Updated at the bottom!
Then there was Ann Romney’s speech. I think Pamela did an excellent job of covering it.
The economy tanked in 2008 for real. But let’s go back even further.
On September 11, 2001 the world changed. The reaction to it was the following: we were told by many high officials that we needed to keep our life as normal as possible. “I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy,” Bush said in an address to the nation on Sept. 20, 2001. As a country, America spent a lot of money and went into debt over foreign wars after 2001.
Do you remember the fascination with nesting and buying homes and making homes beautiful from 2002-2007? The many HGTV shows about remodels and beautiful homes?
“Cultural experts have made much of Americans’ ‘nesting’ more since the terrorist attacks in 2001. Todd Gruenewald, president of the St. Louis Chapter of National Spa and Pool Institute, said he believes more people are staying home and putting their money into their houses. ‘We’re seeing this industry-wide,’ said Gruenewald, whose group is a nationwide trade organization for the pool industry. ‘Instead of spending $10,000 on a vacation, people are putting that money toward backyard entertainment – meaning a pool or spa.”
Post Dispatch, May, 2004
I think this was an understandable shared impulse: when life seems so out of control and scary, why not stay at home and nest and make it lovely? We had many businesses and financial products pop up to make the American dream of owning a home possible. And the Wall Street buccaneers who wheeled and dealed our way to financial ruin, based mostly on one platform: a shared cultural impulse to own homes. Then the housing boom bubbled and eventually bust.
During this time (and really since the 90s) male dominated professions like manufacturing and construction were being decimated. The housing bubble propped up the construction industry but when that bubble collapsed, it threw millions of men and women out of work, but in fact, three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men.* We’re still dealing with the repercussions today.
The truth is women are looking at a much rosier financial future than men: the professions that are growing favor women almost exclusively. “Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s. Most important, women earn almost 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees — the minimum requirement, in most cases, for an affluent life.”*
I approach this development from a very odd position indeed: I am a SAHM. And lately, I really really like it. (Although I’ve had my ups and downs with the position.)
But I rankle to think that a woman’s choice to, well anything, is being threatened. I think it’s safe to say that one thing the Mommy Wars have done is put a premium on and really put SAHMs on a pedestal, especially ones who do extending breastfeeding, grow organic vegetables and fruits and raise chicken. I’m into that too! But maybe, could it be that we are into elevating such a thing into being aspirational because so many families can’t afford to have a mom stay-at-home?
I used to feel shunned at some social gatherings for being a SAHM. NOT LATELY! I find men, particularly, have been very interested in what I do. I’ve gotten a few “Good for yous!” lately and “Your husband is a lucky guy.” This is a drastic turnaround.
Because I am a worrier, I worry about the repercussions of a world where “rape is a form of conception” as VP candidate Ryan noted. I worry about the choices of women: to choose their careers, their lifestyle.
It seems that women hold most of the cards in this current economic climate, but another climate is booming. One that aims to belittle women for making choices and pitting one against the other. When in reality, shouldn’t we be talking about why men are having such a hard time adapting to schoolwork and college and why they are not interested in pursuing growing professions even if they are dominated by women? The odd peer pressure other guys give each other over being “lame” if you study?*
The End of Men is good for no one. But neither is the Mom Enough movement.
What say you? And Mel makes a good point: do you find that moms in general, SAHMs or WOHMs have been promoted to an ideal in your area? I’m sure that she’s right and there is a geographical component to the opinions…
*The End of Men by The Atlantic, 2010