June Cleaver No '90s Role Model for Women

As I was reading the article, ``Young Women Exercise Options,'' May 24, about economist Richard Hokenson's hypothesis that women ages 20 to 24 are choosing to become 1950s-style housewives, I wondered why the author didn't ask Mr. Hokenson certain questions. For example, what percentage of these young, nonworking women are single? In graduate school? What percentage of men ages 20 to 24 are out of the labor force? What percentage of one-income families consist of a breadwinning mother and a homemaking father? And so on. Most of my nonworking female friends in their early 20s are single and in graduate school. They have no desire to be June Cleaver!

Indeed, there has been an increase in the number of households consisting of a breadwinning wife and a husband ``not in the work force.'' The 1993 figures from the Fertility Bureau of the US Census show that in 20 percent of the cases, when a mother is at work, the father cares for the children. While full-time fathering is still quite rare, it can no longer be called a ``freak occurrence'' on the parenting landscape. Indeed, a 1990 Los Angeles Times poll revealed that 39 percent of fathers would rather stay home with their children than pursue their careers. If Mr. Hokenson really wants to report on a sea change in American life, he should concentrate on the increasing tolerance of fathers as primary homemakers.

I also wondered about the article's title. While female labor-force participation will probably not rise much above current levels, this is not because women are exercising their options. When fathers refuse to take equal responsibility for housework and child care, when husbands insist that their careers come first, when employers remain family-hostile, and when the government remains lax in enforcing antidiscrimination laws, the women who stay at home are not exercising an option. They are being subtly forced into the home by a patriarchal society. Joanne Callahan, Garland, Texas

Croatia seeks help in refugee care

Please note that the number of refugees (3,000) in Croatia, as reported in the article ``Bosnian Serbs Make a Business Out of Ethnic Cleansing,'' June 10, is incorrect. Croatia has been taking care of some 300,000 Bosnian refugees and approximately 250,000 of its own displaced persons for more than two years now. In May alone, it took in at least 8,428 new Bosnian refugees.

This new wave of refugees prompted appeals last week by the Croatian government to the UN Secretary-General and diplomatic envoys in Zagreb. Croatia is seriously concerned about its capacity to take care of so many. Every eighth person in Croatia is a refugee or a displaced person.

Croatia may be spending more for the care of Bosnian refugees than any other country. Despite having an economy a tiny fraction of that of the United States, the Croatian government spent an estimated $832 million for the care of Bosnian refugees and another $812 million for its own displaced persons as of 1993. By comparison, the US has spent $500 million as of April, and the European Union has spent $900 million for refugees in the former Yugoslavia.

I hope this information provides the necessary context behind the urgent appeal by the Croatian government for assistance in the care of the more than a half-million refugees and displaced persons in Croatia. Mario Nobilo, New York Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Croatia to the United Nations

Media frenzy feeds off `The Juice'

In a world where the bizarre has become the norm, I am happy that your paper put the O.J. Simpson chase story on Page 7. The media circus is getting out of hand, and I am tired of this tabloidization of the news. With the excuse that they are giving the public what it wants, journalists manufacture news (Michael Jackson), camp out on the lawns of their victims (Nancy Kerrigan), and chase after the police on national television (Simpson car chase).

Often the media will ignore a story of genuine importance to cover scandal and sex, in search, no doubt, of higher ratings. The public's ``right to know'' has turned into the media's license to indulge what it aptly termed a ``feeding frenzy.'' June Fine, Newton, Mass.

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