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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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  1. Links for Sexy Feminists: Pixar’s ‘Brave,’ ’1% wives,’ and more …

    [...] their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.” Feministe and The Frisky weigh [...]

  2. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 11:56 am |

    Wow. Okay. That was a lot, so I’m just going to bite off a chunk of that to toy with.

    First of all, I think that the fact that we’re having these conversations is really important, and I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, especially that we can hide behind “I choose my choice” without expanding the individual into the larger society (because you’re right, the personal is political, and those societal norms are shaped by individual choices (and vice versa).

    I think that the problem I keep having in this conversation is that we keep talking around parenting as if it were this chore like housekeeping or paving the driveway. If I choose not to do my dishes as often as society tells me I should so that I have more free time to pursue other, more enjoyable, types of work, it really has a minimal impact, but parenting isn’t really like that. And I think that’s where the “MOTHERHOOD IS THE HARDEST EVER” thing comes from (and I HATE the phrase “motherhood is the hardest job in the world,” and I’m not trying to defend it). Motherhood is not a job, but I think that people frame it as the “HARDEST EVER” because they’re often trying to demonstrate that it’s NOT something that can just be set aside; no matter how much more pressing the other work we’d like to choose is, someone has to do that work. If someone doesn’t, the best case scenario is a child who grows up without enough attention and the worst case scenario is severe neglect of even the most basic necessities.

    You say that as long as women are saying that they choose motherhood as their choice, they’re “look[ing] the other way while men run the show” and the alternative is that “we challenge real power and try to get a piece of it.”

    My problem is that continues to frame parenting as this less-than work that NO ONE wants to do, and it HAS to be done (and it is also often rewarding–I know that’s not always a popular thing to talk about, but it’s the truth). For me, a truly equitable arrangement (and I say this as a working mother) requires valuing work inside the home as much as we value work outside the home, and that means sometimes steering the conversation away from power based on purely economic terms. That might run the risk of looking weak, but–in my opinion–that actually challenges those power structures on a much deeper level than simply trying to ensure there’s equal gender representation in the roles we’ve already deemed as “powerful.”

  3. Geek
    Geek June 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    My husband and I have discussed it and if we have kids, and we want someone home, it’s going to be him. If he isn’t willing to stay home and be the doctor appointment parent, there would be no kids.

    Perhaps I’ll be very fortunate and he’ll be a 1% husband. Your breakdown was super-thoughtful. This reminds me of Linda H. and Get To Work quite a lot.

  4. JPlum
    JPlum June 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    I just want to say that this piece is excellent.

    My younger sister, who spent about 4 years as a housewife and mother, recently went back to school for nursing, for the very reason addressed in your last paragraph-she didn’t want her sons growing up thinking that women should stay home. She was tired of hearing her sons say that Daddy was a pilot, and Mummy didn’t do anything.

  5. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    Hm. That’s not maint point of your text, but

    . The study that came out the other week about men with stay-at-home wives was instructional: Men whose wives stay home see women as less capable, tend to view majority-female businesses as less competent, and are less likely to hire and promote women

    Sounds like you’re saying that the men with stay at home wives are more patriarchal because their wives stay at home, while it was said that it was only that study hypothesis, it didn’t rule out reverse causation (or something else entirely), and even more, your own text supports he reverse causation, the paragraph starting with:

    “And we see it – women and men. We end up building our lives around it.”

    is about career-oriented men wanting wife that will stay at home.

    Just wanted to point that before this thing become common knowledge.

  6. Lauren
    Lauren June 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

    I’m sure that there are people that will take issue with the acceptance of a capitalist framework. But since we live in a mostly capitalist society, if women don’t have meaningful access to money they’re screwed. I concur that it’s extremely dangerous for women that one of the most reliable way to gaining access to the upper eschalons is through a traditional, heterosexist marriage.

    That might run the risk of looking weak, but–in my opinion–that actually challenges those power structures on a much deeper level than simply trying to ensure there’s equal gender representation in the roles we’ve already deemed as “powerful.”

    I agree with this to some degree, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of how to get women more access to more money regardless of their parenting status. One of the things that Wurtzel and Jill both hint at here is that more women in more positions of real power grows the pie for the rest of us. It’s not just about representation.

  7. Stephanie
    Stephanie June 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

    Seriously, this really needed to be said and written. It’s spot on in my view. Thanks Jill!

  8. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists June 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

    But beyond that, the housewife model is what makes male superiority in the workplace possible, and creates disincentives to more family-friendly workplace policies. Men who have stay-at-home wives literally have nothing other than work to worry about. They have someone who is raising their kids, cooking them dinner, cleaning the house, maintaining the social calendar, taking the kids to doctor’s appointments and after-school activities, getting the dry-cleaning, doing the laundry, buying groceries and on and on

    This so much. So so so much.

    Jill is not messing around today

  9. Laughing Man
    Laughing Man June 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

    I judge men who don’t take care of their own kids, who believe that a woman’s place is in the home, who condescendingly say that being a full-time parent is “the most important job in the world” but would never do it themselves, who are able to work but prefer to live off of their mothers or girlfriends and play videogames all day, who enforce masculinity in their sons, who date women the same age as their daughters, who work at evil corporations, etc etc etc.

    So I can stay home and play video games as long as my household contains a “mom” and a “dad” who both work?

    [Laughing Man, a.k.a. unaccomplished. -C]

  10. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    Personally, I think Wurtzel is a blithering, narcissistic asshole who continually mistakes her life for a trend of significant sociological interest.

    That said, I’m happy to talk about these issues without regard to her. I agree that choosing to be a stay-at-home mom puts a woman in a very vulnerable position, but I also think we have to think long and hard about what the alternatives are for women with the option to be in that position. One is a full-time nanny (if we’re talking about the couples whose finances would allow that); another is daycare (ditto); and there aren’t really that many others. Leaving aside the financial feasibility of these options…they aren’t very satisfying.

    Can we add to this discussion the fact that spending time with your child(ren) is a very real source of joy? Not every minute, of course, but nonetheless. For a high-powered parent, male or female, to stay in a high-powered job is to work ten to sixteen-hour days, five or six days a week. I spoke to a woman the other day who had been in finance. She has a six-month-old, and she said that her employer’s idea of half-time had been six-hour-days, five days a week, with being constantly on-call via a blackberry, at half-salary (I’m not sure if she would’ve lost her benefits). That is bullshit. Children are infants once, and they change rapidly in those days, and we as a society need to recognize that. So on an immediate personal level, if the choice becomes something like that, or spending the time with one’s own child…it is often nicer to be with the kid. And yes, it’s true that historically men don’t do that…but that doesn’t mean that their historical choice is a good one. Personally, I think it’s a crappy one, and I would cry to miss out on the day-in, day-out time with my kids.

