Comments on: “Opting back in” is SO much less sexy than “opting out,” apparently. History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 22 Sep 2014 19:47:12 +0000 hourly 1 By: Nicoleandmaggie Wed, 14 Aug 2013 18:31:14 +0000 Slate article is ignoring that women’s economic class is somewhat fluid and depends quite a bit on their marital situation (on average). Are they divorced because they’re working class or working class because they’re divorced? Ananat and Michaels finds that after a divorce, half of women are much worse off and half of them are much better off, generally because they remarry someone who is better than their first husbands.

By: Historiann Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:44:40 +0000 Thanks, Trisha: I saw that Slate article this morning, too.

It’s interesting that I read this now, as I just watched Michael Apted’s 56 Up, his movie series in which he has interviewed the same people every 7 years from age 7 to 56 (so far). There were many lessons in the movie, one of which was the power of money to stabilize marriage/heterosexuality, and/or the power of marriage/heterosexuality in a capitalist economy. None of the wealthy toffs have been divorced. Two of the working-class women have divorced, but one has had a stable partnership for the past 14 years. A working-class man was divorced but his life was stabilized at least in part by his second marriage. Only one of the working-class women divorcees was economically fragile. In short, marriage appears to have shored up and stabilized the economic fortunes of those who remain married or successfully remarried.

People seem happy with their lives for the most part, but it seemed to me that the working-class families were doing a lot of caretaking still of their children (and grandchildren). Their children appear to be having a much more difficult time establishing themselves professionally.

More relevant to this conversation, perhaps, is the fact that “opting out” is something that none of the working-class women appeared to have done. (The only upper-class woman, Susan, never opted out because she never opted in: she attended a secretarial school rather than university, and appears never to have been in the paid workforce either before or after marriage and children.) Two actually have made professional or para-professional careers for themselves, one as a librarian, and the other as an administrator at the UCL law school.

By: Trisha Wed, 14 Aug 2013 13:25:11 +0000 Some related ideas about marriage and finances are in this slate piece: That post itself doesn’t convince me, I’ll have to go read the article on which it is based.

By: truffula Sun, 11 Aug 2013 00:12:09 +0000 I should have written that it is not clear to me if “encourage women to take a more traditional role” is understood to be a good thing or not.

By: nicoleandmaggie Sat, 10 Aug 2013 13:48:23 +0000 @truffula
We don’t really know if “family-friendly” programs help or hurt women. We know that they mommy-track and stall careers of some women, but we don’t know if they keep women in the labor force who would have otherwise dropped out. (Also, I suspect their effects might be different in say, the SF bay area where everyone takes advantage of them and employers have to offer them to keep talent as opposed to places in which the employer has more power. We know that Sweden’s mandatory paternal leave has helped women in the labor market.) Hence the ambivalence.

Francine Blau is the author of one of the textbooks on women in the labor market. It’s a great read.

By: Linnk lovve | Grumpy rumblings of the (formerly!) untenured Sat, 10 Aug 2013 07:20:57 +0000 [...] hard to get back in the labor market after an absence.  Here’s commentary from bardiac, historiann, not of general interest, and dr. [...]

By: truffula Fri, 09 Aug 2013 23:08:42 +0000 Men with extended absences

The newspaper article I linked above is about research regarding the “stigma of workplace flexibility,” including consequences to men of taking family leave from work. A couple of quotes:

men who seek work flexibility may be penalized more severely than women, because they’re viewed as more feminine, deviating from their traditional role of fully committed breadwinners.

They also looked at how the perception of women using flexible arrangements differs across class lines: affluent women often receive the message that they should stay at home, while poor women are more likely to hear that they shouldn’t have had children to begin with.

and finally,

“If you have a very extensive network of these family-friendly programs, it can encourage women to take a more traditional role,” Professor Blau said. “It’s an issue of balance. If you don’t have adequate arrangements, then it’s very hard for women to maintain their attachment to the labor force and for employers to invest in the women’s skills.”

I can’t tell if this last is meant to imply that family friendly programs are beneficial or not. The whole topic is so steeped in daddy-mommy-kiddies thinking that it makes me feel as if my head will explode. The best approach is to stop trying to fix something that is broken way down deep inside and just get on to the revolution. That some privileged people might be able to live happy, totally equal in every way lives in the midst of disaster is cold comfort.

By: rachel Fri, 09 Aug 2013 15:38:26 +0000 Ugh, the article really pissed me off. The men (most of whom come across as total douches) get a real pass — “All this would be easier if you didn’t work.” When does a woman ever (get to) say that to her husband? Why wouldn’t it be easier if *he* didn’t work (when she’s making a cool 1/2 mill, it’s not as if they couldn’t survive on that salary. Why is his more important? Sure childcare is expensive but these aren’t families struggling to make ends meet, and still it’s the women’s responsibility to handle the children, the food, the laundry, the household.

And beyond the individual consequences (as one woman learned, work contributes to self-worth and self-esteem), there are the societal consequences. As mentioned above, what do the kids think? What’s being modeled in these homes? But also, studies have shown that male bosses whose wives stay at home are less likely to promote women whereas male bosses whose wives work promote men and women more equally. It’s not just about what works for one family, which is how these decisions are so often cast; there are social, economic, and political ramifications to these “private” decisions (causes too).

By: Historiann Fri, 09 Aug 2013 13:40:19 +0000 truffula wrote: “That these fake tradeoffs are cast as positive for women only serves to makes it worse.”

YES! Funny how money and power are always interesting enough for men’s careers.

By: nicoleandmaggie Fri, 09 Aug 2013 12:06:53 +0000 @koshembos
Men with extended absences from the labor market tend to do worse than women. (The evidence isn’t perfect– no audit studies yet to my knowledge.) The theory is that employers believe they have been in jail.