Mariette Ulrich

Dangerous housewives

Mariette Ulrich
By Mariette Ulrich
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May 7, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - Has enough been made of the Hilary Rosen “stay-home-moms-don’t-work” calamity? Maybe yes, maybe no, but as a college-educated full-time mother of seven, I am not about to let it go without comment. (I wish I could have weighed in a bit sooner, but, well, I was busy with family activities.)

Ms Rosen took a lot of heat for her remark about Anne Romney, from all sides of the political spectrum: fellow Democrats scrambled to distance themselves; even Mrs. Obama tweeted her displeasure. Far from censuring Ms Rosen, however, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto says she deserves thanks for being an “honest feminist”.

Taranto points out that, beginning approximately with Freud’s influence, the denigration of motherhood has been an ongoing “major theme in American culture”. If the disparagement of motherhood (especially the full-time variety) is a socio-political creed, then feminism is its prophet and the Democratic party, despite its avowals to the contrary, its church-home base.

From Hillary Clinton’s 1992 condescending “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” to the present day, the Democrat-feminist complex (can I call it the Dem-fem to save time?) has been clear on how it regards the choices of women who don’t march in lockstep with their agenda.

Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshal believes that Mrs Clinton’s remark was consistent with comments made by feminist matriarch Betty Friedan in her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique: “I am convinced there is something about the housewife state itself that is dangerous,” wrote Friedan, describing the homemaker as consigned to “a comfortable concentration camp”.

Who knew that wiping noses, driving kids to soccer, dusting the furniture, and catching up on the school day over a plate of freshly baked brownies constituted living dangerously?

And why, decades after Friedan raised the alarm, are so many women refusing to buy into feminism’s brand of salvation? As Marshall points out, most young women today still view marriage and motherhood as desirable life goals. When they achieve that aspiration, nearly 70 per cent of full-time working mothers with children under 18 claim that they would prefer to work part time or not at all (Pew Research Center report, 2007). 

Feminism continues to tout “choice” ad nauseam while excoriating women who make the “wrong” choices according to the Dem-fem creed. Marshall calls this the “feminist mystique”, which (ironically) fails to treat women as intelligent individuals capable of making their own choices, but instead demands conformity to a “feminist norm”. She notes that feminists still make the mistake of categorizing women as a class.

You still hear politicians, male and female, talk about the “women’s vote” or “women’s issues”. When was the last time (or the first time?) anyone talked about “men’s issues” or the “men’s vote”? Treating women as a voting bloc is in itself a bizarre form of condescension, where we are seen, not as individual human beings, but as a homogeneous special interest group, and one with permanent victim status.

Frankly, a lot of people (and not just stay-home moms) are sick of this condescension. Hence the pushback. New York Times Sunday op-ed columnist Frank Bruni, defends his own late mother:

I know that she was proud of how she spent her time and chafed mightily at any career woman who in any way insinuated that she was performing a servile or trivial function. And since she’s no longer around, I’ll chafe for her. What Rosen said was inaccurate, gratuitous and a sad example of the way politics is practiced today.

Bruni argues, however, that Rosen’s remark ultimately generated too much political hay since her comments did not represent the Obama administration. Many mainstream media pundits likewise called the story a “non-controversy”. I beg to differ. The Dem’s reaction (to Rosen’s statement) was mere damage control: the fact that it’s an election year requires the Dem-fems to repress their true feelings about homemakers’ choices. And repression is never a good thing, is it, ladies?

As WSJ’s James Taranto points out, Rosen’s attitude does reflect feminist thought on the subject, which also tends to coincide with Democrat policy. Neither movement is a friend of traditional families and/or gender roles. Few dare suggest (with certain cultural exceptions) that such roles should be enforced or even promoted, but in the current climate they are not even respected or given equal shrift—even when traditional roles and attitudes are chosen by many Americans.

This is perhaps because the logistics surrounding such choices are not always clearly understood. Taranto, for example, says: “[A]n increasing number of women are choosing domestic life, finding it a liberating alternative to working for a boss. But to do so requires a husband with considerable means.”

Mr Taranto, you disappoint. This is buying into Rosen’s back-pedaling, class warfare-inducing view that Mrs Romney was able to stay home and raise her children only because her husband is a millionaire. Families—and there are many—who make great personal sacrifices (career, financial) to have one parent at home are weary of hearing that full-time parenthood is a luxury. For many working class families, moreover, spousal education levels, stagnant wages and punitive tax regimes make it frankly (and ironically) financially unappealing for the wife to work outside the home. A New York Times report in the wake of the Rosen-Romney fracas refuted the stay-home-mom-as-luxury myth, noting that 65 per cent of stay-at-home, married mothers of children under 18 live in a household with an annual income below $75,000.

The vast majority of stay-home moms, regardless of income or social status, choose to stay home because home and family is where we find fulfillment. Betty Friedan wasn’t right about much, but she was certainly correct that such women are dangerous: we repudiate the feminist world-view, and find self-actualization in (brace yourself) loving and serving our families.

Many of us are college educated. We think, we read, we discuss, we protest, and we vote. (Thanks, Suffragettes!) As National Post’s Marni Soupcoff observes, many homemakers indeed joined a tea party, but not quite the one Hillary Clinton had in mind. In this, we potentially threaten the existence of feminist political power; thus, feminism cannot validate our choices. Evidently, this has not yet occurred to Frank Bruni, who still seems naïvely befuddled by the Rosen debacle:

What’s most bothersome about Rosen’s comment… was its betrayal of what the Democratic Party and feminism at their best are supposed to be about: recognizing the full diversity of human experience and empowering everyone along that spectrum to walk successfully down the path of his or her choosing, so long as it poses no clear harm to anyone else.

Well said, but he misses a big fat irony: in the view of many persons (male and female) with traditional values, the Dem-fems are constantly and relentlessly advancing an anti-life, anti-marriage, anti-family, anti-human, anti-freedom agenda, which poses a clear threat, not only to individuals, but to the fabric of society and by extension, the future of the nation itself.

Bruni remembers how his own mother was vexed by the feminist notion that full-time motherhood somehow meant “turning your back” on your college education: ‘“I haven’t turned my back on my education,” she continued, adding that she used it daily “to make my home the center of learning it should be.”

And there, perhaps, we hit on the chief danger posed by traditional motherhood: if moms and dads are influencing their children, there is less chance they’ll succumb to the Dem-fem worldview. Taranto notes:

Fifty years ago, Ann Romney’s life would have made her just a regular woman. Today, she is a countercultural figure—someone who lives in a way that the dominant culture regards with a hostile disdain. And she has chosen to live that way, which is why Hilary Rosen, as an intellectual heiress to Betty Friedan, regards her as a villain rather than a victim.

Of course, smart moms know who the real villains are, and we’re teaching our children (future voters and taxpayers) to recognize them too. Living dangerously? Bring it on.

Mariette Ulrich writes from western Canada. She blogs on Family Edge. This article first appeared at Mercatornet.com and is reprinted under a Creative Commons License.


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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

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By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

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In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

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By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

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As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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