About Those Dire Predictions…

Today is the second annual Women’s March.

The first one was followed by an eventful year for women–from #metoo to vastly increased civic activism to record numbers of women running for political office. Those activities haven’t been universally applauded, but that’s nothing new. Every time we women assert ourselves, we are met with the usual warnings: children will be neglected or traumatized, marriages will fail, society will suffer, we women will enter old age embittered and alone.

I know the defenders of patriarchy will be disappointed, but it really doesn’t work that way.

A couple of weeks ago, I referenced Stephanie Coontz’ book The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, in which–among other things–Coontz reminded us that “Leave it to Beaver” wasn’t a documentary. In 2016, she updated the book, and the Council on Contemporary Families, a research institute she heads, issued a report on some of the data that would be part of the revision. That data just goes to show how often all those dire predictions about the effects of social change turn out to be wrong.

A few examples:

In the early 1990s, there was much hand-wringing about “scarlet women” and rising out-of-wedlock births; the warning was that the children would become juvenile “super predators,” morally-impoverished and violent.

But between 1993 and 2010, sexual assaults and intimate partner violence dropped by more than 60 percent. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, the murder rate in 2013 was lower than at any time since the records began in 1960. Since 1994, juvenile crime rates have plummeted by more than 60 percent, even though the proportion of children born out of wedlock has risen to 40 percent.

We were warned that women who were selfish enough to pursue both motherhood and careers would inevitably “outsource” our maternal responsibilities and/or neglect our children. We can skip the guilt. (Now they tell me!)

Today, both single and working moms spend more time with their children than married homemaker mothers did back in 1965. And, according to David Cotter, Joan Hermsen, and Paula England’s brief report on Moms and Jobs, educated professionals – the women most likely to work outside the home – spend many more hours in child care than their less-educated counterparts.

Remember when pundits and scolds warned that no-fault divorce laws spelled the end of the American family?

In each state that adopted no-fault, the next five years saw an eight to 16 percent decline in suicide rate of wives and a 30 percent drop in domestic violence. Although no-fault divorce is now universal, divorce rates are actually falling.

Well–so maybe no-fault divorce didn’t destroy the institution of marriage, but legal recognition of same-sex marriage will surely do it; for one thing, it will never be accepted by the American public; for another, think of the children!

As late as 1996, 65 percent of Americans opposed same sex marriage, with just 27 percent in favor. Yet by 2011, 53 percent favored same-sex marriage, paving the way for its legalization in 2015. Definitive, long-term studies now show that children raised by two parents of the same sex turn out fine.

There’s much more, but you all get the drift. Bottom line: keeping marriage and the unequal relations between the sexes “the way they always were” is neither necessary nor desirable.

Ironically, although the public has adapted, politicians and government haven’t.

Since 1993, the federal government has made no substantive progress toward policies that help women and men reconcile work and family obligations, while other countries have leapt ahead. In 1993 the Family and Medical Leave Act gave workers in large companies up to 12 weeks unpaid job-protected leave. But 23 years later, only 13 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave, and 44 percent don’t even have the right to unpaid leave. By contrast, every other wealthy country now guarantees more than 12 weeks of paid leave to new mothers, limits the maximum length of the work week, and mandates paid annual vacations. Most also offer paid leave to fathers. The result? American workers express higher levels of work-family conflict than their European counterparts. And the U.S. has fallen from 6th to 17th place in female labor participation among 22 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development since 1990. The one exception to this backwardness? The Pentagon, which runs the best affordable and universal childcare system in the country and just instituted 12 weeks paid maternity leave.

Other things that haven’t improved in the past quarter-century? Women’s reproductive rights and wage inequality. And as the #metoo movement has illustrated, sexual harassment.

In her speech at the Golden Globes, Oprah predicted that “change is coming.” As far as I’m concerned, it can’t come soon enough.

Meanwhile, I’m going to the March.


  1. i heard a few interviews from the pro life mob,and HHS ,seems its not o.k. for people of,faith to be present while abortions are in any area of discussion or,being done. they,the religious right now has a gov agency at the HHS for them,paid by our tax dollar,to support their discrimination to the medical field,or people in need.. trumps buddies have decided a office caterting soley to their whining. the conversation of the past religious problems,such as their under fire for having to subject themselves to other Americans rights,and being TOLD to do something they,dont want to do.maybe a vacation in iran with their views of chritianity, would help them under stand the importance,of living free from strife in America..though they feel rightous now,being trump means what he says,about supporting their vote,er, cause. one would have to believe heres a sect worthy of pushing discrimination for self needs. sounds like trump enforcing gerrymandering. the women interviewed found trump maybe a renegade as far as his posture goes,but hes alright with them as long as he supports,their discrimnation on others,personal needs.. i never asked a religious person for a dime,or any prayers,or, their need to defend my opinion. they should however, practice the same scripture they read. or maybe the hypocritical presense isnt reconized,or cant be heard from the choir.

