Thursday, January 29, 2009

Letter to the Editor Rebuttal

It's always fun to get snarky letters from readers. Last weeks' column, "The Answer is Simple. Don't Hire a Woman" got its share of outrage from feminists apparently unable to read, because they misunderstood the entire premise.

Consider this Letter to the Editor:

Thanks for WND, but here's a suggestion: As a homeschooling mom, I wonder why you don't get someone more real than Patrice Lewis?

It's obvious that she and her family are on a farm, have a business and are probably much more blessed than the rest of us out here. She writes from her place of security in a manner that, to me, sometimes is a put-down toward those who don't live in her world, or share her attitude.

I, too, am a Christian woman, married, and I can tell you that I personally have suffered discrimination in the workplace, even having a man step in front of me and declare "You are taking a job away from a man with a family to support!" What are single women to live on when they have to support themselves, or children, too? Not everyone is married, or married with an affluent lifestyle.

It's real easy to be set up (blessed) like she is, and rant away against women in the workforce. In her most recent article, she takes a couple of catty slaps at women workers. Please be aware that not everyone appreciates this sort of thing, even Bible-believing people such as myself.

First and foremost, the lady (hereinafter referred to as “Jane” because I have to call her something) is quite right: we live on a farm and have a home business. And yes, I like to think we are much more blessed than those poor suckers forced to live in cities (smile).

But what seems unclear to Jane is what, precisely, “blessed” means. We are blessed with a happy family life; we are blessed with two committed parents determined to raise virtuous daughters in a corrupt world; we are blessed with living in a beautiful location.

What we are NOT blessed with, though, is money. This is, assumedly, why most women enter the workplace. So, if Jane is implying that we have an “affluent” lifestyle, I’d like to set the record straight.

My husband and I were two ex-professionals bringing in a combined income of over $70,000/year back in 1992 when we decided to chuck it all and move to the country. We adjusted from $70,000/year to about $15,000/year (sometimes less) in a matter of weeks. What fun!

And now, almost seventeen years later, what is our income? Well, after expenses (our woodcraft business has a lot of expenses), our profit is about $30,000/year. We support a family of four on approximately $30,000/year. I dunno, does that sound affluent to you?

How do we make it on this kind of income? So far, by NOT having me enter the formal workplace. I earn a little money through freelance writing, but NOT – repeat NOT – through my WorldNetDaily articles. For the record, I am not paid one thin dime by WND. Didja hear that? Not a dime.

Due to the downturn in the economy, my husband recently took on a second job. My “job” here at home is to make sure our limited funds are stretched as far as possible. This means the following:

• No meals out. Ever.
• Cooking from scratch. Pre-made meals from the grocery store are out.
• Buying in bulk. I usually get 150 lbs of flour at a time, for example. Beans, rice, etc – all in bulk.
• No new clothes. Ever. Well, with the exception of socks and underwear once a year.
• No entertainment frills. We don’t have cable TV (actually, no TV reception at all), we don’t go to movies (ever), we don’t attend concerts (except my husband and I try to see Riverdance when it comes through Spokane every three or four years), we don’t play golf or go to “fun” centers.
• We don’t buy electronics. Ever. No CD’s, no DVD’s (except when I find one at a thrift store), no iPhones or iPods or whatever the latest whiz-bang stuff is. We didn’t have cell phones until a few months ago when two separate friends upgraded their phones and gave us their older models.
• No new cars. We have an ancient farm truck we seldom take off the property, and one small used car for running around. No car payments, of course.
• We don’t use a dryer because propane is too expensive. I hang our clothes in front of the woodstove on a drying rack (in summer I use the clothesline).
• We heat with wood we cut ourselves because all other heating methods are wildly expensive. Remember that we live in north Idaho, a couple of hours’ drive from the Canadian border, so winters are cold. The average temperature in our house in the winter is about 60 degrees. When one of us gets chilly, we go stand in front of the woodstove for awhile and defrost.

These are some of the typical things we do to cut costs. Our biggest expenses are our catastrophic health insurance (which, naturally, we pay for ourselves since we’re self-employed) and taxes (astronomical). We are able to raise our own beef, milk products, most of our vegetables, and some of our fruit – all because it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than buying it at the grocery store.

So Jane – please don’t toss such accusations of being “affluent” around lightly because we live in the country. And unless and until you can demonstrate that your frugality beats ours, don’t assume I’m making light of women who work. Remember, there’s a reason most people live in cities. Rural areas are almost always very poor. Jobs are scarce and usually don’t pay more than minimum wage. Yet people make do out here because we believe raising our children in the country is better than raising them anywhere else.

Jane asks what single women, or women who are supporting a family, are supposed to live on? Well, the answer is simple: they live on their salaries, just as everyone else does. Am I against women in the workforce? Heck no (unless it jeopardizes their families, of course).

The premise of my column was NOT that women shouldn’t work. Do you honestly think I’m na├»ve enough to believe that? Women have always worked, and even Hillary admits that equal pay for equal work was put in place *forty years ago*. The premise of the column was that women don’t necessary work *equally hard* when compared to men. The premise was when government tries to legislate employers to the nth degree with legislation like HR 1388, there are unintended consequences. The unintended consequences are that people are more wary of hiring women, with good reason.

Women often must work. Great. But until you can verify and document that your work performance is *precisely* on par with a male counterpart, quit’cher bitchin’ that his salary may be higher than yours.

I received lots of emails from readers in response to the column, and quite a number were from male employers (probably because they knew they could vent safely with me) who testified how much harder men work on the job than women. I can’t verify their observations because I’m not in the office with these men, but when I get numerous unrelated men all reporting the exact same thing, I’m forced to conclude they may be onto something.


  1. Hi Patrice!

    I found your blog via your article - "Why housewives will save the world" (which I loved!). In this blog post you mention that your biggest cost is catastrophic health insurance... I was wondering if you have heard of Samaritan Ministries. This is what we use. It is not health insurance, but rather health "sharing." Based on the things you write about, I think you would be interested in it. The monthly rate for a family of any size is $320 and you share this money by sending it directly to another family with a medical need. Then if you should have a need someday, others will send their monthly amount to you for your bills. Anyway, if this sounds like something you'd like, check out their website:

    Peace to you,

  2. An excellent thought, Lindsey! And one for which I thank you very much since we're on the verge of giving up our health insurance due to the cost. I *really* appreciate the tip.
    - Patrice

  3. Oh wow. I'm without words on this one. Although, it really doesn't come as a surprise after all. People make their own assumptions through the internet and their perception is 100% their reality. I mean, that's a fact. The Janes of the world can only see the world through their lenses. We can't fault them for that.

    But we can correct them ;-)

    I have been reading this blog for a long time. I have never understood any posts to reveal an affluent lifestyle. Affluent, by definition, means a great deal of money.

    In fact, these posts have led me to understand that Patrice has had to work very hard for every single thing she has. Someone with a "great deal of money" isn't going to get up at 3am to assist in birthing a calf. Or mucking out the barn. And list goes on.

    I, for one, am grateful for people like Patrice...and Enola Gay...and Granny Miller...and The Survival Mom. There's really too many to name. These women are inspirational and I'm glad they have persisted to share their thoughts in this crazy world.

    You ladies are the Anti-Karens of the modern world and we need you!

  4. LOL. I just realized that I got all worked up over an old post. LOL.