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September 28, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

I’ve written couple of times recently about a phenomenon that’s more and more gotten my attention and tends to explain a lot of the odd inconsistencies we see in American life and society. Put simply, society has stalled on the way toward gender equality. That’s partly because of institutional barriers to equality and partly because men and women seem to be opting for gendered roles, much as they always have. Obviously, that has a tremendous impact on the ever-strengthening movement toward equality in parenting.

The mainstream news media are loathe to mention the fact, preferring a watered-down feminism to information pertinent to the subject. So we get a lot of the “You go grrl!” type of narratives that, however uplifting they may be to some, reflect little about our 21st-century culture. So, we’ll read articles that tell us that, when asked, people in their 20s say they plan to pursue egalitarian marriages, i.e. those in which Mom and Dad do roughly equal amounts of the earning and the childcare. But then we notice that those are only statements of aspiration and that when the baby is born, it’s still Dad who does most of the earning and Mom who takes time off to care for the child and never quite gets back into the swing of working and earning even when little Andy or Jenny is in school all day.

Or there are the articles gushing about the fact that 40% of households now have a woman as the chief breadwinner. Surely that’s an indication that women are making great strides toward financial equality with men, right? Nope. That 40% figure is accurate enough, but closer examination reveals that the main reason there are so many female breadwinners is that, in those families, they’re the only breadwinners. The 40% figure, far from being an uplifting sign of growing equality, actually reveals the depressing facts of continuing high rates of single-motherhood and fatherlessness. When we look only at married women, only 13% of them out-earn their husbands. That compares with 8% back in 1960, i.e. little change.

And of course there’s the fact that stay-at-home mothers outnumber stay-at-home dads by about six million to 200,000, a 30:1 ratio.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the narrative of gender equality isn’t much borne out by facts. Yes, women far outnumber men on college campuses, but those women too have the tendency to drop out of work in favor of childcare as a great many studies of women in a wide variety of professional fields demonstrate.

So now there’s this article (Huffington Post, 9/25/14). It touches on a study by the Pew Center for Research that asks the question why unmarried men and women haven’t yet tied the knot.

For the first time in America, single adults outnumber the married.

However, despite the decline in marriage rates, new data from the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of those adults who have never married still plan to, and an additional 32 percent are considering it.

So what's stopping them?

Not surprisingly, almost a third of the participants surveyed by Pew said they were still single because they had not found the right person. Which begs the question, what are single men and women looking for when choosing a spouse?

According to Pew, it varies between the genders.

Sixty-two percent of men said finding a partner who shared similar ideas about having and raising children was the most desirable trait in a future spouse. Whereas a whopping 78 percent of women said finding a partner with a steady job was most important.

That 78% compared with only 46% of men who said the same. In other words, there’s a great distance between men and women on the subject of what they expect their future spouses to contribute to their families. In the most traditional of ways, women want their future husbands to be good earners, but men don’t much care about the same from women. It doesn’t get much more “Leave it to Beaver” than that. Those responses aren’t those of men and women who’ve dramatically altered the usual gender roles. On the contrary, those responses precisely conform to those roles – man as earner, woman as mommy.

Sadly, the movement for gender equality in family courts can’t take much encouragement from those sorts of attitudes. Judges are already too imbued with the idea that fathers can’t and shouldn’t care for children without litigants coming into their courts with the same attitude. Women look first to men’s wallets before marriage, so why should they change when a couple’s relationship hits the skids? We know that more and more, men want to take an active role in childcare and that more and more of them are doing so. Bureau of Labor Statistics time use surveys indicate that time spent in childcare is close to equal even if time spent in paid work is still dominated by men. But time and again we see that it matters little to judges what Dad did to prove his parental worth. As Canadian researcher Paul Millar all too poignantly notes, what predicts child custody throughout the English-speaking world is the sex of the parent. Overwhelmingly, mothers get custody of kids and dads don’t, irrespective of everything else.

The linked-to article having appeared in the Huffington Post, we weren’t surprised to see it desperately trying to peddle the latest MSM nonsense narrative – that women can’t find good men to marry. Of course by “good,” they mean employed and with good prospects for future earning.

Unfortunately, considering the recent state of the labor market, it may be hard for single women to find employed single men, one of several factors contributing to the low marriage rate.

But of course that’s just not true, at least outside the fevered imagination of Huffington Post writers and others of the “women as perpetual victims” crowd. For those interested in reality, there’s this (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9/5/14). It’s the employment data from the BLS through the end of August and what it shows is that, as usual, at all ages, men far outnumber women in the labor force and among the ranks of the employed. The figures for both are 53.2% male, 46.8% female for Americans over the age of 16. In both categories, the number of men is higher than the number of women by about 10 million.

And when we get into unmarried men and women with jobs, the numbers are a statistical dead heat. About 33.4 million single men have jobs versus about 35.2 million single women.

So where does Huffington Post (or anyone else) get the idea that women can’t find an employed man when there’s almost exactly one unmarried man with a job for every unmarried woman with one? Well, it turns out that’s not what the Pew Center report said at all.

"If all never-married young women in 2012 wanted to find a young employed man who had also never been married, nine percent of them would fail, simply because there are not enough men in the target group," the report stated.

Aye, there’s the rub. It may in fact be that, if women are further narrowing the field of men they deem eligible for marriage with the requirement that they’ve not been previously married, then it may also be that there’s a slight dearth (9%) of men. But of course all we have to do is consult the Pew Center’s own chart to see that that requirement is nowhere on the list of either men or women. They don’t seem to care if Mr. or Mrs. Hopefully Right has been married before or not. So the statement quoted above may be true, but it’s simply irrelevant to the marriage prospects of either sex.

But we wouldn’t expect the Huffington Post to notice or care about obvious matters of fact that undermine their narrative of women’s victimization. Nor would we expect it to grasp the apparent fact that men and women both seem to be opting out of the gender-equality revolution.

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Comments   

0 #2 Gender RolesPhillip 2014-10-02 04:20
Actually, there have been numerous studies, both formal and less so, that show males and females prefer (and, if given the choice, would choose) "traditional" roles. Unfortunately, dual incomes are nearly required today for most families to survive, thanks in large part to governmental over-spending and the results to the economy as well as our individual budgets.

With the way fathers are treated in most family courts, I almost find it surprising that men continue to engage in ... such things. Yes, there remains considerable gender bias.
0 #1 Gender Rolesjstiles 2014-09-29 18:47
Men and women have historically "opted" for traditional gender roles as a matter of survival, not choice. To even use the word "opting" with respect to gender roles for any period beyond the last century is silly. Much of the world's inhabitants are still not anchored to economies sufficiently modern to allow parenting "choices".

You've made the inference (at the very least) many times that men and women generally prefer "traditional" gendered roles, but there is no science, whatsoever, to support this argument. It's just traditionalist wishful thinking. Yes, of the breadwinner households, most homemakers are women. So what?

With the way men are treated in "family" court, are you really surprised there aren't more stay-at-home dads? And with the way women are coddled by the system shouldn't housewives vastly outnumber househusbands? Isn't it possible that "institutional" barriers swamp the desires of equality many 20-somethings are saying they want?

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