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Feminists are MIA as anti-science school closings brutally slam women

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Where are all the feminists when women need them?

The US jobs numbers for December were grim: 140,000 jobs were lost amid new lockdowns across the country. But the gender breakdown of the losses was stunning. As the National Women’s Law Center notes, “Although net jobs lost hit 140,000 nationwide, women lost 156,000 jobs while men actually gained 16,000.”

Even more female workers may have felt forced to “voluntarily” give up their jobs to be home looking after kids exiled from their school buildings at the behest of powerful teachers’ unions. Oh, and as CNN reports, the job losses hit black and Hispanic women disproportionately. Feminists are supposed to care about minorities, along with women, aren’t they?

The giant, roof-busting elephant in the room: Women have been hit especially hard by the pandemic in large part because school, in many major American cities, has all but ceased to exist. And yet that deafening sound no one hears is the tragic silence of a feminist movement that has chosen to side with teachers’ unions instead of with women throughout the country who are bearing the brunt of these school closures. 

When kids have to be home, the workload of child care, meal preparation and playing Zoom Sherpa lands squarely on moms. Some kids attend schools that have been closed for in-person learning since March. Other kids, the lucky ones, attend schools operating on an extremely truncated schedule, one to three days a week. 

In New York City, middle- and high-schoolers who attend public school haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since November

Women are left to pick up the slack. For all the conversations over the years about the lack of child care to help women have successful careers and be good mothers, nothing has been as crippling to their careers as the, poof, disappearance of schools.

And though some outlets have lamented the crisis for women, they often pay short shrift to the chief culprit: closed schools. 

The New York Times just ran several pieces about the struggles of mothers but largely avoided the schools, paying lip service to them in a paragraph (inserted only in an update) that called for more janitors and counselors. Please: Schools don’t need more janitors to open.

The Times also blamed men for not picking up slack. But many dads do a great job of helping out. My own husband stepped up in a significant way since the pandemic began. But there’s only one “Mooooooooom” in the house, and she’s the one who has to stop working and tend to her kids. 

The feminist magazine Ms. has barely touched the topic of shuttered schools except when it was used to criticize the Donald Trump administration for daring to push for their opening. In July the magazine quoted National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who urged parents to “under no circumstances take medical advice from Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos, especially when it comes to the health of your children.” 

In December, Ms. featured a piece that did note that school closures are “having devastating effects on gender equity.” But instead of arguing for their opening, the piece argues for the closing of businesses. 

A Morning Consult poll in December, which asked 2,200 Americans their feelings on the year 2020, found that life worsened for women on every single level. 

Their mental health suffered, their personal finances took a hit, they saw a loss of job security and a decrease in take-home pay, their physical health and personal life suffered and they felt a negative work-life balance. 

True, things weren’t great for men either. But at least they had a net positive in their personal life and work-life balance. And their negatives in other areas were minimal. 

This should be feminism’s moment. Activists on behalf of women should be screaming their heads off that we must follow the science and open schools. 

They can note that it’s only public schools in large American cities that have decided to forgo schooling: Private schools are largely open in these places, public schools are open in nearby suburbs and schools are open in cities around the world. 

Instead, these supposed champions for women sit silently by as moms crumble in the face of all that is expected of them. A real pro-woman movement would urge action. That action begins with opening our schools.

Twitter: @Karol

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