    Or I will cry, because I won’t have the option of staying home.

    It’s true that the government policy and workplace shifts we need to support parents–mainly mothers–aren’t going to make themselves, but quite frankly, I don’t see them being made in the near future, because the people who rise to the top in our society are not the people who prioritize making those shifts. Otherwise, what you’re asking a significant number of women to do is to sacrifice their own happiness and lives for the hope of making policy shifts to give other people the happiness and lives that they themselves weren’t able to take, and that’s asking a lot. It’s asking more than I, for example, would be willing to do, and I’m very committed to feminist mother-friendly policies.

    What is your daughter going to internalize?

    Speaking as the daughter of a deeply feminist SAHM, I can tell you that my memories of my early childhood when most days were just the two of us are some of the happiest in my life, and thanks to her feminist teaching it never occurred to me that I should or would not work for money. So I wouldn’t load the guilt on SAHMs on that score.

  11. fanshawe
    fanshawe June 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |

    So I can stay home and play video games as long as my household contains a “mom” and a “dad” who both work?

    You can do whatever you want, man. Say whatever you want too. Be warned though, people may form opinions about you based on those words and actions. Totally unfair, I know.

  12. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    My biggest problem with this article is that it doesn’t acknowledge the large number of ‘stay-at-home mothers’ who do so FOR financial reasons. Wurtzel says:

    To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income.

    This is ignoring all the women who stay at home because childcare is unaffordable to them. To be a ‘stay-at-home’ mom is not always a privilege, it is very often thrust upon someone due to economics.

  13. DAS
    DAS June 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    Men who have stay-at-home wives literally have nothing other than work to worry about.

    For what it’s worth, for those of us not in the 1%, this statement applies with a slight modification as well (I’ll also make this statement gender neutral in the process): “people who have stay at home spouses have to worry doubly about their work as there is no second income to serve as a buffer”: it’s one thing to support yourself on your income (and let your home end up being a mess of a bachelor/bachelorette pad), but it’s another thing entirely to support a family on one income, even a middle class one, given today’s lack of job security and the sorry state of our society’s safety net. Of course, single parents have it even worse as they have to worry about keeping their jobs to support their families AND have to actually work to keep everything in order at home.

  14. ohplease
    ohplease June 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

    I was a divorce lawyer for years and years. I beg all women currently or about to get married – for the love of gawd – BE GAINFULLY EMPLOYED IF AT ALL POSSIBLE IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. Please.

    The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was a case where a young SAHM was cast off by her husband for another, who was then arrested after hub pressed charges for her selling his big screen t.v. Why did she sell it? because he had moved out, told her he didn’t want it and refused to give her a single cent for any necessities, despite having just taken his girlfriend on a Hawaiian vacation.

    I couldn’t deal with divorce law anymore.

    Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please
    work, if its at all possible. Please. Or at the very least have your own damn bank account.

  15. Choice Feminism » Boyes Club:
    Choice Feminism » Boyes Club: June 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    [...] trouble is, it’s kind of a load of crap. Jill over at Feministe put it better than I could: Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying “Any choice women [...]

  16. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

    Even if I had been a law firm partner (which I never have been), and no matter how much money I had been making, I would — if I could — have given that up to be a stay at home parent. I worked part-time until my son was 3 (I’m still the only perceived-as-male lawyer I’ve ever heard of who did that), and I know that any additional hour I was able to spend with him was worth an infinite number of hours at work in terms of the reward to me in personal happiness, regardless of all the lost salary.

    For a high-powered parent, male or female, to stay in a high-powered job is to work ten to sixteen-hour days, five or six days a week.

    Every woman lawyer I’ve ever met who has quit a law firm job in order to be a SAHM mom has done so (A) because they could, which, obviously, most women can’t; (B) because they weren’t that happy with what they were doing (as seems to be true of most people I’ve known in such positions), even if they didn’t affirmatively hate it; and (C) because they believed they would be happier spending time with their children. Telling such women that they aren’t real feminists won’t change one single woman’s decision, ever.

    To the extent that prospective financial security is the issue in giving up a high powered job, I wonder why nobody has come up with the equivalent of a pre-nup for situations like this, so that women who do this can receive some kind of enforceable contractual assurance that in the event of a divorce, they receive proper compensation for what they gave up in order to make that contribution to the marriage.

    Not that I spend much time losing sleep over the economic fate of anyone in the 1%!

  17. Andie
    Andie June 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

    Thanks, EG, for helping me put my finger on what was bugging me about this article.. and Steve as well.

    There are people, and yes many of them are women, who honest-to-gord love and adore children and want to dedicate their time to raising children. To tell them that they are not ‘feminist’ because of their choice to stay home to raise said children seems awfully unfair. Women in the workplace get to choose their choice, but Stay-At-Home mom’s don’t?

    I wonder why nobody has come up with the equivalent of a pre-nup for situations like this, so that women who do this can receive some kind of enforceable contractual assurance that in the event of a divorce, they receive proper compensation for what they gave up in order to make that contribution to the marriage.

    I’m not as familiar with Family Law in the U.S. but isn’t that what Alimony is supposed to be?

  18. Athenia
    Athenia June 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

    I also really dislike Wurtzel, but like EG said, I’m happy to talk about this.

    What irks me is that these wealthy ladies have the money to run for positions in government. They could at the very least do that.

  19. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

    To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house

    Ugh, I’m going to break my own rule of ignoring Wurtzel to tell her to shut the fuck up, because people she hasn’t met actually exist. My mother was a stay-at-home mom in New York City who did all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the child-care, all the reproductive labor, both physical and emotional, including keeping track of the birthdays of and getting presents for my father’s friends and family, and my father’s marxist ideals led him to tell her that her labor was just as important as his, just not recognized by a patriarchal capitalist society, so that the money he earned was hers as well.

    Until he left her for another woman after 20 years, at which point he informed her that all the money was his, because she had never “contributed.”

    Drop DEAD, Wurtzel.

    Part of this conversation has to be about what materialist feminists have called “reproductive labor”–the work that we have to do to make living conditions possible, which does have economic as well as emotional value–and part of it has to be what Barbara Ehrenreich has termed “meaningful work.” Women who can afford to leave their jobs are going to leave their jobs as long as their jobs are boring, unfulfilling, unsatisfying, as Donna notes.

    My job does not put me closer to the reins of power. I wouldn’t leave it because I LOVE it and it feels meaningful to me. Other people, including me, wouldn’t leave their jobs because it’s not an option. If we’re talking about women who do leave their jobs, though, we need also to be looking at why they’re willing to pack it in.

  20. Andie
    Andie June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

    I fail at blockquotes.

