From career climbing to competitive birthing

Via reader Wyndi comes this truly gross NPR piece about how the wealthy are apparently breeding like crazy, in a trend dubbed (seriously) “competitive birthing.” One mother actually says, “Baby number 4 has become the new must-have accessory.”
Given the incredibly high cost of raising children these days — with housing, child care, camps, clothing, and college tuition — big families are apparently now a status symbol. A lot of the NPR story is anecdotal, but the reporter does talk to a demographics analyst, who says that census data shows the number of high-income families having three or four kids has shot up 30 percent in the last 10 years. “It’s an unprecedented jump, and completely counter to 100 years of history,” he says.
I feel like the kids-as-status-symbol story bubbles up occasionally. But what’s new here, if you take the NPR reporter’s word for it, is that having lotsa babies has become a way for super-educated moms who have left the workforce to “justify” their choice to opt out.
In other words, the more kids, the more comfortable these women seem with their stay-at-home status. One mom explains, “I know in some sense I feel more validated to say I’m a mother of four. Of course I’m not working now! What are you thinking? How could i possibly do anything else? This is a full-time job.” Another says that having more kids “gets you a lot more recognition for a notoriously thankless job.”
I have no idea how widespread this “trend” really is. But it doesn’t seem completely far-fetched to me that women who used to be career-driven would want to direct their competitive energies somewhere — and for some women, that’s become a quest to be the best mom. (“Best” in this case, of course, equals “most kids.”) Says one woman, “All that drive gets channeled into the children when they quit their job.”
It’s also easy to see that a formerly successful businesswoman would feel pressured to ensure that anyone could tell, just by looking at the size of her brood, that there’s no way she could have continued to work outside the home. It’s as if more babies are a defense mechanism — not only against the raised eyebrows and judgments of women who stayed in the workforce, but also against any doubts these wealthy breeders may themselves harbor about their decision to opt out.

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87 Comments

  1. Posted August 7, 2007 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    Erratum: should read “…or one is a civilian, in which caseone is entitled, under the Fourth Convention, to protections similar to those of the Third Convention…”

  2. anorak
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that, Elise.
    I was being tongue-in-cheek with my comparison, to highlight the hypocrisy of the zenophobia Nicole spouts. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right, and of course I don’t want to live under a Theocracy, of whatever religion.
    I just think people like Nicole (if she really exists) need a little perspective when they start their hate-mongering.

  3. Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    I just thought it worthwhile to correct that particular inaccuracy in Nicole’s statement since it’s so frequently heard in the media.

  4. Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    Hi Nicole, this comment from Europe.
    No.
    Please don’t assume that a small number of radical mosques adds up to millions of angry “muslims” who want to turn the continent into an Islamic theocracy. I sincerely doubt you’ve ever been to Europe, and I also doubt you’ve ever met any muslims.

  5. Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t know anyone who’s been sent to Gitmo for stating their opinion the way Saddam had his citizens obtained.

    Actually, there are two journalists known to be held in the Guantanamo camp, and the occupation forces in Iraq have expressed a particular interest in “disappearing” journalists who do not support the invaders’ views.

  6. Posted August 7, 2007 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    Not to shoot a million holes in your argument Nicole, but…
    “Christians don’t want to make women cover every inch of their body or be raped.”
    The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deut. 22:5
    Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes. Gen 19:8
    “Christians don’t teach that God will reward suicide bombers with virgins in heaven.”
    And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was… thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him. Exodus 31:32, 35
    “…women and girls must obey and serve without question their male guardians”
    Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. I Tim. 2:11-12
    “Marriage is typically arranged, with no choice given to the girl, and there is often an exchange of money in the process.”
    And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins. Exodus 22:16-17
    “Girls are instructed in subservience first to God, then to the family and finally to the husband.”
    For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. I Cor. 11:7-9
    “There is strict emphasis on modesty, defined by virginity.”
    And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife. Lev. 21:13-14
    My personal favorite:
    He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the first stone. John 8:7
    Perhaps advice you should take before comparing the “evils” of Islam to the Christianity.

