unemployment as lifestyle choice
Via a friend, an interesting Judith Warner article that discusses how a very real employment downturn for women has been recast (for years) as a 'lifestyle choice'.
I am one of those people who will argue strenuously that choosing housewifery as a career is, or at least can be, a feminist choice. And I honestly get annoyed with people who denigrate that decision, because my idea of feminism is that women should be able to make that choice -- and that so should men. My feminism looks a lot like equality, in opportunity, pay, and responsibility. It's one of the reasons I took a financial hit in the divorce -- X was a bit older and had less time to make up a decent retirement than I did. More careful figuring would probably have meant a smaller hit, but I don't resent that a bit of generosity meant things remained amicable. But I digress.
I think what makes the report that gives this article substance most interesting is that it confirms that sneaking suspicion that many of us had -- yes, being a SAHM is a lifestyle choice, but it's often a choice made as a response to factors we don't like to admit. I can't really think of any of my acquaintance who has made this choice, who has not mentioned the cost of child care as a factor. For many women, it's not that it's the first choice, just the most sensible, given the situation. I think that, in academia, we see this less, but only because we already have the phenomenon of the trailing spouse who takes adjunct work, hoping eventually for a spousal hire. But the fact that one partner has already taken the lesser position because it's the best choice for the couple's survival is something we've learned to live with. Doesn't make it right, though.