  21. Esti
    Esti June 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

    I just wanted to say thanks for writing this. I’m sure it will spark a lot of disagreement, but I think you’re absolutely right that it’s a discussion feminism as a whole should be having and that there’s a lot of merit to the idea that, with respect to the limited group of people about which Wurtzel is writing, women staying at home makes it harder for women who try to remain in the workplace. That doesn’t mean that every woman who stays home is a Bad Feminist, but everyone’s individual choices add up to society-wide consequences and I agree those trends are worthy of discussion.

  22. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

    my father’s marxist ideals led him to tell her that her labor was just as important as his, just not recognized by a patriarchal capitalist society, so that the money he earned was hers as well.

    Until he left her for another woman after 20 years, at which point he informed her that all the money was his, because she had never “contributed.”

    I’m so sorry. I’ve heard so many stories like that, and they always infuriate me. And I don’t think the solution is to tell women that being a SAHM is non-feminist.

  23. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

    they receive proper compensation for what they gave up in order to make that contribution to the marriage.

    TBH, none of the reasons you mentioned were “for the marriage”.

    Andie, alimony is child support, while DonnaL was talking about marriage compensation regardless of children. At least that’s how i understood it.

  24. RachelA
    RachelA June 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    Couple things to say.

    First, a few people have noted in the comments that parenting can be a very rewarding, fun, satisfying experience and that painting it as solely a grueling, unappealing task is misleading. And it is. But I think we need to remember two things when talking about this.

    1. Just because a task is inherently rewarding does not mean it is not also labor that deserves fair compensation.
    2. Historically, people have used the fact that parenting is often an inherently rewarding experience as an excuse NOT to provide adequate compensation for it.

    As a general rule people do love their kids, and typically do want to be good parents to them. Which is exactly what makes people who do parenting labor (more predominantly women) so exploitable.

    So while I think it is inaccurate to paint a picture of parenthood as totally unappealing and undesirable, I also think we need to be really careful how we talk about the pleasures and rewards of parenthood such that it doesn’t allow it to remain an easily exploitable form of labor within a capitalist system.

  25. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    I’m not as familiar with Family Law in the U.S. but isn’t that what Alimony is supposed to be?

    In theory, but alimony is never a certainty; it all depends on the judge, and on how good a job the two lawyers do.

    The point of the kind of contract I’m talking about would be to create more certainty. Although, just as with pre-nups, there are never any guarantees.

  26. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    alimony is child support, while DonnaL was talking about marriage compensation regardless of children.

    No, and no!

  27. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

    Also: giving up one’s job to be a SAHM is, or should be, a contribution to the marriage — with the “marriage” as an economic unit, like a joint venture or partnership — every bit as much as the financial contribution of an employed spouse.

  28. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

    I also think we need to be really careful how we talk about the pleasures and rewards of parenthood such that it doesn’t allow it to remain an easily exploitable form of labor within a capitalist system.

    I agree, with your assessment, but honestly, I don’t think feminist rhetoric about parenting will have any effect on how easily capitalism exploits it. We’re not that powerful. And drudge labor is also easily exploitable–look at the value of housecleaning, whether done by a professional or by a SAHM. My mother used to scrub floors on her hands and knees, God help her, and nobody ever thought she enjoyed it. But it sure doesn’t pay well.

  29. happywomanblues
    happywomanblues June 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

    Certainly, many women who leave careers to become SAHMs do it because they think it will make them happier. It probably will. But that is not an adult decision. I would be happier staying at home and watching Netflix with my feet up all day. Even if I could afford to do that, it would be a bad idea. Why? Because it would leave a hole in my resume if I ever wanted/needed to get a job again, since I am not using any marketable skills. And also because I believe that adults have a responsibility to be productive participants in society. Temporarily working part-time is one thing. Dropping out of work entirely for years is another more personally dangerous and more socially irresponsible choice altogether.

  30. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

    In other words, capitalism exploits labor because that’s how capitalism functions. Rhetoric is secondary.

    And alimony is not child support.

  31. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    And alimony is not child support.

    Oh, yes, sorry, my bad.

  32. Vivian
    Vivian June 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |

    I agree with the commenter that said the article showcased parenting as “the job no one wanted to do”. And I also disagree about women who stay at home giving carte blanche to their husbands to disassociate themselves with their children and their home lives. That’s a blanketing statement which is unfair. I am the educated mother of an autistic child. I wanted to go out and work but I found out that reconciling my career ambitions with the reality of my child’s disability was very tough. Almost impossible. So, I chose to stay home. I am well aware that I am choosing to be “dependent” of my husband’s income and all the other things she pointed out. But I think all the sacrifices I choose to make are worth it, if it means that I did everything possible to give my child a fair chance.

    Also, if you were to hire a caregiver, a cook, a cleaning service, a driver and an accountant to do all the extra jobs that women and men do, not only stay at home mothers, you would spend an estimated 115K dollars per year (according to Kraugman’s Intermediate Macroeconomics). I think the problem we face in our society is how little we value domestic efforts. We need them in order to function, yet we take them for granted. Sort of like air… and we all know what happens when air is tainted or is cut off.

    So, although I am aware that my actions may seem contrary to my feminism and that I am exposing myself to other women’s critiques and judgment, at the end, I think it’s worth it if it means my child’s happiness and my fulfillment as a parent.

  33. Andie
    Andie June 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

    Yeah it has always been my understanding that alimony and child support are two different things (otherwise, how do people without children get paid alimony?).

    I believe here that child support is a given (if children are involved or you and the co-parent come to an alternate arrangement like my ex and I have) but for alimony (or spousal support) you have to prove undue hardship as a result of the dissolution of marriage (such as losing economic support if you have been a SAHP)

    Thanks for clarifying, DonnaL and EG.

  34. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    So while I think it is inaccurate to paint a picture of parenthood as totally unappealing and undesirable, I also think we need to be really careful how we talk about the pleasures and rewards of parenthood such that it doesn’t allow it to remain an easily exploitable form of labor within a capitalist system.

    I think this is a really good point, and we see it with other types of care-based work (even when it is within the capitalist realm): teaching, nursing, etc. The idea that because the work is “rewarding” for the soul it shouldn’t also be financially rewarding–no coincidence, I’m sure, that these careers are female-dominated.

    At the same time, part of the reason the work of parenting is so rewarding is because it is so consuming and so necessary. So while I whole-heartedly support women forcing themselves into male-dominated spheres and disrupting patriarchal power structures from that level, I think it is equally important to demand respect and legitimacy from within female-dominated spheres. That’s the part of the debate that I see too-often glossed over.

  35. Betty Fokker
    Betty Fokker June 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    Well, I am just a married stay-at-home mom, so I am probably too weak and silly and lacking in the “integrity and independence” Wurtzel says she has as a single woman to understand feminisms big concepts, but I see a few flaws in her argument.