  7. Nicole
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the first stone. John 8:7
    Perhaps advice you should take before comparing the “evils” of Islam to the Christianity”
    Ok…Let’s sit back and let the terrorists do their work…Who are we to judge?
    All the quotes from the bible would actually present a point if Christians were forcing that onto others the Islamic Fascists in the Middle East do to their citizens! In the United States(where Christianity is the majority religion) no one is forced to worship or follow Christian guidelines. People are not randomly pulled off the Streets of New York for criticizing the Admin.. Do you think the press would get away with calling saddam an idiot? We have it pretty good. If it’s so bad how so many people want to come here? Even though insurgants are not the same thing as innocent civilians, the mistreatment of these violent individuals is nothing compared to the way innocent people have been slaughtered and tortured(actually tortured..not just loud music). Two gay teens were hanged in Iran. Saddam’s sons had rape rooms. This culture is starting to spread. The fact is that video footage from London Mosques do reveal an insurgance of hate towards western society, and very few “moderate” Muslims are speaking out. 25% of young U.S. Muslims believe suicide bombings can be justified. Muslim gangs raping women because they aren’t wearing head scarves is happening more frequently in Sweden and Denmark. This is not something that won’t affect us.
    I just can’t understand why so many people are quick to defend Islam here and frequently mock, ridicule, criticize Fundamentalist Christianity, Catholicism, and Mormonism. Even the most conservative elements of these faiths aren’t nearly as strict as Islam. I don’t think even Billy Graham or the Pope would support hanging homosexuals, stoning adulterers, or violently rioting embassies over a silly cartoon.

  8. Nicole
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:20 am | Permalink
  9. Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    Even though insurgants are not the same thing as innocent civilians, the mistreatment of these violent individuals is nothing compared to the way innocent people have been slaughtered and tortured(actually tortured..not just loud music).

    This is a remarkably Orwellian picture in and of itself. The “violent individuals” who defend their country against a brutal invasion and occupation that has thus far claimed over half a million lives are not “innocent” (the same argument could be, and was, made about the Maquis); no words are wasted on the violent individuals who run rampant in someone else’s country, but that’s probably just as well. Meanwhile, the extensive torture camps that practise mock executions, prolonged isolation, genital electrocution, simulated and real rape, beatings, and long-term sleep deprivation — all of which have been documented, admitted, and publicly advocated by the authorities in question — are reduced to “playing loud music” (though that in itself would be a violation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Convention, i.e., a war crime).
    Of course, one question does rather leap to mind: how is it that a foreign invading and occupying power, in breach of its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and in direct violation of the demands of the government it installed, gets the right to imprison the citizens of a country it is not entitled to be in in the first place? The only way that this assertion remotely makes sense is if one assumes that the US owns the world and has every right to do what it wants with people anywhere on the globe, and that no one has a right of self defence against the US.

  10. Mina
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    “We have it pretty good. If it’s so bad how so many people want to come here?”
    We have it pretty good in part because we’re not racing to outbreed the Third World.
    If American and European governments restricted our reproductive rights in the name of outbreeding those immigrants who didn’t assimilate or integrate, then we would not have it so good.
    I mean, of course theocracy sucks! Sadaam’s government, which was secular fascism instead of religious fascism, sucked too (in part because that asshole outlawed abortion and birth control). Imitating their living conditions in the name of avoiding their living conditions would be ridiculous…

  11. Posted August 7, 2007 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Imitating their living conditions in the name of avoiding their living conditions would be ridiculous…

    Who’s talking about imitating their living conditions? When he wasn’t using US weapons to go after dissidents and Kurds, Saddam Hussein — bowing to his occasional pretensions of socialism — introduced universal health care and an educational system that was the envy of the region. Before the destruction of the first Gulf War, Iraq had one of the highest living standards in the Arab world, practically at first world levels.

