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The New York Times April 9, 2009 Op-Ed Contributor Iowa’s Family Values By STEVEN W. THRASHER IF it weren’t for Iowa, my family may never have existed, and this gay, biracial New Yorker might never have been born. In 1958, when my mother, who was white, and father, who was black, wanted to get married in Nebraska, it was illegal for them to wed. So they decided to go next door to Iowa, a state that was progressive enough to allow interracial marriage. My mom’s brother tried to have the Nebraska state police bar her from leaving the state so she couldn’t marry my dad, which was only the latest legal indignity she had endured. She had been arrested on my parents’ first date, accused of prostitution. (The conventional thought of the time being: Why else would a white woman be seen with a black man?) On their wedding day, somehow, my parents made it out of Nebraska without getting arrested again, and were wed in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 1, 1958. This was five years before Nebraska would strike down its laws against interracial marriage, and almost a decade before the Supreme Court would outlaw miscegenation laws throughout the country in Loving v. Virginia. When the good state of Iowa conferred the dignity of civic recognition on my parents’ relationship — a relationship some members of their own families thought was deviant and immoral, that the civil authorities of Nebraska had tried to destroy, and that even some of my mom’s college-educated friends believed would produce children striped like zebras — our family began. And by the time my father died, their interracial marriage was seen just as a marriage, and an admirable 45-year one at that. That I almost cried last week upon reading that the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state law banning same-sex marriage will therefore come as no surprise. I’m still struck by one thought: over the years, I’ve met so many gay émigrés who felt it was unsafe to be gay in so-called flyover country and fled for the East and West coasts. But as a gay man, I can’t marry in ―liberal‖ New York, where I’m a resident, or in ―liberal‖ California, where I was born, and very soon I will have that right in ―conservative‖ Iowa. Of course, the desire to define relational rights and responsibilities with a partner, to have access to the protection that this kind of commitment affords, is rather conservative. But it’s a conservative dream that should be offered to all Americans. Though it takes great courage for gays to marry in a handful of states now, one hopes that someday, throughout the nation, gay marriages, like my parents’ union, will just be seen as marriages. It’s safe to say that neither the dramas of our family, nor its triumphs, could have been possible without the simultaneously radical and conservative occasion of my parents’ civil marriage in Iowa. And so when the time comes, I hope to be married at the City Hall in Council Bluffs, in the state that not only supports my civil rights now, but which supported my parents’ so many years ago. Steven W. Thrasher is a writer and media producer. Can the Traditional Family Survive Feminism? by Carolyn Graglia It is a great pleasure to address you young conservatives of Texas. Being young is wonderful, but to be conservative can be difficult. In the present culture, you are often outsiders, distrusted, even shunned by the politically correct mainstream. I admire you and thank you for your willingness to defend conservative principles. My topic is the question, "Can the Traditional Family Survive Feminism?" My answer is, "Perhaps, but with great difficulty." In the movie Saving Private Ryan, there is a very moving scene in which the dying leader of a group of men that had rescued Private Ryan from behind enemy lines tells the grateful private to "earn it." Many died in World War II so that we could live in a better world. I doubt that we have earned it. The immediate post-war period did witness our mid-century's golden age of the family, with high marriage and birth rates, low illegitimacy, divorce, and crime rates, and the growth of a broad and stable middle class. But then our marriage and birth rates plummeted, while the rates of crime, unmarried cohabitation, divorce, illegitimacy, and abortion skyrocketed. We now have the highest divorce and abortion rates in the western world, and one out of three children born today in this country is illegitimate. How did such a massive change in social values occur in just two decades? No foreign enemy, no force of nature, no economic catastrophe caused our social and moral decline. We did this to ourselves. We trashed our own society. The force that I indict as critically, but of course not solely, responsible for our plight is the contemporary feminist movement which was revived in the 1960s. As my book, Domestic Tranquility, documents, the homemaker and her family were the primary target of a vicious and successful war waged by this movement. Proof of that success is all around us. Two years ago, the front page of The New York Times quoted then President Clinton's statement praising the efforts to put welfare mothers into the work force and their children into day care. He said: "Work is more than just a weekly paycheck"; "It is, at heart, our way of life. Work lends purpose and dignity to our