The Economic Costs Of The Feminist Agenda
The feminist movement is essentially one motivated by selfishness which is why the consequences of implementing its agenda tend to be destructive. It wars against society in pursuit of chimerical goals which can never be realized. It is closely related to, if not an integral part of, any progressive movement and fails for the same reasons. Each base their predictions of the future on the notion that they can superimpose their ideology on the society and expect only those areas which they deem objectionable to reflect any additional change. They operate in a vacuum which assumes that one can change parts of the system without it having any negative affect on the way in which its members relate to it. This particular essay will address a few of the economic effects of the feminist movement in the US and will leave it to the reader to decide if the cost was worth it.
The obvious place to begin the discussion is in the home where the exodus of women arguably has had the greatest effect. Numerous studies have examined the effect on the children of growing up in an environment where the woman delegated the preponderance of childcare to someone outside the home. Unfortunately these studies have had mixed results and findings that do not always concur. Part of the problem lies in the fact that their methodology differs and thus the researchers may come to conclusions which may seem to be supported by the data due to the fact that the categories are too broad. There is also a tendency to value certain outcomes and as a result claim the existence of those outcomes as being proof of whatever agenda they wish to promote. An example of the type of bias often found in articles claiming objectivity can be seen in the following quote from an article in the LA Times.
Searching for more definitive answers, researchers at UC Irvine combined the results of 69 different studies on the topic. Their findings, published by the American Psychological Assn. in 2010, were reassuring. With few exceptions, children whose mothers returned to work when they were young fared just as well as those with stay-at-home moms.
As an aside, this from an author who had made the decision to reduce her commitment to her chosen profession and professes to be happy with her decision. The question one might reasonably ask is to whom is she addressing the statement that “Their findings…….were reassuring”? The answer is quite obvious and suggests she sees the need to reassure the working mom, not the mom who stays home to take care of her children.
Her statement further leads to noting that what most of these studies seem to have in common is how often even those studies who trumpet results which suggest that mothers working outside the home have not negative, and maybe even positive, effects on their children still mention the need for an improvement in the institutions which are required to support their conclusions. An example of this can be found at the conclusion of an article published by Lois Wladis Hoffman, PhD where she states:
We are dealing here with a change in society, and while there are adjustment yet to be made — more affordable, quality day care; after-school programs; more liberal postpartum leave policies — even these are slowly responding to the realities of Parenthood in America today.
So, what we have here is an admission that there is an additional cost to society that must be borne if the women in the society wish to pursue a lifestyle aimed solely at satisfying their individual desires. An article in The Daily News finds the British government inadvertently agreeing with this assertion when a spokesman from their Department of Education and Employment responded to the results of a study published that showed that Working mothers risk damaging their child’s prospects. The spokesman was quoted as saying:
‘This Government has changed that by creating the largest ever expansion of childcare,’
The obvious fact that these programs would not be necessary, nor would there be any need to fund them, if the mother were already at home taking care of the children seems to completely escape him. The preceding observations are not meant to suggest that one should ignore the fact that there have always been women who needed to work as a matter of financial necessity. On the other hand, it may come as a surprise to some that according to a chart from the previously quoted article by Dr. Hoffman the percentage of working mothers in the United States for the year 1940 was only 8.6%. In comparison, in 1996 this same figure was 76%! One really has to wonder whether the quality of life of the children and parents of that additional 67.4% has really improved by any significant amount. I might suggest that the use of the “household income” statistic may be designed to hide the fact that what had once referenced the income of one provider now represents the income of two. Economically speaking it would seem that the migration of women into the workforce has increased the cost of childcare to the society while not necessarily returning anything close to equal value to the participants.
Let us now consider some other consequences which I have yet to see addressed. Two major sectors of the economy which have been affected by the movement are education and health care. At a time when the man’s wages were sufficient to provide a reasonably good lifestyle, nursing and teaching were generally considered to be the provinces of women. Although feminists would suggest that the benefits which accrued from that understanding are excellent examples of the inequities they wish to eliminate my perspective is just a bit different. The low wages which prevailed at the time for those engaged in either of those two professions meant that the cost to those who needed to avail themselves of those services were kept correspondingly low. In addition, as they were also two of the best options available to women the quality of those who chose to enter into either profession was much higher than when other choices became available. If, as so many now claim, we all deserve the best in health care, as well as nothing but the best for our children, it would seem we threw that opportunity away quite some time ago.
The real impact of the woman’s movement was to shift the cost not from the women who worked in the professions, due to the fact that their husbands had always been expected to take up the slack by virtue of their higher wages, but to the entire society which had heretofore happily benefited from the sacrifices of those women and their husbands more directly affected. The school system, in particular, had always benefited from the availability of a large group of over qualified and highly motivated would be teachers who thus disproved the notion that teaching was the province of those unable to do anything else. Teaching not only provided them with the opportunity to impart academic and cultural knowledge to their pupils, but it had the additional benefit of a work schedule which allowed them to continue to be involved in the upbringing of their own children. From an economic perspective, the need for pensions and other benefits was almost non-existent and the manageable turnover created by the tendency of a certain percentage of these teachers to leave the workforce to attend to more pressing family obligations ensured a steady stream of teachers fully versed in the most up-to-date practices and information.
For many of the same reasons as discussed above a significant number of women provided the “manpower” and leadership needs of many volunteer organizations. As was in the case of other low wage positions with admirable societal consequences, the true worth of their services was hidden away and essentially subsidized by their respective husband’s salary. As with the educational and health fields, charitable and other volunteer organizations benefited from the availability of intelligent, competent, and highly motivated women who were both willing and able to play a significant part in making these organizations successful. Decisions tended to be made at the local level and were based on a much more holistic knowledge of the communities needs and the personalities involved which also helped to ensure that the money was spent wisely and well. The tension between the wives who exhibited the admirable trait of wishing to alleviate societies ills and their husbands and other possible contributors who controlled the purse strings aided in ensuring that decisions were both caring and financially wise.
Perhaps the area in which we see the greatest effect of the woman’s movement and yet have the most difficult time in quantifying those effects is in how the changes affected the children and the society of which they are a part. Social events which used to be geared towards family participation, such as churches, sports events and the like, have given way to a calender which includes obligations much more likely to fragment the family. The financial costs which result from this loss of community spirit can often be anecdotally noted while at the same time being extremely difficult to quantify in any meaningful way. The explosive growth of single family households, unmarried mothers, divorces, etc. all have costs which have yet to be seriously considered when balancing the net economic effects of implementing the feminist agenda.
There are, of course, a number of other areas which I have yet to discuss and on which the woman’s movement has had a significant economic, as well as social, impact. The particular issues addressed in this article are ones that seem to get little or no attention and the failure to address those which tend to get more attention is not meant to minimize their impact in the least. Numerous articles have been written focusing on such issues as how the influx of women into the workplace affected the wage rates, the influx of women affected the cost of higher education, and how the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment affected the amount of taxes we pay.
I look forward to examining this subject in greater detail in the future.