The paper bag bargirls of the 1950s, or there were One Night Stands back then too.

This is just about the girls in the 1950s who went to bars with paper bags containing toiletries, looking for a guy to go home with.  This was a regular enough occurrence that one can find it described in popular literature of the era. The 1950s was not really a time of sexual continence, as conservatives frequently like to pretend (the major liberal lie of the 1950s is ignoring the massive amount of tax avoidance behavior that resulted from sky-high tax rates). There is in fact a grain of truth to the idea that the 1950s was about a facade of cleanliness hiding rot.

The 1950s was a strange time, as it was when atomicity started to become widespread and community ties started to openly degrade.  It’s also a time that due ironically to being the first mass media decade has managed to ensconce itself in conservative and liberal memetic memory as the perfect decade, for essentially similar reasons (that people were more willing to sacrifice temporal pleasure for the common good).  For liberals, this sacrifice is financial, while it is sexual and social for the conservatives.  It’s also totally imaginary in both cases, except by pure accident.

After all, it’s the children who were raised by people who were adults (and sometimes paper bag girls and men amenable to taking them home) during the 50s who are running most of our institutions into the ground right now.  If the adults were so much more moral, why are their children so venal?

The fundamentalist 1970s back to the land movement was funded with food stamps and welfare

This was also true of the more left-wing hippies.  There was an interesting confluence during this time of far left and far right starting “self-sufficiency” communal living experiments with the help of welfare.  I didn’t read a book for this one, although you can find little allusions in memoirs about some of this, and the very occasional one-off reference.  Mostly you can find out what happened by looking up the history of the food stamp/SNAP/WIC nutrition support programs on wikipedia.  During the 1970s, some changes were made to what was then still called “food stamps” to permit seeds, gardening equipment and some other tools to be purchased with the stamps instead of money.  A fascinating side effect was that a number of fundamentalist groups/cults/etc. decided to leave the cities and go try to live out in the country off the land.

What I find really interesting about this is that the right wing appears to have no history for this.  The entire Crunchy Con, fundie-hippie, prepper/survivalist, homesteading subset of conservatives finds its Ur-model in the Back to the Land movement.  And this movement that was all about surviving off the grid self-sufficiently away from The (Liberal) Man was jumpstarted by food stamps and cash welfare.  Yet as far as I can tell, it might as well be knowledge hidden under a rock to the modern conservative equivalents.

Childcare is both a skill and a talent

It is clear that a lot of conservatives (though it’s a particularly American malady overall) these days think that childcare is something only a mother can do for her own children and that any other kind of childcare is both morally and psychologically inferior.  Needless to say, this flies against all kinds of traditional views on childcare.

We’ve had teenaged girls babysit our children for anywhere from a few hours to full-time, probably a dozen in the last few years.  It was really obvious that some girls had that special talent of being able to handle the needs of six or seven children at one time, even if they didn’t themselves come from a large family.  It was also really obvious that other girls could barely manage the needs of one child and were at meltdown mode with just a second one added in.

This happens with mothers too.  Most of the time mothers have mother-love for their children, but that’s not the same as having a talent for managing children.  In normal societies, there are so many other women around that a mother who has trouble with increasing numbers of children can easily delegate, while women who can seamlessly handle six or eight or ten smoothly can pick up that extra slack for other mothers.

But childcare isn’t something that is bred-in to all women in equal ability if they just try real hard.  Some women have a flair for it even if they never have any children of their own, while other women can bear a dozen and never quite get the hang of things.

This is one of the reasons I advocate domestic skills internships for young conservative women interested in marrying young and administering the home as housewives.  It’s a good way for women to find out which aspects of domestic living are potential weak spots and make plans to adjust their expectations and goals while they are young and still have a lot of energy to do so.

A mother doesn’t love her child the less because she doesn’t change every single diaper. Specialization is a key part of civilization.

Seek good government, not small government

Conservatives are very obviously known for the idea that any government run anything is inefficient/stupid/low quality/etc.  This is one of the reasons their institutions were co-opted by leftists and liberal-friendly people.

What’s wrong with expecting your civil service and civil servants to do their jobs and do them well, and to expect from them useful services that suit your community (the Catholics call it subsidiarity)?

Of course if you start from the premise that there is nothing government at any level can do right, you’ll lose local control and state control and federal control altogether.  We’re seeing the flipside, that if government must do everything that only central control is acceptable.  Let’s try for the former.  Local, helpful, practical governance and demanding accountability from the civil servants.  They may not be able to be fired, but there are things that can be done to get them to stop interfering with people’s ability to earn a living and have a normal life.

Nation of laws, not nation of regulations.

Notes about GenX.

When all is said and done, Gen X women will have around an 86% motherhood rate, with nearly 3 children per mother average.

One of the notable features of #GenX is how many of us were raised by and/or joined the #backtotheland movements and #homestead subcultures. It literally shows up in birth data from the 1980s and 1990s.

Part of those trends were mass movement to South America, a lot of cult formation, and college educated women having large families.

Repost: Why Ivanka Trump is a lovely example of a working mother.

Ivanka Trump has a new book out and I’m never going to read it, because in the news articles and her own little social media bits about it, I learned all I need to know:

  • She has two nannies for three kids.
  • She was happy to not only admit it, but even acknowledged their work by name.

