Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bloggers Enter Mommy Wars

Blogger wars have re-erupted over Linda Hirshman's statements about stay-at-home moms. Hirshman wrote about the trials she has faced since last December's article in The American Prospect. Her opinion piece entitled "Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-at-Home Moms" appeared Sunday in the Washington Post.

Eerily, she begins her story referring to herself in the third person:
Everybody started hating Linda, apparently, when I published an article in the progressive magazine the American Prospect last December, saying that women who quit their jobs to stay home with their children were making a mistake. Worse, I said that the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings. Oh, and by the way, where were the dads when all this household labor was being distributed? Maybe the thickest glass ceiling, I wrote, is at home.

Okay, I'm judgmental. That's what CBS's Lesley Stahl called me on "60 Minutes." But I'm a philosopher, and it's a philosopher's job to tell people how they should lead their lives. We've been doing so since Socrates. And yet, even though I knew the Greeks made Socrates drink poison, the reaction to my judgment took me by surprise. It turns out that was what people really hated: the judgment. That working women have the better life.
Kirsten Powers over at Huffington Post responded:

It's incredible that the drudgery of working full time at a law firm is deemed worthy of women's "full time talents" but a woman dedicating herself to raising a family isn't. Hirshman then bizarrely asks: "Oh, and by the way, where were the dads when all this household labor was being distributed?" Umm, if they have a stay at home wife, they are probably working all day. And for most people, it's actually called being a mother and a wife, not "household labor". Hirshman later endorses the viewpoint that women should refuse to do 70% of the housework, ignoring the fact that if women are only doing 70% of the cleaning that's pretty revolutionary considering how much cleaning most men do on a regular basis before they cohabitate with women.

I saw Hirshman on 60 minutes and was shocked when she announced that women graduates of Ivy League schools who had left their careers to raise families were making the "wrong choice". There it was laid bare: feminism really isn't about women having the freedom to make choices. It's about women making the "right choice" as determined by people like Linda Hirshman.

I am constantly amazed at the hostility the word feminism seems to unleash in so many people, since I've always associated it with the belief that women should be given equal opportunity, fair pay, redress for sexual harassment etc. which seems fairly non-controversial. Unfortunately, too many of the voices for feminism seem disconnected form the reality that most women inhabit. They are focused on "problems" that hardly exist - like women wishing they were working more - while spending precious little energy on issues that indisputably have a negative impact on women: pornography, sex trafficking, or lack of adequate child care for the vast majority of mothers who are working because they have no choice. If they spent a fraction of the time on these issues that they spend trying to get women to get their men to vacuum the living room, the world would be a better place.

(You'll have to check out her blog post for yourself to see the whole thing and Hirshman's response.)

One angry comment in Powers' post came from SBJack:

Ms. Hirshman is right...quitting "life" to be a "mommy" and "hausfrau" IS a waste of a talented mind. Let me make this real clear:


Within the context of that belief, I think you can see why this is such a waste. The world has too many mouths to feed already. The youth of this country get shipped off to die in Corporate Wars fought for the profit of others. Our resources are dwindling, please explain why its a good idea to procreate? Is it your vanity at wanting a "little YOU"? Do you think your "precious" is going to save the world? Is "sweetums" going to change your Depends™ when you get old and gray?

Just why in the h**l do you or anyone need to procreate?

To "cement" your loving life commitment with your partner? Someone who, by making this choice, you are going to send off to his own hamster wheel while you grow fat and resentful at home? What a great plan.


Being a mommy WAS a career choice when bearing offspring was about populating the farm with helping hands. Mommy was the shop boss. Now, she's wasting petroleum and incresing pollution driving all over town to take the little ankle-bitiers off to soccer in SUV.

Get an education and then go do something with it other than wipe the snotty noses of your sniveling over-privileged children. There are plenty of uneducated idiots who believe Jay-Sus will provide who keep their legs apart for the ingress and egress of their dip-witted spawn. Witness Britney "Trailertrash" Spears. Now THAT was some career move.

It has nothing to do with "feminism" and everything to do with making smart choices in a f***ed up world. Motherhood is not a career choice.

(Disclosure/Hat tip: I saw this response from SBJack reposted over at RightWingNews and didn't realize it was from the Powers' post until I started scrolling through the comments. A debate ensued over there at rwn as well yesterday. Everyone seemed to agree that SBJack was way wrong.)


At 6/21/2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

While leftists at the moment would face this person's comment with shock (at least, most of them, publicly), there are not a few that would embrace this and cheer it. Most of them inhabit women's study courses in universities around the world and NOW rallies which pull in ... what, 500 people these days?

But something I've learned is that almost every time you see something truly shocking and over the top by someone on the left, within a few years or even months a lot of them are saying the same thing, then leftist pundits and leaders start to, and eventually some judge tries to make it law.

This trend seems to be slowing, and with God's grace will reverse, but it's a sad thing I've seen.

At 6/21/2006 10:54 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Well, all three of the people mentioned above are liberal. I think motherhood crosses political lines except for the nuttiest. Many women, liberals included, have realized that they prefer to be home with their own kids if at all possible. The stigma of being a stay at home seems to be lessening in the real world although with people like Hirshman and SBJ one wouldn't know it.

At 6/22/2006 10:33 AM, Anonymous NosyNeighbor said...

This just disgusts me! I can't believe that there are actually people out there who are advocating choosing your career over your children. Blows the mind!

Personally, I think it was the entire feminism movement that started our societal downfall into where we are today with our out-of-control children, drug use, gun violence, etc. all going on in our neighborhoods and schools. The parental unit fell apart when mothers were expected to get out of the house and go to work. Who's left to raise the children? Strangers in a day care center who could give a rat's ass what happens to your child -- as long as your check doesn't bounce.

At 6/22/2006 11:00 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Here was my philosophy in a nutshell. "You wouldn't trust most people with your car so why give them your kids? Kids are more precious than any thing."

It was indeed the feminist movt which did have a few good points but has caused continuing damage. The Feminine Mystique--staying home with kids was boring. Yeah, so what? There are worse things than being bored sometimes. And, like, work is better?

But we can expand the slouch toward gomorrah as Bork calls it to the whole countercultural revolution of the 60s/70s.

BTW, welcome back, nosyneighbor.


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