The clued-in revolution

"The Motherhood Manifesto" argues that parenting in the U.S. could be greatly improved with more-supportive government policies.


Sarah Goldstein
May 5, 2006 4:29PM (UTC)

Earlier this week we told you about MomsRising.org, a new Web site and grass-roots organization that hopes to connect and organize citizen activists around "core motherhood and family issues in political, social, and economic spheres." Started by Joan Blades (cofounder of MoveOn.org) and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising outlines core issues to mobilize around, including family leave, universal children's healthcare and more flexible work hours. For those who can't wait for the duo's book, "The Motherhood Manifesto," which discusses these issues and offers a political agenda to work toward, this week's Nation has a smart and pointed excerpt you can e-mail to mom.

"Motherhood in America is at a critical juncture," Blades and Rowe-Finkbeiner write, this country has a "serious mommy wage gap" and, despite our equal pay and equal-opportunity legislation, the U.S. is far behind other countries when it comes to family-friendly policies such as maternity leave and childcare. Unlike Caitlin Flanagan's feminism-killed-motherhood theory, the "Motherhood Manifesto" suggests it probably has more to do with our country's lacking progressive health, labor and childcare policies. "Studies show that this mommy wage gap is directly correlated with our lack of family-friendly national policies like paid family leave and subsidized childcare. In countries with these family policies in place, moms don't take such big wage hits."

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The piece offers a realistic look at how most mothers in America are so busy trying to make ends meet that the idea of an "opt-out revolution" is laughable -- according to the article, almost three-quarters of American women work outside the home. Sketching out the daily routine of two real-life working mothers, and offering a collection of stats and comparative data from around the world, the authors argue that our national policies make parenting, especially for women, much more difficult than it has to be. Giving parents more time with their kids through flexible work schedules, making childcare affordable and implementing equal work for equal pay are family values everyone can get behind.


Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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