I have two items for my write-up today on Kristin Luker’s Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood.
1. I found Luker’s discussion of women’s jobs to be interesting—-and I should note that she doesn’t believe that women should be limited to those jobs, but rather she is acknowledging that, at the time that she was writing this book (the 1980’s), there were certain professions that were “largely female” (page 114). According to Luker, these jobs don’t require a lot of education, making them fairly easy to enter. Luker says that a lady can become a “diploma” nurse a few years after high school, whereas becoming a doctor entails 8-10 years of education after high school. Luker also states that the jobs that women largely have are easy to re-enter after a period of absence, and so the jobs allow them to work, take time off to raise their kids, and then re-enter the work force. Luker states to illustrate this point that “The skills needed to be a nuclear physicist deteriorate dramatically over time, but the skills needed to be an elementary school teacher do not” (page 114). At the same time, according to Luker, there are downsides to the jobs that women tend to do: there is often little room for advancement or significant increase in pay.
This is part of Luker’s larger argument that, for pro-choicers, equality in the work-force entails reproductive freedom, for an unexpected pregnancy can disrupt women’s lives, monetary situation, and careers. But I found the discussion interesting because it was about different kinds of jobs. Are thing different now, almost thirty years after Luker’s book was published? I think that jobs that used to be occupied by men are being opened up to women. But I also notice that women are in certain professions, such as secretaries, elementary school teachers, etc.
2. Luker has a chapter on the rise of the pro-life movement. I have not finished this chapter yet, but what I read so far said that, during the 1960’s (until 1967), the right-to-life movement consisted of a number of male Catholic professionals, and they assumed that most people agreed with them that abortion was murder because people did not talk about abortion that much in public—-as if people regarded it as shameful. But Luker states that the reticence about abortion was not so much due to a common belief that abortion was murder, but rather a general public reticence about sex, period. As a result of a number of pro-lifers’ misunderstanding of many people’s sentiments, Luker narrates, they (the pro-lifers) were shocked that there was not mass outrage at the liberalized abortion law in California.