There Is No Such Thing as the ‘Traditional Male Breadwinner’tags: feminism
Stephanie Coontz is Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families and teaches History and Family Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. The views expressed are solely her own.
If we’re ever going to fix our problems accommodating both work and family in our lives, we have to stop thinking that the dilemmas we face today stem from the collapse of the traditional male-breadwinner family. There is no such thing as the traditional male-breadwinner family. It was a late-arriving, short-lived aberration in the history of the world, and it’s over. We need to move on.
For thousands of years, any family that needed to work understood that everyone in that family needed to work. There was no such term as “male breadwinner.” Throughout the colonial America era, wives were called “yokemates” or “deputy husbands.” When men married, they didn’t do it because they had fallen helplessly in love. They did it because they needed to expand their labor force or their land holdings, or they needed to make a political or military or business alliance, or they needed a good infusion of cash, which was why they were often more interested in the dowry than the daughter. Male breadwinner was a contradiction in terms — there was no such thing. Males were the bosses of the family workforce, and women and children were the unpaid employees....
comments powered by Disqus
- Memorial for black Revolutionary War soldiers finds spot on Mall after 30 years
- Sherlock Holmes star to feature in a new movie about Alan Turning
- Man’s Genome From 45,000 Years Ago Is Reconstructed
- This company claims its video games about the French Revolution are accurate
- Origins of sex discovered
- Symposium held in honor of John D’Emilio
- Thousands of Historic Archives from British Asylums to Go Online
- American Studies Association boycott of Israel: Conservatives say it’s weakening
- YIVO Vilna Project Will Digitize Jewish History
- Columbia historian Eric Foner is giving his lectures to the public -- and to posterity — through a free MOOC.