  12. Mina
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    “Who’s talking about imitating their living conditions?”
    The people who think the low birth rates of women and girls with First World freedoms are a problem.
    “Saddam Hussein — bowing to his occasional pretensions of socialism — introduced universal health care and an educational system that was the envy of the region.”
    Universal health care? Sure, if you count health care which excludes abortion and contraception options as universal.

  13. Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Nicole, filming those mosques and announcing that they’re evidence of a pan-Islamic conspiracy to take over Europe and install and Islamic theocracy is like citing what went on in the Waco compound as evidence that America was about to be overrun by whack-job “Christians”.
    In any case, the Islamists in Europe do not have half the money, the lobbying power or the TV stations that Christian fundamentalists do in the US.

  14. SarahMC
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Nicole, Sadaam Hussein’s government was secular, not theocratic.

  15. Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Hi, I just found your blog through a Google alert. Great recap of the story. I agree with Jane, who said she is too optimistic about people in general to believe that this trend is in fact caused by so shallow a reason as “keeping up with the joneses”. I do think that some at-home moms may feel more justified if they have more children, but that’s a far cry from considering her kids “fashion accessories”. Like most stories about competitive mothering, mommy wars, etc, I feel like media attention that blames competitiveness on the number of children a woman chooses to have is just one more way to slam women and mothers and pit us against each other (while making us look ridiculous). I raised this idea on my blog: perhaps instead it’s a milder form of peer pressure. Given the opportunity and no real obstacles, could it be that the biological urge is to have more, not fewer children; and when women are in a community that accepts and even embraces lots of kids, and have the means and resources to make caring for them easy, they’re more likely to follow that urge and have more kids than they might have in a community where everybody stopped at two?

  16. Susan's daughter
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Long time lurker. Probably no one is even reading this thread anymore, but had to come out in order to agree completely with Meagan Francis’ really intelligent analysis. I mistrust ANYTHING that provides fodder for the mommy-wars, especially anecdote.
    I’m a mom of one, not planning to have more, working for a salary out of the home, and so don’t see myself as having an axe to grind. I’ve been so suprised (well, sigh, not really) by the leap to beleive the worst of women based on this kind of “life style” “reporting”. Yeesh. Shame on NPR.
    Believe me I smirk at the rich as much as the next girl who grew up on welfare, but I think there’s a ton of misogyny cloaked in this brand of class warfare. “OOOH lets bash on these women who have it easy and indulge themselves”. If you don’t think that gets turned around in a hot minute to attack the rest of us, think again. “Selfish elite overeducated women who indulge in NOT having children”. Sound familiar, anyone?

