Day By Day

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mommies and the Nanny State

Much has been made in recent years about the marginalization of feminism in the United States. It seems that the same thing is happening over in the socialist fantasyland that is Europe. Der Spiegel reports that Eva Herman's book, "The Eva Principle" has become a sensation by challenging the central tenets of modern feminism.

In print, on TV and in public appearances Mrs. Herman has been advocating

a series of tenets so old-fashioned they seem almost revolutionary again: Motherhood instead of emancipation, child-rearing instead of career-climbing, devoted marriage instead of egoistic self-fulfillment.


"Let's just say it loud," Herman writes. "We women have overburdened ourselves -- we allowed ourselves to be too easily seduced by career opportunities." She recommends women exchange the cold sphere of work for the "colorful world of children" and discover their "destiny of nurturing the home environment."
Not surprising, she has become,

the target of scorn from all sides of the political spectrum. Critics accused her of sending women back to the 1950s and said that she, as someone who successfully combines her career with child-rearing, was guilty of hypocrisy. Several German women have written their own books in response, damning Herman's thesis.
There have been prominent converts, though, including

Christa Müller, the wife of the left-wing former finance minister Oskar Lafontaine. Just five years ago, the economist and left-wing politician lectured the public that she was unsuited for the role of the ornamental wife. But now she, like Herman, has radically changed her mind.
Of course, this being a socialist state, government subsidies are involved.

Minister for Family Affairs Ursula von der Leyen has proposed,

that the government increases the number of nursery places for children below the age of three to 750,000 by 2013, three times more than at the moment. Her argument is that better childcare provisions make it easier for mothers to return to work -- as well as encouraging German women to have more children...
Coupled with proposed state welfare subsidies for stay-at-home mothers, this proposal has raised a huge storm of protest from those who feel that the state should refrain from interfering in family affairs. And, of course, the proposal for state subsidies for women has been followed by similar proposals for men. The idea seems to be that the state will pay mothers and fathers to stay home and have children, and then the state itself will assume the burden of raising the offspring. Essentially this would turn families into baby factories and little more.

Oh my!

See what happens when personal choices become the subject of social science investigation and state policy recommendations?

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