And on a day such as today -- International Womens' Day (not to mention in the blogging community, Blog Against Sexism Day) -- it's vitally important to note precisely what, for the record, the hand that rocks the cradle actually does.
- First off, it rocks the cradle. Statistically, it will spend approximately 75% of the time rocking the cradle, even though there may be another, more masculine hand living in the same house which shares an equal quantity of DNA with the cradlee.
- The hand that rocks the cradle statistically also holds down a job for thirty or more hours per week.
- While at its job, it will have to fight harder for promotion because its bosses are afraid that rocking the cradle will take precedence over career and the workplace. This is against the law, of course, but hands that rock the cradle rarely find justice in civil courtrooms, and are usually told to go home and rock the cradle somemore. Meanwhile, the hand that rocks the cradle will be earning 70 cents to the dollar her non-cradle rocking male co-worker (who may have a cradle at home, but fortunately has someone else to rock it for him) earns. Meanwhile, ABC News' John Stossel will report that this short-changing is due to "career choices" made by the hand that rocks the cradle, and not by any innate unfairness in the workplace. (Because, well, he's an idiot.)
- Furthermore, if current trends continue, hands that rock the cradle ten years from now will exprience a larger gap than the hands currently working and rocking cradles simultaneously (in other words, we're moving in the wrong direction, wage-gap-wise.)
- The hand that rocks the cradle is twice as likely to hold a master's degree than her male partner or spouse, yet her chances of achieving a senior management position are less than 10%.
- The hand that rocks the cradle, if she takes time out to actually rock the cradle full-time, will find that, should her partner choose to leave her after her cradle-rocking days are over, her retirement benefits will go with him, and she will be left with several missing years from her wage-earning history. This will result in a huge income shortfall in her sunset years.
- The hand that rocks the cradle will come home from her thirty- to forty- (or more) hour per week job and statistically take on between 65% and 80% of the housework and cradle-rocking chores.
- Should she become ill with a serious illness, the odds are good that the hand that rocks the cradle will be at an extreme disadvantage in terms of medical knowledge about her condition. Medical researchers have now only begun to fess up to the fact that they have been omitting women from clinical trials and research studies because they feared the presence of women would make the studies too "complicated." So far, the medical community does not appear to be troubled by the resultant deficit in knowledge about women's health issues.
- Before the hand that rocks the cradle even gets a chance to rock the cradle, her biggest obstacle could be surviving the pregnancy. The single biggest risk in this country to the life of an expectant cradle-rocker is not a complication due to childbirth, but rather homicide at the hands of the one who got her pregnant.
- One in eight hands that rock the cradle will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
- One in four will be sexually assaulted.
- One in nine will experience some form of serious abuse at the hands of a partner or spouse in her own home.
- One in twelve will battle a serious eating disorder.
- One in twenty will develop a serious, life-threatening addiction to chemicals (including alcohol).
- The hand that rocks the cradle will be twice as likely in her lifetime to experience an episode of severe depression which requires treatment, either psychtherapeutic or pharmaceutical, or both. (And I think we see why, don't we?)
The hand that rocks the cradle rules nothing, because she's trapped inside of a patriarchal social structure that tries to quiet her objections and kill her spirit and drive with little epithets about how being a breeder is actually analogous to wielding some form of power in the larger world order. As a cradle-rocker-in-training, she lives in a world that tells her her value and worth depend on her purity and virginity, her beauty, her fecundity and her willingness to please the men around her. She will probably give oral sex long, long before she receives it. She will probably have her first orgasm long after the loss of her virginity (and very likely, she will be alone when she experiences it). She will be judged more rapidly and more harshly on her appearance than any of the boys she was raised with. She will be devalued, demeaned and diminished by images of other potential cradle-rockers depicted in sexually degrading imagery used to sell everything from lingerie to high-end automobiles to Sports Illustrated.
By the time her hand rocks the cradle, she will most likely (according to statistics) be the "primary care giver." Should her partner/spouse leave her, she runs the risk of financial ruin -- in spite of the hollow cries of sperm donors who complain that their exes are bleeding them dry, one fifth of all Americans currently living below the poverty line are children whose fathers have beat it for greener pastures, leaving single parent households, with overwhelmed, under-supported cradle-rockers as the only means of support.
The hand that rocks the cradle -- if she's smart and knows what's good for herself and her little cradlees -- will teach them to stand up for themselves, feel good about themselves, that they can do anything they set their minds to, and have her permission to do so (felonious activities notwithstanding, of course). She will teach them that, though rocking the cradle can be a beautiful, wonderful thing, it is by no means compulsory, and sometimes, choosing never to rock the cradle is the best choice. She will teach her potential cradle-rockers that their uteruses are their own, to do with as they wish, and that no one -- man or woman -- has any right to co-opt them in an attempt at procreative slavery. She will teach them that just because there are women in the world who will submit to the surgeon's knife in order to fit some porn-driven ideal of beauty, self-mutilation is never the answer. She will tell them that if they wish to be truly, meaningfully beautiful, they must first strive to be decent, smart and strong.
Better yet, rather than telling them, she will stop rocking the cradle for a moment or two, get out in the world, pursue a dream, and show them.