Social Scientist Gives Maria Shriver’s New Report on Women a ‘D-Minus’

January 16, 2014 - 2:40 PM

 

Maria Shriver

Former California First Lady Maria Shriver (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, a social scientist and expert on women’s issues, gives Maria Shriver’s highly touted new report on women’s economic status a “D-minus,” characterizing it as “glaringly simplistic” in both its overview and recommendations, and calling it a “political tool” designed to mobilize female voters for this year’s mid-term elections by uniting them behind the “war on women meme.”

“It’s amazing to look at the report and see that it recommends so much government solutions to problems, and yet overbearing, overregulated government is really the worst enemy of women and has been one of the driving forces towards single parenthood in this country,” said Crouse, executive director of the Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute and author of “Marriage Matters".

Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan and the former first lady of California, met with President Obama at the White House Tuesday to push for more government assistance for women, including a higher minimum wage and “paid leave and sick time, pay equity, [and] access to benefits and child care.”

But every topic in the 400-page Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink, which Shriver released in partnership with the Center for American Progress (CAP), is viewed through a feminist lens that considers the relationship between the sexes as inherently adversarial and portrays women as helpless victims of male oppression who need to be rescued by a paternalistic government, Crouse told CNSNews.com.

“And that’s particularly sad when it comes to single mothers, because single mothers are predominantly the ones who are plagued with poverty. If you want to look at a real problem, you look at the feminization of poverty and the fact that children in single-parent families are overwhelmingly more likely to end up in poverty,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, unwed motherhood is at an historic high, with unmarried women bearing 40.7 percent of all babies born in the U.S. in 2012.

After an introduction by Shriver, the report includes essays by various scholars, celebrities such as Beyonce, LeBron James, and Eva Longoria, Obama Cabinet members Arne Duncan and Kathleen Sebelius, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “This is the first salvo in the Hillary campaign for 2016,” Crouse surmised.

Acknowledging that Shriver's report contains "touching stories" about the struggles many women face, Crouse strongly criticized it for not linking them to a culture that trivializes marriage, demeans masculinity, and views the government as a suitable replacement for husbands and fathers.

“The report does not talk about the welfare state, it doesn’t talk about how badly the schools are run, and the fact that a lot of the truancy problems, and a lot of the juvenile delinquency and violence and other problems that are in our schools stem from the fact that there’s not a father in the home where the children are coming from, and doesn’t even talk about the ways our culture dismisses marriage and disparages marriage.

“So you know, some of the things that are root causes for the problems of women today are not even addressed in this report,” Crouse told CNSNews.com.

She also took aim at the many celebrities included in the report, noting that America’s celebrity culture is largely to blame for the cultural problems that put so many women and children at risk today.

“The whole celebrity movie star glorification of single parenthood is so unrealistic. Their children don’t do any better than anybody else’s children except financially. They’re not going to end up in poverty, but they do end up drug-addicted, they do end up with suicides, they do end up with very tragic lives, yet the movie stars continue to model a lifestyle that is very unhealthy and causes severe risk for the average American citizen," Crouse told CNSNews.com.

“The entertainment industry has to accept responsibility for the polluting of so much of our culture, not just in the coarseness of language, but the coarseness of ideas, the coarseness of attitudes, and the vulgarity in so much of public media that has an impact on the culture that is very detrimental, and especially on human relationships: the objectifying of women, the poking fun at the idea of fidelity and abstinence and the glorifying of behavior that social science has shown overwhelmingly has a very negative impact of people as individuals and as part of relationships.”

Crouse agrees with Beyonce that gender equality in the U.S. is a “myth,” but not in quite the same way as the pop singer views the issue.

“The prime problem in this country in terms of gender equality is the dismissal of masculinity in our culture,” Crouse says. “If there is a defining characteristic of this era, it’s that we are very dismissive and treat in a very derogatory way anything relating to masculinity.

“Boys have a much harder time of it than girls do now. And in many respects, men have a harder time today in this bad economy than women do, and yet we continue to hear that women make only 77 cents per dollar [compared to men].

“Well, I’m sorry, that has been discredited in so many different studies. You account for the different choices women make in terms of getting off the fast track, and delaying their careers for motherhood, and making choices for careers that are less lucrative than others, and you find that number diminishes pretty quickly.”

Crouse added that The Shriver Report does not mention the fact that social scientists on both sides of the ideological spectrum are in agreement that intact two-parent families provide the optimal environment for raising children.

“Across the board there’s unanimity that a married couple family is far superior to any other household arrangement…It’s the gold standard, and this report doesn’t address that at all.” That’s because The Shriver Report is more about politics than social science, she says.

“I really do think it was timed for 2014, which is a pivotal election. Unless conservative, traditional people who value the Constitution end up controlling the House and the Senate, there will be nothing to stop the left’s agenda. 2014 will determine the direction of this country, and unless the political power shifts, we’re going to see more and more destruction of the nation.”