I've been reading a lot of "lo" and "behold" and "ye" in blogger conversation lately, so I wanted to join in the Biblical interjection fun.
On Sunday evening Aunt Bob asked me how I was feeling, and I cheerfully announced that I was feeling pretty good. Much better, certainly, than I did the first time around. Well, the Nausea Gods heard me and their vengence was swift and mighty. Yea, did I feel their wrath.
We ordered pizza, I smelled it, and verily, I wanted to throw up.
I ate some of the cheesy bread that I ordered because it sounded so yummy, it was very garlicky, and verily, I wanted to throw up.
I took the metro to the dentist over lunch yesterday, read my blackberry whilst on the train, and verily, I wanted to throw up. (Yes, one would think I would have remembered that reading the blackberry on the train is stupid, but lo, I am not very bright.)
I read the Linda Hirshman discussion on the Washington Post, and verily, I wanted to throw up.
She reports that a lot of women seem to have that reaction to her.
I've been keeping my distance on the whole Mommy Wars thing, but it's time I got my damn head out of the sand. Honestly, I did not find her as offensive as I thought I would.
Maybe it's because she's telling women to do what I'm doing. (Ha, ha, she's yelling at you but not me. I'm the crazy lady's pet.) She's doing it in a less than diplomatic way, but if she didn't cause controversy, she wouldn't sell books. I also think she firmly believes what she is saying, that educated women staying home with their babies are selling feminism short and letting us all down.
Ms. Hirshman seems to think that if you're not furthering the cause of economic equality, you're part of the problem. It's your fault there's still a wage gap and not enough female CEOs and no women in math and science.
Stay-home parenting isn't the only field that is dominated by women and undervalued by society, but it's probably the only one so rewarding that highly educated women chose it over the careers for which they've spent years training. There aren't many college-educated women leaving their corporate jobs to became cashiers.
Ms. Hirshman thinks jobs like child-rearing should be left to those who haven't studied at elite universities, and trading the boardroom for a board book and a sippy cup is counter-productive to gender equality. Choices that make the world a better place but don't maximize your earning potential aren’t helping feminism along.
They're just making the world a better place.
So shame on you. Shame on you for raising bright, well-adjusted children. Shame on you for not being a pioneer every damn day. Because unless you're out in the workforce, busting through glass ceilings and using your fancypants education to build networks, Hirshman's feminism has no place for you. Forget that you're raising the next generation of men and women - raising them to value important things and honor others and disagree respectfully - because you might as well have been born in 1930. We should probably take away your right to vote. Also your blog. (What's with the dissing of the mommybloggers? Ms. Hirshman slams her critics as pregnant Bible-thumping dunderheads. That's probably not the best way to foster civilized debate.)
So here's my problem. In the first words of her article, she says it's "[f]unny that most men rarely make the same 'choice.'" Ahem. Over here? The mommyblogger writing about nausea? (ooh, nausea! How original and creative!) I disagree.
I think in Ms. Hirshman's eyes, I'm doing the right thing for feminism. Yet she insults my husband and his chosen field.
"Prepare yourself to qualify for good work, treat work seriously, and don’t put yourself in a position of unequal resources when you marry," she says. Good advice, indeed. But when she goes on to suggest that if you want to stay in the workforce you should find yourself a liberal or an artist, but certainly "marry down," I start to get a little twitchy.
She tells women that if you don't have a full-time partner in child-rearing, you're getting a bad deal. She says "When men can count on stay at home wives, they have a huge advantage at the office." Yes, and yes again. But does feminism demand that all educated mothers work full-time, even if they hate it?
What bothers me the most is that she's not offering a solution. She offers no better way to ensure that the next generation of Americans is well-adjusted, happy and healthy. Are we to turn the raising of our children to nannies and daycare centers? If you have a degree, is that the choice you must make? If you want to be a mom, are you supposed to just wait by the side of the road after graduating from high school so some nice man can come rescue you?
I hope Bump, Peter, Daddy in a Strange Land, Mom-101's Nate, and all the other stay-home dads out there are helping to stand Hirshman's criticisms on their head.
Stay home with your children if you want to stay home with them. Your degrees, your alma mater, and your fellow women can support you or kiss your ass.
If you're working full-time and hating it, wanting to spend your days with your children, stay home. If you're staying home and feeling isolated, unrewarded and bored, but going back to work would make you a terrible mother, bite me. No, it's not always an easy choice. But make the one that's right for you. If the one you picked isn't working for you, make a change. If your husband would never consider staying home himself because that's "beneath him," he's an asshole.
And if Linda Hirshman says something that makes you angry, ignore her. It's not like she's your dinner guest.