The New School in New York is adding a course on stay-at-home mothering. But it’s not what you think. Instead of equipping future parents, this class will be used to pass the blame of societal gender discrimination on a mothers’s choice to not work outside the home.
A college-level program designed for future stay-at-home parents is a novel idea. Rather than view it as a comeback of the 1950s, it’d be a recognition of the value of parenting to our society as well as the many women and men who intentionally make the choice to not work full-time outside the home when they become parents, whether temporarily or for the long term.
I could envision a collegiate stay-at-home parenting program encompassing classes in business, child development and education, psychology, nutrition, family and consumer science, and so much more. As we know, stay-at-home parenting involves a myriad of roles.
But that’s not what this New School course will be about. In fact, it’s not a class that any aspiring stay-at-home parent wants to accidentally enroll in. As the Washington Examiner reports, the four-credit “Love and Currency” class will explore stay-at-home parenting as among our society’s invisible, unpaid labor that contributes to gender norms and sustained systemic racism.
The course is based on the work of feminism activist Silvia Federici’s 1975 manifesto, “Wages Against Housework.” Parents: Read this with a grain of salt.
I don’t like housework any more than the next person, but I also don’t equate cooking and cleaning with stay-at-home parenting. Perhaps its because we are reading this paper more than 40 years after it was written?!
Housework is part of living in a house, whether or not you work outside of it. And the role of cooking and cleaning is no longer relegated solely to the woman. Men can be just as adept at managing the house, as the ever-growing number of stay-at-home fathers illustrates. If anything, a course based on this manifesto should fall under history rather than current affairs.
It’s insulting to women, men, families, and frankly society to offer a class such as this in any category other than retrospective. From a feminist point of view, it may help explain the evolution of gender equality through the decades, but arguing that stay-at-home parenting continues to contribute toward societal discrimination is bogus. Parents who choose to be at-home parents are doing just that — making a choice. It’s a long way from being forced into the position by cultural expectations that have long since passed.
Instead of protecting women’s rights, this college class will instead turn out students more apt to shame mothers for their choice to parent at-home — ironic, since the whole point of Silvia’s manifesto was to free women from the control of others’ limited perspectives.
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