This is one of the reasons Mormon culture retains many aspects of normal life. Being a father is high-status in Mormon culture, but father-rule in an individual family is not. This is a crucial difference between Mormon elevation of fatherhood and the acceptable fringe fundamentalist and conservative Christian elevation of fatherhood as godhood.
It’s not that the father isn’t the head of the household, he very much is, but he isn’t supposed to run unchecked in the broader community. He’s supposed to demonstrate his paternal quality by contributing as a peer in the community. The Mormons have a very practical view of servant leadership, let’s just say.
This isn’t entirely Mormon, it’s kind of Nordic, a sort of egalitarian gloss on Christian patriarchy, fellowship of equals and all that. Some of the specifics of how it plays out among Mormons are related to their religion, but the broad practical fact that men aren’t individual lords of the manor running unchecked is not specifically Mormon at all.
A quick example: It’s currently a mark of lower status *from other men* to have 10+ kids. Mormons converged on 3-6 kids as the normal family size range over time, even though they started with the idea that it was fine for the women to pop them out as fast as possible. But this was not producing “productive” wives and children, so they scaled back what was an acceptable number of kids for a guy to expect from his wife. It also means women aren’t under pressure to prove their “openness to life” by having babies near-constantly (a real issue in both Catholic and Protestant superfecundity subcultures, of which Quiverfull is merely the most well-known, but not the only one).
So Mormon women like the housewife life quite a bit more than a lot of other conservative women because they aren’t as likely to be under hyperfertility pressures that hit in a lot of conservative Christian and Christian-like groups.
Basically, since Mormons are expected to have the leisure and energy to provide free community services to each other, they converged on a standard of household formation that is traditional-enough, that can leave married households with that time available even during some of the time the children are little. Mormon men also take provision very very seriously and just aggressively try to earn good wages early on, and they prove it’s still quite doable if you really want to do it. This pursuit of what is now “early maturity” in the wider culture means Mormon men are much more open to hierarchy and authority being implemented in mostly traditional fashions and don’t tend to be full of “I’m too holy for discipline/attending church/participating in my local community” like the worst of the patriocentric conservative Christians.
So Obama made some comments at a Rhode Island college on Halloween. Amidst his usual pablum and recitation of Democrat party talking points, he threw out this little gem. “And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make. ” Conservatives at various blogs and the fringier parts of the right-wing news media are complaining about this, but it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing. They agree with Obama. They certainly don’t want American women staying home with their kids either. Conservatives just want a small, symbolic number of women to stay home as tribal fertility totems, but they aren’t interested in the average woman doing so. Obama, in referencing the only women he likes, Second Wave feminists who didn’t think women should make the choice to stay home, is just saying what Americans support with their actions, including conservative Americans. What are some of those actions?
- Encouraging women in higher education regardless of whether it would provide income potential. White women have a negative earnings premium for finishing college, not a positive one. Sending a white girl to college reduces her lifetime earnings. Since conservatives are overwhelmingly white, they might want to reconsider their zest for sticking their daughters in college.
- Failing to support SAHMs with childcare and housecleaning help, and in fact pressuring them to work part-time in the home on top of all their other work.
- Either saying daycare is evil (conservatives) or daycare will fix everything (liberals and progressives) without asking WHO STAFFS THOSE DAYCARES? And who watches their kids, hmm? Yeah, I thought so. Daycare comes in a lot of flavors, some very bad (infant) and others potentially ok (toddler, if it’s local/neighborhood, as is usually the way of it outside the USA).
- Encouraging female employment outside the home of childless and older women, i.e., driving the pool of other women who used to be there as part of the village for mothers at home out into cubicleland with nary a look back at the SAHMs left behind.
Americans do lots and lots of other things to make it nearly impossible for women to stay home with their kids, and especially stay home 4eva, but well, that’s past, present and future blog posts for other days. Obama is pretty regrettable as a political leader, but the complete rejection of the domestic sphere in American society is far more regrettable and in that, conservatives totally have his back, same as the rest of the country.
About a third of all deliveries in America are c-sections, and a majority of those are primary c-sections. The anti-natalism isn’t in women having c-sections so much as the pressure for women to accept a primary c-section. This wouldn’t be possible without the subtext that women shouldn’t have more than two children, three at most, a view that is standard American these days. It also wouldn’t be possible without the medical community downplaying the risks of c-sections. The reality is that c-sections limit how many children a woman can reasonably risk conceiving and carrying to term. While there are risks to naturally delivering seven or eight or ten children, those risks are significantly lower than the ones c-sections introduce through repeated surgical trauma and scarring. However, those risks don’t come into play for the average woman having c-sections until she’s looking at more than three of them. After three c-sections, the risk of losing the baby shoots up (the scarring makes it hard for the placenta to seat itself, increasing likelihood of fetal demise) along with the risk of premature delivery or catastrophic delivery complications like placental abruption.
