I was watching a rerun of the Colbert Report last night (::insert dreamy Stephen Colbert fangirl emoticon here::) and he was interviewing
some horrible feminazi Linda Hirshman about her manifesto book. While I do not own said book, I read the article on which it was based:
You can either find a spouse with less social power than you or find one with an ideological commitment to gender equality. Taking the easier path first, marry down. Donâ€™t think of this as brutally strategic. If you are devoted to your career goals and would like a man who will support that, youâ€™re just doing what men throughout the ages have done: placing a safe bet.
If these prescriptions sound less than family-friendly, hereâ€™s the last rule: Have a baby. Just donâ€™t have two.
And then today I ran across Your guide to the Linda Hirshman media blitz! on Salon. And the reader responses to said media blitz. And I felt compelled to respond. No, not to the somewhat irritating ad non-Salon members have to click through in order to read an article; to the charming perception that I’m wasting my life by staying home with my baby. (Hello, righteous indignation! How I’ve missed you!)
The attacks on Hirshman for only focusing on people with “careers” are a bit misplaced. She’s not telling all women how to live; she’s talking specifically to intelligent, college-educated women and letting them know that the choices they make when young are going to have serious repercussions throughout their lives, in ways that don’t fit the idea that all women “can have it all.”
First of all: the phrase “have it all”? Thoughtlessly offensive. It smacks of “having her cake and eating it too,” as though having a family and having a career are a) fundamentally incompatible and b) luxury items, like a beach house and a Rolls-Royce. Does this phrase ever get applied to the opposite gender? Does my husband – who works and yet, miraculously, also has a baby – have it all?
The last thing women need is a self-described feminist (that means pro-woman, in case you are quite understandably confused) telling them that, unless they make the choices she advocates, they’re making the wrong choices. On top of that, she’s effectively dismissing all but the “intelligent, college-educated women” (emphasis mine). I suppose that, societally speaking, the “stupid high-school grads” out there don’t count. Hello – I’ve just been marginalized! Or do I get a partial vote because I’m just now going for my degree?
[…] if you are one of the lucky few women to have the talent and resources to, say, attend Harvard Business School, your “choice” to leave the workforce is not just about your family. It makes boardrooms remain heavily male, which influences corporate policy; it makes businesses less likely to hire women, because why invest in training someone who’s just going to leave in a few years; it makes other women less likely to pursue careers like that, because they won’t have female mentors; and it will reinforce sexist attitudes *within* the elite schools. So while it is easy for stay-at-home moms to get offended and say, who is she to judge me, it is entirely appropriate for asocietal commentator to judge people’s collective choices.
From a sociological standpoint: yes, it does matter when women choose not to work after having children – but only because society considers it to be an invalid career choice. Who supports the marginalization of stay at home moms? Why, you do, Ms. Hirshman!
Someone is either tolerant of other people’s choices or intolerant. Hirshman is openly advocating taking a critical approach to the way some people choose to live their lives. As if she were in a better position to judge what other people should or should not do.
Amen. The point of having a choice about whether or not to work after having a baby is just that: to have a choice.
And, by the way? That last quote was from a stay at home dad.
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