lives." In the 1950s, a president would have been far more likely to say that the home and the family and the rearing of children--not market work--was, at heart, our way of life, and that no other way of life could have a higher purpose and a greater dignity than rearing one's own children at home. Who dares make such a statement today? The latest New York Times Style Manual tells the writer not to use the term "housewife" and to resist using the term "homemaker" because it is "belittling." As one psychotherapist has noted, although "1950s' culture accorded its full-time mothers unconditional positive regard," today's "stay-at-home mothers I know dread the question 'And what do you do?'" In 1998, Time magazine had a cover story asking "Is Feminism Dead?" and voicing regret that perhaps it was. Noting that only 28 percent of women said that feminism is relevant to them, Time deplored the fact that Ally McBeal was the most popular female character on television. Ally was an unmarried lawyer with an excellent job in a law firm, leading the life of a young sexual revolutionary. Living precisely as feminists encouraged women to live, she was doing exactly what her society had socialized her to do. However she identified herself, Ally, like many women today, played the role feminism scripted for her. To the annoyance of Time and feminists, Ally was discontented with her unmarried state and was more concerned with her "mangled love life" than her career. Surprise! Although Ally was smart enough to graduate from law school, she had apparently not yet been able to discern the connection between her pursuit of casual sex and her unmarried state. As Robert Wright bluntly puts it in his book The Moral Animal, "if it is harder to drag men to the altar today than it used to be, one reason is that they don't have to stop there on the way to the bedroom." Far from dead, feminist ideology is now incorporated within the fabric of our society. The crucial question today is whether real manliness is dead. For if feminism's domination of our culture is ever to be significantly weakened, manliness must be resurrected. If it is not, women have little choice but to live by the feminist script. Men should understand that this script is extremely demanding of a woman and can leave very little of her left over for her husband or their children. But is it fair to wish feminism dead? Doesn't feminism only want women to lead whatever life they choose? Feminists claim that they simply want women to have the opportunity to fulfill their potential without having the barriers of society strung so tightly around their goals that women have little chance of success. These goals, feminists will say, can include being a homemaker--solely that. But feminists speak with a forked tongue, for the actions of their movement belie their words. Within the memory of no one living today have the barriers of society been strung so tightly that women could not pursue careers if they chose to. From the time in middle school when I decided to become a lawyer (that was in 1941) until I left my law firm to raise a family, I encountered no barriers, but only support and encouragement. Living on the edge of poverty in the working class with my divorced mother, I could not have succeeded otherwise. When I entered college in 1947, I knew that women were in all the professions. The doctor who performed my pre-college physical was a woman. Women, in fact, were in the first medical class at Johns Hopkins University in 1890. They now are the majority of entering students at the most prestigious medical schools. My mother's divorce lawyer in 1936 was a woman and a mother. And the president of the bank where I opened my first account in 1942 was a woman and a mother, Mary G. Roebling, who said American women have "almost unbelievable economic power" but "do not use the influence [it] gives them." Women's failure to pursue opportunities in the workplace has always been much more of a choice than feminists admit. The most significant barrier to a woman's market success is her own unwillingness to constrict her maternal, marital, and domestic roles. Charlotte Perkins Gilman--the feminist whose writings were the foundation for the work of Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan--wrote in 1898 that the mistreatment of professional women "is largely past." "The gates are nearly all open," said Gilman, and the "main struggle now is with the distorted nature of the creature herself." Remember that she said this in 1898! Contemporary feminism is grounded on Gilman's belief that a distorted nature characterizes those women who prefer homemaking and child-rearing to marching through those open gates into the workplace. It was this struggle to convince the homemaking creature like me of her distorted nature that Betty Friedan took up in 1963 in The Feminine Mystique. Friedan berated women with the fact that "despite the opportunities open to all women now," even the most able "showed no signs of wanting to be anything more than . . . housewives and mothers." Echoing Gilman, she complained that so few women were pursuing careers even though all professions are open to women, since the "removal of all the legal, political, economic, and educational barriers." Remember that Friedan said this in 1963 before the concept of affirmative action was developed. Far from claiming that