In the past few years, stay-at-home moms have come under fire from some of feminism’s most hard-line mouthpieces. These mothers have been told that they’re letting down the sisterhood, endangering the economy and — most important — undermining their own position. By failing to bring in at least half the family income, it is claimed, they have rendered themselves powerless in their own homes.
“Incomes give women power in their marriages,” says Leslie Bennetts, a Vanity Fair writer and frequent “Today Show” guest. She has called the recent increase in mothers choosing to stay home a national tragedy. Linda Hirshman, the author of “Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World,” has made her own rounds of female-targeted programming, appearing on “The View” and “Good Morning America” to recommend that young women “marry down.” Why? Because money “usually accompanies power,” she says, “and it enables the bearer to wield power, including within the family.”
But as it turns out, wives don’t need income to wield power in their marriages. And mothers don’t have much reason to fear losing power if they’re not bringing home an equal share of the bacon. A Pew Research Center study released a couple of weeks ago found that when it comes to decision making in the home, wives in a majority of cases either rule the roost or share power equally with their husbands, regardless of how much money the women earn.