About the Bread and Roses Project
This is a community that aims to create and nurture conversation, connection and support with and for a new generation of breadwinning moms and caregiving dads who are actively redefining their roles. Read more here.
This project and passion is rooted in a larger twenty year research program that has included in-depth interviews with hundreds of breadwinning moms, caregiving dads, as well as couples trying to share housework and childcare (across three generations). It also builds on my book Do Men Mother? Which focused on primary caregiving dads and stay-at-home father families.
My motivation for taking on this new research is the well-documented rise of breadwinner wives. Figures vary depending on measures used and year, but the overall picture is one where women are breadwinners in 20-30% of American and Canadian households; according to the Economist, women have crossed “the 50% threshold” to “become the majority of the American workforce.” Moreover, as well put by President Obama in a recent New York Times interview, with the decrease in jobs in construction and manufacturing: “Women are just as likely to be the primary bread earner, if not more likely, than men are today.”
Why the name: The Bread and Roses project? (Good question!)
It partly comes from the classic song, sung by millions, and made famous by Joan Baez and Judy Collins; the song was, in fact, inspired by a poem written a century ago, in 1912, by a Massachusetts factory worked named Rose Schneider. Her infamous line “give us bread and roses” was a poignant call for women to strive for “the right to live, not simply exist” as well as for the right to the pleasures of life – such as “the sun and music and art.”
I use the word project in three senses:
First, I am interested in this project of gender re-shifting that is taking place in the first decade of the new millennium. I want to know how women (and men) do this (either through planning or by surprise). What enables and constrains them?
What are the tensions and struggles? What facilitates and inhibits change? What is easy? Difficult? What is lost and gained – for self, partner, loved ones – in this project of shifting and reshaped gender roles and relationships?
This is also a project of imagined possibilities. How might women – and men – achieve their own version of bread and roses – or what Aristotle called ‘human flourishing’?
Finally, this is part of a large research project conducted by a seasoned scholar who has been on this terrain, professionally and personally, for twenty years. I am a sociologist who straddles an interest in gender symmetry (a balance of gender differences and equality) with an enduring interest in both women and men’s stories. If you want to get a sense of how I write in a way that supports both mothering and fathering, please check out my main web site, or my book Do Men Mother?
I hope that you will see this community as a trusted vessel for your stories.
Please note: This is a space for conversation, connection and support. It is not a site for data collection for my book. However, if you have a unique story that enriches my understanding of these issues, I may contact you to be interviewed. Also, I will periodically share some of the ideas that I have developed over the last few years. For ideas that I am not sure about, or for ideas that require more discussion, I will be seeking feedback and guidance from you – a new generation of breadwinning moms and caregiving dads.