  17. Doug S.
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry to have to say this, but Nicole has a point.
    In a system of majority rule, there are three ways for a minority (call them group A) to become a majority and thereby seize power:
    1) Change people who are not members of group A into members of group A
    2) Add more members of group A into the system
    3) Remove people who are not members of group A from the system
    Strategy 1 is generally the most acceptable; it usually involves persuading people that the cause Group A represents is right, and that they should therefore join group A. Most political advertising represents strategy 1.
    Strategy 2 is unusual, but there are historical examples. The Palestinians have one of the highest birth rates in the world. This was explicitly a political strategy intended to prevent to prevent the Jews from taking over their territory through the settlement program. Increasing your birth rate in order to increase your political power in a democracy does not pay off quickly, but it may be, in the long run, a very difficult strategy to overcome, as long as membership in a group turns out to be largely determined by whether or not one’s parents are members of that group. Raising birth rates isn’t the only way to implement this strategy on the national level; if immigrants favor one group over another, then whoever controls immigration is in a position to determine which group ends up in the majority.
    Strategy 3 tends to be the most disturbing when put into practice. One recent historical example is the suppression of black voting rights in the United States. (The extent of such suppression today is beyond the scope of this comment.)
    In the present day, followers of Islam is often singled out as a group practicing strategy 2. Saying that this is a problem is often followed by accusations of racism. This is inaccurate. Islam is not a race. It is an ideology, as are Soviet communism, Jeffersonian democracy, and even feminism.
    Religion is not a biologically determined characteristic. If the statement “Muslims are using a high relative birth rate to achieve political power in Europe” is racist, then “Communists are using a high relative birth rate to achieve political power in Europe” would also be a racist statement.
    There really are problems with Islam as it is currently practiced in the areas where Islam is the dominant ideology that do not exist as problems with Christianity as currently practiced in societies where the ideology that I might call “secular democratic capitalism” is the dominant ideology, such as the United States, Sweden, and Japan. (See http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20060207_reality_islam/ for more details.) Being a religion does not make Islam immune from criticism. If it can be reasonable to be suspicious of someone who openly advocates the practice of Soviet Communism, then can also be reasonable to be suspicious of someone who openly advocates the practice of Islam.
    If there was a country in which the dominant religion was the Aztec religion that required human sacrifice – and the people there did, in fact, sacrifice people – would it be reasonable to raise that as an objection to increased immigration from that country? Would it be reasonable to worry about relative birth rates of Aztec and non-Aztec groups in democracies, if there was at least a visible minority of Aztecs that advocated for the establishment of human sacrifice, while the rest failed to denounce it?
    As an avowed secularist who regards the world’s popular religions as not only wrong but frequently dangerous, I view Islam as the current biggest source of ideologically motivated evil in the world. (Prior to its collapse, Soviet Communism was the biggest source of ideologically motivated evil.) I believe that if Europe becomes majority Muslim and the practice of Islam does not change, then it will start looking a lot like the other majority Muslim countries in the world – none of which are places I’d want to live. If Muslims start giving their religion the same lip service most Jews and Christians do (and it really is lip service), then I can tolerate them. If they continue to kill and threaten people for speaking out against Islam, then I can’t tolerate them any more than I could have tolerated Pablo Escobar’s violent drug cartel.

  18. iscah
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Returning, briefly, to the original subject: Yes, this does happen. In fact, when I first saw the post about the article, I thought, “So many of the families I’ve worked for on the southwestern CT coast are JUST LIKE THAT!” Lo and behold, several of the women interviewed were from Darien, CT – where I work a lot, and have seen just this phenomenon.
    Now, I’m not leaping to judge these women for having lots of children (how dare they?). For the most part, they obviously love their children very much, feel they are equipped to give several children everything they might need financially, and are making good on that. However. My objection tends to come in when, in working with many of these families, I discover the staggering perspective of privilege from which these families, and thus their children, view the world.
    These kids have no idea that not everyone in the world is like them, has what they have, buys what they buy. Quite often, they haven’t a shred of knowledge or understanding about the larger world, and they don’t care – because it could hardly affect them, in their palaces of privilege on the Gold Coast. Don’t get me wrong, I like these kids I work with, but the parents who set out to raise a brood of perfect, beautiful children are often succeeding in every way except the instillation of compassion and perspective. And there’s so many of them – so how could they be wrong? Obviously EVERYONE is like them.
    Again, clearly, there are no doubt many socially conscious and thoughtful parents raising four or five aware and conscientious children, and making sure their education includes the world outside Darien, CT. But it’s not most of them.
    NB: Okay, not so brief. Sorry. Also, has anyone else noticed that Nicole always turns up to say exactly what she knows will piss us off the most? Just sayin’…

  19. sojourner
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    “Two gay teens were hanged in Iran.�
    Just to clear this up: That is a story that was wildly publicized by certain critics of the Islamic regime. The truth is that those two young men -I am not aware of their age, and *if* in fact they were teenagers- were executed by hanging b/c they had raped and murdered 16 (male) children in poor neighborhoods around Tehran. So yeah they were executed for sixteen counts of rape and murder, not for being gay. It’s not that I support the death penalty (especially not by hanging), but let’s get our facts right.
    There is plenty of stuff in Nicole’s rants that need correction ( it is pretty obvious she watches Faux News), but this one is something I figured not a lot of people here would be aware of.

