Barack Obama has suddenly made himself the leader of a new war on women. In a Rhode Island pre-election campaign speech, he repudiated the principle of giving choices about careers to women.
His exact words were emphatic. "Sometimes, someone, usually Mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that's not a choice we want Americans to make."
Who gave Obama the right to decide what career choice women will be allowed to make? What kind of a country do we live in? We assume he is speaking for himself and his administration when he uses the imperial "we," and the evidence is abundant that he meant exactly what he said.
That one statement confirms so much that is obnoxious about Obama. He is a committed, doctrinaire feminist, and he claims the right to use the iron hand of government to force us to conform to that warped ideology.
Obama is not the first to proclaim a denial of this career choice to women. The French woman recognized in women's studies courses as the founder of the feminist movement, Simone de Beauvoir, wrote "The Second Sex," a tedious tirade against the career of full-time homemaker.
De Beauvoir famously said, "No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children ... precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. ... We don't believe that any woman should have this choice." She insulted women who make that choice by calling them a "parasite."
But many women do voluntarily make that choice because they want to be with their children during some or many of those precious years when they are growing up. That choice is why President Richard Nixon's famous 1971 veto of the Comprehensive Child Development Bill (the Mondale-Brademas bill) was generally popular despite yelps from the feminists.
Nixon wrote in his veto message, "Good public policy requires that we enhance rather than diminish both parental authority and parental involvement with children -- particularly in those decisive early years when social attitudes and a conscience are formed, and religious and moral principles are first inculcated."
Devaluing the role of full-time homemaker has become part of our culture, taught in women's studies courses and endlessly reiterated in the media. Politically correct dogma teaches that modern women should all be in the workforce because being only a homemaker is a wasted life, and that caring for one's own babies is not worth the time of an educated woman.
That's certainly the view of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In her 1977 book Sex Bias in the U.S. Code, she sneered at "dependent women, whose primary responsibility is to care for children and household" and called on society to eliminate the gender roles of husband-breadwinner and wife-homemaker.
Many women voluntarily make the career choice to work fewer hours, choose pleasanter working conditions on the job, take more time off and take less demanding college majors that lead to lower-paying careers. Then there is the undeniable fact of hypergamy, which means that a woman typically chooses a husband who earns more than she does so she can opt out of the workforce for some important years.
Obama's plan for mothers is: We'll take away your choice to take care of your own children, you must remain on the job in the workforce, and the income tax you pay will enable your ever-loving big government to provide your kids with daycare. That's what he meant when he said in his Rhode Island speech that he wants "to really make sure that women are full and equal participants in our economy."
Back in the mid-1960s, nearly half of American women with children were stay-at-home moms. Under pressure and propaganda from the then-new feminist movement and the new unilateral divorce laws, women began in large numbers to join the workforce.
A new analysis of government data this year by the Pew Research Center shows that this trend has sharply reversed. The percentage of stay-at-home moms increased to 29 percent in 2012 from 23 percent in 1999, nearly a 30 percent increase in the numbers of stay-at-home moms over the past decade despite efforts by Obama and feminists to discourage it.
Some 85 percent candidly admit they are staying home in order to care for their children. Obama's speech indicates that liberals may be alarmed that increasing numbers of women have realized that spending important years as a stay-at-home mom is a better choice, after all.