That people doing it don’t feel that way doesn’t matter, the practical effects are nearly the same as if they did (and plenty do feel there’s a political aspect.)
The problem with this being the way right wing people respond to mass social changes that are detrimental is that it’s expensive on a collective level and a personal level. The costs are so high that right wing people engaging in this type of activism are almost entirely cut off from any other kind of activism.
In contrast, the left wing just sprinkles political dust on their lifestyle and keeps on moving. The left doesn’t promote marriage as the optimal vehicle for private retreat. It doesn’t promote private retreat at all. The right overwhelmingly does. It’s not that the right does no explicit activism, it’s that the default setting is to hide away privately and replicate lost social goods within the nuclear family regardless of whether it’s desirable, feasible or possible within the limitations of a nuclear family.
This breaks women. Women are yelled at for not being able to replicate the social goods of an entire city, town or village, and also yelled at for desiring those goods and also yelled at for not taking on additional community-wide functions as more and more of society breaks down into atomization and isolated individuality.
It also breaks men, but in a more subtle way in which they are told there’s no serious obstacles to their masculine expression or nature except their own will, which is an immensely damaging falsehood. This is as true of the mainstream right wing media as it is of numerous far right blogs.
I’d expand on this more, like perhaps delving into the trades myth that many in the right cling to but make sure to never put their kids into, or how the conservative stack for women doesn’t (that is, the pieces don’t work with each other and reinforce each other; homeschooling comes at the expense of a clean house, as a very typical example). But our private retreat means I don’t have another woman or young girl around to keep my youngest from melting down about getting a small spot of soup on one sleeve. So I have to go deal with that.
This is why the whiny left-wing arguments about how people who can reliably pay rent should be able to get a mortgage are not that ridiculous. In practice people have completely abandoned the idea of staying in a house for decades and they’ve abandoned that idea for decades. And yeah, the Boomers started it, with their tiny starter homes and then a bigger one to raise kids in and then the comfortable home for entertaining. That’s three right there.
So many people do sell frequently that it’s just a special, perks-laden version of renting where you even get access to massive amounts of consumer credit and tax breaks, but you’re totally leaving in three or four years.
To be quite brief, I got to the Superwife section early in the book (less than 20% in) and I was done. I couldn’t keep going much further. The book is written in mostly teenage boy first person, which I had read from other non-spoiler reviews was a bit rough going in the early chapters, but that was not my real obstacle. It was the teenage boy recalling his mother, who was Donna Reed (without the housekeepers of course) melded with mannish interests like woodcarving hot rods. And also melded with the rude homeschool parent caricature growling at school officials coming over politely and reasonably.
It was too fantastical for me, and the book is a fantasy novel.
Activism is effective politically and even socially when it starts from one true thing. Even if a giant forest of lies is built up around that, one small grain of truth is what keeps people attached. This is more true of progressive activism than conservative activism, but that is fairly recent.
The reason conservatives lose so much of the time is that they prefer stories that don’t even have the grain of truth and then wonder why people reject them. A good example is the bizarre love affair conservatives have with food stamps needing to be converted into actual raw ingredients. That this was done and didn’t work and that food stamps really are better at both feeding little kids who can’t help who their dysfunctional parents are and at getting said parents to be less dysfunctional is something they appear to be utterly ignorant of. Conservatives prefer a story about how things ought to be over the historical reality.
That’s just one example. There are plenty of others. Wide open topic for discussion.
As anyone reading along in this blog or the broader American right wing knows, there is a loud contingent of people who assert that in America, large families used to be common as dirt and women loved having them too.
This is not, strictly speaking, accurate.
The Vital Statistics folks (originally at the Census, and now with the CDC) stopped making a new column for births past #17 in 1959. The next year, in 1960, while still in what came to be called the Baby Boom, they stopped doing new columns for births above #8. And the Vital Statistics people are very conservative about these things. They were cheerfully making columns for 312 16th births for years. But 312 out of 4 million or so births a year is a really tiny number and eventually even they just started mushing all those ten and twelfth and seventeenth births together.
The point being that thousands of double digit births can still be happening, but still also be not common as dirt. Pesky math.
The other poke at the bubble for now is that as soon as American women got birth control access, they mysteriously rushed as far away from double digit family sizes as they could. Eight was very much enough, thanks, and keeping births down to six or less was nicer still, as far as white American women were concerned. There is some amusing (for a personal value of amusing) commentary in many of the annual bulletins expressing statistician puzzlement at the plunge in 8 and up births among white women about twenty seconds after the first shipload of diaphragms washed ashore. And while access came decades later for black women, they behaved exactly the same and kablooey went the higher order black birth numbers too.
This is not the behavior of women who looooooved having ten or fifteen kids. It’s also not really much to do with feminists or feminism except that they felt the solution to male sexual incontinence was to have women end run around it with birth control of ever-increasing reliability.
This meme has apparently been making the rounds of conservative mom town.
Which is great news, because it means people are beginning to Notice things. (h/t to Steve Sailer for that usage.)
But someone who has a relative living in, helping out domestically disagreed with the meme and further tossed out the usual cant about dishwashers and such in the comments to the disagreement-post.
The response is, in fact, hypocritical. It’s not unusual among a lot of (often but not only male) conservatives when it comes to these matters of what women need to have a properly ordered domestic space. They have some kind of support (NOT limited to the children), typically from relatives, but sometimes from non-relatives, often unpaid, and they just conveniently don’t connect their wives’ or their own (if a woman) relatively better ability to manage with their access to real support while berating other people for their “snark” at starting to think about the obvious implications of demanding Proverbs 31 performance out of a woman without giving her a fraction of the resources such a woman had.
She did have domestic help, and if you have it too (especially if you have it in the form of love from relatives), owning up to how that helps your own household be more functional and provide for the children in said household is a sight more Biblically loving and encouraging than ignoring or downplaying your own riches while telling others they should just imagineer that the dishwasher is their BFF and woman up more.
This is not quite what I was thinking about regarding husbands and communities in a different discussion, but it’s in the wheelhouse.
Hedonic substitution in economics is buying ground beef instead of steak, or the Pinto instead of the Lambourghini. People also engage in hedonic substitution. It’s a hallmark of the conservative worldview.
Living in low quality housing, with one car in a car-centric society, eating a meatless or low protein diet, and yet all the while asserting that you’re middle class. Homeschooling is often another hedonic substitution. One hour once a week “co-op” is suddenly equivalent to 15k/kid/year private classical school and will definitely give you the same results.
It’s about telling people who have to substitute cheaper versions that they aren’t substituting at all but instead getting something for nothing because they’re just so smart and middle class. And also not distinguishing between the people who can choose something else and thus aren’t operating on such tight margins. The oft-cited (and mostly historical rather than current) statistics of children homeschooled by mere high school graduate mothers leave out how many of their fathers were engineers and STEM types.
While the median household income for married couples with under-18 kids is about six figures and has been even adjusted for inflation for decades, it’s still a median and a bunch of married folks with kids will end up on the low half of that median. And instead of them being respectably poor or working class, they’re instead endlessly encouraged to engage in elaborate substitutes that cannot give the same result or benefit, but which would be superior if they weren’t being used as substitutes for something more expensive in time and/or money.
This approach also lets the higher-earning households avoid awkward social obligations and relationship building that used to be present even in individualist America out of a combination of ingrained habit and necessity.