Despite being a century into the women’s movement, it can, at times, feel as though progress has stalled. Indeed, old stereotypes about the roles men and women play in the home persist, and some recent reports show that a significant number of American millennials still believe that a male breadwinner and a woman who “takes care of the home and family” is the ideal family model. A 2015 poll commissioned by MTV found that 27 percent of males aged 14 to 24 felt women’s gains had come at the expense of men.
But why? The economic realities of American families and the American working class, including issues like a lack of paid parental leave, affordable daycare, benefits, and job security all factor in to the choices people make at home and at work. We are also facing a backlash against women’s rights, fueled in part by the Trump presidency and the far right.
In order to get a fuller picture, I spoke with Stephanie Coontz, whose article, “Do Millennial Men Want Stay-at-Home Wives?” appeared in the New York Times last month. Stephanie teaches history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, is the director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families, and is the author of several books, including, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap and A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.