Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And Verily, I Wanted to Throw Up

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.

22 comments:

Mom101 said...

And LO she did write a fanfuckingtastic essay. Exodus 24:16

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. This is about the best thing I've read in a long time. Seriously. And this from a working mom.

I hate that her cause takes precedence over one's personal choices, which is what her cause was supposed to be about in the first place. Hypocracy to the highest power. I haven't read the article yet because having read other pieces from her, I know I will want to vomit, verily.

Kudos, on this post. Verily.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

You should (verily) write her hate mail (or I can do it for you whilst pregnant and thuming my bible) that mentions you Ivy League educated saty-at-home-dad husband and what a great job he is doing with your child.

And then we can discuss how much more useful to society I am staying at home with my kids instead of playing Funtrivia all day at my old job. I have also made more use of my degrees at home. I can sing to The Squad (verily) and I'm pretty sure they have a better grasp on Marxism and Utilitarianism than any of my old co-workeres did.

The whole thing is just sad. I get the feeling that all of the people writing things about the so-called "Mommy Wars" are the same ones who are uncomfortable with the choices they have made.

Behold! I have tons of respect for my mom friends that choose to work. Lo. I don't want to be considered a feminist, I think it has negative connotations. And so, yea, I shant invite whats-her-name over to dinner at my house, but you can come over anytime. (and so could Mom-101)

Mom at Work said...

Amen. Amen, I say unto you.

Gidge said...

I agree whole heartedly, I should have some dunderheaded illiterate at home with my children RATHER than my HUSBAND, or my mommy friends who stay at home whould GET THEIR ASSES INTO THE OFFICE and leave their children in the hands of the intellectually vacant who serve no other purpose in soceity.
Because I would never want children to be in the hands of bright, intellectual people who would form their minds and make them astonishing little humans.

What I hate most about her is that she seems to advocate only the 1972 version of feminism which seemed to embrace the philosophy that we all need to be equal to men.

Good GOD why would I ever want to be the same as a man? I am not a man. Verily I say unto thee.....

Post Feminism is where it's at.

Brenda said...

I have to think that such commitment to such a one-sided view is spawned by a gigantic insecurity. If she had enough confidence in her abilities, or in the abilities of other women, she could expect us to re-enter the workplace (if or when we wanted to) after raising our children, thus ensuring that the next generation of women is even better prepared for a happy and productive life, instead of having a slow start because they were raised by (in her ideal world) the rejects of the working society.

Great post. Even with hormones raging, your posts are thoughtful and balanced. Oh, and funny.

Laurie said...

What do you think she would say to a college-educated woman who decided to become a nanny? Or run a day care?

Yea, I say unto thee. Keep talkin sistah.

Sorry you're feeling so crappy, though.

Julie said...

I've nothing to add to the mommy war debate, because you've already said it so well.

I am, however, deeply disturbed that the smell of pizza made you feel sick. I hope that's a TEMPORARY pregnancy symptom! ;)

daddy in a strange land said...

And verily, I say unto thee, thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

The problem (well, okay, one of the problems) with this and lot of the other mommy-war crap being tossed around is that assimilating to the status quo is taken for granted as the ideal, unquestioned solution.

With Hirshman, you're accepting that the phallocentric constructions of career success are just there, the way it is, and instead of suggesting that men and women work together to deconstruct and recreate the role of the working parent and even just the role of the worker (and here of course we're only talking about certain class strata, 'cause who cares about poor people, right?) and the entire notion of success in the workplace, her entire argument is to decry anyone who tries to change those definitions and to exhort women to live up to those status quo ideas of work success.

With the mommy wars stuff, same thing, instead of questioning the very nature of the constructed categories and roles for moms, dads, in-home, out-of-home, work-outside, etc., the labels are accepted as set in stone and in natural opposition.

Why not, again, try to get people in positions of power, women and men, to question and recreate these roles, especially, in this case, vis-a-vis work and career success?

Because that would question the nature of her hard-won "success," that's why.

Anyway, just some thoughts, and I hope the vomit induction stops. :)

Queen of Spain said...

And lo the Queen opened her mouth, and venom spewed over hundreth beholden holders.

I can't igore that wench. If she can yap and make us all look like idiots, then I can yap and make her look like an idiot. At what point will she give in and just admit that well educated women chosing to stay at home are NOT wasting anything, in fact they are making an educated decision.

Just because my Mother begat me, and I begat Jackson, and I begat Hala, who will oneday begat me grandkids, doesn't mean I am useless. I mean...I begat for Moses' sake!

I don't know what i just said, I just wanted to play with those words.

daddy in a strange land said...

This says what I was trying to say a whole lot more clearly:

http://daddy-dialectic.blogspot.com/2006/06/hirshmans-feminism-as-masculinist.html

tammy said...

For your monring sicknesss:

my mom just gave me something called a "relief band" that is supposed to help with motion sickness AND morning sickness. When I get back from my trip, I will let you know if it works!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on hitting the double digits of comments! (is this really the first time?)

Not being a mom, I verily ought stay out of the war, but I thought my mom and her friends fought for us to have CHOICES about the lives we live and the professions we pursue. Have we not learned yet that it's best not to beat up our sisters (or brothers)?

Yeah, I'm still anonymous, but I'm working on it...

-H.

Mom101 said...

Why don't you have an "email this post" thingie? Why? Now I have to *sigh* cut and paste the url to email this to my mom.

Chip said...

this part is so important:

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.

I don't think Hirshman can understand this for some reason...

Thanks BTW for the link!

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Wow. You're getting all "rock star"!

MetroDad said...

Fully enjoyed reading your perspective on this issue. Personally, I don't like anybody telling me how I should live my life and that's my biggest "complaint" about Ms. Hirshman. It's one thing to advocate one's opinion. It's another to disparage another person's choices. Shame on her.

mo-wo said...

I really appreciate your views on this topic. Yes I guess my reaction did not capture the information of the LH stuff that does imply that child-rearing is to be contracted out entirely.

Albiet for differing reasons by gender. 1. Men they would never... 2. Women they shouldn't.

either way childrearing.. is 'wasteful'.

pukey

reluctant housewife said...

Wow. Thank you.

(got here through mom-101)

Lisa said...

I can see why Mom-101 nominated you for a Perfect Post. This was a great entry.

Chara said...

I have no children so i live vicariously through the Mommy-bloggers. But the throughts about what to do when i do have children has been something that I've been thinking about. I have a master's degree and student loans and a husband whose job just doesn't pay that much... could I even afford to stay home? Probably not. So if you can and you want to- YAY for you!

Isn't the point of being a liberated woman that we can make those descisions for ourselves? We don't have to have anyone telling us what to do anymore! So Shut-up Ms. Hirshman!

Mama Kelly said...

verily I say that the words on this post have moved me

I think that you worded it perfectly when you said that being a SAHM is "the only one so rewarding that highly educated women chose it over the careers for which they've spent years training"

It was a no-brainer for me when I made the choice to stay home ... no money was worth not having the opportunity to watch them grow up

now I work in order to secure medical benefits for my family and I misses many moments with my younger that I had with my elder and that makes me very very sad

OddMix said...

I only need one biblical term here.

Amen!

'Nuf said