“Empirical research shows that no domestic arrangement, not even one in which the mother works full time and the father is unemployed, results in child-care parity between heterosexual spouses. The story we tell ourselves, the one about great leaps toward the achievement of gender equality between parents, is a glass-half-full kind of interpretation. But the reality is a half-empty glass: While modern men and women espouse egalitarian ideals and report that their decisions are mutual, outcomes tend to favor fathers’ needs and goals much more than mothers’.
The result of this covert power imbalance is not a net zero. A growing body of research in family and clinical studies demonstrates that spousal equality promotes marital success and that inequality undermines it. And the disparity creates not only undue emotional, physical and financial strain on mothers, but also perpetuates attitudes about what is and should be acceptable — or even desirable — between a woman and a man, with children as their eager audience.”
That’s a direct quote from an article that was published recently in the Washington Post. (Here’s a link to the entire thing if you’d like to read it yourself. ) It was the dramatic headline that got my attention – ‘Where do Kids Learn to Undervalue Women? From their Parents’. Some of the people reading this blog know my partner, Sharon, and can testify that she’s an independent thinker and a fearless woman. I admire her, a lot.
She and I agree, have always agreed, that abusers of all stripes are bred in the family and in the society and we have striven to raise our children in a non-toxic atmosphere. For me, it’s been an uphill struggle against the attitudes and prejudices with which I was endowed, not by my Creator, but by my parents and by the society in which I live.
While it may be fair to argue that the society is just the family writ large, it’s much more than that. It’s a bit like the difference between the private ignorance and fear that engenders racism in its supporters, and the institutional framework of law and regulation that preserves it. The fundamental similarity in the way misogynism and racism operate in the human mind is not a coincidence.
I think that the rupture over the Fifteenth Amendment, evidenced by Frederick Douglass’ political rejection of the Women’s Movement, was a great mistake. (And this in spite of his deep understanding of the innate connections between the struggles of disfranchised white women and similarly afflicted ex-slaves.) It’s unfinished business.
So here we are again, as our generation’s version of the Civil War rages around us.
Yes, I went there. It’s true, isn’t it? The old fault lines have ruptured again, under the pressure of a failing economy.
Recently I watched a BBC documentary film on the growth of a white supremacy movement in the USA . I came away with an image that planted itself in my brain as a figure of what we face in this country.
That’s a screen grab from the film, KKK The Fight for White Supremacy; it’s available now on Netflix.