Why Does the Independent Women’s Forum Refuse to Engage on Gendered Expectations?

Why Does the Independent Women’s Forum Refuse to Engage on Gendered Expectations?

At the Independent Women’s Forum blog, Carrie Lukas has written a response to my TownHall column on what the rise of high-earning women will and should mean for gender roles.

It’s a easy-to-ready, snappily written post, which is only marred by a few total misunderstandings of my arguments and an overall failure to understand the point of the column.

First, Carrie quotes me as saying, “The problem here is that it’s a solution which relies on but does not critique the role of pernicious gender-based expectations in shaping what women ‘are suited to’ and ‘want.’” She then, kind of hilariously, does exactly that. She details instances of easily seen gender differences without critiquing the role of pernicious gender-based expectations in those differences. Odd.

She goes on, “It’s unhelpful to mischaracterize those of us who acknowledge sex difference as somehow pushing women back into the kitchen and oppose women working and succeeding in the economy.” Again, gendered expectations like the ones reinforced by Carrie do indeed influence (I wouldn’t use the word push, but if the shoe fits) women to conform to those expectations.

Carrie says, “Also, there is something a little insulting about those who dismiss studies and polls reporting women’s preferences as solely evidence that women are all still victims of the patriarchy and are too dense don’t know what would truly make them happy.” Well yes, it is. Which is why that’s a straw-man of my position. Something that happens often, as I talk about here.

It’s a simple mind which thinks decisions are either made in a culture-free vacuum of total free will or by people too dense to know what will make them happy. The reality is that we’re all making decisions for ourselves based on what we think will make us happy, but none of us are doing so in a vacuum.

In fact, there’s a lot to be said for the stigma a woman feels when she violates gender norms and the comfort she feels in complying with them. But the reality is that that friction and happiness are created, in part, by people like Carrie telling women what they should and do want because they’re women.

She then takes issue with my solution to the pernicious effects of gendered expectations on women’s earning potential. I say, “Simply put, high-earning women who want to unlock their potential should wife uneducated men.”

Carrie says this solution, “Seems like a rather limited version of life.  Most people aren’t solely interested in maximizing earnings.” Which is why I said it’s a solution for “high-earning women who want to unlock their potential.” It’s not a solution for low-earning women who want to stay home with their kids.

There’s probably a lot to legitimately critique in what I actually wrote. So it’s odd that I’ve been taken to task for positions I didn’t take.

And it’s especially unfortunate that in a response to a clarion call to put aside the focus on the biological role played in gendered behavior and take a long, hard look at the role culture plays in gendered expectations in outcomes, Carrie only strawmans that idea as saying women don’t have free will to make choices.

I don’t know whether this is true, and I hope it’s not, but the steadfast refusal to critique the role of gendered expectations on women’s choices feels like a steadfast defense of the status quo regarding women’s representation in careers and other positions of power.

With More Women Bringing Home the Bacon, Who’s Going to Fry It Up?

With More Women Bringing Home the Bacon, Who’s Going to Fry It Up?

The New York Times has an interesting think piece up on upper-class gender relations: Wall Street Mothers, Stay-Home Fathers.

The thrust of the piece is that many of the women with children who manage to make a killing on Wall Street are able to do so because their husbands have taken their feet off the gas pedal on their own careers and are handling things on the domestic front.

What the piece helps illustrate is that making a lot of money in America still mostly requires a lot of time spent working. It is therefore mostly incompatible with being the primary person responsible for raising children and running a household. With the ascent of women to the upper echelons of finance and other highly paid careers, the question for families now and in the future becomes, who is going to take care of the house and kids?

There are three primary responses to this question offered by most thinkers and commentators. But all of them have serious drawbacks and miss a huge part of the picture.

Women Love Being Homemakers

The first response is that women are naturally suited to and mostly like being the primary person responsible for raising children and running a household. Therefore, they should do it and let their husbands bring home the bacon.

It’s true that, when asked, most women say they don’t want to work as many hours as most men. As Independent Women’s Forum Executive Director Sabrina Schaeffer recently pointed out:

It may be unpopular – or simply not politically fashionable to say this – but most women don’t want to be Sheryl Sandberg. The Pew Research Center recently found that if offered the choice, only 23 percent of married mothers would choose to work full-time outside of the home. What’s more, “working fathers place more importance on having a high-paying job, while working mothers are more concerned with having a flexible schedule.”


The problem here is that it’s a solution which relies on but does not critique the role of pernicious gender-based expectations in shaping what women “are suited to” and “want.”

How ironic is this. By telling women that they are best suited to and should enjoy staying home and taking care of kids, the culture influences their desire to do so. Most women don’t want to be seen as “masculine,” just as most men don’t want to be seen as “feminine.” Mostly without ever realizing it, women are making choices that ensure they meet what they’ve spent their whole lives hearing are the expectations of their gender.

