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Discrimination Against Traditional Mothers

April 6, 2006 Volume 8 / Number 14

Discrimination Against Traditional Mothers

Dear Colleague:

How far will discrimination against homemakers and their families go? A Dutch politician wants to push the envelope by forcing college-educated homemakers into the workforce.

Steven W. Mosher President

Thus the logic of feminism: A prominent female member of the Dutch parliament has proposed fining college-educated Dutch women who choose to be homemakers rather than work. Sharon Dijksma, deputy chairwoman (chairperson?) of the Dutch Labor Party, provides yet more evidence that feminism was never about giving women choices but about destroying the family in order to enhance the power of the state.

"A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work--that is destruction of capital," Dijksma said, according to the English-language Brussels Journal (www.brusselsjournal.com ) on March 31. "If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society's expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished." In the Netherlands, the state pays for college tuition. Thus, too, the logic of socialism: The people are taxed heavily, then provided with "free" services, and then, because the government has deigned to return some of the people's tax money back to them, politicians and bureaucrats get to run the people's lives. Just as feminism here in the states has advanced to where feminist leaders openly criticize the Bush Administration for promoting marriage to single mothers and the fathers of their children, prominent feminists in Western Europe are now openly hostile toward homemakers.

Dijksma wants to extract some of the cost of their college education from the women who love their children more than paid work, and who are fortunate enough to have husbands who can enable them to stay home. This despite the continued rise of women's labor force participation in the Netherlands. "Between 2001 and 2005, the number of Dutch women aged between 15 and 65 who were out on the labour market rose from 55.9 to 58.7%," reported the Journal. And this despite the cataclysmic drop in Dutch birthrates.

You would think Dutch leaders would want to encourage child-rearing, and homemakers are far more likely to have more than one child than full-time career women. Currently, Dutch women average 1.7 children over their lives, well below the replacement rate of 2.1. The large Muslim population of the nation has a disproportionately large number of children, and given most European Muslims' attitudes toward women's education, few Muslim wives are likely to be affected by Dijksma's proposal. Yet Dijksma wants to promote a policy that will drive down the native Dutch population's birthrate even further.

She might consider that having a relatively small proportion of prolific homemakers could raise the Dutch birthrate. If 20% of Dutch women had four children each and the rest averaged 1.5, the Netherlands would be almost at replacement rate fertility. If the Dutch government made it easier, rather than harder, for women to stay home and have more children but only a little more than 1 out of 5 women took advantage of it, the Netherlands could be saved from the nation's suicidal birthrate.

Our own country has many forms of discrimination against traditional mothers. Institutionalized discrimination against men (called "affirmative action for women") harms not only men, but those homemaking women married to them and their children, who suffer because the husband and father of the family loses a job or a promotion because of a quota. It also harms those many women, and their children, who work part-time and depend on their husbands' careers for their future security. The federal tax code grants breaks for day care but none for homemakers. Those who home-school must pay full taxes for public schools anyway.

It's not as if American women didn't want to be homemakers: 77% of working mothers say they'd rather be home.

Yet feminists, so enamored of choice when it comes to abortion and homosexuality, aren't trying to help these three-quarters of working mothers achieve their desires. Quite the opposite. Don't think that Dijksma's plan comes from a marginal Dutch political faction. "In the municipal elections earlier this month, the PvdA [Dutch Labor Party] became the biggest party in the Netherlands thanks to the Muslim vote," says the Journal. "The PvdA is generally expected to win the general elections next year, when the 35-year-old Dijksma, who has been an MP since she was 23 and is a leading figure in the party, might become a government minister." The Dutch Labor Party's website carries a favorable treatment of her proposal. "If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at the cost of society, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished," Dijksma says, according to Expatica News.

Needless to say, having an educated women with her children all day is not a waste of anything.

Joseph A. D'Agostino is Vice President for Communications at the Population Research Institute.

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