December 7 2011
Who Decides Someone’s Real Value?
Carrie L. Lukas
The Economist is hosting a debate on the statement, “This house believes women’s place is at work.” Independent Women’s Forum senior fellow, Karin Agness, wrote about it here, highlighting AEI’s Christina Hoff Sommers’s simple, devastating refutationt: “Women do not have an assigned place.”
That should really be the end of the discussion.
Anyone who recoils from the idea that women’s role would be restricted to homemaking and child-rearing should recognize that it’s just as limiting to confine women to the role of worker. Yet I’m always struck during such discussions (or books such as Linda Hirshman’s Get to Work), by the total lack of value many modern feminists are willing to bestow on family life and civil society.
It can sound like a pathetic, everyone-gets-a-trophy line of argument, but stay-at-home parents’ contributions to society are real. Scholars differ in their assessment of how much impact parenting styles have on individual children’s outcomes, but it’s clear that communities pay a price when there is a lack of at-home parents.
Feminists’ glorified image of work-life also seems disconnected to reality. As Mark Steyn notes in his latest book, a growing number of jobs provide little real value outside of navigating the modern economy’s bizarre, bureaucratic labyrinth. Sure, the local compliance officer gets a paycheck which shows that someone valued his service, but just how meaningful is his impact on society really?
Intuitively, most people know that the size of the paycheck you receive isn’t the only way to measure your worth or contribution to your family or society. Yet the feminists can’t seem to escape the money-as-everything mentality when assessing women’s roles.