    1) So the only way women can prove their worth is to fit the MALE gender ideology of the patriarchal hegemony? Someone who has power and worth based on their income? Way to prop up both the patriarchy’s and capitalism’s goals, there. By that logic a porn star has way more sociocultural worth than someone who runs a no-kill animal shelter or who volunteers for the fire department.

    2) You know, I could have sworn that back when I was taking post-graduate classes in feminism that we talked about the problem of “women’s work” being ascribed less value than “men’s work”, and how it was often unpaid or underpaid, and how that was an issue. I really think there was a sentence or two about demanding that there be a sociocultural value given to women’s labor. Perhaps there was even some discussion of “feminized” work and how certain skills/jobs became devalued simply because women were most of the people doing it. Of course, as a SAHP I am so used to doing what is “easy and obvious” that my brain has atrophied and I am probably remembering things incorrectly.

    3) She says being a SAHP is not “real” work because a “job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation).” So, any woman can do what I do by virtue of having a vagina? Motherhood is a part of life? Seriously, she is implying that woman are naturally good mothers so we should challenge ourselves by doing something that is not biological destiny? Believing in biological determinism has become a sign of good feminism, now? Good to know.

    4) Unlike every other group in the world, SAHP are a monolithic collective of like-minded, subservient people devoted to pleasing men? None of us made our choices for personal reasons? Perhaps because we value our labor and our contributions even if it is JUST childcare? Perhaps because we had a kid on the autism spectrum? We were just too stupid/lazy to make it in a man’s world so we watched our kids like our uterus demanded?

    5) Did I miss the part where she castigated stay-at-home dads? Is it a worthy (even if unpaid) career when someone with a penis does it?

    6) So the way to fix patriarchal inequality toward women is for women to never lower ourselves by doing “women’s work”? Because that is for pathetic losers?

    7) Because being a SAHP is a fiscal risk, women should not do it, for any reason? Instead of demanding legal protections and benefits for moms, we should agree that they are worthless and try not do any of that girly shit?

    Jill, I’ve been reading the site for years and I have never disagreed with you more.

  36. Mxe354
    Mxe354 June 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

    Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying “Any choice women make is a feminist one and so we can’t criticize or judge it.” Feminism isn’t about creating non-judgmental happy-rainbow enclaves where women can do whatever they want without criticism. Feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality for all people, regardless of gender. It’s not about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, or treating women like delicate hot-house flowers who can’t be criticized.

    I agree that feminist women shouldn’t be excessively averse to being judged for their choices, but that mentality might have an unintentionally othering effect on many women. The othering effect certainly isn’t inevitable, but I think it can easily arise. That’s what I’m concerned about. And it’s not the same as merely questioning some woman’s choice. It’s about exacerbating or creating an exclusionary environment unintentionally.

  37. Lauren
    Lauren June 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

    We’ve got to stop making everything about my individual experience, my individual mom, my parents’ individual marriage, and my individual childhood. Your awesome mom and your awesome childhood are awesome. But your mom didn’t make her choices in a vacuum just because you were the center of it.

    In the conversation about privileged women, work, and parenthood, parenthood is a side issue. Motherhood is a socially-acceptable trigger to quit work and pursue other unpaid or lesser-paid things, and has little to do with how much or how little women love babies or find fulfillment in staying at home. Fatherhood does not have this same trigger.

  38. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    I agree with BalancingJane and BettyFokker about the rejection of traditionally feminine labor and activities as well as the devaluing of feminine labor even when it is paid, or any labor that is considered personally fulfilling (the arts are another example of that).

    And I’m wondering if anybody else has read the work of Christine Delphy, a French materialist feminist whose writing I remember being absolutely incisive on these very issues.

  39. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm |

    Motherhood is a socially-acceptable trigger to quit work and pursue other unpaid or lesser-paid things, and has little to do with how much or how little women love babies or find fulfillment in staying at home.

    How do you know? Seriously, how do you know? Are you proposing that women who love and find fulfillment in their jobs are the ones packing it in when they become mothers? That they are choosing unpaid or lesser-paid activities purely because of social pressure, with no agency of their own? Are you suggesting that the emotional and social worth of parenting isn’t relevant to this discussion?

  40. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |

    In other words, even if motherhood is a socially acceptable trigger and fatherhood isn’t…why are well-off women who could afford other options taking it? And what makes us so sure that fatherhood is the best model for how to handle parenthood?

  41. sizzle
    sizzle June 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |

    The day the stay at home break down is 50% women and 50% men is the day I’ll consider the argument that women choose staying home because its so fulfilling and worthwhile and totally as much of a job as any other.

  42. Aydan
    Aydan June 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    And also because I believe that adults have a responsibility to be productive participants in society. Temporarily working part-time is one thing. Dropping out of work entirely for years is another more personally dangerous and more socially irresponsible choice altogether.

    @ happywomanblues– since when is raising children, ie the next generation, not socially productive and responsible? Or, more precisely, how is it any more socially productive and responsible to pay another adult (a nanny, a daycare worker, a private or public school teacher) to do an additional amount of your child-raising rather than to DIY?

    Regardless of whether mothers stay at home or not, someone is going to be raising the children. The problem is that, whether they are daycare workers or nannies or teachers or SAHMs or, really, anything, their labor is going to be undervalued, underpaid, and often unpaid. Rather than castigate women for doing what makes them happy, and in many cases is the only financially viable option, let’s work for a system where raising children is valued and paid… which isn’t going to happen by tearing down the very women who do that work.

  43. Lauren
    Lauren June 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    How do you know? Seriously, how do you know? Are you proposing that women who love and find fulfillment in their jobs are the ones packing it in when they become mothers? That they are choosing unpaid or lesser-paid activities purely because of social pressure, with no agency of their own? Are you suggesting that the emotional and social worth of parenting isn’t relevant to this discussion?

    Yes, I’m saying the emotional worth of parenting is a side issue. Most all parents enjoy being with their children. Wanting to maximize pleasure is not a crime, but it’s not inherently a “women’s issue” either. What is a women’s issue is the fact that the default person to stay at home with children if it can be afforded to be done is women. And women at-large suffer credibility loss in the workforce as their female counterparts drop out. And “how do I know?” Because it’s part of the fabric of this culture, that women’s contributions to the workforce aren’t recognized as being as valuable or necessary as men’s, and also that there is a strong cultural force that says that good mothers stay at home with their children. This is measurable Feminism 101 shit, I’m not just making it up.

  44. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    The day the stay at home break down is 50% women and 50% men is the day I’ll consider the argument that women choose staying home because its so fulfilling and worthwhile and totally as much of a job as any other.

    sizzle, I completely agree and that’s my goal, too! But I don’t think that goal can be reached by saying that the only valid path to it is to have women entering into spaces traditionally reserved for men (though that it certainly a valid path). But if that’s the only path, the only people left doing the work of caregiving are people who don’t want to do it (and caregiving has to be done, so someone will have to do it). If we fight for equal worth from both sides, then it will be a lot easier for mobility across those arbitrary gender lines, which means there will be more men doing the caregiving as well.

