Capitalism Hates Moms

This week, Senator Joe Manchin insisted any extension of the Child Tax Credit payments should include a work requirement.

Bread

Wtf does it look like I’m doing??

"Before you start saying, ‘is it going to be permanent?’,  let's see how we're doing this. Let's make sure that we're getting it to the right people.

And who would that be, Joe?

"There's no work requirements whatsoever. There's no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets – Don't you think if we want to help the children, the people should make some effort?" 

Strong words from a fellow whose entire industry takes August off work like classical Versailles. But I guess budgeting has never been politicians’ strong suit.

According to Fortune, “The amount of the credit is based on a family's modified adjusted gross income, with payments starting to phase out for single parents (filing as head of household) earning $112,500 a year or $150,000 among those who are married and filing jointly.”

Six figures! Those rich bastards don’t need government handouts!

…Except that $112,000 is almost double the 2020 median national income of $67,521. The majority of Americans will never see that kind of money, despite $150,000 being named as the minimum “to lead a good life” by Business Insider… in 2012. 

Joe Manchin is using a very old trick – He’s invoking class resentment to rein in government spending, you know, on the people that government represents!

Then we have Sherrod Brown naming the elephantCaregiving is work.

Because, lest we forget – This money is only being dished out to parents, assuming most of us will prioritize our children’s wellbeing. Joe Manchin’s implication that parents can’t be trusted to have our kid’s best interests at heart is horrific as well as insulting.

Kids

Some of us have a lot of practice!

But parenting is not equal, and its effects on income are well-known. Mothers earn less while fathers earn more, and we all know who does most of the shopping, housework and childrearing. It’s pretty clear who Joe Manchin is really threatening here.

Working Girls

The push to get women into the workforce has become increasingly transparent. I recently responded to an article titled American Motherhood Vs. The American Work Ethic – A bland confection of classic feminist workplace improvements that have never materialized, with a thick icing of pandemic sob stories to disguise the familiar taste.

The Market has spent decades nodding and smiling at our ideas, and then disregarding them. Instead of flexible schedules and on-site daycare, we have longer workdays and expensive institutions. Ironically, the cost of daycare keeps us working longer hours to make ends meet.

The average cost of childcare was $340 a week in 2020. Even taking the average hourly wage of $11.25 in August, 2021 (and forgetting all taxes), that’s 30 hours a week just to pay for daycare! That’s usually enough to qualify as Full Time, which requires your employer to offer you healthcare. So, most places won’t give you that many hours.

This leaves many mothers scrambling to coordinate two unrelated work schedules, along with her kids’ pick-up and drop-off times. Forget doctor’s appointments or family trips. Heaven forbid there’s ever an emergency.

And don’t ask Dear Old Dad to help with much of this – He’s stuck working even longer hours! Forty years of wage stagnation mean he’s scraping by while she’s paying for gas from what’s left after daycare.

And what help do we get? American Motherhood Vs. The American Work Ethic The same song-&-dance they have been doing since the 1970s, feel-good solutions with no plans for practical implementation. With a big helping of shame disguised as sympathy.

Say what you will about the Biden administration, but they are the first ones in this country to put any of this into practice on a large scale. Caregiving – mothering – is work. But this slogan is having trouble finding traction, because mothering is not efficiently productive enough to be much use to the Market.

It’s pretty clear they have been trying to milk moms for ages, as we are marketed to more than any other demographic. The revenue vectors are plentiful – We want to be good mothers, appealing partners, have clean homes, do what’s best for our children and make the world a better place.

And, along with our much-discussed conflicting insecurities, we tend to make a lot of household purchase decisions.

After decades of this – Of creating needs and filling them – someone seems to have noticed that more women in the workforce meant more women contributing directly to the economy. And this might actually be good for Capital.

Salesman

I’m telling ya, honey – I got a great opportunity for ya!

Women are much more productive as workers.

Revolution, Industrial-Style

…But let’s rewind for a minute. A common rebuttal to this line of thought is to point out that only middle class women had been able to stay at home, anyway. That a Friedanian, white suburban reading of class struggle leaves out the working class and most people who aren’t white.

We have the Industrial Revolution to thank for this. Before mass production, most people lived and worked in the same small area their entire lives. The home and the farm or business were the same place.

Men may have functioned as the public face of the family but, in private, they had all different types of arrangements with the women in their lives, just like today. The general recognition of this fact is only to the good, of course.

But other facets of daily life haven’t benefitted from the soulless libertine influence of Capital. As the wealth of the Industrial Revolution built more and more larger and larger companies, the rising tide did not lift all boats. Anyone who missed it was left floundering and scrambling to make a living, usually in factories. Men and women both left the home to bring back pennies, often taking their children with them.

Those with full pockets distinguished themselves from the unwashed masses by pursuing a lifestyle only they could afford.

The rampant corruption and abuse of this period shows us how rapid change can overwhelm society. The early decades of the 20th century were a direct response to these horrors – Labor laws, especially child labor laws, were put in place to keep business owners from creating systems of glorified indentured servitude.

