As is typical for conservative men regarding women and status, the blogger “Free Northerner” hazily realizes that having children is low status for women, but then doesn’t understand that the solution is not television shows promoting wealthy SAHMs. I love me some Melania Trump as a role model, but her symbolic power as a First Lady would not be natalism, just nice to have.
From the ridiculous blog post, an example of his cluelessness:
“It’s obvious that women want to work rather than procreate, but this is not because (most*) women particularly like working or because they prefer work to marriage and family. It’s not because housework is drudgery, most women who work do something similar to housework in their jobs.”
This is not true. Most women who work do not do something similar to housework. Since he’s just blindly asserting with no sources, I feel quite free to do the same, since it’s much more obvious that most work women do outside the home is not “housework-like”.
(section with feminism red herrings redacted)
Another example of his cluelessness is here:
“You’ve no doubt heard the blatant lie that motherhood is the toughest job in the world? Nobody could honestly believe taking care of a child is tougher than working in a coal mine or as an infantryman in Afghanistan, but everybody spreads that lie because it bolsters the low and declining status of women with children.”
This is not what he thinks it is. It’s a way of asserting support without having to give support. Nobody ever follows up this statement with offers to help the stay at home mother. The statement is supposed to make her feel a sense of accomplishment for getting through the day at all and distract her from realizing that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it is (which no, isn’t MOST DIFFICULT EVAR) and keep her from noticing she’s being prevented from defining stay at home motherhood as something serious enough to require society-wide support. It also makes stay at home mothers come across as whining if they have any difficulties at all, since by definition it will never be the hardest job, they are told it must be the EASIEST JOB IN THE WORLD.
He continues to miss the point:
“Having children is low status, but even beyond that status games pervade all of motherhood. The mommy wars aren’t about whether children are better off being raised by their parents or by daycare workers, it’s about who gets good mother status points: stay-at homes or working mothers.”
No, it’s about who gets society-wide support at all. Short answer: neither. Longer answer: women who earn money can get some grudging public support since in America earning money is what humans do, and women who have private support but no public status can comfort themselves by downplaying their private support.
(more feminism red herrings redacted)
Anyway once he stops ranting about Jezebel columnists as if they’re average American woman, we come to the point where my blogging and his almost but not quite intersect.
“Having children is lower status than eduction, working, travel, or having status-giving interests. Being a stay-at-home mother is low status compared to being a working mother. Having many children is lower status than having one or two children. Having children young is lower status than having them once infertility hits.
This, more than anything, is why he have such low birth rates.”
This is more or less true. Doing It All is higher status, relatively speaking, as well. Travelling with kids, working at home with kids (and no childcare), homeschooling, etc.
Alas, we come to his idea of the solution to low birth rates.
“So, the answer to the fertility crisis is not tax changes, natalism benefits, or motherhood welfare. The way to get women to want to reproduce is to make children the ultimate status symbol.
Read the story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29 and 30. Having children was high status, so they did everything they could possibly to produce more children so they could win the status competition against each other.
We need to make it so that instead of the culture lauding whorish celebrities and woman CEO’s, mothers are celebrated. We need news reports to make glowing reports on women having their 6th child, rather than shows idolizing women who adopt foreign children or
slutty daring dresses. When Mrs. Duggar has more status than Hillary Clinton, that’s when we will turn this ship around.
Sadly, we don’t control the levers of the culture-industry, so there’s not much we can do for society as a whole, but there are things you can do in your own little circles.
Make a point of praising women who have kids and their mothering skills. If a family is thinking of having another kid, make a positive comment. Praise young men and women you know who are thinking of young marriage, and otherwise encourage young people aroudn you to marry early. Let some disappointment slip out if people say ‘two’s enough for us’. Register some thinly concealed disapproval or contempt if someone says, ‘we don’t want children’. If you can smoothly do backhanded compliments or negs for the self-sterilizing, that would work too. And so on.
You’re working against the combined forces of the media, academy, bureaucracy, and culture, but you might be able to have some influence. Status is mainly an abstraction of a multitude of positive and negative social interactions. If you add to the interactions around you, elevating motherhood and deriding self-sterilization, you might indirectly change a few minds in your local communities. If enough people do it, maybe the trend could be reversed.
One warning, try to keep it subtle enough. Push too hard or too blatantly and you it might backfire if they get defensive or if you look like a jerk. You want to subtly influence their general perception of status, not come off as someone pushing a low status opinion.”
This is stupid because conservatives already do this and their birth rates are not very high at all. Flapping your lips isn’t going to make the hard work go away. You can admit that it’s hard to bring up children these days without resorting to false dichotomies about how it’s either ultrahard or supereasy.
It’s also stupid because one of the reasons mothering doesn’t have support is that conservatives, like everyone else WATCH TOO MUCH (@$(@)@)@* TV already. It’s another way people have retreated from the public sphere as it’s gotten more polarized and combative.
So many people are in sick systems, commuting long distances to have somewhere slightly quiet to bring up a couple of kids, and they come home tired and tv seems like a relaxing thing. And mom was home all day in the subdivision and blasting Veggie Tales was how she got dinner made at all and the upstairs cleaned.
Natalism is a society-wide project. You can’t put up natalism rap videos and sit back and watch a hundred thousand five child families bloom. That doesn’t work, conservatives have their own alternative tv and movies promoting motherhood and housewiving and yet, mysteriously, the birth rate keeps dropping. Of course, Free Northerner doesn’t appear to know much about the reality on the ground of having three or more children.
Tax changes and motherhood welfare are actually LESS STUPID than his plan of sticking with what already doesn’t work.
As ever, totes open for mashed potato tossing in the comments. And also discussion.