister?
h: Just as you’re saying so many stories of brothers and sisters where he was expected to do well in school whereas for the girl it was if you get to your homework after the housework then great. I think it also stems from the mentality that even if you put a lot into school as a woman you could just get married and have babies so the misconception as a parent being why waste the money. That, of course, is not accounting for the growth that happens when people have their own goals and want to do well in school. Intellect is something they have to fall back on when they don’t have beauty anymore. We set women up for this very narrow definition of womanhood that doesn’t have a lot to fall back on. Heaven forbid your relationship doesn’t work out and that’s been your go to that someone will be there to provide for me, what a vulnerable position to be in.
c: And that’s the way it’s been for a very long time. I want to share this report, The McKinsey Global Institute reporting that by advancing women’s equality in our economies and globally this could bring up to 12 trillion dollars in economic growth. That’s roughly equivalent in size of the Chinese and US economies combined. 12 Trillion dollars by bringing women into the work space as an equal partner.
h: There are a lot of organizations who see those statistics and take them very seriously. It comes back to what we were saying before that if women are to be in the workforce and feminists have been talking about the double shift since the 1950’s and it’s still a reality today. The expectation is there personally and in society at large to work and then come home and do all of these unpaid services and somehow you’re supposed to juggle everything?
c: As a child growing up, if you’re in a home with your mother and she is taking care of you, your mother is superwoman, your mother can do everything. Men have grown up thinking why are you complaining you’re a woman you can do anything and everything like my mom.
h: Meanwhile she’s got fumes coming out of her ears.
c: My mother could do all that stuff, you’re a mother so what’s the problem? Go to work do your thing get home and get stuff done and stop complaining.
h: Just do what is expected of you.
h: But because you worked all day you get to come home and put your feet up on the couch because you don’t have to feel socially responsible for work in the home because you have a penis and you can’t do more than one thing at a time. I have a close friend who is going through this very situation right now, her partner works all week and some weekends and when he gets home he demands his downtime. meanwhile, she’s working all day with their child and also working part time and it’s a lot to juggle, but it’s deteriorating their relationship. She doesn’t feel valued, she doesn’t feel appreciated, which is the age old song and dance. In the end, he might lose them. They are trying to work it out, talk it out the levels of stress they each face and coming to a balance where they can work more as a team. Of course, there is his side as well, the stress he has at work, how he needs to decompress, and then how can he contribute to the family as well when he gets home.
c: Does he value what she has to go through?
h: I don’t think that he does because he hasn’t had to live it. He hasn’t had to deal with a screening kid and figure it out. If the child is upset then the mother has the practice of what to do so she is to go to all the time. For him, how do you value something that you don’t really understand?
c: Nature has put you at an advantage that has turned out to be seen as a disadvantage. The ability to create life is an enormous advantage, beyond that there is the care for that child and now you’re in a world that also expects you to be the economic engine as well. Now you’ve got what nature has given you and what your social surroundings expect from you. This double whammy is still a relatively new phenomenon and I go back to the conspiracy theory about why all this was created, having women compete with men in the workspace, so we can create a larger cash cow economy.
h: But let’s not give them the benefit of men working in the domestic, we’re just going to work them to the bone and make them feel like it’s their fault when they slip up.
c: And that is to their advantage.
h: Right. There just aren’t any courses on how to make those negotiating conversations with your partner. We’re not taught how to delegate.
c: But first you need to have a man with an open mind to even have the conversation. If the man is stuck in what he culture had bred him to believe as his gender role.
h: Which he believes as right and true.
c: So how do you shift this, that’s his core belief and he’s not wrong in that. It’s what he’s been taught to believe.
h: That’s really the hard part because that’s what’s happening with my friend’s relationship. In our parents’ generation, it was a single parent working household and that’s how they functioned. Now we are really recalibrating all of these relationships.
c: We can certainly see the effects in our physical world, but we haven’t quite taken in the impact it is having psychologically in our world. We have not made that shift.
h: There is so much resistance.
c: And there will be resistance.
h: Who wants to give up power when they have it.
c: And as it’s been said, if women do not value what they do domestically, how can you expect men to value the domestic domain?