discrimination kept women from the workplace, Friedan blamed the housewife's belief that "she is indispensable and that no one else can take over her job." She was right; that is precisely how many of us did feel. Friedan sought, therefore, to destroy the housewife's confidence that she was engaged in an important activity for which she was uniquely qualified. Feminism's effort to re- educate housewives as to their distorted nature and degraded status pitted the most educated, sophisticated, wealthy, aggressive, and masculine portion of the female population against women who generally possessed less education, wealth, and worldly experience, who were more likely to be docile than aggressive, feminine than masculine. Thus began the contemporary feminist movement. Its founding principle was that the traditional male role as a producer in the workplace is superior to the female domestic role. Feminists urged women to abandon homemaking and child-rearing as inferior activities and to enter the workplace so that women would become independent from men and gain equal political and economic power with them. In the words of economist Jennifer Roback Morse, a feminist who had second thoughts, the movement chose "'Having it All' as our slogan and equality of income as our goal," and so she says, "we embraced a shallow materialism and a mindless egalitarianism." Morse wisely asks: "When we harden our hearts to place a six week old baby into the care of strangers, who will moderate us?" The feminist egalitarianism that Morse speaks of is, it should be clear, only vis-à-vis men, not vis-à-vis other women. The movement has largely been concerned with professional women, and it is the most elitist of ideologies. Feminists denounce the worthlessness of homemaking and of child-rearing, yet the movement's goals require the existence of a servant class, a lower-class infrastructure of other women who will perform those domestic and child-rearing activities which feminists scorn. In pursuit of their goal to drive all women into the work force, feminists waged war on what had been the two underpinnings of our civil society, the traditional family with a breadwinner husband and homemaker wife and traditional sexual morality. The tangle of pathology that so many of our families have become is proof of this war's success. One of feminism's primary tools in their war was promotion of the sexual revolution. Because feminists correctly perceived that a woman's child- rearing role is the greatest impediment to her career success, they encouraged women to postpone, or even forgo, marriage and, if they did bear children, to leave the bulk of child-rearing to paid employees. In sum, women were told to abandon what had been, for many, the very successful "matrimonial strategy," which was to marry young, bear three or four children, and work outside the home only until a child was born and, perhaps, return to work once the children were grown. The sexual revolution undermined the matrimonial strategy by encouraging women to engage in promiscuous sex on the same terms as men. As Richard Posner correctly notes in his book Sex and Reason, the "freer women are sexually, the less interest men have in marriage." Since their own interest in marriage was minimal or non-existent, feminist sexual revolutionaries urged women to abandon the ideals of premarital virginity and marital fidelity as vestiges of discredited Victorian morality. Premarital sex, they said, should be seen as a morally indifferent and harmless source of pleasure. How harmless this source of pleasure was is indicated by the fact that the United States now has the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases and of abortion in the Western World. 24 million Americans, for example, are infected with the Human Papilloma Virus, an incurable sexually transmitted disease linked to over 90 percent of all invasive cervical cancers, which are the number two cause of women's cancer deaths. Sexually transmitted diseases cause twenty percent of our cases of infertility--an increasing and heartbreaking problem in our society that is now so familiar to those who know women in their late 30s and early 40s desperately trying to conceive. But this was inconsequential to the women who spearheaded the feminist movement, only one of whom married and bore children and all of whom rejected child-rearing as inconsistent with career achievement. Thus, in 1965, feminist Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, applauded the single sexual revolutionary because, unlike the housewife, she was "not a parasite, a dependent, a scrounger, a sponger, or a bum." In 1993, her revolutionary ardor still afire, Brown advised women to look at their friends' husbands as potential lovers; she never felt guilt, Brown said, about the wives who can't keep their husbands at home. Nothing better illustrates how feminists molded our society than a comparison of Cosmopolitan under Brown's editorship with the women's magazines of my youth, which affirmed the homemaker's worth and the societal importance of traditional virtues. Our no-fault divorce regime that enables men to abandon and impoverish families was crucial to the feminist goal. By subverting housewives' social and economic security, no-fault enforces feminism's diktat that women must abandon homemaking for market production. Betty Friedan explained