November 1, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Why is it that every time Anne-Marie Slaughter writes a piece for a mainstream publication, she feels compelled to tell us at every turn what “we need” to do (Time)? And why is it that, having thus instructed us, she never explains why “we need” to do the things she says? It’s an irritating habit of hers, but far more so is the fact that she simply fails to grasp even basic information about her chose topic, that invariably being gender equality.
Now, to be fair, what she does grasp is what former NOW president, Karen DeCrow understood back in the early 80s, that, in order for women to gain power in the workplace, they must cede power at home. No person, woman or man, can “have it all,” if by that we mean a hugely successful career and being a stay-at-home parent. No one has the time or the energy to accomplish both.
But Slaughter is simply ignorant of a lot of pertinent information and too caught up in feminist assumptions to offer much to readers. Most importantly, she assumes that women want what men have, i.e. hegemony in the workplace. Overwhelmingly they don’t. After 50 years or so of feminist hectoring of women to do more paid and less domestic work, women still lag behind men in virtually every category related to employment. About 10 million fewer U.S. women than men are employed. Workforce figures show women lagging behind men’s participation by 14 percentage points. And far more women than men who do have a job work part time. And a whopping 67% of working mothers say they’d prefer to work less than they do, according to Pew Research (Time, 6/12/13).
Those are facts. They powerfully dispute the notion, peddled for decades, that women are simply men in disguise, just waiting for an opportunity to leave their kids behind and flee joyfully to the corporate grind.
There are others. Mothers still spend more time on childcare activities every day than do fathers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s extremely restrictive definition of “stay-at-home parent,” there are about 30 times as many such mothers as fathers (6 million to 190,000). When Judith Warner interviewed 22 highly educated women who’d held high-paying professional jobs, but who’d opted out of work in favor of childcare, only one said she’d even consider returning to her former high-stress job. All the rest were content to either not work at all or to do so at much lower-paying/lower-stress positions. Not one voiced concern about living mostly or altogether off their husband’s earnings.
Of course some women toil in male-dominated vineyards, eschewing the pleasures of motherhood, or at least primary parenthood, but believe me, if that was really what women wanted, they’d have achieved much more by now than they have.
The reason for the data referred to above and much more is that women have always placed a priority on motherhood. They’ve done that for one simple reason – hormones. Caring for human infants is obviously necessary to the survival of the species, but has never been in the interests of the adults on whom those infants rely. Children eat, but don’t procure food. Lactating females require up to three times the calories that other females do. Children are slow and weak and therefore attract predators.
Social mammals were able to evolve because a cocktail of hormones is stimulated during a female’s pregnancy and afterward. Those hormones, like oxytocin, prolactin, estradiol, cortisol, etc., cause parenting behavior that detracts from adults’ ability to lead normal adult lives.
On that subject, Slaughter is shockingly ignorant.
Once again, biology rears its controversial head here. Women produce big doses of the “love hormone,” oxytocin, during labor, which plays a part in that magic moment when you look into your baby’s face and your world shifts under your feet. Men don’t.
No, Ms. Slaughter, actually they do, as this article reports (Medical Express, 4/20/16).
Oxytocin, commonly heralded as the bonding hormone, is known to be released in large amounts during birth and breastfeeding to help regulate maternal bonding in mammals. However, less well known is that fathers experience rises in oxytocin equal to mothers as a result of interacting with their infants.
Better yet, she could have read this important study (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, No. 27, 2014). It demonstrates that oxytocin behaves differently in fathers than in mothers due to having receptors in different areas of the brain. So, what many people have observed many times – that fathers and mothers tend to parent differently – is borne out by science.
Slaughter’s ignorance of basic information about her chosen subject is inexcusable, but she doesn’t stop there.
In nature only 5 percent of male mammals are engaged fathers; the other 95 percent inseminate and depart.
Yes, and guess which species is among that 5%. That’s right, it’s homo sapiens, a fact strangely ignored by Slaughter. Why is she so uninformed about the basics? It’s hard to know, but I’d say her prefatory statement above, “biology rears its controversial head,” holds a clue.
In whose world is biology “controversial?” Biological facts aren’t controversial, they just are. The only controversy surrounding them is that peddled by so much popular discourse – that sex is simply a matter of social conditioning. To anyone who believes that claptrap, I can see that biology might pose serious problems, contradicting as it does that person’s ideological construct of the sexes. But to those on planet Earth, it’s necessary to know biology if one is to understand men and women. Why do I even need to say that?
Needless to say, a person who apparently knows none of the science relative to her topic and who so mistrusts biology isn’t the best person to tell us what “we need” to do about male and female roles in society. In fact, there’s so much wrong with Slaughter’s piece, I can’t deal with it all in one post, so, more on this tomorrow.
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