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The feminization of poverty? There you go again, Hillary!

By Carey Roberts
web posted October 9, 2006

Some 20 years ago the feminist crusade ran out of legitimate issues to address, so it did what any smart advocacy group would do: fabricate new injustices and outrages.

The gender wage gap? Well, that turned out to be a fraud.

The glass ceiling? A fatuous exercise in smoke-and-mirrors logic.

Then there's the "feminization of poverty" canard. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been milking this one for years.

Back in 1995, HRC led the U.S. delegation to China to attend the United Nations World Conference on Women. There Hillary held forth on the economic status of women, making the claim that "Women are 70% of the world's poor."

And sure enough, Madame Hillary is at it again. Two weeks ago, she spouted the "feminization of poverty" cliché at her husband's conference on global challenges. No doubt shedding crocodile tears, Clinton deplored the fact that "Far too many women are stuck in the cycle of poverty from which there is no escape."

During my life I've traveled far and wide, visiting some of the most poverty-stricken regions of the world. And I've never seen anything that resembles a sex-based imbalance of poverty.

Indeed, a 2000 document from the UN Economic and Social Council had to admit, "Despite observations on the ‘feminization of poverty,' for example, the methodologies for measuring poverty among women respective to men are still inadequate."

A recent report from the UN Development Program was even more pointed: "There is no evidence of systematic over-representation of women among the poor around the world."

And Alain Marcoux of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization once ridiculed Hillary's 70% claim by noting the total implausibility of the statistic "will teach us a lesson about using illustrative figures for advocacy."

So exactly where did the notion of the "feminization of poverty" come from?

Not too long ago, men were the primary breadwinners. Poor, middle-class, or rich, men were the designated hitters to bring home a living wage.

But then the Great Society came along. Eligibility criteria for welfare programs either required the man to leave the home, such AFDC, or openly favored female recipients, such as the Women, Infants, and Children program.

"Now listen carefully, class, to today's arithmetic quiz. Here it is: Take one daddy, one mommy, and two children. Now subtract the male breadwinner. What's left over?

a) Financial ruin

b) Welfare dependency

c) Social decay

d) All the above

"Class, if you answered d) All the above, you're absolutely right!"

But the architects of the Great Society were playing hooky that day.

So told they were unwelcome or unnecessary, men gradually melted into the woodwork. And the Black family, which had weathered the storms of the Great Depression and two World Wars, began to disintegrate. In 1960, the percentage of intact African-American families with fathers and mothers at home was 80%. By 1990, that number skidded to 38%.

When economist Victor Fuchs of the National Bureau of Economic Research combed through the figures from the 1970s, he concluded: "Statistical decomposition of the changes shows that an increase in the proportion of women in households without men was the principal source of feminization of poverty."

Translation: Divorce places a woman at risk of becoming impoverished.

Fuchs went on to note, "between 1979 and 1984 poverty rates rose for both men and women, but they rose relatively more rapidly for men." So according to Dr. Fuchs, the real crisis was the masculinization, not feminization, of poverty.

"Miss Rodham, stop drawing pictures of women in villages and start paying attention!"

A few years ago sociologist Martha Gimenez sagely observed that the feminization of poverty myth only serves to fuel "conflict between men and women, young and old, and white and nonwhite."

Therein lies the secret of cultural Marxism.

Cultural Marxists know they cannot topple Western democratic societies with a direct assault. Rather, they seek to undermine basic values, incite gender conflict, and weaken institutions such as the family. Gloria Steinem may have revealed more than she intended when she remarked: "Overthrowing capitalism is too small for us. We must overthrow the whole... patriarchy."

When widespread divorce and social discord ensue, the Gender Guerillas then blame the whole mess on patriarchal society, leaving behind no marks or fingerprints.

Think about it -- it's the perfect crime. That's the genius of radical feminism. ESR

Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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