This is not communicated to women when they are “encouraged” to have a primary c-section after say ten or twelve hours of labor. Thus, many women who would like to keep open the possibility of having a larger family are limited by a choice they were given misleading information about by medical professionals advocating approved choices rather than patients’ choices. It is possible to have 4-6 c-sections and deliver the children safely, but it’s also a range where health and life risks for both mother and baby come into play at rates exceeding 20%. For perspective, women are not allowed to attempt natural delivery after a c-section in most American hospitals (VBAC) due to a 1% risk of rupture (which baby and mother typically survive without complications). Yet women are not presented with the data that way. And they certainly aren’t told that a primary c-section means probably not having more than three or four children liveborn and term. A primary c-section is not terribly risky, and neither is a second one, compared to natural delivery. But they are slightly higher risk and on average harder to recover from than natural deliveries.
Combined with the delaying of childbearing, telling women in their late 20s and early 30s that a primary c-section is no big deal is to consign those women to fewer children than they might otherwise be able to have even starting in their early 30s and further, to leave them struggling with (on average) more difficult recovery while struggling with a newborn. That also leads to fewer children born at the margins. It’s just anti-natalist. This isn’t to say that c-sections, including primary ones, aren’t sometimes medically necessary. But many primary c-sections are a judgment call rather than “have to cut the baby out NOW”, and the judgment goes in one direction due to the general distaste culture-wide for having enough little taxpayers to fund society.
It’s a prosperity artifact that has occurred in a handful of short-lived bursts of prosperity and then things go back to normal. It is a fine thing to support and encourage as a conservative, but it can’t be advocated in a vacuum that presumes it is a historical norm. The historical norm is to marry when it’s affordable, which was usually not when the girl was sixteen and the guy eighteen. It was gasp when the girl was in her mid-20s and the guy a little older.
Funny how it’s now sooooo impossible for guys to wait until their mid-20s to marry for life and girls are dooming themselves to a river of cats and despair if they wait until after age 22 but in reality-land, it was always perfectly traditional and people found ways to deal with the lack of sex until marriage. This mostly consisted of not having sex. Shocking, I know. It’s quite interesting that conservatives and liberals come together as one voice to declare that continence is impossible for humans, simply can’t be done, can’t expect it of anyone, so don’t even try.
The truth is that young marriage, if truly widespread, carries with it a higher risk of dissolution even when divorce isn’t “easy”. All are not called to marry and conservatives really need to get back to accepting that reality and recognize just how much social pressure is necessary to prop up widespread marriage of young couples who are not necessarily fit for the institution.
Marriage is a social good, but you can have a society where 40-60% of people marry and you can have one where 75-85% of people marry, but the latter will have certain instabilities despite all the marriage that the former will not. With the current economic and social turmoil and relentless promotion of abnormal things as normal, it’s difficult to understand the push for young marriage with no real social support or financial/economic support by conservatives all along the right-wing spectrum, from mainstream to odd internet subculture.
Marriage is traditional. Young marriage is a nice to have, not a requirement for a normal society.
One of the most saddening examples of the atomization that marks conservative aping of what they believe to be traditional living is the idea that if your husband helps out to any significant degree, you should just fall over yourself in abject relief and never consider any other members of your larger community for help/support.
So women who are being totally failed by their neighbors, church members, friends and relatives ignore this in favor of declaring that asking for help beyond ‘husband does lots more housework and childcare’ means you’re denigrating your husband and failing Christian wiving 4eva.
This was brought to you by a very upsetting series of posts by a conservative bloggess where she disregarded medical advice for bedrest as stupid because her husband couldn’t take an infinite number of days off work, because obviously nobody else could possibly help out a heavily pregnant woman with a bunch of kids under age 8.
The idea that your husband should be your sisterwife and also work the full time job that pays for everything is in fact destroying the ability of families to live normal lives. This isn’t to say that men can’t change a diaper, it’s to say that husbands and wives aren’t an island, or shouldn’t be.
Those implications are that it’s not about your social life and only hanging out with people you think are groovy. It’s about the reality that if you want institutions to persist when unusually charismatic/high energy people are not running them, you have to work with and spend social time with people you would not otherwise be inclined to hang out with.
Interestingly, for all the conservative rhetoric about real community, they are just as interested in only being around people who are “good fits” as everyone else.
Affinity as the primary socialization mechanism is a sign of a degenerated culture.
Pre-60s housewives were generally NOT expected to cough up fresh bread daily, or gourmet meals three times a day. They were also not expected to keep a very large home spotless whilst mincing about in heels and pearls. The community standards for what a housewife was supposed to do were actually pretty minimal and attainable for even relatively brokedown women.
A simple (truly simple) dish of meat/eggs/fish, a starch and one or two spices was considered completely decent and good enough. Needless to say, this is no longer true, particularly among conservative SAHMs, who tend to be most driven towards expectation inflation in the matters of domesticity for various reasons I’ve either already covered or will the next time I read through old posts to note allusions I haven’t written up yet.
One of the reasons Mormons are still functionally conservative in many respects is that they remember that you can’t keep up appearances if the appearances are very complex and detailed. People sometimes make cracks about how Mom wouldn’t let them mess up the ‘parlor for company’, but this dramatically slashed the ongoing cleaning burden and made for an attainable cross-class and cross-income and cross-racial set of housewiving standards that average to slightly dim women could manage with a little elbow grease.
Conservatives, if they want normal life restored, have to remember that broad-based community standards must consider all God’s children and be minimal without being token. It can be a fine line to navigate, but we have so much tradition from so many of the cultures that infuse American identity to draw upon in shaping those simple, reachable goals.
But it can be hard when Walter Mitty syndrome is rampant.