So I’ve spoken before about the death of our communities. I’d like to offer the pill as another proximate cause.
Yep. The pill. and no-fault divorce.
Ok, so before people start ditching, I am a feminist. So let me explain….
As I’ve said before, we all seem to have this idea in our heads of what the perfect communities worldwide look like (I used the Armageddon movie example – and there are so many more), it seems that it would be pretty easy to look at what made it that way, say “let’s get back to that,” and just make it happen, wouldn’t it? I mean, we people are problem-solvers. And clearly we have solved this problem before. Why not just apply the same solution? In fact, why do we seem to be shooting away from it at exponentially higher rates of acceleration?
Enter the Pill.
And…Let me explain.
The pill became legal in America in 1960. No-fault divorce was first allowed in the US in 1970. If you talk to economists (who, after all, just put numbers and graphs to human behavior), you’ll hear about a whole host of things that happened in correlation to those two events.
I’m proposing that the disintegration of our communities is one of them. And here is my logic:
Before the pill and no-fault divorce, women were virtually choice-less. They were, to all intents and purposes, slaves in a specific area – unpaid labor that held together communities and raised the next generation. And I’d like to be clear here – I think men didn’t always have the greatest of choices either. I’m just saying that women were the enslaved nurturers.
Now, the blessing of the second half of the 20th century has been, in part, an incredible explosion of choices. We can now choose to be scientists, doctors, CEOs, board members.
And we just. We kind of can’t choose to be just a nurturer.
I invite you to think about it with me. As I look at it, every program, every emphasis in schools and governments and NGOs dealing with girls is on getting them into more STEM programs. And it’s in convincing them that they are amazing thinkers. And HECK YES!! Speaking as an entrepreneur and CEO, I say do it. It’s just…it’s just that there’s no messaging that it’s also ok to be a stay-at-home mom. And that a girl can choose to excel at being a nurturer, a friend, a community-builder – all really, really important skill sets. In fact, as we grow up and look at our options, we realize that if we take time off of work, we are economically chastised for the rest of our lives in the form of lower paychecks and promotions.
And at the same time, our communities are falling apart and our children are confronting astronomical levels of rising anxiety and depression.
We are being ridiculous here, people.
Why are we ridiculous? Not, NOT because we should be telling girls to be good little slaves and suck one up for the team of humanity. Heck. No.
We are being ridiculous because we are not internalizing the externalities.
Can I tell you a story? Remember when the rivers were catching on fire and birds were dying by the thousands and we started thinking “Huh, maybe there’s something going on here?” And remember how Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, and we started saying yes, yes we care about the environment and don’t want lead paint for our children to eat and we slowly, slowly, slowly started hiring and paying people to take care of our environment?
That’s called internalizing the externalities. It’s taking something that we as a society value – the environment – and that we were accidentally mucking up by our other behavior – industrialization. And then putting money where our mouths lie and doing something about it. And we can argue all day long about how efficient it’s been or if the current way we do it is still the best way. The bottom line is this: It worked. Rivers are no longer on fire in the United States. Lead paint is no longer the go-to. Lead in our water can happen – and we have measures in place to make it better. We have used our system for assigning value – namely, money – and hired people to specialize in that.
There’s a metaphor here.
Because that is exactly what we could be doing for our families and our communities.
How, you might say? By training and paying women to take care of them. Yep. Paying them. Do you know why? Because at one point I was that unpaid slave labor. I know of which I speak.
I took roughly six years off of work when I had my babies. Ha! Off of work. I was a ridiculous slave with toddler tyrants and no managerial support for six years! And during that time I held communities together. I brought soup, I perfected my brownie recipe, I threw events that built lifelong friendships, and I had soup brought to me in turn when I needed it. Together the corps of us stay-at-home-mommers created the Norman Rockwell painting for all of us. And I’ve heard over and over from people about how much of an impact that time had on their lives. Do you know how much value we created for each other? Well, how much value would you put on a stable marriage, no school shootings, happy and well-adjusted kids, communities full of love?
Can we please get over ourselves and train a corps of women to take care of these communities, and pay them good money to do so?
That’s Right. Trained Mamas Making Money Nurturing Communities.
Oooh, gives me goose-shivers.
Because it’s time. Communities are falling apart. Our children are falling apart. Good Lord, it’s time if only because I need some women around me to help take care of my community! Because it is now my fault too that communities are falling apart. I am now the CEO of a multinational corporation, a mum of three, a diplo-spouse, and a fluffy dog owner. I don’t have time to bring brownies to the new neighbors. And yet, as I wrote before, this is exactly what is needed to stop the terrible things that are happening in communities worldwide. We need the brownie-taker. We need that nurturer. I don’t have time to pay attention to new babies, to lonely moms, to disenfranchised, sad couples. And we need her. I need her. Can I please throw my money at someone to do this for me???
Yep. It’s time to internalize those externalities. And prove all of the pill haters wrong. Because the pill didn’t destroy our communities. It was our lack of respect for the value that women gave that eventually led to our downfall.
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Leadership, the premier leadership development firm that takes individuals and turns them into worldchangers. As a mom of three, CEO of a multinational corporation, diplo-spouse, and furry dog owner, she’s most definitely on the run as her own version of Superwoman. Learn more about the Becoming Superwoman life.