This has gotten her excoriated by the press of course, but the thing is, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo built a multimillion dollar nursery in her office and was feted by that same press.   This is utterly unattainable for the average American mother, who is increasingly professional-class and in the top 10-20% of household incomes nationally.  Ivanka’s nanny setup, however, is attainable for two professional class mothers splitting the cost for 2-4 children, and possibly as many as 4-6 combined.

I think that is worth noticing and paying attention to.  Simply admitting that three closely spaced children just might take a lot of help from other women to manage reasonably is absolutely huge.  Thanks for brightening a housewife’s day, Ivanka!

Homeschooling is not a Swiss Army Knife

It is, of course, treated as such by conservatives.  No matter what the family situation, homeschooling is presented as the cure to lack of money, lack of community, multicultural conflict, bad marriage, no marriage, the list goes on and on.

Homeschooling is increasingly used as another way to retreat into a private but not domestic sphere.  I used to be very “you do you” about homeschooling, but now when I hear about yet another friend or family member opting to homeschool, I just see another couple who won’t be bringing anyone meals, who won’t be volunteering, who won’t be sitting up with the sick old lady at church, who won’t be participating in local civic life.

It is understandable to protect what is nearest to you, but it’s not a movement.  Or an all-purpose fix-it solution for the loss of posterity and social life.

Generation X had about 4 in 10 of all Millennial births.

Now this is obviously a minority of Millennial births, but it’s perilously close to half and thus it’s clear that a lot of Gen Xers are trying to hide from responsibility for producing all those younger, obnoxious Millennials by foisting the entire generation off as “Boomer’s kids”.  But Gen X had most of the younger, much more obnoxious ones.  Sorry guys!

I hand calculated this and my assumptions are slightly different than the cohort tables, but the final percentage is similar.


Why I’m raising my kids lower-class.

I know that raising your children to be relatively independent at young ages is associated in American society with the parents being unable to do any adulting whatsoever, but it’s important to T.W.O. and I that the kids be adaptable.  It’s more important than the constant humiliation and embarrassment over the fact that our kids do a lot for themselves and are expected to handle a large amount of household maintenance.

And it is difficult, because the brunt of “bad parent” falls entirely and solely on me as a rotten mother and on our mixed marriage (what, you thought Lion’s Den liberal white women were ok with it? LOL!) as a sign that black women basically can’t do middle-class parenting.

The fact is, teaching your kids to cook without doing it via an instagrammable class you spend $100+/kid on is considered low status and a sign you must be a drunk/druggie or “unstable” poor or an unstable poor drunk/druggie.  Expecting them to do household chores without paying them is also considered a similar sign of not-so-secret dysfunction.  After all, how can a kid do housework and ace all the schoolroom checkboxes if they have to pick up a broom now and again?  Just ignore the elephant in the room that in many other high-scoring countries, kids doing chores is part of the school attendance deal.

I don’t know, I’ll ask my kids after they skip another couple of grades.  Of course, grade skipping is also de trop and Doing Smart Wrong as well, unless it’s going straight from K to college.

My kids can do yardwork safely with edged tools, hand wash dishes, load a dishwasher correctly, load and run a front load or top loading washing machine correctly, including handling borax, and my oldest can do basic clothing repairs by hand or using a sewing machine.  Given a small spatula for the very youngest, all my children can cook on a stove top, griddle and can handle campfire cooking.  They can sweep, vacuum, and use kitchen cleaning products safely and correctly.

They can forage effectively and safely with a guidebook.  They know what barks and berries are edible without one.  But since we didn’t pay through the nose to have them taught these things, we’re trash as parents for not letting them have their own tablets and smartphones.  No, I have no kids aged 10 or older.  Yes, you’re viewed as a suspicious or bad parent for not giving younger children private electronics like tablets and smartphones.  Ironically, a lot of the judgment comes out of not being like actual lower-class parents who ask for and get these things out of the well-funded (but never “fully funded”) school districts in the area.

The giant caveat to all this is that Montessori parents aren’t remotely like this despite general very liberal tendencies and are pretty chill overall.  But there’s no way we can do K-12 Montessori and meet our kids where they are educationally.  It’s a great pedagogy for elementary level work, but it wasn’t designed for beyond that and I think it’s suboptimal that an entire secondary-school Montessori model has arisen in many locales.  But it was helpful in teaching our kids how to learn and they’ve shown a lot of adaptability to other learning paths.

Ultimately, my husband and I are not special, privileged people who can afford to use the public schools plain-vanilla and trust the system.  We’ve never been able to plug-and-play with private school either.  Our kids don’t do well following the normal parenting approaches where we live.  And we could have a seven figure household income and we’d still be considered lower-class for the way we’re raising them because when it’s all about “only people credentialled in this thing, even if this thing is making fishsticks, can teach it and the only valid way to learn this thing is from them and never anyone else or via self-teaching”, well, obviously we’re no good, bad, deplorable parents for not doing that.

Our household will never be middle class.  Our household will never be upper middle class.  I don’t know how I will explain our permanently low socioeconomic status to our kids when the time comes, and perhaps it never will.  Sometimes you don’t have to say anything for kids to figure out the social dynamics as teenagers.  And hopefully they are secure enough in having adaptability and competence that they don’t even care.