This period gave us the concept of Full Time vs. Part Time work. Our beloved Weekend, so much a thing of myth these days, was part of a schedule theorized and designed to maximize individual health and happiness. We need eight hours or so of sleep, leaving 16 hours for other activities. This was split into half work and half leisure time, in an inspired, ahistorical recognition that people are human.

But Capital didn’t like any of this very much. Winded after The Great War, it took a different tack and tried monetizing leisure time. This is what the modern middle class was built on. The luxuries of the few were mass-produced and marketed. Advertised as necessary status symbols.

New Clothes

Clothes make the girl, you know!

This worked really well for a long time. Generations fed Capital their time and a small fee, in exchange for a glamourous thing or experience. But the tiger of Capital outgrows every cage, inevitably turning on whoever is silly enough to think they’ve tamed it.

Eventually, in order to keep growing and keep growing faster, monetization wasn’t enough. The shit really hit the fan in the 1980s, a market bubble we are still riding toward a sheer cliff face. The cultural pendulum swung hard in the direction of women’s independence and, in a capitalist system, that means earning our own money.

The influx of Boomer women in their 20s and 30s meant employers could offer less, both because of increased demand for jobs, and just because they could get away with paying women less. And nothing’s changed much since then.

In fact, it’s become assumed that a woman will have her own job, her own career, and this is the road to personal fulfillment. Even the pay gap has been swept away with a little fancy math! Mothering is seen as a one-size-fits-no-one affair, the job market being depicted as a wish-fulfillment generator.

They Said I Could Be Anything, So I Became A Disappointment

What do you want to do with your life? Teenagers hear this way too often, and it’s something we all ask ourselves. It’s worth taking the long view of our achievements, but that’s not really what this is, is it?

There’s an implied urgency – What do I want to do with my life right now? The present moment telescoped to encapsulate all of time, every action of great importance and meaning. Completely ignoring the way the years add up in practice.

The simple solution to most of this, and a pretty common one, is to just not pair off and reproduce at all. Go to school, get a job, get an apartment. Get together with friends, travel, read books and watch movies. There is plenty to do in life without engaging in any of these topics at all. 

But this doesn’t solve the issues on a larger scale, and they just keep on getting worse, don’t they? The escalating trends from 40 years ago find many of us back facing indentured servitude to make ends meet, only this time we can’t bring the kids with us.

Tuck In

Don’t worry – Mama already put in the request for time off on your birthday!

Most women will have children, the average age of first-time Millennial mothers in 2020 being 26. It’s funny to me how Forbes present this as, Millennial Women Delaying Having Kids – Isn’t that just waiting until you’re fully an adult yourself? My grandmother’s generation got married at 18, so I think the stats may a little skewed here.

But the slow drip condenses into a wave of negativity toward all things motherly. Even the word is unflattering, set against the icon of the perpetual teenager forever turning his back on Mom to seek his fortune. And we’ve allowed him to write the story, trying to follow along instead of using our newfound voice to tell our own.

Mass Reproduction

And the next frontier, they’re saying, is just around the corner! Artificial wombs (and surrogacy…) will free us from the bonds of maternal flesh altogether! And won’t that be grand?? We can pay someone to make our baby for us while we’re at work, then keep on working to pay someone else to raise them! Liberation!

Once again, I feel obliged to say that, if you don’t want kids, do that. I strongly feel that forcing such a massive life choice on anyone is extremely wrong. But, ‘write what you know,’ right? Stay in your lane? This isn’t the role I expected, but I’m playing it to the hilt!

And I can’t help but notice the silence from one of the largest groups in the world. We don’t see ourselves as mothers – We see ourselves as Americans, as Gamers, as Fans, as Consumers, as Organizers and Activists. As Liberals, Conservatives, Women, Transmen, Type-A or Submissive, Christian or Muslim or whathaveyou – with mothering pushed to the corner. Taken for granted. It’s an uncomfortable fact that we don’t let define us… Or inform anything about us, we promise!

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just give it up and be free, like men?

But what are we giving up?

Mama And Baby

I think someone said you’re the future, or something…

What does life look like without the messy, visceral, human parts? We may not be born to be mothers, but we’re definitely not born to be workers!

And I hate to say, ‘won’t somebody please think of the children?‘, but somebody should! Mothers should be unified and loud on basic concepts of parenting, like feeding and clothing them – People like Joe Manchin should get laughed out of the room for implying we don’t know what we’re doing!

We even already have a system in this country for ensuring parents are doing our job – It’s called Child Protective Services! If Joe Manchin is so worried about the deadbeat parents getting handouts, he might shore up that sorely underfunded, understaffed organization!

No, it’s sadly obvious that people like him are using the same old emotional appeals to invite us to undermine ourselves. He works for Capital, and Capital hates moms.

 

Comments

  1. Thinkpiece -

    Please fix the typo on the SUBSCRIBE button kthanxbai

    • Brazen She -

      Sorry the back end has been a bit all over the place for a while! I’ll look into it this week.

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