that feminist divorce policy purposely deprived women of alimony to force them into the workplace. No- fault tells mothers it is unsafe to devote oneself to raising children, warning them "that instead of expecting to be supported, a woman is now expected to become self-sufficient." No-fault's declaration of war against homemakers had exactly the result feminists sought: to make women distrust their husbands and fear leaving the work force; many women say they work only for divorce insurance. All fifty states have no- fault divorce; only Louisiana, Arizona, and Oklahoma have now slightly modified it. I have testified before two committees of the Texas legislature in favor of bills reforming no-fault. Both times, the only opponents of the bills were feminist lawyers. Professor Herma Hill Kay of the University of California Law School at Berkeley, who was one of the proponents of the ground-breaking California no-fault divorce law, warns that reforming no-fault in order to protect women who have already chosen traditional roles will only "encourage future women to continue to select traditional roles." Kay concedes that "many couples still choose to follow the traditional allocation of family functions by sex," thus creating a family in which the wife and children depend on the husband "for support." But, says Kay, women must learn that "their unique role in reproduction ends with childbirth" and that "like men," they should "lead productive, independent lives outside the family." In order to teach this lesson to women, Kay argues, society must "withdraw existing legal supports" for traditional marriage, a goal, she says, that no-fault divorce laws now accomplish. Anyone who wonders why our society so readily embraced divorce laws that are patently hostile to the traditional family should know that the woman expressing these views does not simply belong to a fringe group of so-called radical feminists, but is a leading policymaker in our society. Not only was Kay Dean and professor at Berkeley, but she was a member of the California Governor’s Commission on the Family, A Co-Investigator on the California Divorce Law Research Project, and the Co-Reporter of the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which means that she drafted the model divorce law that the prestigious American Law Institute recommends for adoption throughout the United States. The barbarians are not at the gates; they help run our society. Thus, at the urging of feminists, we have made marriages unilaterally revocable at will, thereby rejecting traditional marriage and discrediting it as a woman's career. And this is why feminists speak with a forked tongue when saying that a woman's goals "can include being a homemaker--solely that." If marriage cannot be a woman's career--and no-fault divorce tells her it cannot--homemaking cannot be a woman's goal, and child-rearing by surrogates must be her children's destiny. It is because feminists do in fact reject homemaking as a legitimate goal that they never treat women's underrepresentation in workplaces as legitimate. Rather, they see it as something to be deplored and corrected on the theory that if they were not discriminated against, women would be represented equally with men at all levels within every workplace. The assumption underlying all affirmative action for women is that no woman willingly chooses the domestic role. Another weapon against housewives was to marginalize them by degrading their role. Child care, in the words of one feminist, is "boring, tedious, and lonely," and being financially dependent on a husband is "irksome and humiliating." Friedan's Feminine Mystique described the housewife as a "parasite" who lives without using adult capabilities or intelligence and lacks a real function. "Parasite" became the feminist word of choice to describe the housewife. In her famous essay setting forth feminist goals, Gloria Steinem, the media darling, called homemakers "parasites," "inferiors" and "dependent creatures who are still children." Decrying the lives of housewives as a "waste of a human self," Friedan likened them to people "with portions of their brain shot away and schizophrenics." Housewives are "less than fully human," she wrote, for they "have never known a commitment to an idea," "risked an exploration of the unknown," or "attempted . . . creativity." For me, those euphoric years when I conceived, bore, and raised my children provided far greater opportunities to explore the unknown and exercise creativity than did my years in the workplace writing legal briefs. A survey of women who have left the workplace to raise their children at home shows the success of feminism's effort to degrade the housewife. The most frequently mentioned disadvantage of not being in the work force was not the loss of income but the lack of respect from society. Women at home complain that the message they are bombarded with from the media, from friends, and most hurtful of all, from family members--even their own husbands--is one of reproach because they are wasting their education. Commenting on my book, a friend who is a law professor, and much younger than I, said that she and many of the women in her generation who gave up child-rearing for careers were sold a defective bill of goods by feminists. Many of her women friends who are lawyers, she writes, are "simply miserable in