September 8, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Hard on the heels of yesterday’s post about feminist Jai Breitnauer trying, and generally failing, to understand the struggle most people go through in establishing a sensible work-life balance, comes this (Daily Mail, 9/5/17). Lacking any reference to statistics on the matter, she was happy to believe that, if men would just do more childcare and domestic work, all would be well in the garden. As I detailed, that is wrong on a number of levels.

The Daily Mail piece is very much the flip side of Breitnauer’s. It reports that, in the U.K. at least, the millennial generation is turning toward the traditional far more than did their parents.

Born between the early Eighties and late Nineties, millennials are from a generation that celebrates its liberal values, priding itself on equality in all things — especially between the genders. But lately, there has been a sense of rebellion among the ranks.

Why? Increasing numbers of high-flying millennial women are turning their backs on the workplace to be stay-at-home mothers.

Recent studies have found that young adults are more likely than their parents to support traditional gender roles, with a study published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly finding that 32 per cent of millennials believe men are best suited to being breadwinners and women homemakers. This figure is up an incredible 27 per cent from the Nineties.

The figures tie in with those showing the popularity of marriage is rising after 40 years' decline and that millennials are more socially conservative than previous generations.

Now, before anyone gets too excited, those 32% of millennials leave 68% who either don’t hold those opinions or aren’t committed one way or another. So it’s not as if we’ll all be living a Leave It To Beaver existence any time soon.

Still, the new data should come as no surprise. After all, a great many researchers, like Dr. Catherine Hakim for one, have been pointing out for years that even “high-flying” women often tend to opt out of paid work when the first child comes along. Often enough, they stay out of the workforce altogether or return at greatly reduced hours. Hakim’s data on what men and women value indicates overwhelming preference of men over women for careers and paid work.

So the fact that more millennial women are walking away from the office and into the nursery should surprise precisely no one. Women are biochemically attached to their offspring and no sensible person should expect them to simply ignore the clarion call of motherhood just because feminist dogma demands that they do. Indeed, many of the new generation have, figuratively, “been there, done that,” and found it wanting.

So why do utterly modern young women like Katie hold such old-fashioned views on marriage and family life?

For many millennial women, the key lies in their own childhoods. Having watched their working mothers attempt the juggling act of 'having it all' — and seen them dropping a few balls in the process — they're reluctant even to try to combine motherhood with a demanding career.

'My mum worked full-time when she had me and was head of the department by the time my brother and sister were born,' says Katie. 'We often had child-minders in the morning before school and after school, too, because of her hours.'

Such arrangements are par for the course for the working mother — an expensive merry-go-round of childcare and stress that young women such as Katie, Cathy and Emily are in no hurry to leap on.

Katie says: 'I found the idea that "you can have it all" to be a complete myth.'

But it’s not just the negatives that drive their decision to adopt traditional lifestyles, there are upsides as well. For example, while women often take strongly to motherhood, men in traditional relationships seem to feel more validated in the role of exclusive breadwinner. And when both partners are happier, it seems their sex lives improve.

A 2013 study found that when men did 'feminine' chores around the house — such as washing, cooking or vacuuming — couples had sex 1.5 fewer times a month than when men did traditionally 'masculine' jobs, such as mending the car or mowing the lawn.

The women also reported greater sexual satisfaction if their husband performed more masculine tasks.

Of course the feminist discourse on the matter had some valid points. If Mom has no work skills or experience, what happens if Dad is no longer available? What happens if he divorces Mom or dies or becomes disabled? Of course 70% of divorces are filed by women, so the chances of Dad doing so are pretty slim and few married men die very long before their time or are so disabled they can’t work. But still, a woman’s decision to opt out of paid work altogether isn’t without its risks.

What the article doesn’t mention is that, to a great degree, this trend is in part due to the very freedom women now enjoy. Robust sets of data demonstrate that, the freer women are, the more likely they are to choose typically “women’s” jobs or no jobs at all. They’re also far more likely to work part-time. That’s the case in Sweden and Norway, for example, countries in which women are highly educated, equal to men in every way (except the requirement to do military service) and encouraged at every turn to make their own free choices.

And they do. The choices they make look very much like those of the women in the Daily Mail article. The women in those countries tend to gravitate toward “women’s jobs” like teaching, nursing, psychology and the like. Plus, they show a marked disinclination to spend as much time in paid employment as do the men in those countries.

Imagine that! When women are free and equal, they behave like women and not like men. As Pokey Prothero famously asked, “Who’da thunk it?”

The feminist assumption, made for a couple of hundred years or longer, that women are just men waiting to happen is, or course, wrong. They’re not. Is it too much to hope that the millennial generation is once and for all giving the lie to that feminist notion?

 

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