  20. Nicole
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Yeah…Things are sooo much better for Gays in Iran than they are here. No one would ever be punished there because of their orientation. It(along with the rest of the Islamic world) is the land of tolerance.
    “• In September 2003, police arrested a group of men at a private gathering in one of their homes in Shiraz and held them in detention for several days. According to Amir, one of the men arrested, police tortured the men to obtain confessions. The judiciary charged five of the defendants with “participation in a corrupt gatheringâ€? and fined them.
    • In June 2004, undercover police agents in Shiraz arranged meetings with men through Internet chatrooms and then arrested them. Police held Amir, a 21-year-old, in detention for a week, during which time they repeatedly tortured him. The judicial authorities in Shiraz sentenced him to 175 lashes, 100 of which were administered immediately. Following his arrest, security officials subjected Amir to regular surveillance and periodic arrests. From July 2005 until he fled the country later in the year, police threatened Amir with imminent execution.
    • On March 15, 2005, the daily newspaper Etemaad reported that the Tehran Criminal Court sentenced two men to death following the discovery of a video showing them engaged in homosexual acts. According to the paper, one of the men confessed that he had shot the video as a precaution in case his partner withdrew the financial support he had been providing in return for sex. In response to the man’s confession, his partner was summoned to the authorities and both men were sentenced to death. As the death penalty was pronounced against both men, it appears to have been based on their sexual activity.”
    I’d respond to all the other rants defending the great Allah and his virtuous worshippers, but it would basically be a repeat of Doug S’ post.

  21. oenophile
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I realize there was a lot to say about Nicole’s offensive comments, but oenophile, are you serious? Women stay at home with their children because they don’t like their jobs? It’s a good excuse? Seriously? These women need to “realise it’s called work for a reason?”
    Lilliana,
    Yes. Deadly serious. I did not say “all,” nor imply that every single SAHM does that. I’m saying that some do that.
    Get off your high horse. Browse the literature section at your local Border’s. There’s a book (the name of which escapes me) that makes a strong case for women to remain in the workforce after having children. The author interviewed hundreds of women and found that a lot of wealthy women left the workforce because they didn’t really like their jobs. The ones that liked their jobs did their best to stay in, either part-time, or at a company that gave them better hours, or the like.
    Bitch me out all you want, but, again, get off the high horse. All SAHMs are not sainted, suffering women. Some of them didn’t like their jobs and saw no reason to stay on when their husbands can make more than enough for both of them.
    You’re more than welcome to try to prove that every single SAHM liked her job. Do that, and I’ll just point and laugh.

  22. Janusdog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    How did this conversation get to be Christian v. Islam? I think it takes away from the point of the article.
    Basically, this trend is directly associated with the restriction on abortion rights we are seeing. In the high Victorian era, doctors sought to ban abortion and outlaw midwives, and it was directly related to the wave of immigration at that time. They were afraid that white upper class women were not doing their breeding duty. Abortion prior to that time was an acceptable way to limit family size.
    Does this sound familiar to anyone? Between pharmacists getting all “moralistic” (I think it’s immoral), gynos refusing sterilizations on perfectly competent women, rolling back gains in medical privacy…all have to do with xenophobia, classism, and sexism.
    Ladies we are looking at a resurgence of Victorian values – and religion was used as an excuse then too. You’ll pardon me if I sip a martini and laugh as my neighbor chooses to breed for the sake of the State – whether that be religious or secular.

  23. Janusdog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    How did this conversation get to be Christian v. Islam? I think it takes away from the point of the article.
    Basically, this trend is directly associated with the restriction on abortion rights we are seeing. In the high Victorian era, doctors sought to ban abortion and outlaw midwives, and it was directly related to the wave of immigration at that time. They were afraid that white upper class women were not doing their breeding duty. Abortion prior to that time was an acceptable way to limit family size.
    Does this sound familiar to anyone? Between pharmacists getting all “moralistic” (I think it’s immoral), gynos refusing sterilizations on perfectly competent women, rolling back gains in medical privacy…all have to do with xenophobia, classism, and sexism.
    Ladies we are looking at a resurgence of Victorian values – and religion was used as an excuse then too. You’ll pardon me if I sip a martini and laugh as my neighbor chooses to breed for the sake of the State – whether that be religious or secular.