  2. Let me begin with the Dillys Lainge quote I have used before; “Women receive the insults of men with tolerance, having been bitten in the nipple by their toothless guns.”

    Women will understand this; I doubt men will get the point without some deep thought given to her words. I grew up in a home with a drinking, abusing father and a mother who was always there, crying about her lot in life and keeping her three children in the situation. But; to give her credit…that is what was expected of women in those years…and my generation following. I also grew up being told I was stupid, couldn’t learn, couldn’t do anything right and would never amount to anything. This was the norm for my generation; but my generation was also the one who began stepping out of the isolation of being house-bound to help pay bills and making the discovery that we could multi-task at levels higher than men even attempted. Working outside the home meant for us also continuing to raise our children, manage the household budget, do all cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking while also putting in full days work and helping to bring home the proverbial bacon.

    We helped to bring about change in those jobs outside the home; proving our worth at lower levels and making that slow climb, moving up the ladder…but still have not received the equality in status or income we deserve. I am a member of the “me too” group and also tolerated years of sexual harassment on the job…there is a difference between the two.

    “Other things that haven’t improved in the past quarter-century? Women’s reproductive rights and wage inequality. And as the #metoo movement has illustrated, sexual harassment.”

    Oprah’s “change is coming” began years ago; our progress has just been so slow, it was not noticeable. In 1913 my grandmother divorced her alcoholic, abusive husband; raised four children on her own by giving piano lessons and play piano in silent movie theaters. She bought her own home, a double, rented the other half to her sister and her family. She later met, fell in love with a man 12 years younger, they married and together raised her younger children plus three foster children, ages 4, 5 and 7. The two girls are in their 90’s and still my aunts. Today I am 80, deaf, disabled and self-supporting; maintaining my home financially and physically (except lawn care) and have been doing this by myself alone for 35 years. What more “change” can be expected of me at this stage of life?

    Please do not forget or discount the many women in my position who stand strong and do what we can by keeping informed and participate via blogs such as Sheila’s, signing petitions and surveys and donating what we can to do battle against the current administration in the White House after doing the same to support worthy candidates and always voting. I watched the pitiful Senate “action” last night; that is lost time I will never recover when I could have been sleeping.

    I wish I could be with all of you today who are marching; will be with you when I can in future marches, protests and rallies. I know you will be marching for me and others who cannot be there and I thank you.

  3. I’ve often asked neanderthal men, how many women represented our democratic moment when our constitution was adopted.

    No takers.

    Men don’t care what women believe. It’s all spelled out in the bible. Ask Mike Pence. 🙂

    How long did it take women to get equal rights in this country?

  4. I hope to see as many women in today’s Power to the Polls Women’s March as we saw at last year’s March. Women voters, led by committed and courageous Black Women, proved once again the power of the vote when they defeated Moore/Trump in Alabama.

    My grandmother was a young mother with several small children in 1920. She voted in every election thereafter until her death. My mother, her oldest child, never missed an election and often worked the polls. Both of them understood that voting was not a privilege but a civic duty.

    They were my roll models. This snowflake is part of a building avalanche that will sweep the political landscape when the women of this country show their unity and purpose to fight for equal treatment under the law and respect in public and domestic venues. It is time.

  5. Todd,

    I’ll let you know as soon as it happens. Felix Frankfurter once said that the only constitutional right women had was the right to vote.

  6. Andre Gide’s advice still applies to us all………………..!

    “Remember to remind yourself frequently: It all depends on ME!!!

    That quote still sits squarely in the middle of my refrigerator postings and photos – it’s been there for nearly 30 years, moved from one house to the next. I I read it every day!

    Woman has an innate toughness that keeps alive her will to survive and nurture and grow. That can never be taken away from her unless she willingly forfeits it. I am one of the tough women – we are legion!

  7. And with the knuckleheads in Congress failing to pass the most fundamental of actions to their sworn duties, it is perfect timing for women across the country – and their men who are just – to march and protest. It is not only our moronic, lying president, but the Republicans who are spinning like tops to cast blame on Democrats. Even the 52% of white women who voted for these idiots are realizing their mistake.

    The oppression of women is a religious-based philosophy and norm created by men to retain their primacy in society and the household. It is archaic, wasteful and dumb. Yes, I know this attitude originated in the caves of our past (Caveman is appropriate and correct here.), but we have evolved socially so quickly and so broadly, that to deny women any part of our societies, is anathema to any kind of progress.

