"The real feminist revolution has yet to happen"


I always cringe when males try to explain what a better feminism would be. So I was cringing mightily when I saw this article by young male Willis Krumholz and old male Robert Delahunty.

It's not terribly bad; it's just not to the point. Their argument is that the pro-life forces should put pressure on the American workplace to make it easier for women to combine work and reproduction. So, maternity leave, axing welfare's marriage penalties, a better deal for part-time workers. I'm totally for all of that, but it's all just a bandaid over a serious wound, to my mind.

The authors get my hopes up when they say, "The truer feminism tells women they can, and should, own their fate without disowning their biology. The real feminist revolution has yet to happen." Yes, yes, that is absolutely right!--but not in the way the authors intend. The authors intend for mothers to be dependent on a system that can never appreciate their worth. Yes, here we are back at femnist economics 101: women's unpaid caregiving labor undergirds the entire American workplace, and the authors don't see that. They are pleading with employers to treat women more accommodatingly due to women's reproductive burdens without even seeing that these employers could not even operate their business for a profit without all that women's unpaid caregiving labor provides them.

A few years back, folks talked about how state-built infrastructure, such as roads and rails, made business possible and how business should pony up something in return for this foundation. Of course, the swift rebuttal was that employers pay taxes and provide jobs for other citizens.

But let's talk about how mother-built infrastructure makes business possible. If mothers don't provide that unpaid caregiving labor, there's no new workers, period. Even beyond this, there would be sub-par education of workers. There would be workers who have not the least sense of responsibility or accountability. There would be unhealthy workers. In short, every bit of human capital used by a business to generate a profit is in some way derived from the unpaid caregiving labor of mothers--from janitors all the way up to CEOs.

Sooo . . . what exactly do businesses do to repay this debt? Nothing. The authors of this piece believe the proper repayment is to make it easier for mothers to work for these same employers. I'm just shaking my head here. It goes so, so much farther than this that it's not even funny. The COVID-19 pandemic made it plain what happens when women's unpaid work is overlooked for its importance to everything in the economic system.

And we can see how this all plays out just by looking at the US birth rate, which is now sub-replacement. Women are supposed to be dutiful employees as well as produce children gratis so that the economic system can chug along. Uh, no.

So, yes, absolutely, "The truer feminism tells women they can, and should, own their fate without disowning their biology. The real feminist revolution has yet to happen." But paid maternity leave is not a revolution, not by a long shot. My final big contribution in this lifetime will be a roadmap for that revolution. Stay tuned . . .