Friday, July 06, 2007

That Waitress I Had!

Janice Shaw Crouse, the Concerned Woman of America, over there at CWA, is Very Concerned about what is happening to Marriage in America Today.

Because of the Children, mind you.

Nothing to do with the women getting all out of their place. It's what it's doing to the little kiddies that concerns Crouse, Concerned Woman Of America.

See, once...

The old song rhapsodized, “love and marriage… go together like a horse and carriage…you can’t have one without the other.” Likewise, for the vast majority of couples in the past, marriage came before children, and children were an integral part of marriage. Couples sang: “we could raise a family, a boy for you and a girl for me.” Today, though, the Pew study revealed that by a 3-to-1 ratio, adults viewed marriage in terms of their own “happiness and fulfillment” instead of including the “bearing and raising children.”

Nasty feminists. Encouraging women to care about their own lives and that.

Result? Now Crouse has a waitress like this!

We caught a brief glimpse of how these trends played out in one young woman’s life last weekend at a restaurant. Our waitress was an almost-surly teen who at first appeared to have a speech impediment, which turned out to be simply the challenge of trying to talk with a large metal stud in her tongue. Toward the end of the meal, after establishing rapport, I asked her why she had the stud. She replied, surprisingly with a smile, that she got it when she was 15 to make a statement to the effect that she was a “semi-bad” girl –– I didn’t press for an explanation of what constituted semi-bad. I didn’t have the heart to hear about it.
When I asked what her mother had to say about the stud, her reply was, “Oh, she’s cool with it.” And her dad? He’s “irrelevant.” But then, curiously, she interjected rather fiercely, “Oh, he is around.” Clearly she wanted it understood that, even though her parents were divorced, she did indeed have a father and that they did make contact from time to time.

But then as she amplified the details a bit, it became clear that for the most part the contact –– when it occurred –– was because she initiated it. “I call him sometimes,” but, “he doesn’t matter, my mom is the one that counts.” She is not a statistic; she is a lovely young woman who, sadly, can be described as emotionally malnourished.

Emotionally malnourished. Um, why? This kid smiles. She speaks, apparently to the point and with supporting evidence. She, I might well point out, has a job, and not a slacker's job, either. What evidence does Crouse have that this is a "bad" woman?

Oh. Right. I forgot. Tongue stud. Sorry. Must be an evil woman after all.

Elsewhere in the essay Crouse claims that growing up with a single mother is "disastrous" for children, something the students from single-parent households in my classes might like to know, I suppose. She cites as her source The Urban Institute, so I went to their page and scouted around. They do have some studies on single mothers, mostly on the effects of the welfare cuts and what those did to mothers trying to raise kids. Mixed results, according to UI -- more single mothers finding work, but are less secure. Also, fathers don't provide child support on any regular basis, which increases child poverty. Since poor children are most at risk, this is an issue, obviously. But it's poverty, not the singleness of the mama, that's the issue here, a point Crouse takes care to obscure*.

I would say it's pointless to rail against women like Crouse, thinkers like Crouse -- let them smile smugly at one another and die out -- except they aren't dying out, are they? They're not even diminishing. That movie, Ratatouille. Which I liked. I did like it. But think about that movie one minute.

Here's the conversation I had with mr. delagar about it.

"Oh, come on," I said to him. "Think about the rats. One minute. Tell me what was wrong with the rats."

"What?" he said. He was cooking. A very nice meal, too. Ratatouille brought out the chef in him. We've had all sorts of interesting things since we saw the movie. Chicken Kiev last night.

"One minute. Think one minute."

"I don't...what?"

"Girl rats!" I yelled at him. "Where were the girl rats?"

He rolled his eyes.

"Where were the girl waiters!" I yelled. "Why didn't any girl customers have any major lines? Are there no women in PARIS?"

He pointed out the main character, the cook, who--

"ONE! ONE! The fucking Smurfette principle! Cut me a break!"

And on from there.

The patriarchy, he does not die. He grows like kudzu, he swarms and swarms. I wish we could ignore items like Crouse. I wish they would just go away.

(*Here, in fact, is what the Urban Institute suggests as a solution:

(1) enabling parents to meet their family’s needs while working in lower-wage jobs,
(2) helping families weather gaps in parental employment,
(3) supporting parents’ job advancement,
(4) helping parents combine work and child-rearing, and
(5) improving children’s well-being and development.

They add: Helping low-income working families also requires paying attention to the adults’ lives as both parents and workers. Because low-income families are less likely than better-off families to have flexibility at work, are more likely to be raising children with physical or emotional health problems, and are more dependent on each week’s paycheck without significant private resources, they face even more wrenching conflicts between family and work than other Americans.

Yes, UI is talking about parents here; not single moms; but notice the focus is on helping; on paying attention to the lives of the adults as human beings; on recognizing that the parents are, in fact, human beings, that the mother and father aren't just tools to be exploited in Crouse's idealogical war. What a concept, huh? Trying to actually solve a problem?)


Anonymous said...

What is it with this woman and her waitresses? A couple of years ago she went on and one about a waitress in Colorado who had moved west to live with her boyfriend. Crouse was horrified that they weren't married and then went on to pull assumptions right out of her ass about what the waitress's life had been like to make her choose such a terrible lifestyle. (s.z. at World 'O Crap did the takedown then.)

Sheesh. Crouse is such an idiot. She apparently has something against waitresses, but maybe it's the only human contact she gets these days. This is the same woman who wrote about her angst over sponge vs. string mops (also covered by World o' Crap). She was thrilled when her husband bought her a string mop after she threw a fit about mops...And she considers herself sane.

CB said...

I suppose then that I am an anomaly... I'm not emotionally malnourished, successful for a twenty-two year old, and well, remember childhood as bittersweet.