the practice of law and in the 'escape' jobs on the periphery." "We all engage in deception," she says, and "that deception is the modern Big Lie that women find fulfillment in their careers," but "we have allowed the media to so flavor our goals and views that we continue down a path we despise." My message is that the domestic life is not a sacrificial life and that one's education is never wasted--you can use it every day. My education enabled me to be a better mother, a more interesting wife, and to create a many-faceted life out of my domestic role. My education showed me how to find the greatest delight in the simplest activities of daily life. These are rewards that can make an education worthwhile. A paycheck is not the only source of value. It should be clear that the feminist movement could have been orchestrated by Playboy magazine: readily available sex for men without marriage; readily available abortion to eliminate inconvenient children; and devaluation of maternal commitment to child-rearing so that mothers would always work and never become dependent upon their husbands. Did this movement really advance the position of women in our society when it supported no-fault divorce, the sexual revolution, and the glamorizing of careers at the expense of motherhood, leaving behind broken families, mothers who are devalued and abandoned, and young women who become the trophies--of either the bimbo or brainy variety--that advertise men's success? Many men have enjoyed the fact of women's increased sexual availability, they have sloughed off old wives and acquired young "trophies" under the sanction of no-fault divorce, they have encouraged abortions--thus avoiding responsibility for children they have bred--and they will willingly see women sent into combat to face the inevitable rape, injury, and death. In the eyes of such men, women are not uniquely precious individuals but only easily disposable sex objects. Contemporary feminism taught that lesson to men. A sea change has occurred in men who only several decades ago took pride in their ability to provide for wife and children. With scarcely a whimper, many men accepted the feminization of our society and capitulated to feminist demands that impaired men's own earning abilities. Then, they too encouraged their wives to leave children hostage to the vagaries of surrogate care and pursue the economic opportunities, which would spare husbands from assuming the role of breadwinner. Feminism will not die and the traditional family will remain in peril until we derail the feminist engine of reform by killing the sexual revolution, by replacing no-fault divorce laws with laws that protect homemakers and families, by ending preferential treatment of women in education and workplace, and by reforming all laws that discriminate against one-income families through requiring them to subsidize child care for two-income families. All government initiatives designed to help families with children must be directed to all families--not just to families that use child care--for example, by increasing the federal income tax dependent exemption and providing larger child credits. But these things will not happen until a change occurs in those men who have rejected the value of a woman's traditional role and of a man's contributions that make this role viable. Without those contributions, what do men think will define their manhood? If women's traditional role is expendable, then, as increases in the number of well-educated, never-married mothers indicate, so also are men expendable for all purposes other than sperm donor. When men who no longer value the traditional role of either sex abandon women to fend for themselves in the workplace, they teach women to cease valuing men. The result is a society increasingly like Sweden's, which has the lowest marriage rate and one of the highest illegitimacy rates and employment rates of working-age women in the western world. Not all women seek the passive, feminized male of feminist ideology. Some of us consider child-rearing the most rewarding activity of our lives, and we are happy to be dependent on a husband who enables us to stay home and enjoy all the delights of a domestic life. We seek a man who believes that there are real differences between men and women. We seek a man who does not expect his wife to be a clone of himself. We seek a man who does not think that the best he can do for a woman is to guarantee her unlimited access to abortion, to assure her the right to fight and die in combat, and to create for her a society that expects its children to be raised by someone other than their mother. When a critical mass of the kind of man we seek appears, feminism will begin to die, and the traditional family will cease to be in peril. Carolyn Graglia is the author of Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism. http://www.mtio.com/articles/aissar85.htm All in the Family? By Stanley Aronowitz This article appeared in the May 24, 2004 edition of The Nation. May 6, 2004 Despite decades of battering by divorce and the proliferation of single-parent households, the family remains a source of inexhaustible fascination. The topic is of obsessive, often prurient interest, permeating every genre of popular culture, from the endless stream of sitcoms featuring a mildly troubled or outright dysfunctional household, to pop