On May 29th, the Pew Research Report on Breadwinner Moms came out and it caused a firestorm of controversy. The mere fact that the percentage of households with breadwinning moms went from 11% in 1960 to 40% in 2011 was enough to make the world take notice. Every media outlet was declaring the rise and dominance of the alpha female. But, having read that report in its entirety, there are a number of things the report did not cover. It didn’t discuss the quality of life lived by families where the wife is the breadwinner (socioeconomic status, quality of life, marital and familial satisfaction). It didn’t dive deeper into what support and resource measures are required to help young, single, never married mothers do a better job of providing for their children. It didn’t look further into the disparity between the percentage of people under 30 who felt that women breadwinning in a marriage or family was no issue versus the increased number of people in their 30s and 40s who felt that it was (hint: maybe it’s because most under 30 aren’t married with kids yet and most in their 30s and 40s are… #justsayin). And the Pew Report provided no concluding thoughts on where the discussion needs to go next, how to create a paradigm shift for the 40% of households where mom does run the show, and how husbands and wives can embrace the new experience of family life without losing their identities and sense of purpose in the relationship.
The Pew Report was a starting point but it’s not a report that you look at and cry, “Return women to the home!” or yell, “More power to women!” This is a much more complicated issue than either of these proclamations can even grasp. What we need now is a bigger conversation, a deeper dialogue, one in which we unashamedly and fearlessly open our mouths and our lives to the realities of what it means to be women breadwinners in a world that still doesn’t fully embrace the idea. It’s time for husbands to rally with their wives and openly discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of being Mr. Mom, Mr. Desi Ball, the husband of Sandra Bullock, or Reese Witherspoon’s sidekick. We need to talk about the phenomena that happens all too often when a woman rises in her career… only to find her marriage falling apart at the seams. We need to get into the discussion about why some men can’t hang with a powerful woman… even though they’d met her before the altar… and why some women lack the tools and skills necessary to embrace their divine feminine side and wind up feeling like the “man” when there’s a time to be the woman, not the boss.
Women breadwinner relationships are complex. All relationships are. But to narrow that down to one 18+ page report and to have Fox pundits acting like misogynistic coo coo birds and to have media outlets all over the world crying “Look what happened while we were asleep!” as if this revolution hasn’t existed since the beginning of time is an absolute slap in the face to the millions of women who fought and died for every right every woman has today. Your great-great-great-grandmother dreamed that May 29th would come. She dreamed that her female offspring would have even half the opportunities we have now… but never in that dream did she imagine that people would question the fall of man or the destruction of the family simply because women contribute more by being MORE of who they are. If the tables were turned, we would never question a man’s rise financially, educationally or socioeconomically. We’d pat him on the back and say, “We knew this day would come.”
It’s high time we gave every woman breadwinner a high five and say, “I knew this day would come. Well done powerful lady! Well done!”
Want to know the 5 things I believe the Pew Research Report
on Women Breadwinners isn’t telling you?
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