h: That’s where I look at the Norwegian countries where they also discussed these realities and they saw that there needed to be legislation to incentivize men and offer an understanding of what it takes to run a home. This is the fascinating part to me, the first three months is typically with the mother for natural nurturing like breast feeding and child-mother bonding, the next three months the man takes over or in same-sex relationships there is just a switch so both partners are contributing time, and over the last three months it’s whomever the couple chooses to stay primarily with the child. This plan is not mandatory but there are strong incentives financially for the family to do this. In case studies that have been done measuring happiness and the returns have been through the roof with families that have gone through this process. I think this is part of the answer, how do we create that value in the unpaid labor in a household. I think it has to be through legislation at least through the first few months after birth.
c: In the McKinsey Global Institute report where they estimate women could contribute 12 trillion dollars to the economy if opportunity was opened up for them they also had these initiation points: remove obstacles that make it hard for women to combine work with having children; offer parental leave and child care, allowing more flexible working hours, and most important, introduce new laws, policies, regulations and advocacy to reshape social attitudes about the value of domestic responsibilities.
h: That’s quite the concept to chew on.
c: What’s your position on childcare in general?
h: I think when it comes to child care because I really value having time to pursue my economic and other goals and that would require childcare if I also want that for my partner. In the same vein, i don’t believe people should have kids if they’re not ready to put in a substantial amount of time to raise them. When we live in a society that duel income households are a necessity to get by as far as our standards go I think that affordable child care creates the means for both partners to work if they want to. If gives them the choice that if a parent wants to stay at home they can, but if they chose to work there is an affordable way of doing so. I think that when people pay for child care it changes some of the psychology around this should be a given in the relationship to take this on. It’s like, no this is really a large expense and it should be treated with a lot of respect.
c: Child care, I’d rather pay the parent who wants to stay home. Bond the parent with the child. I understand the socialization of the child is important and schooling will take care of that. Whatever parent wants to stay home with the child, we’ll pay you to stay home.
h: That seems like almost a dream world to me. That would bring in the closeness between child and parent instead of the child being confused as to who is the closest person in my life. Most times they know the nanny more than they know the parent because that’s who they spend a majority of their waking hours with. I have friends who’ve lived through that and it can be very psychologically challenging.
c: We’re talking about the base development of a human being and to instill in this human being these values that we want to see projected out into future societies. Where are we now in giving that child the values that we speak of? That’s valuing what the father does in the home and outside the home, what the mother does, how do we instill these values when the child is being cared for by a third party? In the most formative years of its life who is this child learning family values from as far is its own family is concerned?
h: Let me tell you about our family values but we won’t be around for that so just listen to your nanny. We’ve been giving her notes on what we think.
c: It’s a difficult puzzle. We have to make sure the family survives economically so these important values can be put into place.
h: I’ve thought about what that might look like for my dream family and ideally I would love to see something where I could work four days a week and my partner could do the same and we split the time where we take care of the children. Sometimes it’s harder for dads to feel that connection with their kids because they don’t have the biological connection that women do so the more we can stimulate that and promote it I believe there is something beneficial in that, especially if we are going to see a change in valuing traditional feminine roles in and outside of the home.
c: It’s interesting to strip it down and see what might build a stronger society so that feminine and masculine are valued for what they each bring to the table.
h: I really do appreciate what you’re saying as far as finding a mechanism to pay the parent who wants to stay at home and maybe over the years that would change if one partner wants to play more of a role at home or if they want to further their career options and not fall victim to the power dynamic created by relying and being dependent on your partner.
c: Let me ask you this question, going back to the Chase Manhattan Bank and their analysis what housework is actually worth. The question is would you go to work of stay at home if being at home paid you $130K?
h: I wonder!
c: Now there’s a fight between both parents as to which one gets to stay at home.
h: Oh I love it, I love how you just switched that on its head. It’s blowing my mind to think of parents arguing as to which one gets to stay at home. It’s just so different from the reality we live in now.
c: Money is a beautiful thing isn’t it?
h: Money is a beautiful thing… and a terrible thing…