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Money or Men?

Money or men?

Helen Andrews, in her NYT op-ed "Where Are the Socially Conservative Women in This Fight?", believes she knows the answer. “Women want equal pay for equal work, and they should get it, but they also want men they can marry.”

But while Helen Andrews is willing to wager that "money or men" is the central organizing question of your life (and is willing to send the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly to haunt you if it isn't), we know no women who are centering this as their life-ordering oppositional binary.

Money or men?

As though they are both equally useful to all women. As though there is a hierarchy that one has to ascribe to that privileges one over the other. As though heteronormativity applies to everyone, equally. As though we all have the luxury of a full set of choices among resources. As though commodification of marriage/men is a useful construct. As though all other public and political goods flow from marriage.

We simply do not believe any of those - least of all that all other public and political goods flow from marriage. (But, please, start paying attention to this notion because it undergirds most of the domestic policy in this country.) (Also, can we just point out right here, right now, that because of this there are myriad associated economic issues hamstringing women that we have to unpack - around compensation, workforce participation, education, negotiation, etc - and will do so elsewhere?)

Plus, the data do not back that up. The assumption does, however, find support in certain socio-religious contexts. But data and socio-religious overlays are not the same no matter how much the author is working to marry the two while hoping you don't notice the conflation. She alternates between labor data and religiously-driven opinion and tries to pass them off as one and the same - to the detriment of the women she's claiming to help.

Data point: “Women were responsible for almost the entire increase in labor force participation between 2015 and 2017.”

Socio-religious opinion: “If you asked the women in the David Autor study — the ones in places where the wage gap widened but marriage rates went up — which they’d rather have, a few extra cents an hour or a husband and a child, what do you think they would say?”

We are all for policy that supports human thriving and strong communities, so there is a lot to consider in the op-ed overall. But reductive reasoning does no one any good. And separating fact from opinion is essential if we're serious about creating and enacting policy prescriptions that will benefit women.

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