  45. Mxe354
    Mxe354 June 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |

    The day the stay at home break down is 50% women and 50% men is the day I’ll consider the argument that women choose staying home because its so fulfilling and worthwhile and totally as much of a job as any other.

    I don’t think numbers should matter much here. What really needs to happen is for parenthood to equally emphasized for both men and women e.g. parenting and caring aren’t seen as only feminine things and SAHFs aren’t ridiculed for being male SAHPs.

  46. Lydia
    Lydia June 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |

    @EG: The lack of acknowledgement of an option where both parents are equally responsible for finances and for taking care of the kids is pretty much symptomatic of this problem, I think. Why don’t you consider the option that the parents could work opposite schedules? Additionally, the modern workplace permits telecommuting. What about that as a tool to permit both parents to work? Mom OR dad could be working while at home. So why shouldn’t they?

    I was fortunate enough to have parents who did work opposite schedules. We had weekends as a whole family, and mom or dad at home depending on if it was night or day. I think that’s a really reasonable way to do things, since I grew up in it, but I rarely see such an option even considered as a model. Perhaps in small towns it might be a little more difficult, but in a city or a technologically connected environment, there are so many options (including night shifts for those who need to be home during the day, or telecommuting) that I’m really surprised that that sort of compromise doesn’t even make the list of consideration in these discussions, a lot of the time.

    @ the article directly:

    I really agree with this and I like the way you go about saying what you say. I especially agree that societal support for parenthood is extremely lacking in the US, at the very least!

    One pop-culture stereotype that really bothers me is the ‘sissification’ that is represented as implicit with being a caring father. Not only does this demonize the idea of a man taking responsibility for his own kids, it tries to put shame on fathers who are involved with their kids’ lives instead of absent.

    I think people of all genders should be able to represent themselves in whatever way they like, and that dads– no matter how ‘manly and tough’– should be willing to spend as much time involved in the childhood of their children as moms do so that moms have a chance to continue to pursue their own lives during childhood.

  47. RachelA
    RachelA June 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |

    Reading through more of these comments, I really wish people would stop using individual circumstances as rationales for why this argument is flawed. This piece is making an argument about a broad sociological pattern, and the gendered effects of this broad sociological pattern. When people start trying to argue against it by introducing the complexities of their often quite unique individual circumstances, that seems to me to be missing the forest for the trees.

    Of course having a child who is significantly disabled, for example, changes the politics of parenting and family organizations of labor. (I know. My younger brother is significantly disabled) But most people don’t have disabled children. That’s a different thing. There are different micro and macro politics involved in that circumstance.

    There are always exceptions, and individual circumstances that are going to defy broad political structures and we of course need to make space for them in our discourse. BUT we also need to be able to make claims about broad political structures without allowing individual scenarios which defy them to completely undermine and derail our thinking.

    People are stay at home parents for a variety of reasons, some of them very ‘legitimate’ given a feminist politic and some of them highly questionable given a feminist politic. And ultimately I don’t think this argument is so much about whether being a SAHP is always right or wrong or good or bad. It’s about asking the question What does being a SAHP do? How can it make you less politically powerful, more economically vulnerable? How can it make you exploitable? Who benefits from it and (importantly) who broadly doesn’t? How is it gendered? etc.

    Talking about individual experiences is important and it can lead to necessary political insights. But it can also stop us from seeing broad patterns that need addressing because we become too focused on the unique, the rare, the exception to the rule, when the rule itself is what is main the problem.

  48. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

    what makes us so sure that fatherhood is the best model for how to handle parenthood?

    It isn’t. Which is why — or at least one of the reasons why — I always did everything I could to make mine as much like “motherhood” as possible. Although I do believe that that the cultural ideal of fatherhood had already changed significantly and positively between my father’s generation and mine, and has continued to change in the 20 years since then. Not that the ideal is necessarily reflected in reality.

    Separately, the problem I have with sizzle’s argument is that it logically implies to me that fathers are able to make such a choice and have it be a genuine choice, whereas no mother can possibly make such a choice regardless of her individual circumstances. Which is an unacceptable position. All choices are constrained by culture and economics to a greater or lesser extent. That doesn’t necessarily disqualify them as choices.

  49. Liz
    Liz June 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

    We are missing the larger point here I think. This is not about working vs. SAH moms. Can we please stop that fight?

    This article is addressing highly-educated wealthy women with substantial credentials and access to some of the foundations of power in this country. And despite the fact that they have this access, have the means to pay for child care (many do anyway), and are likely educated enough to understand the importance of their participation, they’re opting out. That is problematic. That perpetuates this systemic discrimination. No one is saying they shouldn’t be allowed to, but lets not pretend that their choice is feminist simply because they made it.

  50. Lauren
    Lauren June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

    People are stay at home parents for a variety of reasons, some of them very ‘legitimate’ given a feminist politic and some of them highly questionable given a feminist politic. And ultimately I don’t think this argument is so much about whether being a SAHP is always right or wrong or good or bad. It’s about asking the question What does being a SAHP do? How can it make you less politically powerful, more economically vulnerable? How can it make you exploitable? Who benefits from it and (importantly) who broadly doesn’t? How is it gendered? etc.

    Talking about individual experiences is important and it can lead to necessary political insights. But it can also stop us from seeing broad patterns that need addressing because we become too focused on the unique, the rare, the exception to the rule, when the rule itself is what is main the problem.

    Word.

  51. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    a broad sociological pattern

    But one of the points people are making is that it isn’t that broad, and that the situation Ms. Wurtzel is describing (even leaving aside her pejoratives about abysmally lazy, spoiled rich SAHMs) applies to only a miniscule number of women. So of course individual circumstances are relevant to prove that point.

  52. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    By that logic a porn star has way more sociocultural worth than someone who runs a no-kill animal shelter or who volunteers for the fire department.

    Oh sweet jesus.

  53. happywomanblues
    happywomanblues June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |

    Raising and educating children is necessary. Cleaving to the housewife model, wherein a person leaves the public sphere in order to provide full-time childcare for no wages while being entirely reliant on a male partner for a lengthy period of time, is a luxury. I think it’s irresponsible personally (because your partner might die, become disabled, get fired, divorce you) and it is irresponsible in a broader social context (because it devalues the work of childcare and promotes gender imbalance in the workplace and in the home.) It WOULD be really great if our society valued parenthood more, but that’s not going to happen if the policymakers, attorneys, and movers-and-shakers who can make this happen are all at home doing undervalued, isolating childcare. It sucks right now. We need to be out in the world MAKING it better … if it’s ever going to GET better.