psychology and crime journalism plumbing the depths of the family romance to account for murder and mayhem (not to mention the guilty pleasure many of us have taken in following the differential fortunes of Jimmy and Billy Carter and Bill and Roger Clinton; the tragic but fascinating Kennedy family history; and, of course, the rise of George W. Bush--the least likely to succeed of Barbara and George Senior's kids--who overcame mediocre school grades, multiple business failures, alcoholism, verbal incoherence and popular electoral defeat to become President of the United States). We've gotten used to blaming parents for the waywardness of their children, when we don't blame the children themselves. In these stories the family is the place-keeper for society because it is the institution that remains closest to us. Now comes Dalton Conley's effort to explain why siblings often end up on opposite sides of the class divide despite being raised in the same family. The Pecking Order is a fun read with a serious intent--both a study of the family and a symptom of our fascination with it. Conley, a New York University sociologist in his 30s, satisfies our thirst for knowing the private lives of the rich and famous while also shedding light on the family lives of anonymous Americans. Perhaps more to the point, his book feeds our need for reassurance by reciting the familiar narrative of social mobility in America: In nearly all of Conley's anecdotes, some unlikely sibling defies the social determinism of birth. Thus Bill Clinton's rise to fame and power is an inadvertent re-enactment of that paradigmatic American success story, Abe Lincoln's mythic overcoming of seemingly insuperable odds. Bill's early life was marked by an absent biological father and a "bitterly jealous" stepfather who was abusive to his mother. How did Bill escape the murky fortunes of his brother, Roger, who seemed to succumb to the effects of their shared grim home life? Conley suggests that given the family's severely restricted resources it was a zero-sum game; Bill's gain was Roger's loss. The majority of Conley's examples, however, are drawn from the lives of ordinary Americans, and he relates their stories with a novelist's flair. (To his credit, he relegated the inevitable essay on method to a lengthy appendix, thus preserving the book's narrative flow.) In these accounts he seeks to challenge the two most popular explanations for success: "It's all in the genes," and the equally determinist attribution of failure to social conditions, particularly social class. Inequality, Conley argues, cuts broadly across the class and occupational structure and begins at home; the way parents relate to their children greatly influences their chance of achieving success and social prestige outside the home. According to Conley, families set up a "pecking order" in which parents often lavish attention on one child while ignoring or giving short shrift to the others. Although he does not ignore the role the larger social structure plays in holding many kids back both from academic achievement and from social mobility, Conley places most of his emphasis on such factors as birth order--whether the older sibling has a chance to experience her or his early years as an only child, thus receiving, for a time, all of the parents' attention; whether the middle child gets neglected; or whether the youngest are born far enough down the line so that their siblings have left the house and they are the beneficiaries of an unusual outpouring of parental love and support. Blended families: A recipe for academic distress April 23, 2008 | 2:00 pm Hey, kids: Hate your half- or stepsibling? Sure you do. Well, here's something to like: You can now blame them for your lousy grades and trouble at school. A Florida State University researcher has found that teenagers living with half- or stepsiblings have worse grades and more academic behavior problems than those living with full siblings. Such a home life is apparently harder for boys than for girls. Their GPAs are a quarter of a letter grade lower than their counterparts living with full siblings. But both boys and girls in blended families have more difficulty paying attention, finishing their homework and getting along well with teachers and students. It's a complex issue, of course, with multiple factors affecting the behavior of all involved - stress, conflict, ambiguous family roles, competition for parental attention, etc. And get this: The school-performance situation doesn't generally improve over time. But on the bright side, help is out there. Check out the the National Stepfamily Resource Center, the Stepfamily Network, some very practical advice at Step Family Tips ... and last (and definitely least), the lyrics to "The Brady Bunch," which the Florida State University news release describes as somewhat unrealistic. Perhaps not. But take hope and inspiration where you can get it, I say. - Tami Dennis Single Mothers and the Baby Boom By Cathy Young May 26, 2009 IN THE past 10 years, with my biological clock winding down and no husband in sight, I have been asked quite a few times if I had considered having a child on my own. What used to be scandalous is now practically a conventional life choice. This is borne out by a new report released recently by the National Center for Health Statistics. Nearly 40 percent of all babies