[Parentsgroup-list] last time, I swear :)

jbarnes at fas.harvard.edu jbarnes at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Aug 1 22:22:25 EDT 2005


This will be my last post on the subject.  I've obviously made this a bigger
deal than I intended or is appropriate.  For that I apologize.  Please ignore
this if you've lost interest in the thread.


Try as I may, I cannot find the molehill underneath the mountain your post has
constructed.  I "marshalled the language of victimization with all sincerity"
because I was sincerely offended.  I had just read the leader of this group to
which I belong refer to "American family values" (which I happen to hold dear)
as an expletive.  How I "seem to be mocking the same type of rhetoric at the
expense of Christine" I can't figure out.  I thought I was responding to her
arguments (mostly economic) with some of my own.  I certainly don't recall
slandering her, questioning her intellect, or anything else that might be
considered "mocking."  I did say her arguments were "in my opinion grossly
misinformed" which is harsher than I meant but all of this was in the context
of an economics argument, not a personal attack.

Further, where in the world did I reference single vs. two-parent homes, or for
heaven's sake where did I mention heterosexuality?  I honestly cannot figure
out where you're getting this.  That you think I've somehow also wronged "all
those single-income families on this list who do not have the benefit of
stay-home wives" is staggering to me.  I've never discussed my wife or my family
situation (except to say I have 3 children) and have certainly never referenced
anyone else's.  I'm honestly completely flummoxed here.  How I've also been
lumped into your views on Larry Summers and the gender, sexuality and
demographics of your academic department I cannot figure out.

It is offensive to me to say that "American family values" is full of ____.  I
do not find it useful in our discussion here.  Christine apologized and that's
that.  Maybe you missed her post.  If you believe I was simply "lashing out"
that is what I was referring to.  My second post was intended as a more
substantive discussion of the economic arguments involved; I did not attack
anyone personally, nor did I attack single-parent homes, homosexuals, women, or
anyone or anything else (except perhaps communists).  If you read all my posts
so far you'll see I'm arguing almost solely economics here, and my only real
point is that those who do not believe in mandatory maternity leave or other
social programs yet espouse "American family values" are not necessarily "full
of ____."

As for the studies I cited, I googled and the first article that came up cited
the second (or vice versa, I don't remember).  I have read a few articles on
the subject but do not claim to be an expert.  As I said in the post, those
discussions are "details" beyond my major point.

So I guess in all I've "demeaned all of you" by my "generalizations," though for
the life of me I can't figure out what those are.  Frankly, I've made my point
and have no more interest in all of this (and need to go finish trying to
discover my kitchen floor beneath the remnants of my kids' uneaten (but widely
dispersed) dinners).


Quoting mmills at fas.harvard.edu:

> Jesse:
> Quoting Jesse Garrett Barnes <jbarnes at fas.harvard.edu>:
> > Oppressed families of the U.S., unite!
> In your previous e-mail, you marshalled the language of victimization with
> all
> sincerity ("we have learned that while Harvard can be a lonely place for
> parents it is an even lonelier place for those who do not share the
> predominant
> political/social views"), and now, hours later, you seem to be mocking the
> same
> type of rhetoric at the expense of Christine, and perhaps at the expense of
> all
> those single-income families on this list who do not have the benefit of
> stay-home wives. This is mean-spirited, and increases my gratitude for the
> many
> efforts at conciliation and community-building by various mothers on the list
> (the gender breakdown of these posts is predictable--pace Jean-Francois--so
> it
> is with some compunction that I sit here at the end of the workday typing out
> these blunt words).
> Most of us agree that the Harvard environment is unwelcoming to graduate
> student
> parents, but you seem to be suggesting, additionally, that there is a
> conspiracy against traditional heterosexual families, at least in the
> Economics
> Department. This could be newsworthy! Those of us in the sciences, as brought
> to light by Larry Summers' faux pas (which, incidentally, was a major impetus
> behind university support for this group; some of you may remember the failed
> attempt to launch a similar support group a few years ago)  are very far from
> a
> work environment where women have hiring parity, much less the choice to have
> families+tenure, or the choice to work part-time. What this means is that, at
> least in the two departments with which I am affiliated, the majority of the
> permanent faculty are male, and the vast majority of these are heterosexual,
> married with children, and have wives who either stay home or who at some
> point
> took leave or worked part-time to raise their children. The picture you paint
> of
> your experience makes Economics sound closer to Women's, Gender, and
> Sexuality
> Studies. Unless you are simply offering us an affective reaction to a piece
> of
> feminist literature that made you uncomfortable, I would like to hear more
> about "the political/social views" and, more importantly, the _models_ set by
> your faculty when it comes to heterosexual, two-parent families with male
> heads-of-household.
> > 1.  The overwhelming majority of American families disagree with you
> > Christine.  In the last election Bush pulled 59% of those with children.
> > Not that Kerry represents the policies you advocate below (Nader maybe?)
> > but it seems strange to me that so many families would vote for someone
> > who represents precisely what is "destroying" them more than anything.
> Seems like a clear case of confusing correlation and causation.
> > Oh and one more thing.
> Yes, one more thing, with regards to the citations you offer us in your
> subsequent e-mail. A chronic problem with research in the social sciences, as
> underlined by your choice of papers on infant mortality, is the leap to
> universalization from case studies with numerous confounding
> variables. So, why strut the claim to authority ("what's happening with
> infant
> mortality is very simple"), when all of your subsequent facts are so
> uncertain
> ("they may not like the US system"---who precisely are 'they'?), as is the
> language (all conditional clauses) with which you state them? Although it is
> only too easy to offer rebuttals to each other's statistics, I think it is
> absolutely crucial for us to query the facile red/blue litmus test you (and
> Ryan) have proposed (even as you assail Christine for seeming to do the
> same!).
> No one on this list, as far as I have read, has yet attacked the so-called
> "red
> states," families, or your personal family values (much less called any of
> these things "evil"), so it is unclear to me why you are lashing out (and,
> with
> such faulty logic and "facts," that is all you are doing).
> The much-discussed CDC divorce rates (highest in NV, OK, TN, and other parts
> of
> "the bible belt" and lowest in MA, CT, NY, and NJ), are a good example of
> demographic complexities beyond red/blue. Pointing this out should not
> suggest
> hypocrisy on the parts of the individual residents of those states, but could
> rather serve as an example of the constant co-existence of alternative family
> structures _and_ "family values."
> http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/divorce.htm  
> It is demeaning to all of us to be folded into your generalizations; each of
> our
> lives is much too precarious and wonderful for that.
> ***
> Mara
> Depts. of the History of Science & Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
> Instructor
> Dept. of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
> Brown University
> > On Sun, 31 Jul 2005, Christine Dianne Wenc wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > I know I'm violating my own new ground rules, but this is the last
> speech,
> > > I promise!!  I am enjoying the conversation.  Just delete if you don't
> > > want to hear it.
> > >
> > > One comment on the military, which is hardly a left-wing
> institution--they
> > > apparently have one of the best child-care services in the United
> > > States--excellent, low-cost care for the kids of servicemen & women.
> > >
> > > And one comment on maternity leaves--This is just one part of the
> > > picture as far as I'm concerned.  I think many more families
> > > could be one-income families if we had a higher minimum wage, were far
> > > more supportive of labor unions, and had national health insurance.  I
> > > don't think many women put their babies in day care after 6 weeks because
> > > they feel empty without their careers--they do it because their families
> > > need the money.  (After all, most working women are
> > > NOT lawyers and radical academics--they are secretaries & retail
> > salespeople.)
> > >
> > > There was an article in the NYT recently about how many
> > > American cities--including Boston--are losing their
> > > children because families cannot afford to live there, only single people
> > > & couples without children.  This seems so absurd and wrong, and to me
> > > epitomizes the outcome of our economic policies that take as their normal
> > > economic unit the individual unencumbered
> > > adult, not families.  Dependents have no place in capitalism because they
> > > cannot be productive, and capitalism wants everyone working to increase
> > producers'
> > > profits (and doesn't give a damn about ANY family structure as far as I
> > > can see).  But this also happens simultanously with a culture that still
> > > has a really hard time with women being something other than stay-at-home
> > > mothers, and a feminist movement which has mostly been concerned with
> > > increasing women's opportunity in our highly individualist economic
> > > system.  (The last serious attempt at getting maternity leaves & child
> > > care was in 1974--shot down by a Nixon veto.)
> > >
> > > So we have no maternity leaves and no child care, because these
> > > support working mothers (conservative p.o.v.) or encourage the
> maternalist
> > > idea that women are essentially mothers (feminist p.o.v.).  But at the
> > > same time, due to our economic policies most families now can't survive
> on
> > > one income, so many women--and some men--work outside the home whether or
> > not
> > > they really want to, and maternity leave/child care policy is set by the
> > > market.  Capitalism is destroying the American family more than anything
> > > else.
> > > _______________________________________________
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> > >
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