Are they or aren’t they? File this under “thanks for telling us the obvious”:
Working mothers may be stressed by the double job of caring for their careers and their families, but they are not leaving the work force because of it, a report has found.
Rebecca Traister has more, focusing on a semi-terrifying magazine for working-women-turned-SAHMs (SAHMs = Stay-at-home moms). And it’s… interesting. I’ll applaud these women for being honest — staying at home isn’t a cakewalk. Just like any other job, it’s tiring and frustrating as often as its engaging and inspiring. And I can appreciate the fact that they don’t justify their choices by arguing that staying at home is great and problem-free. But my god it doesn’t sound like something I could handle. I’ve never believed that all SAHMs are miserable and bored, but this magazine sure projects such an image. They tally up their husband’s rights and wrongs before deciding whether or not he’s gonna get some — apparently, as Traister points out, whether or not they’re getting some isn’t an issue. They bake endless batches of cookies, and do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning.
Isn’t the new “staying at home” about empowerment of sorts? Isn’t it supposed to be about exercising choices made possible by feminism? Why are these women doing all the baking and cleaning and schlepping to husbands’ office parties? In a feature called “Gettin’ CHOey,” the Total 180! ladies write that “We needed to validate, support and reassure one another. Lord knows our husbands can’t do that for us, and we shouldn’t expect them to — that’s what girlfriends are for.” Why is there no expectation of validation, support or reassurance from the husbands whose dinners they’re cooking? Did they all marry the Great Santini?
Seriously. Traister interviews the women behind the magazine, and what she found is surprising. One points out her frustration with being asked, “So what do you do all day?”, which is certainly fair (anyone who thinks SAHMs lounge around watching soaps and eating bon-bons should try spending 24 hours with a small child or two and see how it goes). But unfortunately, feminism doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect in these women’s households:
But aren’t modern men supposed to be sharing in the experience of parenthood? It doesn’t make sense to me that a man’s life and habits wouldn’t be changed at all by becoming a father.
Ha, well you know one of the feature stories for the next issue is called “My Husband Is a Single Man Who Happens to Have a Family.” I mean, I’m sure you found from reading the magazine that we’re trying to be humorous. I don’t know how to put it, but men, as we know, maybe even biologically are able to focus on one thing at a time. Women juggle. The fact that I stay home and watch my kids gives my husband the freedom to not wear that pager because he knows I’ve got it covered. When we’re both home we share. But we had to have that discussion many times, about having shared duty. It’s the same thing women talk about all the time, that their husband doesn’t clean the house or doesn’t do this or that. A man will step over the bag of garbage to get to the beer in the fridge, and a woman will pick up the bag of garbage as soon as she walks into the kitchen.
How pleasantly reductive. Remind me to marry someone who doesn’t think it’s his birthright to ignore the filth he creates. Anyway, the article is worth a full read.
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