Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toot My Horn Tuesday: Double Whammy

The Crazy Christians are going green. (rhrealitycheck)


Calling out the double standard. (teenwire)

Domestic Dynamics, Part II

Yeah, we're back on this again. I feel like yesterday's post started some things that need finishing - or at least some expanding...

So, studies have shown that despite men's increased involvement in matters of the home/family, women still put in more time and have more difficulty balancing family and work. Because women are recognizing the massive amounts of stress and sacrifice it takes to raise a child, they are more understanding of the decision to remain childless.

And now for the million dollar question: why are men are still spending less time parenting? I do not have a deep-rooted hate for men (cause, let's clarify - that is not what feminism is about), so I refuse to believe men aren’t putting in the hours because they are miserable, heartless, and selfish Neanderthals.

So, what then? Is it work? Is parenting something men feel women do better? What affects how men and women parent?

On Businessweek.com, I found an excerpt from the book, "Work and Family – Allies Or Enemies?" by Stewart D. Friedman and Jeffrey H. Greenhaus. Friedman was the director of the Ford Motor Company’s Leadership Development Center from 1999-2001, and teaches at UPenn’s Wharton School of Business. Greenhaus is a professor of management at Drexel.

In their study of 861 professionals, Friedman and Greenhaus found that that on the whole, those who brought home higher incomes had lower parental performance.

"With all that money can buy for children, a high income still does not overcome a serious problem kids face when their parents (especially their fathers) are so psychologically involved in work that they cannot attend well to the demands of being a parent."

Interestingly, income levels affected men and women differently when they evaluated their own parenting skills.

"Mothers who want money and power from their careers feel that their children receive higher-quality care than do mothers who have lower career aspirations and who care less about wealth. Yet it is the opposite for fathers: the less a father aspires to hierarchical advancement, the better he feels about his performance as a parent. And the lower the value a father places on wealth, the better he feels about the care his children receive."

F&G say that women who have high aspirations for career success have higher self-esteem, which "enhances her capacity to care for her children and to arrange for effective childcare." Conversely, men who aren’t as work-centered feel they are better parents because they are more available to their families.

But the authors remind us that just because you make a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a lousy parent. "What is really operating here is that intense psychological involvement in career leads to the perception of lower parental performance."

It’s not the income itself, but the associations we have around higher salaries (i.e. I put in a ton of hours and sacrificed a lot for this). What really determines one’s parenting is the flexibility of their job, how good they feel about their work, and being in an environment that is sensitive to personal and family needs.

So, maybe it’s simply the high-powered, high-earning execs that aren’t stepping up when it comes to the kids? And just because they’re not putting in as much time as their wives, that doesn’t necessarily mean, a) they don’t want to; and b) they don’t feel bad about it.

After all that, I really don’t think I answered the question at all. Not like I expected this post to be the end-all of the debate. If I had the answer to unequal parenting, I’d probably be doing something much more lucrative than writing this blog. It’s a step, though – to understanding what affects men and women and how they operate in and out of the home.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Closer Look at Domestic Dynamics

My bad.

Unfortunately, I have to work harder on making sure I back up my opinions with facts and reliable sources rather than just going off on a tangent, thinking that what I'm saying is common knowledge.

Over the weekend, one of my readers said he disagreed with a line from my post, "Gone Daddy Gone" (11/7/07):

"...the final choice should be the woman's, since she bears most of the responsibility of carrying, birthing and rearing the child."

He said he agrees that women are (biologically) on their own when it comes to pregnancy and labor. However, he reminded me that men are much more involved with raising children nowadays, and the generalization of the distant father who doesn't lift a finger is not true.

He's right - you're more likely to find stay-at-home-dads in 2007 than 1987, and more businesses offer paternity leave in addition to maternity leave. In an age where more women are working and pursuing success in their careers, more men are stepping up and recognizing the need to share the work of parenting.

I know gender roles in the household are changing, but it had seemed (to me) that women still do more than men when it comes to raising children. Maybe I was stuck on that generalization? I thought maybe I spoke too soon (and too harshly) about the guys...

I needed some evidence - something more trustworthy than my personal thoughts - and came across a recent study by Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, a sociologist at the University of Florida. Her study, featured in the November 2007 issue of The Journal of Marriage and Family, shows that women have a more positive view of childlessness than men, "likely because parenting places greater demands on mothers, especially those juggling work and family responsibilities."

Koropeckyj-Cox says, "Although fathers have become more involved in childcare and housework in recent decades, they provide fewer hours and generally less intensive care on average than mothers."

Interesting. Not only are women still carrying more of the child care load, but because of this, they are more accepting of the idea of not having children at all.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Leave it to the news to scare the shit out of us.

I was watching the charming and debonair Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News Tuesday evening, and just when I was about to turn the channel - a teaser for a MAJORLY IMPORTANT story for any woman on birth control! "Oh my!" I thought. Better tune in!

Apparently, women who have used oral contraceptives for over a year are at increased risk of atherosclerosis - or plaque buildup in the arteries. I wish I could link to the broadcast of that segment, but for some reason, when I click on NBC's link, it never opens - maybe others will have better luck...

