March 16, 2007

Opt-Out Myth-Information

That tiny sound you hear, finally, is a tree falling, chopped down and turned into paper that carries news of the longstanding shortcomings in how the media--and hence, policymakers and corporations--completely misframe the issues of moms and the workplace.

The Columbia Journalism Review has a great article on the "Opt-Out Myth," and how it ignores the experience of the vast number of women and families; how it reinforces the cultural/workplace expectation that only women are charged with caring for their kids, so this work/family problem is solely a women's problem; and how it looks too narrowly at the well-educated, well-off white women who are the source of the myth, and who end up not fitting the storyline, either:

So yes, maybe some women “chose” to go home. But they didn’t choose the restrictions and constrictions that made their work lives impossible. They didn’t choose the cultural expectation that mothers, not fathers, are responsible for their children’s doctor visits, birthday parties, piano lessons, and summer schedules. And they didn’t choose the bias or earnings loss that they face if they work part-time or when they go back full time.

By offering a steady diet of common myths and ignoring the relevant facts, newspapers have helped maintain the cultural temperature for what Williams calls “the most family-hostile public policy in the Western world.” On a variety of basic policies—including parental leave, family sick leave, early childhood education, national childcare standards, afterschool programs, and health care that’s not tied to a single all-consuming job—the U.S. lags behind almost every developed nation.

Kudos again to the UC Hastings Work-Life Law Center which published "Opt-Out or Pushed Out?" last year. The delay between earthshattering publication and media attention is down to under 5 months, a noticeable improvement!

The Opt-Out Myth [cjr.org via, umm...]

Previously: Opt-Out Revolution Writer Finally Pays Attention, Still Misses Point
Family Values My Butt: UC Study shows working families get screwed

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