White American women have never been highly fertile

I was looking around in old Census data the other month and stumbled upon a fairly shocking bit of demographic information–white American women have pretty much always been at the lower end of fertility.  I am defining “American” here as “after 1776”.  They were having only a couple kids per woman way back in the 1840s and such.

Regionalism is part of how the myth of fecund white women oppressed into sterility by “the libs” or “feminism” gained traction.  In a few regions, white women did have huge families, 8-12 kids being quite usual.  However, this was a single-digit percentage of all white women of childbearing age, and this has been the case almost from the very beginnings of America as a nation.  White women in America have always tended towards having relatively few children, long before 1960s or even 1920s feminism.  The Baby Boom years weren’t a bunch of white women feeling free to have five or six kids, they were a bunch of white women *who would have otherwise had none having one* being added to the overall pool of mothers.  This is, needless to say, not part of the conservative happy 50s mythmaking.

American women have frequently throughout American history taken more personal freedom and economic power in exchange for the lack of genuine domestic support, on average.  This is part of how childrearing in America has become so awful and health-damaging for women.  Men bought our great grammas off with “freedom” and this was supposed to compensate for not having a feminine or domestic sphere.  And there’s always been extreme subcultures having huge families to point to, even though they never represented much more than 15-20% of the total population themselves.

But I guess that’s also part of the secret history of domesticity in America–a typical American woman really wasn’t raising six kids alone while her husband worked all day or was gone for months.  She was about as likely to be raising one or two in 1870 as 1970, which explains quite a bit.


SAHM and Male Breadwinner selection bias, Christian conservative edition

Due to the hourglassing of male income, the type of guy who can earn enough to support a SAHM is something of an outlier.  Likewise, the kind of woman who is ok with staying home in the first place is no longer conventional in personality because SAHM as a choice is so denigrated and constrained.  Based on American society, it means selecting for more risk-taking men and more antisocial women (or at least women who are more likely to prefer the chronic isolation and find satisfaction in the general encouragement to overwork).

This is just a theory, but it has a fair amount of explanatory value among the conservative Christian pool of households with a SAHM.


Dear Vox Day, we’re already Mothering Up, but society is not Communitying Up

Vox Day offers some suggestions for normalcy here. However, I have to do a bit of critique, as he preferred that not clutter up the actual comment thread attached.

The thing left unsaid in that post is that the right wing ruthlessly exploits unpaid labor already.  It’s what remains of functional church and community social stuff.    The right wing’s individualism obscures the fact that there is already a cohort of overworked female labor falling apart trying to do basic stuff like make sure people have dinner regularly and get homeschooled in a co-op class.  It’s private households with conservative Christian SAHMs. Meanwhile the right sends all its childless women who have leisure time out to work, to make money.  So Vox is correct about the right wing obsession with money, he just extrapolates from there that it’s always the issue.

The left doesn’t require its leisured folks to earn money.  In the example Vox links to in his post, a young, childless woman is willing to live a pathetic hand-to-mouth existence to provide activist labor.  On the right such a woman would be pressured into working for pay rather than being encouraged to help out within her local community.

Part of it is that the left and Vox are on to something.  You have a certain amount of labor that needs to be “free” from people who are leisured through the money-getting of others in order to have really awesome stuff in your society.  I.e., you want the leisured people to be natively talented disproportionately.  The left thinks it doesn’t matter about the talent and the right thinks there is no point in doing stuff for free unless you’re a housewife and then you have to do ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME FOR FREE.

This has been sitting around awhile, so I decided to just add that while this was sitting in draft, Vox Day hectored women to “Mother up“, as in come home and care for children (for free) as housewives while he and his family live in a country where household help is both cheap, widespread and culturally acceptable.  But as I noted at the start of this post, mothering up in American society is unrewarded, exhausting and painful.  There’s no status, no approval, no support in doing all the things, some of them conflicting with each other, expected of a modern housewife.  Those silly little office jobs may be silly, but they come with a paycheck and some actual status in society among other women.  Other women don’t grant a lick of status to women who mother up.  They just point and laugh when they aren’t actively trying to force us into the workforce anyway so they can have even more status.  And men are blitheringly oblivious to what their wives have to go through, living in a sort of tradbro delusional state.

