Monday, January 28, 2013

My Ideal America: Careers vs. Child-rearing

I think people should be careful not to confuse biological drives with social requirements.

Specifically, I believe women are more likely than men to have a biological urge to stay at home and raise children, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. My problem is when society (the ever ambiguous "society") pressures individual women to sacrifice their careers and be stay-at-home moms whether they happen to have that biological urge or not.

Similarly, I think men are more likely than women to have a biological urge to go out and build careers and financially support their families, and I think that's great. My problem is when society pressures individual men to go out in the work force and not stay at home with their children whether they happen to have that biological urge or not.

I think we have biologically-based gender differences that are socially reinforced. I'm not sure how acute those differences would be if society didn't reinforce them, though I still think the differences would exist. I would prefer that each couple decides between themselves how they want to balance careers, financial concerns, and child-rearing without having to factor in how the vague "society" will react to those decisions.

I expect a mind-your-own-business society would mean more stay-at-home dads and more bread-winning moms than there are right now, though overall there would still be more stay-at-home moms than dads, and more bread-winning dads than moms. Either way, people should be able to play to their strengths regardless of whether their strengths follow typical gender norms.

Also, this movie is really funny. I love Michael Keaton.


  1. I think there may be a third dimension, which is the re-enforcment of gender norms based on what the opposite sex finds attractive. Women are more attracted to career-driven and ambitious men, men are more attracted to domestic and family-oriented women, broadly speaking anyway. Therefore, even men who'd rather stay at home and look after kids will still pursue a career just to impress the lady-types, while women who'd rather have a career will still pretend to bake brownies to impress the guys they like.

    I mean, I can't speak from the female side, but I know that as a man, even though I have a really low desire to have a successful career in anything at all, I'd still be very uncomfortable if the woman I may or may not ever marry got a job making all kinds of money while I changed diapers at home, because I'd be afraid she'd stop being attracted to me.

    I'm just wondering how much more affective that aspect is than "society" frowning upon it?

    1. I can't speak as much for men, but I know as a woman I find ambition attractive in a man and the lack of it a problem--and I'm the type of woman that wants my own career too. In my particular case I'm not sure how much of it has to do with valuing ambition and a strong work ethic generally, and how much of it has to do with wanting someone who can take care of me and a family specifically.

      I wonder how much of what we find attractive is biology-driven vs. society-driven anyway.

      If you met a woman you knew would find you attractive as a stay-at-home dad, would you be comfortable with her "making all kinds of money"? I expect there are women who are worried about coming across as too ambitious and "un-motherly" because the guy would find them unattractive too. I know I've been told before that I have to be careful not to bee too forward or aggressive because guys won't find me attractive. I feel very fortunate that the man I'm with seems to like me quite a lot as I am.

  2. Jack is definitely a man of men, no doubt :P