born in the United States in 2007, up from 34 percent in 2002 and 18 percent in 1980, were born to unmarried women. While unwed childbearing is much more common in black and Hispanic communities, the trend cuts across racial lines; moreover, it is driven primarily by women in their 20s and 30s, not teens. Should we treat single motherhood as "the new normal" or as a problem that needs to be addressed? And what about the fathers? For some, the growth of single-mother families is a sign of female empowerment. If children without fathers fare worse than children in two-parent families, say defenders of single mothers, the answer is better pay for women and better social programs. Yet even in Sweden with its generous welfare state, a major 2003 study found that children raised in single-parent homes were at significantly higher risk for addictions and serious psychiatric problems. In discussions of single motherhood, men tend to be the missing piece. The fathers are often presumed to be feckless, self-centered rogue males. The reality is not that simple. About 40 percent of out-of-wedlock births are to cohabiting couples -- though this statistic is not completely reassuring, since such couples break up at about twice the rate of spouses. Many other unwed fathers offer both financial and hands-on assistance. While there are men who cut and run, there are also mothers who choose to go solo, sometimes forgoing child support so that the father would not seek parental rights -- or forgoing a father by using a sperm bank. And in this area, our cultural biases tend to favor women. In the 1994 film "Angie," the spunky working-class heroine who refuses to marry the devoted father of her unborn child because he's too dull and limited for her is clearly admired; it's hard to imagine such an attitude toward a man who did the same. What Angie's decision will mean for the bond between father and child is left unexplored. Even if most mothers had adequate support from family and community, single motherhood would still leave a large percentage of men virtually disconnected from family life and the next generation. And, for all the talk of female autonomy, this is startlingly at odds with the goal of feminism, which sought equality for women and men in both public and private life. Today, we have two contradictory trends. Millions of fathers are involved in hands-on child care to an unprecedented degree; millions of children have little or no contact with their fathers. Ironically, the mother-child family unit takes us back to a very pre-feminist idea: family and child-rearing as a feminine sphere. (For both biological and cultural reasons, men are far less likely to parent on their own.) Male alienation is another likely result. The causes of the rise in unwed childbearing are as complex as the phenomenon itself. The economic and social pressures that used to propel people into marriage no longer exist; even Bristol Palin, the daughter of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, a conservative Christian, can opt out of marrying her baby's father without opprobrium. Expectations of love and emotional satisfaction in marriage are much higher than they once were. Gender roles are in flux. In today's economy, working-class women often have better job opportunities than men, yet men's marital desirability is still linked to the traditional notion of the "good provider." Judging personal choices is tricky; while I strongly believe in the importance of fathers, I cannot be sure what choice I would have made if children were a higher priority for me. Certainly, many single parents do a wonderful job of raising their children and many married couples do not. But in general, the two-parent family does work best for children, women, and men, and marriage seems the best way to ensure it. No one wants to go back to the day when unwed mothers and their children were outcasts. But restoring a cultural commitment to married parenting is a goal that should unite sensible conservatives, sane fathers' rights advocates, and reasonable feminists. Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Ouramericanvalues.org America is facing unprecedented attacks on the institutions of marriage and family. Children in the U.S. are now three times as likely to grow up in a single-parent household as they were in 1960, and over 12 million children now live with a never-married parent. In addition, over half of marriages result in divorce – 60 percent of which involve children. If you also consider the prospect of same-sex ―marriage‖ and same-sex adoption, it is not long before you realize just how bad things have gotten. Certainly these institutions are worth promoting, the question is whether the government should be involved, and if so, what it can do. The Bush Administration confirmed its commitment to protecting the institution of marriage with an initiative that pledges $1.5 billion to help develop and sustain healthy marriages. Included in this initiative is a push to modify the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which in 1996 replaced the welfare program with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a program of block grants. The Bush Administration’s plan for reauthorization of the act includes committing up to $300 million per year to encourage states ―to increase their efforts to promote child well-being and healthy marriages.