Time Marriage ‘Concern’ Really Just ‘Attack on Liberals’

In Katha Pollitt’s latest Nation column (7/15/09), she finds it “not hard to poke holes in” the July 2 Time magazine cover story by “Caitlin Flanagan–professional antifeminist, author of a whole book of essays attacking working mothers, herself excepted”–being full of “Flanagan’s predictions of universal doom for the children of divorced or never-married parents”:

After all, President Clinton and President Obama turned out all right. Most children of divorce do. There are plenty of countries where divorce and unmarried parenthood are common, but children do fine–Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands. Some of the measured bad effects on kids are more about the way we divorce than the divorce itself–unstable living arrangements, disappearance of the father into a new family, moves and changes of school, new parental partners who don’t stick around, loss of income, less attention from a mother who is now working all the time. It may be ideal for kids to grow up in a loving, sane, happy, stable, two-parent home, but that is not the alternative for couples contemplating divorce, still less for most never-married single mothers….

If the concern is really with children, especially poor children, we could improve their lives tremendously by concentrating on the things we actually can achieve. Healthcare. Excellent schools with music and drama and art and gym and after-school programs. Neighborhoods safe enough for kids to play outdoors and air clean enough so they don’t get asthma. Libraries. Summer camp. Counseling for kids in trouble–and their parents. Economic support for families, married or not. Housing for all. Free college. A public works job for anyone who wants one. All those necessities that, in America, are seen as the responsibility of individual families.

On such subjects, Pollitt has “noticed that conservatives express concern for low-income and especially black people–‘the underclass’–only when they want to attack liberals.” She writes that this actually is “a specialty of Flanagan’s–the only time she writes about cleaning women is when she is blaming feminists for paying them too little.”

Listen to the new edition of the FAIR radio show CounterSpin: “Katha Pollitt on Caitlin Flanagan in Time” (7/17/09).