Perhaps women aren’t actually bizarre aliens with completely inexplicable preferences, Scott Alexander suggests:
I mean, suppose you had the following two options:
- A job working from home, where you are your own boss. The job description is “spending as much or as little time as you want with your own children and helping them grow and adjust to the adult world.”
- A job in the office, where you do have a boss, and she wants you to get her the Atkins report “by yesterday” or she is going to throw your sorry ass out on the street where it belongs, and there better not be any complaints about it this time.
Assume both jobs would give you exactly the same amount of social status and respect.
Now assume that suddenly a bunch of people come along saying that actually, only losers pick Job 1 and surely you’re not a loser, are you? And you have to watch all your former Job 1 buddies go out and take Job 2 and be praised for this and your husband asks why you aren’t going into Job 2 and contributing something to the family finances for once, and eventually you just give in and go to Job 2, but also you’ve got to do large portions of Job 1, and also the extra income mysteriously fails to give your family any more money and in fact you are worse off financially than before.
Is it so hard to imagine that a lot of women would be less happy under this new scenario?
Now of course (most) feminists very reasonably say that it’s Totally Okay If You Want To Stay Home And We’re Not Trying To Force Anyone. But let’s use the feminists’ own criteria on that one. Suppose Disney put out a series of movies in which they had lots of great female role models who only worked in the home and were subservient to their husbands all the time, and lauded them as real women who were courageous and awesome and sexy and not just poor oppressed stick-in-the-muds, and then at the end they flashed a brief message “But Of Course Working Outside The Home Is Totally Okay Also”. Do you think feminists would respond “Yeah, we have no problem with this, after all they did flash that message at the end”?
Aside from being better for women, traditional marriages seem to have many other benefits. They allow someone to bring up the children so that they don’t have to spend their childhood in front of the television being socialized by reruns of Drug-Using Hypersexual Gangsters With Machine Guns. They ensure that at least one member of each couple has time to be doing things that every household should be doing anyway, like keeping careful track of finances, attending parent-teacher conferences, and keeping in touch with family.