At a March luncheon celebrating the release of the new book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys, it wasn't long before things got really personal.
"Before [today], the fact is that primarily, a 20-year-old woman would have been a wife and a mother," author Kay Hymowitz told the crowd of about 100 for the Manhattan Institute event in New York City. Men would have been mowing lawns and changing the oil in their family sedans instead of playing video games and watching television. In previous decades, adults in their 20s and 30s were too busy with real life for such empty entertainment, Hymowitz says. "They didn't live with roommates in Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Dupont Circle in D.C."
Michele Bachmann speaks at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
In the nearly 30 years since Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to grace a major party's presidential ticket, female politicians became less of a novelty. Ferraro's selection as Walter Mondale's vice-presidential candidate in 1984 was replicated by Sarah Palin on the Republican side in 2008, the same year Hillary Clinton almost became the Democratic nominee for the top spot. Pundits declared 1992, when more female senators were elected than ever before, "the year of the woman." And 31 women have served as governors since Ella Grasso became the first woman who wasn't the wife or widow of a politician to be elected governor -- of Connecticut in 1974.
Fred Stokes is a former cattle rancher who now runs a small family farm, mostly for his own use, in Mississippi. Stokes' county, Kemper, has only about 10,000 people, and Stokes, who is 76, says his small town has been shrinking; all the farmers are aging, most of the agricultural land is owned by one company, and it's almost impossibly hard to make a living as a rural American. "I'm not one of those who wants to reconstruct the Little House on the Prairie and be overly romantic," he says. "Mainly, I see the landscape being restructured in a very negative way."
Shane Tawr doesn't remember exactly why he first decided to try his hand at chicken farming. Tawr had a government job in Milwaukee but wanted relief from the city's bustle. He decided in 2004 to head down to the Ozarks, buy a chicken farm, and work for himself, just as many of his Hmong ancestors had done in Laos.