‖ Marriage promotion initiatives have drawn criticism from both the left and right. Some conservative critics believe that the government should not be involved in marriage which is a personal, private matter. Liberals feel efforts to strengthen marriage divert attention and dollars away from the real issues – poverty, education, unwanted pregnancy, etc. American Values understands that the best way to combat the dramatic changes to the family that have occurred over the past few decades is to nurture and strengthen it. As Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Wade Horn has stated: ―If you feel marriage is a social good – good for kids, good for parents, good for society – why shouldn’t government promote it? Why should government be neutral?‖ Some of the programs and policies American Values endorses are: Removing economic disincentives to marry or remain married in our tax code, especially for low-income families receiving public assistance. Reforming so-called no-fault divorce laws wherein anybody can end a marriage simply by leaving. Changes are especially necessary when children are involved. Public advertising campaigns that promote the value of marriage and the skills necessary to increase marital stability and health. Funding for schools, churches, and other community organizations to educate people on the value of marriage, relationship skills, budgeting, parental skills programs, conflict management and counseling, marriage mentoring, etc. Some argue that giving money to healthy marriage initiatives is like robbing Peter to pay Paul because it takes funding away from effective anti-poverty programs. But that is like saying funding for the National Endowment for the Arts takes away from funding for AIDS research. The US government already spends billions of dollars annually to address poverty directly. Funding for the promotion of healthy marriages is an innovative public policy response that will get to the source of many of society’s ills Op/Ed: Infertility Technology Run Amok: Women Not Meant to Carry 'Litters' of Children Scott B. Rae, PhD The recent delivery of octuplets at Kaiser Bellflower Hospital outside Los Angeles was marked by many as a celebration and a miracle, demonstrating the wonders of medical technology. I would suggest that it is neither cause for celebration nor a miracle. Rather it is an example of an irresponsible use of reproductive technology. Initially we were told that no one knew what, if any infertility technology was used to facilitate these births. But there are only two ways a woman becomes pregnant with octuplets—the chance of this happening naturally is infinitesimally small. In this case, the woman in question had embryos left over from previous IVF cycles and had all of her remaining embryos implanted at once—a highly irresponsible way of proceeding. In general, in vitro fertilization (IVF), if done properly, is highly unlikely to produce eight pregnancies since virtually all infertility clinics adhere to guidelines limiting the number of embryos implanted through IVF to three or less. Major multiple pregnancies like this one almost always result today from the use of hyper-ovarian stimulation, similar to the procedure for harvesting multiple eggs for use in GIFT or IVF procedures, in conjunction with normal sex or insemination with donor or husband’s sperm. This is the little known fact about intra-uterine insemination today. When you do the math in this procedure, the woman is releasing multiple eggs, normally anywhere from 5-15 eggs, combined with 1-2 million sperm, and the possibility for major multiples is a clear risk. Women sometimes opt for this method instead of IVF because it costs much less. Of course, infertility clinics always present the woman with the option of selective termination of some of the pregnancies. But many women, including the mother of the octuplets, are unwilling to do that because they, correctly, in my view, see this as abortion and have understandable moral qualms about such a procedure, especially since they have gone to such lengths to create life. The use of hyper ovarian stimulation with insemination leaves the woman and the physician without the ability to control how many pregnancies result from the procedure. This puts the woman at risk for something that she was not designed for—carrying “litters” of children. One Arizona woman gave birth to six children almost a year ago and nearly died of heart failure in the procedure, illustrating these risks to the woman. Furthermore, it puts the babies at risk for something they were not designed for—being born seriously prematurely, here about 10 weeks too early. As a result, the children will likely face a lifetime of health challenges with exorbitant costs accompanying them. The costs of the delivery alone were substantial, since the delivery involved, according to one report, 46 different physicians and hospital staff. Amazingly, as of today, all eight of the babies were breathing on their own and appeared to be doing well. But they are a long way from being out of the woods, medically speaking. Though I support many technological options to alleviate infertility, the one used in the creation of the Bellflower octuplets puts both the women and the babies at risk for something they were not designed for.
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