The consequence of female choices

I have frequently written on the way that some women choosing to work has a negative impact on the ability of other women to choose to stay home and raise their children. Despite the fact that the economic logic behind this statement is impeccable and the reality of these consequences are inescapable, many critics, especially women, have nevertheless scoffed at this and insisted that the decision of one woman to work cannot possibly have any effect on subsequent choices available to other women.

Their economically illiterate doubts make the following comments by the author of a new feminist book blaming the lack of female executive achievement on a “culture that undervalues an entire gender” all the more ironic:

The New York Times asks about the impact of women choosing to “flee” the workforce (a loaded question), Feldt explains:

They make it harder for the rest of us to remedy the inequities that remain. We have to make young women aware of how their choices affect other women. It should be acceptable criticism to point out that, although everyone has the right to make their own life decisions, choosing to “opt out” reinforces stereotypes about women’s priorities that we’ve been working for decades to shatter, so just cut it out. And, the “individual choice” women have to become stay-at-home moms becomes precarious when they try to return to the workplace and find their earning power and options reduced. If we could see child-rearing as a necessary task and not an identity, and if we could collectively recognize that facilitating it benefits us all, we would go much further in guaranteeing women’s choices than we do when we are expected to uncritically celebrate every individual’s decisions.

The amusing thing is that while Gloria Feldt asserts “We have to make young women aware of how their choices affect other women”, she is talking about the immaterial and imaginary effect of “reinforcing stereotypes” whereas I am pointing to a material decline in real wages as well as a reduced chance to marry a man who is capable of supporting a wife and children, much less is more successful than the woman interested in him.


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