  54. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    We’ve got to stop making everything about my individual experience, my individual mom, my parents’ individual marriage, and my individual childhood. Your awesome mom and your awesome childhood are awesome. But your mom didn’t make her choices in a vacuum just because you were the center of it.

    THIS.

    The personal is political. Has no one actually read that essay? Our choices are never, ever made in a vacuum, and it’s suicidal to pretend that we are unconstrained by economic and social factors. So, really, even when we’re talking about SAHMs who were forced into that choice because childcare would cost too much, we’re not looking at why it’s the mother’s job that takes a backseat.

    My mother was a SAHM. And it screwed her in the end. She thought she did well, marrying an architect/engineer who was a partner in his father’s business; she’d been a teacher since the early ’60s and stopped working when she had children. When it came time for her to go back to work — not only did she have all her kids in school for the day, but her husband’s father had died and not left him enough money to run the business, leaving him out of work for an extended period of time — she couldn’t just walk into another teaching job because it was the early ’80s and there was a baby bust on. Had she continued working, she’d have been tenured, and her salary and benefits would have carried the family during my father’s unemployment. While he got another job, we never recovered economically from those years he was unemployed (and turned to substance abuse and paranoia), and he eventually got laid off in his late ’50s and never worked again. So my mother had to start from scratch, again.

    What I learned from all that is that dependency is to be avoided at all costs.

  55. Katya
    Katya June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    We’ve got to stop making everything about my individual experience, my individual mom, my parents’ individual marriage, and my individual childhood. Your awesome mom and your awesome childhood are awesome. But your mom didn’t make her choices in a vacuum just because you were the center of it.

    This. Your decision to stay at home with your kids may very well have been a great decision for you. But the issue here is the context in which decisions are made. Some women can’t afford to stay at home (they need the income or the employment-based health insurance). Others say they can’t afford to work, because the cost of child care would eat up their paycheck (why their paycheck? Why is it assumed that it’s the woman’s paycheck that pays for childcare?) Work-life balance is seen almost entirely as a woman’s problem. No one asks my husband if he is going to be a stay-at-home parent after our child is born, but people ask me that question all the time.

    We give lip service to motherhood being the most important job ever, but do almost nothing to support mothers. There is no guaranteed paid maternal leave in this country, let alone paternal leave, and there is not actually guaranteed unpaid leave for many people. There’s no real effort to provide affordable quality child care. There’s no real effort to delink health insurance from employment. School schedules are totally inconvenient for working parents. People might think SAHM’s don’t really do anything all day or have it easy, but they don’t accuse them of not loving their children, of letting strangers raise their kids, of being obsessed with money and status, etc. (Unless they are poor or WOC, in which case not working shows that they are lazy welfare mooches who just have kids for the check.)

    Wealthy, educated women who quit work when they have kids matter because they are a relatively visible part of a larger culture, and because they can make relatively unconstrained choices–they can afford child care, they can afford to quit working, they don’t actually have to do the labor of housework, because they can hire others. It also matters because these are women with enough power that they might be able to push for changes in their workplace that would make it more family-friendly for others. They have enough clout to pressure companies and legislatures to enact family-friendly policies. They could mentor and support younger women. But by and large, they don’t. Their husbands continue to have high-powered careers that are enabled in large part by the fact that they have wives to handle all their domestic business. And people think that hiring and promoting women is a waste of time because they’ll just quit when they have kids, while the model of a good employee remains the man with the wife at home who leaves him able to focus on work.

    Framing everything as an individual choice allows our culture to ignore the problems that face mothers, while ignoring the fact that choices are not made in a vacuum.

  56. Melissa
    Melissa June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

    @ EG

    Some of them, yeah. Not all. But a combination of pressures can certainly cause a woman who loves her job to quit in order to stay home and take care of the kids. For a lot of women, it’s actually a result of inequality just as much as it’s a cause. Especially in high-powered careers, women have a much harder time already. It can be frustrating for a woman to fail to excel in her career as much as men with similar skill, intelligence, and education do. And that could make her throw up her hands and say “screw it all, I’m not appreciated here anyway!” Plus, since working mothers tend to get blamed for anything that goes wrong with their children, quitting work can seem like the only option for many…especially those who would blame themselves and their own work for their children’s problems. It’s still pretty common to believe that children benefit from having a parent home full-time. A woman who believes this (as many in our society do) could easily feel like someone has to stay at home for the kids’ own good, and since she’s likely to be the lower wage-earner, then sure, she could certainly feel like she has to quit.

  57. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |

    happywomanblues, you start with this:

    Raising and educating children is necessary

    and then you say this:

    It WOULD be really great if our society valued parenthood more, but that’s not going to happen if the policymakers, attorneys, and movers-and-shakers who can make this happen are all at home doing undervalued, isolating childcare. It sucks right now. We need to be out in the world MAKING it better … if it’s ever going to GET better.

    So what’s the solution? If you recognize that the work is necessary, but you want the women doing it to stop doing it and go become policymakers, attorneys, and movers-and-shakers, then who is going to be doing that necessary work of caregiving that they’re currently doing? I’m not saying that I don’t agree that we need more women in these high-profile, high-impact positions. OF COURSE we do, but we can’t pretend like it’s a simple decision of just going and doing it. There is a whole life of responsibility that these women are currently doing, and if we say that’s easily dismissed, we–once again–devalue that work the same way that the capitalistic, patriarchal culture devalued it to begin with.

  58. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |

    Motherhood is a socially-acceptable trigger to quit work and pursue other unpaid or lesser-paid things, and has little to do with how much or how little women love babies or find fulfillment in staying at home.

    Which is very much like how getting married is a socially-acceptable (or even socially-demanded) trigger for a woman changing her name, and really has very little to do with love or tradition or wanting to feel part of a family unit.

    In both those cases, if the choice were truly neutral, we’d see a lot more men making the choice. The fact that men are not flocking to stay-at-home parenthood or changing their names upon marriage in large numbers should tell us something about the true desirability of the choice.

  59. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

    By that logic a porn star has way more sociocultural worth than someone who runs a no-kill animal shelter or who volunteers for the fire department.

    Oh sweet jesus.

    Why did you quote this bit out of context and make this comment?

  60. sizzle
    sizzle June 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    Instead of a numbers break down I should have gone with the default argument. I am just not comfortable with the fact that if there is a stay at home parent it is overwhelmingly the woman. I understand people make individual choice for personal reasons. But that just does not explain the default. Anyone, other commenters are making the broad vs. individual point better than me.