It’s also losing credibility as an accurate description of what women are best suited to as women are earning more degrees than men, and are also demonstrably better suited to earning money in an information- and service-based economy than are men.

Women Need Wives

The second response is that as now women are earning more degrees than men, it’s time for women to step into breadwinner roles and men to become the new wives. This is a big part of the premise of Lean In.

The problem here is that, as the article shows, even men without jobs aren’t doing as much in the childcare and household duties arena as unemployed wives do. And there is still societal stigma directed at men who don’t do paid work. As mentioned before, gendered expectations persist. In this environment, unpaid work is seen as “feminine,” and a patriarchal culture swiftly punishes men seen a man acting like women.

In fact, TIME just posted a response to the NYT article, <href=”#ixzz2n6ee41gj” target=”_blank”>Vivia Chen: When Stay-at-Home Husbands Are Embarrassing to Their Wives, pointing out how many feel about such arrangements:

All of this points to our entrenched ambivalence about changing gender roles. Men in these situations often feel alienated, particularly if they are surrounded by stay-at-home moms. But the power moms with the stay-at-home husbands are just as uneasy, often more embarrassed than proud that they’ve upset the traditional order.


Workplaces Should Cater to Women

The third response is that American workplaces should adapt to allow women the flexibility they need to be primary caretakers AND earn big paychecks. This is the solution offered by Anne-Marie Slaughter.

The problem here is that it is kind of a fool’s errand. As pointed out earlier, women don’t want to work as long or as hard as men, and no amount of corporate coddling is going to make them want to.

The Fourth Way

Who should handle raising the kids and taking care of the house? Simply put, it should be whoever’s opportunity cost is lowest.

Besides being a hindrance to women, gendered expectations actually inhibit economic growth by distorting labor markets. This wasn’t much of a problem in the past. In an agriculture and manufacturing economy, most women really didn’t have as much earning potential as most men. But in an information- and service-based economy, that’s no longer true. Keeping women with high earning potential in the home because they feel that’s where they belong robs society of their potential value in careers.

But where does that leave men? Simply put, high-earning women who want to unlock their potential should wife uneducated men. The big drawback to this solution is that it requires that individuals defy gendered expectations. This is a tall order, and people who defy expectations are stigmatized accordingly.

But it’s an economic reality that people who arrange their lives this way will be more financially successful than people who either don’t get married or cling to traditional gender roles. Economics will eventually re-dictate gendered expectations to conform to what’s most effective. The winners will be the early adopters.

This post originally appeared at TownHall.

The Paul Ryan Budget Is Worse Than Doing Nothing

The Paul Ryan Budget Is Worse Than Doing Nothing

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner are taken aback by the negative reactions from conservative groups to the budget deal brokered with Democrats late Tuesday night. “CBS News” is reporting that Boehner lashed out in response to a question about the deal yesterday in a news conference.

“This is ridiculous,” Boehner exclaimed. “Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you are for this agreement.”

But conservatives are right to be skeptical. It’s fairly disingenuous to claim, as Boehner does, that this agreement should make people interested in deficit reduction happy. The deal does far less to reduce the federal deficit than the alternative, which is doing nothing and allowing sequestration cuts to take place.

The deal, brokered with Senate budget chair Patty Murray, increases federal spending by $45 billion, doesn’t touch Medicare or Social Security and forces Americans to pay more to be felt-up and naked-scanned by the TSA. And all to prop up the already-bloated budget of the Department of Defense, which gets half of that additional spending.

It replaces $63 billion in automatic spending cuts with $45 billion more spending for the first year and $63 billion over the course of two years. Federal spending for the next fiscal year would reach an astronomical $1.012 trillion, and then increase to $1.014 trillion the year after that.

Right-wing groups such as Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform have all voiced opposition to the deal.

The U.S. government is on a completely unsustainable path toward insolvency, mostly as a result of entitlement spending. According to Social Security and Medicare’s board of trustees:

We are looking at over $30 trillion in total obligations that we have to find sources to pay for above and beyond projected payroll tax and premium revenues.

To pass a budget that doesn’t deal with entitlement spending is to polish the brass on the Titanic. To extend the metaphor further than is advisable, the only justification I can think of for doing this is to help ensure Republicans get to hold the polish rag.

But is holding the line on a budget that would actually deal with the deficit in a meaningful way really political suicide for the GOP? According to ”National Review”:

Republicans often hail sequestration’s automatic spending cuts, implemented after the 2011 debt-ceiling fight, as one of their greatest accomplishments since retaking the House in 2010.

It appears a more likely reason for the extra spending is that sequester would “impact the military disproportionately,” according to a letter from House conservatives. But the deal is “the best news they’ve (the Department of Defense) had in a long time,” by the calculations of “Politico’s” Philip Ewing.

