Marry Me, Katha Pollitt

She writes the best piece yet on the Yale stay-at-home mom article.

Story’s article is essentially an update on Lisa Belkin’s 2003 Times Magazine cover story about her Princeton classmates, whose marginalization at work after having children was glowingly portrayed as an “opt-out revolution” and which claimed that women “don’t run the world” because “they don’t want to.” What’s painful about the way the Times frames work-family issues is partly its obsessive focus on the most privileged as bellwethers of American womanhood–you’d never know that most mothers who work need the money. But what’s also depressing is the way the Times lumps together women who want to take a bit of time off or work reasonable hours–the hours that everybody worked not so long ago–with women who give up their careers for good. Cutting back to spend time with one’s child shouldn’t be equated with lack of commitment to one’s profession. You would not know, either, that choices about how to combine work and motherhood are fluid and provisional and not made in a vacuum. The lack of good childcare and paid parental leave, horrendous work hours, inflexible career ladders, the still-conventional domestic expectations of far too many men and the industrial-size helpings of maternal guilt ladled out by the media are all part of it.

Wouldn’t you like to read a front-page story about that?

In semi-related news (related, at least, to my love for Ms. Pollitt), I will now consider moving to Connecticut.


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9 comments for “Marry Me, Katha Pollitt

  1. October 1, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    Psst… Can anyone fill me in on what ‘Blegging’ is?

  2. October 1, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    Begging + Blogging = Blegging

  3. October 1, 2005 at 10:37 pm

    Ah ha! The mystery is solved!

  4. October 1, 2005 at 10:41 pm

    Glad to help!

  5. Eleanor
    October 2, 2005 at 10:04 am

    There’s a big story in some of the UK papers today about a long-term study of infants’ development that suggests those cared for by mothers do better than those cared for by childminders, who in turn fare better than those in nurseries. (It also says that good, involved paid care is better than disengaged or negligent maternal care – there’s a surprise.) But there’s one word so glaringly missing from the news reports: six letters, begins with F. You would not know from the way it’s been covered that it’s even a possibility for a man to be at all involved in his child’s care, let alone for him to be the main carer.

    Sometimes you want to look at the date just to check what decade we’re in…

  6. gideon
    October 2, 2005 at 6:56 pm

    There’s a big story in some of the UK papers today about a long-term study of infants’ development that suggests those cared for by mothers do better than those cared for by childminders, who in turn fare better than those in nurseries. (It also says that good, involved paid care is better than disengaged or negligent maternal care – there’s a surprise.) But there’s one word so glaringly missing from the news reports: six letters, begins with F. You would not know from the way it’s been covered that it’s even a possibility for a man to be at all involved in his child’s care, let alone for him to be the main carer.

    Of coures fathers matter, but very few men are intereasted in being stay at home dads and in our society it is more logical for women to be home makers. The biggest problem I see here is you are assuming that they are throwing their lives away by being stay at home moms. Whats more valuable? raising the next generation or working real estate law?

  7. Sally
    October 2, 2005 at 8:28 pm

    The biggest problem I see here is you are assuming that they are throwing their lives away by being stay at home moms.

    The biggest problem that I see is that nearly half of all marriages don’t last. If a woman leaves the work force to care for kids, she will be at a significant disadvantage if she ever finds herself needing to go back. How do you propose to deal with the problem of so-called “displaced home-makers”?

  8. Kyra
    October 2, 2005 at 11:51 pm

    “Whats more valuable? raising the next generation or working real estate law?”

    The next generation doesn’t need to be hovered over full-time. The next generation can be raised by more than one person. The next generation doesn’t need one single full-time slave per family. What’s more valuable? A fulfilling career and time with children being a blessing, not a chore, or senseless drudgery so that the children can get much more attention from a single person than they need?

    And, in answer to your question, our society seems to find real estate law significantly more valuable. Just compare the salaries.

    As soon as time spent with your kids starts to be something to be endured, rather than a dynamic and enjoyable experience, it’s time to delegate to someone who is not tired of them.

    And for the record, any chance at all of my ever having kids exists thanks to the fact that I would not need to drop everything else and devote myself entirely to them. If I were expected to be a stay-at-home mom, I would not even consider having children. And I imagine it’s better for the next generation that the next generation exists.

  9. Eleanor
    October 3, 2005 at 4:39 am

    The biggest problem I see here is you are assuming that they are throwing their lives away …

    Who’s the “you” in that sentence? I can’t see anything either in what I wrote or in what Jill quoted from Katha Pollitt that says a stay-at-home mom is throwing her life away, so I guess you’re either reacting to some other piece or you’re reading-in something that’s not there.

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