Monday, November 07, 2005

Growing up

Kathleen Parker answers Maureen Dowd's questions (via GR):
Men haven't turned away from smart, successful women because they're smart and successful. More likely they've turned away because the feminist movement that encouraged women to be smart and successful also encouraged them to be hostile and demeaning to men.
Returning to Dowd's original question, yes, the feminist movement was a hoax inasmuch as it told only half the story. As even feminist matriarch Betty Friedan eventually noted, feminism failed to recognize that even smart, successful women also want to be mothers. It's called Nature. Social engineering can no more change that fact than mechanical engineering can change the laws of physics.
I would never insist that women have to have children to be fully female. Some women aren't mother material - and some men don't deserve the children they sire. But something vital and poignant happens when one's own interests become secondary to the more compelling needs of children.
You grow up. In the process of sacrificing your infant-self for the real baby, you stop obsessing and fixating on the looking glass. Instead, you focus your energies on trying to raise healthy boys and girls to become smart, successful men and women.
I couldn't agree more: it has always been my impression that it is (at least partly) because many Italians seem to have lost the aspiration to dedicate themselves to something other than their own comfort and amusement that we have such dramatic social and demographic problems.
And don't misunderstand me: I strongly believe that women should not feel at all obligated to stop working in order to have children. However this doesn't seem to be Italy's problem: not only do we not have enough children, but Italian women also don't work as much as elsewhere (no doubt through no fault of their own). The current US total fertility rate stands at 2.08, the highest in the Western world and close to the replacement rate of 2.1, while Italy's is 1.28 - way under the replacement rate. At the same time in 2004 the female employment rate in the US was 65.4%, while Italy's stood at 45.2%. What gives?

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