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Slate.com urges white women to become single mothers


Naomi R. Cahn

June Carbone

Slate.com ran the headline “Just Say No: For white working-class women, it makes sense to stay single mothers.”

It is considered “racist” to tell black women not to become single mothers. So how does the left-wing intend to close the racial gap in single motherhood? Slate.com is explicitly urging single white women to become single mothers. It is a sickening new form of achieving equality by lower the standards for everyone.

The authors of the Slate.com piece are Naomi R. Cahn, who is a Family Law professor at George Washington University and June Carbone, a law professor at the University of Minnesota. Carbone calls herself an expert on “feminist jurisprudence.”

From Slate.com…

Lily had grown up in a rural town, more than an hour from Kansas City, Mo. She was four months pregnant and not feeling well, and she was in tears. She was also not married, but that’s not what was upsetting her. The car that she needed to get to her two jobs in the city had broken down, and she had no other way to get to work. We asked whether her boyfriend, Carl, could help her. Lily frowned. She had recently broken up with Carl, she explained, because “I can support myself. I always have. I can support myself and our kid. I just can’t support myself, the kid, and him.”

Was Lily just being stubborn? Unrealistic about what it actually takes to raise a baby? Soon after the baby was born we interviewed Lily again. A lawyer had helped Lily get a refund for the car. Her parents, devout Christians who supported both her decision to have the child and her decision not to marry Carl, were helping with child care. Carl was still not part of the picture, and Lily had no regrets. In her mind, Carl would get in the way of her ability to raise her child.

A generation ago her decision would have seemed narrow, misguided, and difficult to understand. But now we have to conclude that it makes a lot of sense. Although it defies logic, socioeconomic, cultural, and economic changes have brought white working-class women like Lily to the point where going it alone can be the wiser choice. And the final irony: The same changes that have made marriages more equitable and successful among elite couples have made it less likely that marriage will look attractive to Lily.

When Lily looks around at the available men, they don’t offer what she is looking for. Lily, just like better-off men and women, believes that marriage means an unqualified commitment to the other spouse. When you marry someone, you support him in hard times. You stick with him when he disappoints you. You visit him if he ends up in jail. And you encourage him to become an important part of your children’s lives.  It’s just that Lily doesn’t believe that Carl is worth that commitment. Nor does she believe that she will meet someone who will meet her standards anytime soon, and the statistics back her up.

The economy has changed. A higher percentage of men today than 50 years ago have trouble finding steady employment, securing raises and promotions, or remaining sober and productive. Blue-collar men like Carl have lost ground while more highly educated men  have gained. The unemployment rate for all men ages 20–24 is almost 13 percent, and those with only a high school education are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those with a college degree. Moreover, many of the jobs that are available have become less reliable than they were for Carl’s dad. They don’t pay as well, last as long, or offer promotions or training. Carl has quit more than one job because he got fed up with his boss. More recently, he was laid off because construction work dried up during a particularly cold spell during the winter. After the layoff, he hung around with his friends, drinking and playing video games. Lily finally had enough when she found out that Carl had run up several hundred dollars in expenses on her credit card.  Lily knows she will never be able to depend on him and, particularly now that she has a child, she doesn’t believe she can afford the risk. It is not surprising that marriage rates for men in the bottom quartile of earnings have fallen dramatically, from 86 percent in 1970 to 50 percent today.

At the same time that men like Carl have lost ground, women like Lily have gained. While almost no one outside the top executive ranks has gained much since the financial crisis, women in the middle of the American economy saw greater increases than the comparable men in both pay and job stability through the ’90s. That doesn’t mean that ideas about who should be the breadwinner have changed much, though. Both men and women generally agree that a man who can’t hold a steady job shouldn’t marry.  Indeed, “the less education and income people have, the more likely they are to say that to be a good marriage prospect, a person must be able to support a family financially.”