Women need more than the three C’s (cooking, cleaning and childcare) if you want them to return in critical-mass numbers to housewifery.  They need quality household services, they need for children to be acceptable in the public sphere (as in you can let your kids run around the store, safe in the knowledge the clerks will keep an eye out if the kids get too hectic), they need an understanding and appreciation that they’re not just drudges, but ladies of their houses.  They need social opportunities that do not involve driving around for hours a day and they need intellectual challenge for the clever ones.  None of this is happening among conservatives, for all functional intents and purposes.  They just tell women they should do the three C’s because really, what else are even highly intelligent women good for?  That is the implication of Mr. Day’s most recent sally on the topic of SAHMness.

But this is old familiar ground I’ve trod.

In the real world, mothering up means television or screens for 4-10 hours per day when daddy isn’t home to help out as a kind of sisterwife because his job doesn’t pay enough to afford any help and neither adult lives near close relations.

In the real world, mothering up means contracepting so that you can grow a helper or two since it’s the only way you’re going to get one.  This means conservatives aren’t necessarily outbreeding teh librulz.  Own goal for the win!

In the real world mothering up means that other adults never view you as grown-up, just as a large version of the infants and toddlers you’re lugging around.  And when they get older, you’re still seen at the level of the children, until they’re teens and then suddenly you don’t exist at all even as a toddler-brained drudge in the background.

In the real world mothering up means he dumps you when you’re fat and forty and your body is broken from all the closely spaced pregnancies and you’re worn out from living in survival mode for years on end.  The kids can’t wait to be old enough to get away and neither can he.  But hey, you married young without ever working outside the home and immediately started having babies every year on his tiny salary.  You mothered up, where’s your medal?

Oh, right.

All the individual efforts in the world come to nothing if society doesn’t take them seriously.  Conservative society, even of the Vox Day kind, is always talking about how women need to go be housewives, but it never seems to have time, money or energy to make it possible for most women to actually do that.  Funny how that works.

Conservatives never worry that fathers aren’t spending enough time with their kids

Much of the “SAHMs don’t need help” gaslighting revolves around the idea that if mom spends thirty seconds away from the kids, they are doomed and she doesn’t really love them, but nobody ever has this feeling that daddy will go unrecognized after he comes home from 8/10/12 hours of working outside the home.

Curious, considering their great concern about the importance of fathers.

Yep, I went there.

Sarah Palin is Lisa Jackson

In both cases the people in question were slack about doing their jobs and that is why they had the ‘secret’ email accounts.  Less paperwork/weeding through hundreds of emails.  Less…work.

Also, both nailed by their own provincialism.

I picked these two examples because the media treated one example verrrry differently than the other, both the mainstream media and the right wing media.  The mainstream media tried to present Sarah Palin as specially corrupt, while the right media tried to present Lisa Jackson as specially incompetent and affirmative-actionish.  Both women, despite being quite on opposite sides politically, were actually playing standard roles.  Government officials, both elected and unelected these days seem to think doing their jobs is beneath them, but by gum y’all had better be ready to pay more taxes/vote in more bond issues.

I would also note that for complicated tribal reasons, a surprising amount of doxxing was done to both women which resulted in their having to suffer some consequences for their slackness.  Just think of the possibilities if this was done As A Rule for government officials!

Nobody thinks of government as containing people who are fellow community members anymore.  It’s all very atomized and deracinated.  Nobody, especially conservatives, seems to want locals as their government anymore.  But that’s also real community and real authority, not bouncing around all over the country for promotions just like in the terrible private sector.

Something to consider when conservatives go on their tears about the evils of “government”.  It’s supposed to be their very neighbors, friends and relatives, but they are too blinded by ideological haze to think of it that way.