  24. Janusdog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    How did this conversation get to be Christian v. Islam? I think it takes away from the point of the article.
    Basically, this trend is directly associated with the restriction on abortion rights we are seeing. In the high Victorian era, doctors sought to ban abortion and outlaw midwives, and it was very much related to the wave of immigration at that time. They were afraid that white upper class women were not doing their breeding duty. Abortion prior to that time was an acceptable way to limit family size.
    Does this sound familiar to anyone? Between pharmacists getting all “moralistic” (I think it’s immoral), gynos refusing sterilizations on perfectly competent women, rolling back gains in medical privacy…all have to do with xenophobia, classism, and sexism.
    Ladies we are looking at a resurgence of Victorian values – and religion was used as an excuse then too. You’ll pardon me if I sip a martini and laugh as my neighbor chooses to breed for the sake of the State – whether that be religious or secular.

  25. sojourner
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    “Yeah…Things are sooo much better for Gays in Iran than they are here.â€?
    Of course they aren’t. Did anyone here said that they were? I was referring to a particular claim you made “Two gay teenagers were hanged�. That did not happen. Then you quote those other stories, which don’t have anything to do with the previous one (independent of whtehr or not they are true or accurate). SarahMC is right you get crazier by the week.

  26. Janusdog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    How did this conversation get to be Christian v. Islam? I think it takes away from the point of the article.
    Basically, this trend is directly associated with the restriction on abortion rights we are seeing. In the high Victorian era, doctors sought to ban abortion and outlaw midwives, and it was very much related to the wave of immigration at that time. They were afraid that white upper class women were not doing their breeding duty. Abortion prior to that time was an acceptable way to limit family size.
    Does this sound familiar to anyone? Between pharmacists getting all “moralistic” (I think it’s immoral), gynos refusing sterilizations on perfectly competent women, rolling back gains in medical privacy…all have to do with xenophobia, classism, and sexism.
    Ladies we are looking at a resurgence of Victorian values – and religion was used as an excuse then too. You’ll pardon me if I sip a martini and laugh as my neighbor chooses to breed for the sake of the State – whether that be religious or secular.

  27. Janusdog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    How did this conversation get to be Christian v. Islam? I think it takes away from the point of the article.
    Basically, this trend is directly associated with the restriction on abortion rights we are seeing. In the high Victorian era, doctors sought to ban abortion and outlaw midwives, and it was directly related to the wave of immigration at that time. They were afraid that white upper class women were not doing their breeding duty. Abortion prior to that time was an acceptable way to limit family size.
    Does this sound familiar to anyone? Between pharmacists getting all “moralistic” (I think it’s immoral), gynos refusing sterilizations on perfectly competent women, rolling back gains in medical privacy…all have to do with xenophobia, classism, and sexism.
    Ladies we are looking at a resurgence of Victorian values – and religion was used as an excuse then too. You’ll pardon me if I sip a martini and laugh as my neighbor chooses to breed for the sake of the State – whether that be religious or secular.

  28. Janusdog
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Uh, sorry, don’t know what happened there. Mods please remove!

  29. Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Universal health care? Sure, if you count health care which excludes abortion and contraception options as universal.

    True, but still a hell of a lot more than is done in the rest of the Middle East (and the US, come to that).
    My point is that the standard ideology has taken living conditions after the massive destruction of the Gulf War of the early 1990s and the genocidal “sanctions” that lasted until the full-scale invasion of Iraq, as the description of “living conditions under Saddam”, rather than as “living conditions introduced by the destruction of the civilian infrastructure of Iraq”.

  30. Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    The author interviewed hundreds of women and found that a lot of wealthy women left the workforce because they didn’t really like their jobs. The ones that liked their jobs did their best to stay in, either part-time, or at a company that gave them better hours, or the like.