If you can't open it either and it's lost forever, take my word for it - the segment was one of the most dramatic things I've ever seen. The woman reporting urged EVERY WOMAN IN AMERICA WHO IS TAKING ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES to CALL YOUR GYNECOLOGIST RIGHT AWAY! MONITOR your cholesterol and blood pressure!! OH MY GOD!! GO TO YOUR DOCTOR! ANY DOCTOR! RIGHT AWAY! GO NOW!! LORD HAVE MERCY, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

Holy shit. Like I didn't already know my smoking habits are a big no-no with my birth control - now this?! I've been on the pill for seven years, and my blood pressure/cholesterol/overall health is a-ok....am I just lucky? According to this nut, I should be pushing up daisies (Or at least spending the rest of my life in assisted living for irresponsible 20-somethings who thought they were invincible and screwed up big time).

Well, I put my mind at ease after reading the actual news story - with quotes from Ernst Rietzschel, the head researcher who led the study.

"Rietzschel said he did not think the findings should trigger alarms about the safety of the pill. 'Bottom line - don't discontinue your pill suddenly. Don't panic. Don't call your gynecologist tomorrow morning,' Rietzschel said."

Hmm. That doesn't exactly sound like the call to action that woman on NBC was spewing Tuesday night....

But as long as mainstream media can raise our fears to frenzy status, we'll spend the money to calm ourselves down....

For more info on just how fucked up your TV is, visit FAIR.

Benazir Bhutto Under House Arrest

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf ordered opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, under house arrest this morning. Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on November 3 (in other words, martial law), and has been receiving heavy criticism from Bhutto and her supporters, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of Pakistan back in 1988. Unfortunately, she was removed on corruption charges that are still being investigated...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gone Daddy Gone

A friend of mine brought this story to my attention, and it sparked some great conversation...

Basically, some "men's rights activists" are saying if a woman legally has a choice to keep a pregnancy, end it, adopt, etc., then a man should be able to choose if he wants to pay child support.

In this particular case, the woman knew her partner did not want children, and as far as she knew (I'd like to know more details here), she was unable to get pregnant due to a medical condition.

Apparently, she beat the odds and - voila - she is with child.

To be honest, when my friend first told me about this story, I laughed. A lot. It all just seemed too ridiculous to bring before the courts. Apparently, the judge thought so, too...

"State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men like Dubay is outweighed by society's interest in ensuring that children get financial support from two parents."

This case brings up a good point that many feminists don't want to talk about: men's involvement in child-creating, bearing, and rearing.

In a perfectly stable, loving relationship with open communication (which seems incredibly rare nowadays), if the woman becomes pregnant, she will most likely talk over her options with her partner. It's the respectful thing to do, but really, the final choice should be the woman's, since she bears most of the responsibility of carrying, birthing and rearing the child. This all goes on in her body, not his.

However, when I was discussing this story yesterday, it occurred to me how many women don't want their men involved at all in talks of pregnancy - yet when the child arrives, they're upset that men aren't very involved or helpful fathers.

Not really sure if there's a good answer for this...just bringing up a point...

Monday, November 5, 2007

The case for biology.

I'm starting to read Louann Brizendine's "The Female Brain" (saw it at Border's and couldn't help myself). She's a neuropsychiatrist, graduated from Yale and UC Berkeley, taught at Harvard Med School - hence, I figure she knows her stuff.

According to Brizendine, there is scientific proof that women's brains are wired waaay differently than men, and that there are actual biological tendencies at work - like the need to nurture, what a woman looks for in a potential mate, etc.

I really can't argue with science, but I personally think our society/culture also has a lot to do with how men and women behave - and Brizendine agrees (she also mentions in her introduction that she was active during the second wave of the feminist movement, so at least I know she's coming from somewhat of a good place).

But back to the scientific stuff, apparently women put their efforts toward creating close relationships and bonds with people; men are more interested in being at the top of their social group. Women are also more adept in communication, speaking more often and faster than men, who can go for hours without verbal exchanges. Hormones play a huge role, as well - especially when a girl enters puberty and estrogen levels surge. Even during a woman's normal menstrual cycle, one week she's sharp, witty and on top of the world - the next, she's slower, irritable, and her self-esteem hangs by a thread. Most women can relate: all of the sudden, your partner thinks you're ugly, your friends hate you, and why did your boss hire you for this job anyway? Some men are quick to label this as completely irrational female craziness - but it's biology.

Now, I know a lot of feminists loathe the word "biology" - it's the anti-feminist explanation for sexism, a way to generalize men and women and hold them to standards for what each sex should be doing. I think completely relying on biology to tell us about men and women is ridiculous, but so is completely ignoring it. As humans on Earth, we don't operate in a vacuum. Culture and society have changed incredibly since the Stone Age - there are certain biological tendencies and behaviors that are probably still present, but maybe we don't quite need anymore for basic survival.

Men and women are inherently different - I will argue that til I'm blue in the face - but where my feminism comes from is the belief that one is not better than the other.