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Stay At Home Mom? Yeah, You Don’t Count

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I loved being a stay at home mom. Sure, it was tedious some days and there were times when I was a bit weary of mac and cheese, but overall, I loved it. I enjoyed watching my kids grow, learning with them, enjoying leisurely days of bug watching, sidewalk chalk and cartoons.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that being a stay at home mom doesn’t count as work. Not real work: you know, the kind of work where you get dressed up, talk to grown-ups all day, have meetings and enjoy the view from the cubicle. The Washington Post wanted to investigate which states treated women best when it comes to pay equality and they gave us this handy map:

Here is how the Post came up with this data:

The four factors analyzed to develop the composite scores were: median annual earnings (for full-time, year-round women workers); the earnings ratio between men and women (again, for full-time, year-round women workers); the share of women in the workforce and the share of women in managerial or professional jobs.

Looking at the map, Indiana is a failure (or at least on the brink.) They don’t have enough women working at full-time professional jobs, and if they do, they aren’t paying them enough. Shame on you, Indiana. Shame.

Except, what if women in Indiana (or any other state) are choosing something different? Here is Mollie Hemingway:

This is a great example of why you always need to look at what’s actually being measured. If you think “equal rights” means “equal outcomes,” this is a great map. If your understanding of “equal rights” is about “liberty” or the freedom to make your own decisions, it’s a train wreck. Equal rights doesn’t mean we all work the same job at the same number of hours for the same pay and that none of us get to choose to care about homemaking. That’s not what equality means.

Women choose different jobs because we want different jobs. Many of us enjoy working and having careers. That doesn’t mean that many of us want to be on oil rigs away from most of civilization for months at a time, or garbage collectors, or even just jobs with long hours and no flexibility. And these different choices don’t make us bad people at all.

The map wants to measure “equality” in the paid, full-time workforce. Okay. But if someone is choosing not to be in that segment of the population, why is it bad? Why are some states being given a “failing” grade? If Mom is choosing to stay home, why does that count “against” that state? “Equal” here means “bringing home a full-time paycheck.”

So the message from these feminists is clear: If you work inside the home, you’re a failure.

Enough. Enough. Enough of this poisonous ideology.

If you’re going to measure something, measure it. But be upfront about what you’re measuring, and (if you really want to be good at your statistician’s job), keep ideology out of it. No one fails for making a legitimate choice to work at home, to work part-time or to work full-time. Don’t create failure where there is none.

Read This Map Shows What’s Wrong With Feminist Approaches To Labor Choices at The Federalist.

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Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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