    Of course, “liking one’s job” is a pretty broad term. One might “like” the nature of the work, the work environment, the benefits, or the fact that the employer in question did not have burdensome conditions for — or thwart the advancement of — women with families. Conversely, one might “not like” the work in itself, the lack of benefits, or the tendency to shunt mothers to the dead-end “mommy track” (or the tendency of their spouses to leave childcare and homemaking almost entirely to them whilst boasting about their own superior ability to combine work and family).
    To equate “not liking” one’s job with “not wanting to work [read: to do paid labour]“, as is implicit in the statement that “it’s called work for a reason”, is to ignore the real conditions faced by mothers .

  31. Nicole
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    ““Yeah…Things are sooo much better for Gays in Iran than they are here.â€?
    Of course they aren’t. Did anyone here said that they were? I was referring to a particular claim you made “Two gay teenagers were hangedâ€?. That did not happen. Then you quote those other stories, which don’t have anything to do with the previous one (independent of whtehr or not they are true or accurate). SarahMC is right you get crazier by the week.”
    Really?
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/7/21/1879/65145
    http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2005/07/iran_executes_2.html
    http://gayorbit.net/?p=2459

  32. oenophile
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Enough with the nit-picking. Really, Elise, it’s obnoxious.
    A lot of young associates in law firms really hate the work. Something like 50% of biglaw associates will drop out within 5 years. Most of them are not mothers. They hate the work. They hate the hours. They are bored, overworked, and are doing time.
    When someone in that situation has a ready-made excuse for leaving, he or she will often take it.
    Get off my case. I’m sorry if I am not worshiping the mother-goddess, but I’m an atheist and call them like I see them.

  33. Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Enough with the nit-picking. Really, Elise, it’s obnoxious.

    So pointing out underlying assumptions and glossed-over realities is “nit picking”, is it?

  34. Mina
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    “Saying that this is a problem is often followed by accusations of racism. This is inaccurate. Islam is not a race. It is an ideology, as are Soviet communism, Jeffersonian democracy, and even feminism.”
    What about those of us who are considered Muslim simply because our fathers are Muslim? Especially when our fathers are barely observant themselves? I mean, secular Jews and “lapsed” Catholics exist and I exist too. ;)
    “Being a religion does not make Islam immune from criticism.”
    That’s true. It also does not give Islam a monopoly on what Muslims think and do.
    “If there was a country in which the dominant religion was the Aztec religion that required human sacrifice – and the people there did, in fact, sacrifice people – would it be reasonable to raise that as an objection to increased immigration from that country?”
    …and would it be reasonable to complain about Aztecs who don’t bother to fulfil that requirement? Especially when they’re a majority of the Aztecs in the country?
    “I believe that if Europe becomes majority Muslim and the practice of Islam does not change”
    The practices (plural, because it varies from denomination to denomination and culture to culture) are already changing.
    “If they continue to kill and threaten people for speaking out against Islam, then I can’t tolerate them any more than I could have tolerated Pablo Escobar’s violent drug cartel.”
    I don’t tolerate those Muslims either. Meanwhile, do you tolerate me?
    “SarahMC is right you get crazier by the week.”
    I’m just wondering how someone who thinks outbreeding the most squallid among Muslims is a good idea expects to stay thin and perky enough to keep one of the “great catches in business, media, entertainment, etc.” captivated by her.
    “True, but still a hell of a lot more than is done in the rest of the Middle East (and the US, come to that).”
    Meanwhile, I’m not sure if you’d count this as in the Middle East or how other branches of medicine are doing nearby, but check out this news article from 2002:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1949068.stm