But is a good deal for the Pentagon a good deal for American taxpayers?

With a DoD annual budget of $629 billion, the United States’s military spending defies all logic and common sense. The United States is responsible for 39 percent of all the military spending in the the world. Sequestration would put the DoD’s budget at about $475 billion. That would mean the United States would only outspend the next-biggest competitor, China, by $309 billion.

Luckily, to deal with the shortfall the Pentagon could easily cut around $70 billion from the budget over 10 years simply by getting rid of waste, without threatening any Army brigade combat teams, Navy combat ships or Air Force fighter squadrons. For immediate relief, the Pentagon could save the $23 billion it wasted in 2013 overusing contractors and underusing oversight according to one senior defense official.

Any suggestion that sequestration will make Americans less safe from attack is absurd. Unfortunately in all branches of government spending cuts are usually not followed by ruthless assessments aimed at rooting out waste and fraud, but are politicized to create the most hurt for the most people so the spending is restored as quickly as possible.

However, with a budget that would still take up nearly half of all federal spending even after sequestration, no amount of political gamesmanship will be sufficient to actually make the United States measurably more vulnerable to attack.

Democrats are so reluctant to avoid sequestration they let go of their plan to extend employment benefits to pass this deal. Failing to take advantage of this situation in order to prop up a bloated and wasteful DoD, while allowing entitlement programs to continue to bankrupt this country isn’t leadership. This is one case where it would be far better to do nothing.

This post originally appeared on The Blaze.

The White House Has to Respond to a Libertarian Health Care Policy Proposal!

The White House Has to Respond to a Libertarian Health Care Policy Proposal!

I won a contest from PolicyMic with a proposal for fixing the Affordable Care Act. The proposal with the most “mics” in each of three categories, Local Education, National Engagement, and Policy Proposals, will receive a personal response from the White House.

PolicyMic is the voice of our generation, and we’re using our exciting platform to spark meaningful conversation on the issues that matter to young people. PolicyMic‘s “Open Mic” for health care gave our generation the unique opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas on how to educate our generation about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and suggest ways to make the law work better for us.

Mine is a Policy Proposal category. I called it They want you to think this is complicated. It’s really not. Let competition work. Each submission had to be under 500 words.

Due to government tampering, there is no market for health insurance. It’s currently illegal to:

*Offer customers catastrophic-care health insurance

*Sell health insurance plans across state lines

*Give employees cash to buy plans at the same tax rate as choosing their health insurance for them

Ending the regulatory burden and tax incentives in just these three areas would:

*Give Millennials the ability to buy affordable health insurance that works for them

*Force insurers to actually compete for customers, increasing quality while decreasing price

*End the employer/insurance link, eliminating the incentive for plans which cover routine care

Paying for routine care out of pocket instead of through insurance would allow and incentivize price shopping and competition, decreasing prices and increasing quality. It would also reduce administrative costs and overtreatment.

They want you to think this is complicated. It’s really not. Let competition work.

That proposal beat the next-best-performing submission by more than 100 mics. The White House will be issuing a response in January.

Want Libertarians to Have Nice Things? Please Give to Liberty.me

Want Libertarians to Have Nice Things? Please Give to Liberty.me

This is how I describe Liberty.me: Imagine the Huffington Post and PolicyMic had a baby, and she turned out to be a libertarian.

Their Indiegogo campaign launched minutes ago, and I’d like to make a case for why you will want to give.

Liberty.me will combine original writing from authoritative authors with a platform that allows anyone to post their thoughts. It will serve as a total marketplace of ideas, where posts earn “karma” by getting comments, upvotes and more.

In addition, it will be a great resource for people seeking to learn about liberty, with guides aimed at breaking down complex issues into easy-to-understand and easy-to-apply fundamentals. I’m writing on about how to help women get on board with liberty now.

And, I mean, it’s Jeffrey Tucker, y’all.

Now, many people have said we don’t need a libertarian social and news platform. I’m sure the same people told Arianna Huffington that the world didn’t need  a progressive Drudge Report. And I’m sure people told Mark Zuckerberg that the world didn’t need another Myspace.

Liberty.me is more than just another social platform for libertarians. It takes the best of what’s out there, then adds to it, with an ideological slant which is growing in influence and popularity.

If you read me, I know you’ll want to get on board. And you’ll be supporting me as well. If you give $150 you can choose which libertarian you’d like to engage in a 90-minute Seminar and Q&A. I’m on the list :) Membership to Liberty.me won’t be free. But if you give to the Indiegogo campaign, you can get all kinds of perks in addition to your membership.

Please consider giving, and sharing this post so others can give as well. To great new heights for liberty!