Friday, January 20, 2006

A Modest Proposal: The Mommy Bill

I am fighting off a nasty cold and mostly lying around watching old episodes of Sex and the City. That sort of luxurious waste of time that a sabbatical can buy, also gave me some time to think through an interesting proposal.

I am still fairly preoccupied with the "Mommy Wars" issues. I was thinking back to David Brooks' rehash of the well known figure of the self-sacrificing mother.

Among the adjectives that patriarchy uses to depict the figure of the mother is: self-sacrificing, selfless, nurturing, devoted, and dutiful. Contrast this with the images and phrases we associate with the soldier: making the ultimate sacrifice, heroic, patriotic, and valorous.

Could we consider the figure of the mother to be equivalent to the figure of the soldier in patriarchal thought? Do both roles perform equally valuable tasks? Are both also of equal necessity for the perpetuation of our institutions, at least as they are currently run?

I can imagine that many conservatives would happily say "yes" they are equivalent and equally valuable roles that men and women perform. Well, let's be clear, they are roles very strictly tied to biological difference. Women are mothers and men are soldiers. Right?

Why, then, does the federal government give educational grants to soldiers and not mothers? It seems to me grossly unfair. I think we need a "Mommy Bill."

How do mommys with grown children find funding for employment now? Welfare, if they find themselves divorced. And, no one who needs to use Welfare to get education is looked upon with the sort of dignity they deserve for having raised children.

Let's see the social conservatives put their money where their mouths are. If you really value motherhood, then give women some remuneration for their services that carries with it the honor associated with the G.I. Bill.