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What Do Mothers Want? (Gwen Moritz Commentary)

Gwen Moritz Commentary
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After a 20-something millionaire whose name escapes me offended even the nuns whose order founded Benedictine College by telling a co-ed audience that he’s pretty sure he knows what most young women graduating from college in 2024 really want, the social media debate took flight. Before long, a distant relative pulled out an Old Testament reference to defend the mansplaining.

“Have you ever heard of Psalms 31?” he asked on Facebook. “It’s what the Bible calls the virtuous woman.”

It’s like he fell right into my trap, starting with getting the reference wrong. It’s Proverbs 31, and the woman described by King Lemuel is everything except a housewife. Yes, she runs a household — one that includes plenty of household help. She also runs a manufacturing operation for profit. She buys and sells real estate. She does charity work. She likes nice clothes, too. Her husband is considered lucky because his wife contributes so much to their standard of living.

Anyone who whips out Proverbs 31 to support the idea of women in the financially dependent June Cleaver mold has never read Proverbs 31.

The last time I wrote a column about Lemuel’s ideal woman, my inspiration was Ann Romney, whose born-rich husband, Mitt, was then so firmly in the mainstream of the Republican Party that he was its nominee for president. While that GOP is unrecognizable today, debates about the proper economic role of mothers never seem to evolve.

The wife of a professional athlete might be one of the extraordinarily few women throughout history who have had the luxury of choosing to do nothing but devote themselves to child-rearing and homemaking. You think that jock’s wife is cleaning her own toilets and planning meals based on the weekly special at the closest grocery store?

As with Ann Romney, I don’t question the football kicker’s wife’s decision to forgo her dreams of a career, nor do I resent the wealth that has given them options that most mothers do not have. Most of the mothers who work with and for Arkansas Business readers can’t afford not to earn a paycheck, and most mothers who opt to stay home with their children are making a financial sacrifice that will reduce their standard of living until the day they die. If there’s anything that women, and especially mothers, have earned, it’s the right to do what they believe is best for their families, paycheck or not, without being second-guessed.

As King Lemuel said, “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Gwen Moritz is a contributing editor at Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Email her at gmoritz@abpg.com.
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