Saturday, April 26, 2014

White working-class women should be single mums?

There is an article at Slate titled "Just say no: for white working-class women, it makes sense to stay single mothers".

There are some good points made in the article. The gist of the argument is that employment prospects for women have risen over the past few decades, whereas those of working-class men in the US have declined. Therefore, there is a much smaller pool of potential breadwinning partners for white working-class women. Those men who actually are in a good position to marry have so much choice that they're in no hurry to settle down. Rather than marrying a man who will be, in effect, a dependent, white working-class women are making the "logical" choice to become single mothers.

I can't vouch for how accurately the article portrays the situation facing young women. What is interesting, though, are the remedies proposed.

The writers of the article are adamant that women should still have the autonomy to raise children by themselves via state aid if they so choose:
Those who would promote marriage seek to do so largely by taking away Lily’s independence...Charles Murray would cut programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, early childhood education and child care, mandatory family leave, and other policies that make it easier for women like Lily to raise a child on their own.

So what do the writers recommend? Well, this:
In our view what would make the most difference to this unfair marriage market are  policies that would increase the number and quality of jobs available to working class men, retraining and unemployment benefits that fill in the gaps between jobs, and ongoing support for women’s autonomy.

Let me say, first, that it's a step forward that white working-class men are not being portrayed as privileged oppressors but instead as a group that is losing out in significant ways in modern society. It's true, as well, that it's important that quality jobs be offered to these men to allow them to play a breadwinning role within a family.

But I doubt that you will ever have a stable culture of family life when female autonomy is made such a moral aim. If young women are told that it is their right, as an autonomous individual, to raise a child alone supported by the state rather than by a husband, then some will inevitably take that option (see here for an extreme example of this).

The idea that female autonomy is untouchable seems to run deep: KJ Dell'Antonia wrote a column criticising the Slate article, but even she asserted that,
Should working-class women (or, for that matter, all men and women) be able to raise children alone? Absolutely, and the more we tailor policies, school hours and cultural expectations to reflect the fact that many parents are both solo breadwinner and single caregiver, the better off all families will be.

But if it's OK to decide to raise a child alone, then what is wrong with the trend for white working-class women to do so? KJ Dell'Antonia reaches for the "it's not an authentic choice" option:
No parent “should” raise children alone unless it is a real choice, not a choice created by a culture that is determinedly setting so many young people adrift after high school without the wherewithal to envision, plan for or create a better life for themselves.

She then goes on to provide evidence of how outcomes for children in single mother homes are statistically worse than for other children, particularly for boys (but this then raises the question of whether a government should encourage single parenthood through its welfare policies - why do this if the outcomes for children are, on average, worse?).

It seems we've reached an interesting moment in politics. It is now being recognised on the left that white working-class men have been left behind to the point that they are now in a poor position to marry. That then means that women have to raise and support children by themselves (and with state aid). Perhaps these leftist writers recognise that autonomy for these women is not such an easy or happy path - or perhaps they are hesitating at the brink of accepting a regress to societies in which men exist unproductively on the margins.


  1. This is slightly off topic, but I think traditionalists should use the phrase "single mom" only under compulsion. I know a woman who has raised children after her husband was killed in battle, and when I once heard her described as a "single mom," the full rottenness of that word hit me. She is a widow, and more than that, a war widow, and she is being classified with women who have become mothers "without benefit of clergy," as we used to say. That isn't right. My sense is that liberals, as a rule, want us to focus exclusively on the predicament some poor soul has gotten himself/herself into, whereas we conservatives want to know how they got there. For us, how they got there is going to affect how eager we are to help them get out of that predicament. If a man is an invalid because his leg was crushed by a falling tree, I daresay we are more sympathetic and inclined to charity than we would be if it were crushed because he, while drunk, fell out of a tree. Widows and women divorced by their husbands deserve our sympathy, women who have divorced their husbands on frivolous grounds and women impregnated by some dude--not so much.

  2. It's a form of class warfare. The richest in the USA are all modern-post modern, liberal, quasi secular-religious hybrids and they have extreme political clout. Hence, they want to give bad advice to their "opponents" and utterly destroy them. This article discusses liberal dominance of powerful influential sectors such as media, academia, finance -->

    The hilarious thing is that the feminist idiot in that article discussed how modern U.S. family law is bad for lower middle to working class white men and has penalized them, yet is tailored to the most upper-class ones (e.g. secular Jews, and liberal white men). If that isn't an open admission that the rulers of academia, media and finance are all liberal men, then I don't know what is.

    What feminist liberal women are often railing against is the fact that liberal men such as Bloomberg, Soros and Gates are all today's rulers, so their insidious fictitious "patriarchal enemy" is actually their good old allies. In reality, feminist policies target the apolitical, independent or more conservative (depending on the region) lower middle classes the most.

  3. Affirmative action policies for women tend to negatively affect lower to middle class men the most, the same way heavy taxation rates targets smaller businesses instead of big corporations (whom can afford high taxes, off-shoring to foreign markets and Human Resource departments focused on diversity policies) and IRS scrutiny affects non-liberal groups more. It doesn't affect powerful liberal men, just their opponents and blocks access for others to gain power and influence in media, academia, finance, and education (those who are decidedly, in Mencious Moldbug's terminology, not part of the "Cathedral", or in my opinion the more accurate term "Synagogue"). Liberal feminist women are truly bafoons, because they are brainwashed women being used as tools by their liberal male allies.

  4. This is a disgusting distortion of the English language. Forcing others to give you stuff does not make you "autonomous", and the fact that somebody isn't paying for your choices does not make your choices less real.

  5. The stupidity in desiring to raise children "alone" can only really come from those never having raised children. Not to mention that the idea of Western females raising children "alone" is laughably fallacious. It's far more likely that a Western male would have to actually raise his child(ren) alone and this would be no burning desire of his, but more likely one of sheer necessity.

  6. The autonomy reason is hollow as remarked on by Wendell Berry.

    Why would any woman who would refuse, properly, to take the marital vow of obedience (on the ground, presumably, that subservience to a mere human being is beneath human dignity) then regard as “liberating” a job that puts her under the authority of a boss (man or woman) whose authority specifically requires and expects obedience?

  7. I could just imagine Sir Humphrey on hearing of the introduction of the single mother's pension, 'but, but it's the thin edge of the wedge!'
    Would he have been wrong?
    40 or so years later, it's gone from a safety net for destitute women to a lifestyle choice where taxpayers money (most of which is paid by men) is appropriated to support women's 'lifestyle choices'.
    If we want to support marriage, how about just abolishing it?

  8. oops---the abolishing it referred to the single mother's pension of course.

  9. So why has it come to pass that women feel compelled to work, placing them under financial pressure and undermining their ability to live good lives on a single income? Frankly, it's the depredations of Australia's 'right' - always looking to screw down the wages of Australian workers and keep house prices inflating at a rate that lines their own pockets. In the past you had people reviled by the Right, like 'Joe' Chamberlain in the West Australian ALP (ironically a guru to 'Baghdad' Bill Hartley) who argued that men should be paid a living wage (ie one sufficient to support a wife and kids) and that women were better suited - generally - to raising a family. But more recently, such ideas have been rejected and for an Oz family to own their own home requires two incomes. Period. The rest is history.
    If you've ever whined about 'greedy' unions or the cost of labour in Australia; then I say thanks very much - you helped create the dilemma that afflicts Australia's working class women and makes family life so financially - and socially - difficult.