I can sum up my opinion about this pretty interesting Jezebel article with one sentence to this Barnard student’s mother: back off and let your daughter have her own life, lady. Unless you’re willing to pay $11,000 a year for six years?
One thing, as a guy, that’s always bugged the ever-loving hell out of me is the fact that women basically start getting crap from everybody and their mom (sometimes literally) about popping out a kid by the time they get their first period. “You know, you can’t have everything” is a common refrain. It’s stupid and it goes hand-in-hand with our general social retardation about gender roles, because the male equivalent is “Settle down and get married so you can pop out a kid and work yourself half to death.” Did feminism not happen or something when I wasn’t looking?
I speak as somebody who was forced, by layoffs, to be the sole breadwinner of a two-person household a few years ago, when the economy was good, I had a decent office job, and two other roommates to help shoulder the rent: “traditional” gender roles suck, and they suck for both men and women. Seriously. Anybody who is unmarried and insists otherwise, go ahead. Support your significant other for a month. Be ready to move out by the end of it, though.
Secondly, the reason a woman is constantly told she has to choose between family and career is because she keeps getting shafted on the support front. Women who reject it as a false choice, which it is, are getting punished for trying. For example, I firmly believe we could largely erase the wage gap with one simple legal change: making the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a Clinton-era policy that allowed women to give birth without losing their jobs, paid leave. Corporations would scream in horror at the very idea, but you know what? Babies cost, and you can pay the three months of wages.
And if she does have a kid, well, she’d better hope she can work from home. If you’ve been to We Are The 99 Percent, an ongoing and depressing theme is women noting that they have to quit their jobs as child care costs would wipe out any money they’d make, so they may as well stay at home. Child care, on average, costs $11,000 a freaking year.
So why am I, as somebody with a penis, so ticked about this? Because about half my male friends, gay and straight, are married with children, and a lot of them have to make this false choice right along with their spouses. They would go back and do it all again: they love their wives and they love their kids. But I see their Facebook statuses; it’s about taking second jobs, working sixty hour weeks, never seeing their families, and staying in jobs they absolutely hate.
So, yeah, Margaret Boykin, if you’re reading, tell your mom, from me: step off. It’s not 1950 anymore. Women shouldn’t be leaned on to have kids if they don’t want them or can’t afford them. That simple.