For decades now, the notion of being a stay-at-home mother has been falling out of favor. Feminism’s assault on what was considered traditional womanhood — and, by extension, traditional family structures — created an environment where it was no longer assumed that a woman had no choice but to get married and crank out some kids.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a wonderful development.
However, this movement had morphed from the liberty-minded “let women choose” to — yes, really — “lock up women who don’t want to work.”
Unfortunately for the “lock ’em up” crowd, it seems that the generation progressives are most counting on to carry the torch are turning against the idea that “real” women must be working:
The liberal imagination tends to assume not only that history unfolds in a progressive direction but also that progressivism’s disparate values and groups need not contradict one another. But from Brexit to Donald Trump, the past year has served as a bracing reminder that history does not always head in a progressive direction, and that important constituencies of the progressive coalition — such as the white working class — do not always push history in a leftward direction. Now there are new signs that another prized progressive value, gender equality, may be in trouble — partly thanks to key members of the progressive coalition.
New research indicates that young millennials, who many assumed would be torchbearers for a more progressive approach to family life, actually take a more traditional view of family arrangements than Generation Xers and baby boomers when they were young adults.
After embracing increasingly feminist family attitudes from the 1970s to the 1990s, young adults are more likely to embrace traditional attitudes about male breadwinning, female homemaking and male authority in the home, according to a new report from sociologists Joanna Pepin and David Cotter. They note that although millennials have not backed off their support for opportunities for working women, they are less likely to embrace egalitarianism at home compared with young adults two decades ago. In other words, the gender revolution in attitudes among young adults has stalled out or even shifted course.
One of the things credited for this change is, surprisingly, feminism. In particular, a return of the strain of feminism that pushed for equality of opportunity.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t delve into other potential cultural stimuli for this behavior. For example, millennials are often seeking out experiences that intentionally buck what they believe is expected of them. There is a belief among that generation that being cool means not doing what is popular — which leads to the irony of hipsters choosing to all look exactly alike in their “non-conformity,” but I digress — and this generation has been raised in a world where women were expected to have jobs outside the home and to reject traditional family structure.
Tell a culture-obsessed young adult how to behave, and they’ll do the opposite.
Still, it’s great to see “homemaker” being restored to its proper place of honor.