And now for your daily "Stodgy Old White Dude Blaming Working Mothers for Something That is Not Related to Them" (remember how fun last week was?): Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said today that America's educational problems started when mothers began to work outside of the home. Cool story, bro.
Gov. Phil Bryant was participating in a Washington Post Live panel about child literacy when the moderator posed the question of how America has become "so mediocre" in terms of its reading proficiency rates. "I think both parents started working," said Bryant sagely. Feeling the need to verbalize the self-evident, he added, "And the mom is in the workplace."
Gazing out at the crowd, in which at least one person was definitely making this face: >:(, he immediately backtracked: "It's not a bad thing — I don't want to get in trouble. I can just see the emails tomorrow." From there, however, he made a quick discursive swoop and settled back on the Isle of Ruinous Mothers, where he flailed about timorously for about twenty painful seconds:
Both parents are working. They're pursuing their careers. That's the great American story now, that women are certainly in the workplace... I think there was that loving, nurturing opportunity that both parents had a little bit of time. My dad was a reader — now, he was a mechanic… but he was a reader, but he had a little bit more time with me. Today's society's parents are so challenged.
Yes, it's not great that we live in a world in which we undervalue parenting and overvalue professional success so much that children are not getting enough time with their parents. It's terrible that we live in a world in which it is a financial necessity for some families to work long hours at the detriment of their kids. But that doesn't really have much to do with women in the workplace. According to Ars Technica, the children of employed moms tend to have fewer behavioral problems and do better in school; furthermore, in homes with working mothers, both parents tend to spend more time playing with their children and helping them with homework.
So, please, everyone: let's stop making completely unfounded claims about the harms of women in the workforce. It's regressive, it's lazy, and it distracts us from actual problems. Such as, oh, I don't know, actual childhood literacy, which is much higher in low income families who don't have sufficient access to reading materials. But, whatever — it's just so much easier to go with "meddling women" as the main cause.