Time August 17/August 24, 2020 pp28-29 The View Essay | Society | “America is failing moms. Let’s start over” by Lyz Lenz. Lenz is the author of “Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women”.
“As the pandemic forces us to rethink almost every aspect of our society”…Lenz suggests “we reassess the very foundation of our society: motherhood.” Gender roles have shifted somewhat, fathers are doing more, but mothers still are the primary parent “maintaining the household and taking care of the children” regardless what else she accomplishes outside of the home. Mothers today are doing more than they did in the 1970s as well.
In 2017, “41% of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinner…and an additional 23% brought home at least a quarter of their household earnings…”. According to Lenz, with the pandemic support lost from school, from camp, from day care has fallen on mothers. Not surprisingly, still today when both parents are employed and more household effort is needed mothers “…reduced their work hours four to five times more than fathers.” Reopening the economy without the usual support systems will “force women from the workforce in record numbers.” Most will call this a choice but Lenz argues “it’s a failure of the system.” She calls for abolishing “our conception of what it means to be a mother in America and rebuild on a policy level.”
1. “Normalize women receiving help with children."
2. Guarantee paid parental leave.
3. Offer government paid income supplements to help raise children or subsidies for childcare costs.
4. Give women control of “when and whether to have children”. Note SCOTUS recently “allowed employers the right to deny insurance coverage for birth control” and states like Texas and Iowa have erected other barriers under cover of the pandemic labeling abortion as “non-essential”. These restrictions also impact the health of low-income women-women of color to a greater extent.
5. Equal pay. Compared to $1 white dads, moms make less: Asian American & Pacific Islander $0.89, White $0.69, Black $0.50, Native $0.47, and Latina $0.45.