Gender equality and female empowerment demand that women’s self-advancement not be sacrificed on the altar of motherhood…. Unreserved enthusiasm for having children can come across as essentially reactionary…. Yet it wasn’t that long ago that Republicans and Democrats fought over who could rightfully claim to be the party of ‘family values.’… After [Bill] Clinton was impeached in the wake of his own family-values hypocrisy and George W. Bush was elected with the help of energized evangelical voters, family-friendly rhetoric became anathema to liberals — perceived as phony, intrusive and toxic….”

From “The Success Narratives of Liberal Life Leave Little Room for Having Children” (NYT).

The essay — by Anastasia Berg and Rachel Wiseman, authors of  “What Are Children For?: On Ambivalence and Choice” — has to end with hope for progressives. They’re given this admonition:
[P]rogressives must not let partisan loyalties stop them from thinking about the ways in which having children does or does not express their values, and what shape they really want their lives to take. Children are too important to allow them to fall victim to the culture wars.

How do you read that and not jump back to that line I put in boldface above: “Gender equality and female empowerment demand that women’s self-advancement not be sacrificed on the altar of motherhood.” Of course, children are extremely important, but — watch out — it will be too late if you release one into your life and it doesn’t “express [your] values” or fit the “shape [you] really want [your life] to take.” You will have “sacrificed” your “self-advancement… on the altar of motherhood.”

How do you get out of that bind without drinking the “phony, intrusive,” right-wing toxin? I thought of the answer: You fall in love….

I rushed to search the essay for the word “love.” It’s not there. Maybe it’s “essentially reactionary.”