  61. Vivian
    Vivian June 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    So what’s the solution? If you recognize that the work is necessary, but you want the women doing it to stop doing it and go become policymakers, attorneys, and movers-and-shakers, then who is going to be doing that necessary work of caregiving that they’re currently doing? I’m not saying that I don’t agree that we need more women in these high-profile, high-impact positions. OF COURSE we do, but we can’t pretend like it’s a simple decision of just going and doing it. There is a whole life of responsibility that these women are currently doing, and if we say that’s easily dismissed, we–once again–devalue that work the same way that the capitalistic, patriarchal culture devalued it to begin with.

    Thank you! :)

  62. happywomanblues
    happywomanblues June 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |

    BalancingJane: This is sort of what I meant: Childcare is necessary if you have children; permanently withdrawing from your life to do it to the exclusion of all other work while relying on a male breadwinner is not necessary [for the women discussed in the article that this blog post is about, but also for many middle and upper-middle class women.] I object to that model, not to childcare. I mean, I could get on my soapbox and object to childcare all I wanted but it’s still not going anywhere, as you point out! I think one solution is to have as many moms in the workforce as possible, bridging the gap between the public and the private spheres. Most moms do work. This article is specifically discuss wealthy, powerful women who essentially squander their privilege and their potential influence to make change for all of us. That is what frustrates me about the choices Wurtzel is writing about.

  63. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

    Instead of a numbers break down I should have gone with the default argument. I am just not comfortable with the fact that if there is a stay at home parent it is overwhelmingly the woman. I understand people make individual choice for personal reasons. But that just does not explain the default. Anyone, other commenters are making the broad vs. individual point better than me.

    Well, the individual choice may be for very good reasons and based on gender equality on an individual level but could equally be due to less good reasons influenced by bias on a higher level. For example, if you do a simple calculation that whoever earns the most money regardless of gender, keeps their job- on a one to one basis that seems about as equal and fair as can be, but if you take into account the gender-wage gap, not so much.

  64. RachelA
    RachelA June 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

    But one of the points people are making is that it isn’t that broad, and that the situation Ms. Wurtzel is describing (even leaving aside her pejoratives about abysmally lazy, spoiled rich SAHMs) applies to only a miniscule number of women. So of course individual circumstances are relevant to prove that point.

    My argument (about discussing broad sociological patterns) was not in reference to Wurtzel’s piece, it was in reference to Jill’s. Jill was taking Wurtzel’s piece and trying to ask exactly how Wurtzel’s argument is relevant to a broader base of people (and also how it isn’t).

    As Jill says, Wurtzel is a provocateur, a polemicists. Her goal isn’t to always make accurate broad sociological claims, her goal is to start a conversation, a conversation which, you’ll notice, we are all now having. Wurtzel did her job, and now we are doing ours by asking what is useful or insightful in what she said, and what is not.

    And while Wurtzel’s piece may not be accurate or useful when applied broadly, I think Jill’s, which was ‘inspired’ by Wurtzel’s, by and large is. And that’s primarily what I was referencing.

  65. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    Reading through more of these comments, I really wish people would stop using individual circumstances as rationales for why this argument is flawed. This piece is making an argument about a broad sociological pattern, and the gendered effects of this broad sociological pattern. When people start trying to argue against it by introducing the complexities of their often quite unique individual circumstances, that seems to me to be missing the forest for the trees.

    No.

    Just, no.

    The article in question discusses a very small segment of a very monied and priviledged sliver of society and then universalizes it to everyone else. It’s the worst kind of elitism and intellectual dishonesty for this author (or anyone else, for that matter) to hold up her bit of anecdata as support for her argument and then wave away others anecdata that may stand as proof of how full of it she really is.

    But then again it has become standard practice at places like the NYT and the Atlantic to hold up the experiences of the UES and Park Slope as how everyone lives their lives today.

  66. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    Why did you quote this bit out of context and make this comment?

    Because it’s slut shaming in pure form. I thought it was obvious, no?

    (the reason that author used porn start opposed to animal shelter organizer, because she wanted to contrast something good – ie helping animals that need help – with something obviously worthless and worthy of contempt. Like, being a sex worker, hahaha)

  67. Tracey
    Tracey June 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    But one of the points people are making is that it isn’t that broad, and that the situation Ms. Wurtzel is describing (even leaving aside her pejoratives about abysmally lazy, spoiled rich SAHMs) applies to only a miniscule number of women. So of course individual circumstances are relevant to prove that point.

    QFT.

    On the original article:

    1). The article and some of the comments in support are arguing that people’s social worth is tied to their economic worth

    2). Individual circumstances are relevant when:
    – Individual women are chided for being SAHM. The argument this looks at a sociological perspective and individual stories are irrelevant is bullshit because you are looking at individual women who choose to be SAHM as oppose to entering the paid workforce.

    3). Their is a dichotomy created between political and social engagement and SAHM/doing unpaid work.

    4). Saying that being a real-feminist is about being able to economically care for yourself is the kind of privileged naval-gazing that leads to a lot of lower-income women and WOC not wanting to have anything to do with the feminist movement to begin with.
    – getting a job is not that easy
    – having a low-paying job shouldn’t mean you are not a feminist and not an adult
    – honestly, with the difficulty of getting jobs I would argue that people who can afford to not have one, but do, are doing a disservice to a lot of people who desperately need one when they are arguing that people who can’t meet rent are not Real Feminists and not valuable members of society

    5). Derisively calling something “I choose my choice feminism” is often used as a tactic for shaming women’s choices, especially with regards to sexuality and erases agency. No, we don’t choose our choices but we sure as hell choose are actions. And while they are guided by social frameworks and we are limited in what options we have, those choices that are made shouldn’t be derided as being made without perspective. I’m sure the women with the privilege to leave a chunk in their resumes are aware of the risk.
    – I would hope feminists would have gotten over this after deriding women who had penis-in-vagina sex as being supporters of the patriarchy, but instead it has extended in reach to deriding women who make any number of sexual choices, clothing choices, etc.
    – So, shaming women who choose to have sexual relationships with men is now seen as a bad thing to have done, but shaming less widespread acts is perfectly fine.

    6). This argument absorbs men of guilt in perpetuating the patriarchy. Apparently, women who choose to stay home are doing more to hurt women than men who don’t tackle their share of domestic responsibilities, and create the situations in which women are pressured out of the workforce (because if it comes down to it some women may be left with agreeing with their husband to stay home, stay in lower-paying positions, or have to choose between how they will care for their kids as single parents or pay for childcare). Apparently women who stay-at-home are more responsible than male leadership that doesn’t promote women and doesn’t work to make their organizations truly family-friendly.
    – I doubt the road to egalitarianism is paved with people being made to be miserable at jobs they dislike and don’t need to do

    7). Some people don’t want to do full-time paid labor and if they have the privilege of not having to do so, why should they? Especially, if the job field would involve perpetuating a capitalistic system in which false demands are created and continued functioning of said system is dependent on constant exploitation and environmental degradation for the purposes of buying more stuff. Additionally, I am not going to blame anyone who doesn’t want to work 50-60hr. weeks for deciding not to do so when they can.

