LA Times Posits a ‘Motherhood Penalty’ and a ‘Fatherhood Bonus’

November 16th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
We often see the superior sensibilities of everyday people to those of elite opinion makers.  Read almost any article on any subject and, taken together, the comments about it will frequently display greater knowledge of the subject matter and more balanced views than that of the writer.

That phenomenon is on display here (Los Angeles Times, 8/26/11).  The Los Angeles Times is one of the major papers in the country.  It has a large circulation and is generally well-respected.  So it clearly qualifies as one of those elite opinion-makers I referred to above.  And so, what appears on the editorial pages of the Times matters. 
If Noam Chomsky is correct, and I believe he is, that one of the jobs of the news media is to “manufacture consent” of the people for elite policies, the Times can be seen to be carrying out its mission.

Setting aside its barely literate prose, the piece is small monument to the type of “woe is us” feminism that no longer deserves a place in mainstream public discourse.  Put simply, it recycles claims and arguments that were long ago proven to be fallacious.

For example, before she really gets warmed up the writer unquestioningly refers to this transparently false concept: “Among the topics covered in Hanna Rosin’s article was how women came to dominate the workforce while men sat on the sidelines lamenting the loss of blue-collar jobs.”

Never mind the fact that Rosin’s piece, while seriously flawed, made no such blanket assertion.  Apparently, the Times writer isn’t comfortable with nuance, opting for outright falsehood as being more congenial to her theme.

“Women came to dominate the workforce, while men sat on the sidelines…”  Really?  A five-minute pass through the Bureau of Labor Statistics website would disabuse anyone of the notion that women or men do either of the things claimed.  In fact, there are between six and seven million more men than women employed in the United States.  In fact, of those women who are employed, about ten million more hold only part-time jobs than do men.  And in fact men earn more than women due in part to working more hours.

But the Times writer isn’t about to let facts intrude on her twin narrative of female nobility and victimization.  As such the article is nothing but a rehash of notions that are so outworn that even Lisa Belkin, when she was at the New York Times, abjured them not long ago.

And just in case you thought the piece had neglected misandry in its desire to mislead, you needn’t have worried.  Note the claim that men “sat on the sidelines lamenting the loss of blue collar jobs.”  You see, when men complain about government policies that ship their jobs overseas, they’re feckless wimps; when women complain about imaginary slights, they’re fearless warriors for gender equality.  Sometimes the hypocrisy is beyond belief.

The “observations and provocations” of the piece aren’t the author’s at all.  They’re retreads of Eve Weinbaum’s and Rachel Roth’s who in turn reprise the usual radical feminist nonsense.  The wage gap.  How many times must it be said that the wage gap is due to women’s behavior, not discrimination?  Women earn less because they work less, and at lower-paying jobs.  Period.  Those two factors account for almost all the gap between men’s and women’s earnings, as countless studies have shown.

The “second shift.”  The claim that mothers work a second shift, i.e. a full day at the plant or office and then must come home and do domestic work and childcare while hubby sits on the couch has been disproved by studies, surveys and databases for decades now.  The simple fact is that women pare back their hours at work in order to care for children, while men take up their earnings slack.  When paid and unpaid work are aggregated, men and women work the same number of hours.  That’s true not only in the U.S. but in all the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as Dr. Catherine Hakim has demonstrated.

Again, women aren’t victims of callous men, however much feminist commentators would like them to be.

Then there’s something called the “motherhood penalty” and its counterpart, the “fatherhood bonus” that are just too silly to even discuss.  Neither term is ever defined, explained or justified, so we’re left to guess just what the authors might mean by them.  What’s certain is that women from all walks of life, including the best educated, opt out of paid work to do childcare.  When they do, they don’t get paid as much as when they’re working.  To some, that’s a “penalty;” to others, it’s a consequence of one’s own rational behavior.

I won’t say too much about the plainly nonsensical notion that there’s something called a “fatherhood bonus.”  Suffice it to say that losing his child in a divorce that he had no say in filing when he’d done no wrong and being made to pay for the privilege is not a “bonus” for any father.  But if I’m wrong, I know plenty of fathers who’d be glad to trade in their “fatherhood bonus” for their ex’s “motherhood penalty.”

After all, if mothers pay a penalty for motherhood, why do so many of them opt out of the workplace to do it?  Weinbaum and Roth seem to think women aren’t rational.  But there they are, almost six million stay-at-home moms according to the extremely conservative figures of the U.S. Census Bureau.  Then there all those mothers who drop out of the workplace part of the time to care for their kids.  If they’re being penalized, why would they do that?

Unsurprisingly, both the linked-to piece and the Weinbaum/Roth article are little but drawn-out whines about largely non-existent discrimination and the failure of everyday women to behave as the authors desire them to.

And so we come to the comments that, as I said, show a level of common sense, fact-based reasoning, fairness and balance that makes a striking contrast with the article itself.

Here’s “LindaB”:

And BTW, the overwhelming majority of the income disparity between males and females in modern America has nothing to do with gender discrimination. Rather, more women than men make CHOICES to take jobs and pursue career paths that offer them greater flexibility to balance family, work and other priorities.

“Disbelief” adds:

Personally…I choose not to have kids and to get ahead in my career. But I have total respect for a woman that chooses the opposite, or some combination of the two. And that might mean that she makes less money, but enjoys time with her family. Good for her.

Cries of “gender discrimination” are just ways to explain away one’s own personal shortcomings.

“Edward Norton” and “samstagskind” wonder why feminists generally and this article in particular don’t pay attention to human beings instead of only women.

Feminists would be given more credibility if the advantages and disadvantages of BOTH males and females were fairly weighed.  Instead, it’s all about how we can better the lot of females, and females only.  Even the name, feminism, signifies one gender only…

We’ve never pushed so hard to separate out into “groups of like people” to beat down and step on every other group and individual to declare the rights of our “groups of like people” as superior, or needing to be recognized, or more important than others.

As I said, the L.A. Times is an important piece of the apparatus for manufacturing consent.  Articles like Weinbaum/Roth’s are an attempt to do just that.  In the unlikely event the paper runs a counterpoint op-ed explaining its many fallacies and giving balanced views of the issues raised, I’ll retract that statement, but I won’ hold my breath.

What’s remarkable is that, despite decades of disinformation, people have begun to get the message – that feminist organizations and the feminist commentariat aren’t about equality but about “more for us.”  The victim card has worked well for them over the years, and there was a time that it was appropriately played, but no longer.  With each passing year it becomes harder and harder to convince people that privileged white women with college degrees and all the opportunity anyone could want are slaves to a pitiless patriarchy.  Feminism needs to change its tune or risk irrelevance.

Thanks to Paul for the heads-up.

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