  35. SarahMC
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    I am going to agree with Elise and oenophile here. There are numerous reasons why women choose to be SAHMs. There’s currently this notion that SAHMs are the *best* moms because they sacrificed careers to devote themselves wholly (is that a word?) to their children. Surely, in some cases this is true.
    BUT, being a SAHM doesn’t necessarily make you a good mother. I’m sure plenty of SAHMs stay home because their husbands make enough money to support the family and they just don’t want to work. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re devoting lots of time and energy to their kids. They could just be sleeping in, cleaning and watching tv while the kids go crazy or enterain themselves. I’m sure plenty of wealthier moms shop and get spa treatments every day while the kids stay with a babysitter or relative.
    My aunt has an 8 year old. She doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean she spends her time playing with or educating her son. Most of the time he’s at my grandparents’ while my aunt gets her “errands” done (shopping, sitting poolside, etc.). I wish people would get it out of their heads that all SAHMs are just so selfless and devoted. It’s not true. There are a number of reasons why one might choose not to work.

  36. Doug S.
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    Mina: Thank you for your post. I tend to be rather strident sometimes when posting; I apologize in advance if I start taking anything too far.

    What about those of us who are considered Muslim simply because our fathers are Muslim? Especially when our fathers are barely observant themselves? I mean, secular Jews and “lapsed” Catholics exist and I exist too. ;)

    I might suggest that, in that case, the label is being inaccurately applied. ;) Any given non-extremist Muslim is presumably no more a threat than any given non-extremist Jew or Christian. Taking any religion seriously often leads to conflict.

    …and would it be reasonable to complain about Aztecs who don’t bother to fulfill that requirement? Especially when they’re a majority of the Aztecs in the country?

    If they passively tolerate the practice, then it might be, even if they don’t participate in it themselves. In referring to human sacrifice, I was trying to come up with an example of something that would be so outrageous that it would be reasonable to declare suspect anyone who didn’t find it grounds to reject a belief system; something so horrible that you’d rather see your best friends go to jail than allow them to do it, and also horrible enough that you’d look down upon someone who would place loyalty to a friend over preventing it from happening.
    With regard to immigration policy, I’ll grant that country of origin and professed religion probably aren’t particularly reliable indicators of a person’s values. Ideally, one could assess values directly and then use that information to decide whether a person will fit in or not. (My values probably make me a better fit for Kenya than Iran, despite Kenya being a significantly poorer country.) However, it’s really hard to assess values in a way that can’t be easily fooled; I just don’t know how much weight should be put on demographic factors that correlate with values, as using them has been known to set some bad precedents.

    The practices (plural, because it varies from denomination to denomination and culture to culture) are already changing.

    Well, I hope they do change, and for the better. One thing that makes Islam potentially more of a danger than other religions is that it is particularly easy to find justifications for violence within Islamic sacred texts. Mohammad was, among many other things, a conquerer, and Islam does reflect this. The world isn’t a place for conquerers any more, and the values that inspire conquerers need to go away. Even if practices change, a book that says “God wants you to kill the infidels” can still inspire someone to go out and do just that.

    I don’t tolerate those Muslims either. Meanwhile, do you tolerate me?

    If you tolerate me, then we have a deal. ;)
    I’ll admit to starting out with the default setting of “Muslim = potential loony until proven otherwise” but I try to keep the amount of evidence required to prove otherwise pretty low. If you say something that amounts to “I disagree with the crazies” – as you just did – then that’s good enough for me. ;)

  37. Mina
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    “I might suggest that, in that case, the label is being inaccurately applied. ;)
    It’s just that the label is applied that way *a lot*. Any time you see someone claim “there are more than billion Muslims” they’re including people like me and a whole bunch of infants and so on.
    You know, like the way there are either a billion Catholics or all Catholics shun birth control but not both because that “1 billion Catholics” figure includes a lot of people who don’t fully obey the Vatican.
    “In referring to human sacrifice, I was trying to come up with an example of something that would be so outrageous that it would be reasonable to declare suspect anyone who didn’t find it grounds to reject a belief system;”
    …and I was thinking more of how having a religious affiliation can sometimes be closer to having an ethnicity than to having a belief system.
    “If you tolerate me, then we have a deal. ;)
    Exactly. :)

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