    I can’t wait – and I hope I live long enough – to see a woman President and MANY more women in Congress and on the bench. I’ll be marching too.

  8. The older I get, the more I appreciate the unbelievable physical and mental strength most women have … and have always had. I’m now 90. When I was in high school, anything that could be classified as a sport was restricted to male participation. But the girls could be found on the borders of everything: cheer leaders, band members, sports journalists, and on and on.

    I became a Rotarian in 1976. It was a totally male organization until 1988. The Supreme Court changed the rules. A lot of men didn’t like it, but the women who joined showed they were more than qualified to be good members.

    Women have an unbelievable energy that most men don’t begin to understand. The women get up early in the morning and go to bed late at night. In between, they give birth to babies, take care of kids of all ages, and act as cheerleaders for all members of their families. Once in a while, they get around to taking care of themselves.

    They’re unselfish and consistently look for ways to help others. My wife of 67 years keeps finding new and different ways to outdo me … and it’s getting pretty annoying. But that’s my fault, not hers. She always seems to know when and where she’s needed. I don’t have a clue. Let’s hear it for the women. All of the women.

  9. Yes, Yes, to all the women and the men on here today. And, to add, in the past few years, I have noticed the women in China, and surely in other countries, are taking on quite a lot of responsibility and more power. This is what we all have to look forward to and hopefully not in the too distant future. This is the missing element we have needed for many years in this country. Many of us experienced sad and distressing childhoods as Jo Ann described, and were decidedly influenced because of it, but because of our strength and the necessity to survive, we had no choice but to go on. Now we can watch these wonderful marches and see these talented women with such bright futures have so many more choices than we could have ever dreamed were possible. Wow. Out of everything this past year this alone gives me hope. I am happy.

  10. I will not be in the Women’s March here in Florida today but plan to attend the rally afterwards. Women have been mistreated since Abraham of Ur in our Judaic-Christian societies and only were enabled to vote in our country in the 20th century. It appears that a mere one chromosomal difference which establishes gender was held to be the determining factor in women’s pursuit of political and other such rights, resulting in second class citizenship. It also appears that vestiges of that stained past remain, particularly in the equal pay for equal work arena, where employers steal from their equal efforts to fatten their (the employers’) bottom lines. We are not the “land of the free” when we discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender, religion, color or class. The good news is that just lately there are women in the street who are following the precepts of Mother Jones – and good for them (and all of us)!

  11. The funny thing (if you view the the path taken by our nation as folly) is that the Christo-fascist patriarchal types place national security as their top priority. In fact, all of the backward points of view and resulting regressive policy only hurt our country and continue to chip away at the edifice of strength we pretend to enjoy. The WORST thing we do to ourselves is not take advantage of the talents of ALL of our people, be they immigrants, minorities, or most importantly, a full HALF of the population.

    Like the paranoid NRA member who thinks possessing an arsenal in his home will save him from a clever burglar, we will fall easily to modern minds with our early 20th century attitudes and our resulting Maginot Line of defense.

  12. First permit me to re-post a Facebook post from this morning that might at first seem disconnected to today’s topic, but then I hope to connect them.

    “Extremism breeds extremism. That’s where the center went. And the process is not complete.”

    “When that thought is combined with the revelation that the two political extremes are liberal and authoritatarian, rights vs duties or responsibilities, freedom vs slavery, a clearer picture emerges of our descent from the American and French Revolutions. We understood then that the deal was rights AND responsibilities. Now those who would be masters of the slaves by promoting extremism have convinced those who would fall for it that it’s necessary to choose between rights and responsibilities.”

    “Of course whatever emerges from believing that rights and responsibilities are mutually exclusive will be failure of civilization, of society.”

    To me acceptance of the middle, rights AND responsibilities, is a defining quality of capable women. Rights have never been a free lunch. They are earned and not by others but by all who would enjoy them.

    The human race is defined equally and together by men and women equal in both number and contribution. Not the same but complementary.

    It’s time for both men and women to take back the middle. Rights and responsibilities, freedom and duty, male and female.

    Again the Democrat Party leads by example but the work is nowhere near done. Double down.

  13. Gee, IIRC Hillary, Bill, and their gang were the promoters of the “super predator” story, with increased government control, and of course they were big on Horney Bill friend of women. Not today’s cause celeb. When in doubt run and shout, and certainly help America’s image abroad. Trump is certainly not the only group leader that makes America look bizarre.

  14. This man hopes this is the year that women can begin to take power in our government institutions. they are much more grounded than the elite males who are consumed by their egos and political power. I’m talking about McConnell, Trump and their male allies and their on-going failure to govern.

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