Monday, November 01, 2010

50s MOMS

"Unfortunately, their daughters didn’t want those gifts."

Home Maker
You don't hear so much of it these days, the hate showered on women who dare to stay home to take care of the house and kids. Sure, if you get too close to a women's studies area on a college campus the hate will shower down around you like industrial waste from a firefighting helicopter, but the general public has backed away from the shrill intensity of the 70s and early 80s.

Arch feminists will tell you that a woman who does this is a traitor to her sex, that she's a puppet of men and not realizing her full potential. They point to the fifties mom like June Cleaver or Donna Reed as helpless slaves, dominated by a cruel male culture and imprisoned barefoot and pregnant over a hot stove. So much for the leftist perspective on the last century.

John J Xenakis at Big Hollywood has a different look at the past, one that actually uses history, fact, and reality rather than ideological zealotry:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the 1950s was a Recovery Era where the country was excitedly celebrating its victories over the Great Depression and the Nazis in World War II.

A 1950s mother would have grown up during the Great Depression, surrounded by homelessness, starvation and bankruptcy. If she herself hadn’t been forced to live under a bridge and depend on soup kitchens for food, then she undoubtedly had many friends who had been forced to do so.

Then, as the Great Depression ended, she saw her brothers, father and uncles tortured and maimed on the Bataan Death March, and then shot down like fish in a barrel on the beaches of Normandy. Out of patriotism, she had been forced to take “Rosie the Riveter” type jobs that she hated.

So when the 1950s arrived, a home with a white picket fence where a mother could stay at home with the kids and be safe and dry and warm and reliably supported by a working husband was a gift from heaven. This was a gift that mothers of the 1950s wanted to give to their daughters. They had suffered through starvation, homelessness and slaughter, and they had won, and they wanted to give their daughters the gift of the fruits of that victory.

Some women (like my mom) liked being a stay at home mom. They loved taking care of kids and cooking and caring for the house. Sure, there were days they wished they didn't have to and things they didn't enjoy doing - just like anyone at any job.

One of the cruelest lies ever told women is that they'd feel more fulfilled and complete if they left home and worked like men. Hey ladies, take it from us: it sucks out here, probably more than at home. Why do you think we look so happy and grateful to get home, out of some twisted deception to deprive you of the joys of a 9-5 job?

The problem that arch feminists have is that they believe their ideology is so important and good that it permits them to do anything to achieve their goals. And this ethical pragmatism means that hurting moms and destroying families is perfectly acceptable as long as we get where they want us to. The problem is that the feminist movement started out with noble goals; women really were treated like trash back then. Mad Men isn't totally fictional that kind of thing really happened at the workplace. Heck it was happening up into the 80s in some places.

Feminism accomplished its goals, just like most of the big 60s movements. They got women to be treated as equal citizens and not idiot children. That wasn't enough for its leaders though. They had to keep pushing, and it turned from a movement to help women defeat the injustices of society into a movement to ram society as far left as humanly understandable based on lunatic theories of academics. Feminism went from "why can't you treat a woman with dignity and decency" to "why are all men rapists at heart trying to brutalize women at every opportunity?"

The mistake of the feminist movement today is the same mistake of the patriarchy of the past. They're trying to ram everyone into their mold of society, regardless of what that person might like. If a woman really wants to stay home and enjoys being a mom, then let her. If she wants to get out and find a career, then okay. Liberty means people doing things you might not like or agree with, that's the real meaning of tolerance. I might not like you leaving the kids at the day care center and focusing on your career, but that doesn't mean you ought not be free to do so.

What's interesting to me is that, as Xenakis writes, the pendulum is swinging back (as it always does). Stay at home moms are becoming more socially acceptable and common. Having kids became a career move for starlets in Hollywood about a decade ago, and the trend continues. If things keep getting worse economically, maybe moms will have to stay home to save money on day care, packaged foods, and repairs. Meanwhile the shrill, hateful harpies of NOW become less and less relevant as women are repulsed by their radical speech and behavior.

And honestly, what's more cutting edge and radical in today's entertainment culture:
  • a single parent struggling to get by
  • a lesbian couple with kids
  • a happy family with mom staying at home to cook for dad after a hard day of work
We know what Hollywood thinks is relevant and new, but society has always been a decade or two ahead of the movies anyway.

1 comment:

eric said...

"Stay at home moms are becoming more socially acceptable and common."

Agreed, espcecially during the first 4-5 years of childhood. I think there is still a bit of a social stigma for mom's who stay at home full-time once their kids have reached school age, but mom's (or in some cases, dads) who quit their job in order to stay at home w/ their kids from birth to Kindergarten are almost universally aplauded. That's a good thing, and one of the often overlooked signs that we are, in some ways, getting better as a society.