I Choose My Choice!

However, while the economy benefits, for working-class families with young children, so much of a second income is eaten up by child care and taxes and other costs related to holding down a job that, after purchasing the microwave—now necessary to produce hot meals in the 10 minutes left for food preparation—and the de rigueur DVD player, the second wage earner might as well have stayed at home. Gilbert concludes, then, that financial need is not the force behind women’s shift in the past 50 years from work in the home to work in the market­place; rather, it is the desires of those who have made out like bandits in this new order, the tiny minority (3.5 percent in 2003) of women who earn $75,000 or more. Members of this occupational elite have created a host of cultural norms by which their far less privileged sisters—who, again, make up the vast majority of working women—feel they must abide. For Hirsh­man’s doctors, lawyers, judges, and professors, work has been terrific, so it’s no wonder they’ve advocated social change, imposing on society between the 1960s and the mid-1990s “new expectations about modern life, self-fulfillment, and the joys of work outside the home.”

via I Choose My Choice! – The Atlantic (July/August 2008).

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