    9). Yes, there is a huge social problem in which women are expected to be the ones to do most, if not all, of the domestic work, but shaming individual women for choosing to exercise their privilege to SAH is not addressing anything.
    – It is pathetic if you feel betrayed by your ivy-league educated best friends not working because they don’t owe you shit in the way of getting employed. Not a damn thing.

    10). Talking about the actions of a very few women who are not the norm, and whose decisions require a great deal of economic privilege in terms of being the instigators (or the reason for its existence) in the War on Women seems to negate completely the impact of anti-woman policies on women who HAVE to work, or desperately need to, in order to survive.
    – But these aren’t really real feminists because many of them don’t make rent every month and can’t be independent. Because if you disdain women who are financially dependent on husbands, I can only guess what the opinion of women financially dependent on state assistance, community-aide, family help, child support, etc. is.

    11). This argument focuses on “high-powered” careers and can also shame women who don’t work/choose not to study, in high-paying careers.

    12). Completely ignores the outsourcing of domestic functions to lower-class women, often WOC.
    – The people who can afford to be SAHM and don’t, are exactly the people who can afford to outsource child care and domestic duties. The husbands of these women are not likely to take on the actions themselves, but rather to look into hiring other people to do so.

  68. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis June 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

    Very good post, Jill.
    I’m a man on the cusp of middle age with a worthless law degree, student loans that are mathematically impossible to pay off, and serious doubts that I’ll ever be able to establish any kind of professional identity. In other words, I’m pretty much fucked. Here’s how I see things. (Swallows fourth beer and pulls up chair, while everyone rolls eyes at the prospect of more of Miguel’s “personal philosophy.”)
    Okay, one of the biggest problems facing our society is that it has become very difficult for people to live their lives. Gender is part of the discussion, but too much focus on gender tends to obscure other things. For example, women are 17 percent of law firm partners. Alright then, what if 50 percent of law partners were women? Would the world really be that much better? (Okay, this is a feminist blog, so some wise-ass is probably going to say “YES!”, but bear with me.) Fact is, we live in an exploitative system. Fiddling with the dials so women get into more positions of power isn’t going to make the system more humane. People are more loyal to their class than their gender.
    Let me rephrase things: The game is rotten. The fact that women are less likely to get into the upper echelons of power is one symptom of many. Wurtzel’s essay says women need to be more aggressive in playing the game, but doesn’t imagine how the game itself could be changed. For example, people in places like Sweden and Denmark are able to get an education without becoming debt slaves, and are able to spend time with their children without sacrificing their professional careers. In the final analysis, just telling women they need to get out there and compete with the Big Boys isn’t really going to change anything. Men are able, on average, (the average glaringly not including me in this case), to outperform women at the very top echelons of the professions because of the breadwinner/housewife model, AND because men have a metaphorical gun to their heads and pay for their success with shorter lifespans, fewer meaningful social relationships, and significantly higher suicide rates. The game is one most people lose. (Except for people like Wurtzel who are able to earn money doing interesting things like writing for The Atlantic. And there aren’t too many of those folks.)
    What I’m saying is, when These Sorts Of Discussions come up, I wish everyone would step back and try to look at the Big Picture.

  69. RachelA
    RachelA June 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |

    @ Lolagirl

    See comment above yours, where I address this critique. I wasn’t referencing Wurtzel’s piece, I was referencing Jill’s.

  70. DAS
    DAS June 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

    The fact that men are not flocking to stay-at-home parenthood or changing their names upon marriage in large numbers should tell us something about the true desirability of the choice. – zuzu

    Not necessarily. In particular, sometimes who gets to be the stay-at-home parent depends on which parent is making more money. If my wife and I each are working jobs that require a time commitment incompatible with child-rearing (so it would be better if one of us chooses to stay home if we want kids), the person with the lower pay is going to be the one more likely to quit.

    Of course that assumes there is a choice to stay home in the first place. Sometimes what happens is that the choice is not so much to voluntarily quit as much as who puts enough effort into the job to stay employed. In either case, however, sexism does play a huge role, but not so much in women being forced into being SAHMs because “the wominz’ place is in the home” but because of unequal compensation between women and men. Moreover, it all becomes a vicious cycle — women being more likely to be in lower paying jobs means that they will be less likely to bust their assess to keep said jobs and will instead “choose” to become SAHMs, which then “justifies” lower wages for women.

    This is, certainly, why things like equal pay and a robust safety net are feminist issues, IMHO. Critical to gender equality (and an equal playing field for making a choice as to who, if anyone, stays home to raise kids) is both partners having equal job opportunities and hence equal opportunity costs for staying home … and also critical is a safety net to protect people who make such a choice or, via unemployment, have that choice made for them.

    As to the issue of name changing, you do have a point, but it’s again interesting how structural factors play into this. When some friends of mine got married, both partners decided to change their names: it was easy for her to change her last name, but he really had to walk through hoops to change his last name (although what’s involved in changing your name varies from state to state).

  71. Lydia
    Lydia June 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |

    @Miguel:

    Well, there’s actually a lot of value in equalizing the workplace from a gender standpoint. If 50% of lawmakers were women, we’d have a female perspective on lawmaking that was noticeably present. When you are a minority, you’re not going to feel as confident speaking up for your own issues, or suggesting your own ideas. If women are societally encouraged to shut up, listen, be subservient, stay at home and let the men do the talking, the game can never improve.

    The countries you note as having better school systems also happen to have better gender relations and strategies than our own. Sweden is currently working to completely equalize the genders by trying to remove gendered play and toys from schools, and encourage a totally open and free environment for kids so that boys and girls can have a safe environment to develop based on personality and not expectation. There’s nothing even remotely like that going on in the US.

    Sure, simply putting women into positions of power seems like just shifting the balance of power- but the reality here is, if women ARE in positions of power, then women now actually have the power to make changes to the way the game works because of those positions. The game will not change if the same people with the same ideals are the only people who ever get ahead.

    Also, note about suicide rates, remember that even though men more commonly succeed in committing suicide, women more commonly consider and attempt it. Women are also statistically more likely to experience depression, last I checked, which could have something to do with the fact that more women are likely to be stay-at-home moms. Retirees go nuts with nothing to do; I’m sure that stay-at-home-moms go stir crazy a lot. And when you’re not working or doing or making something useful of your life, when you’re cut off socially as stay-at-home-moms can often be, that’s when you’re likely to have to look into the abyss and deal with existential stuff. So– I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s reasonable to suspect there might be a correlation between these things.

    To deny the value of women standing up for themselves and taking charge of their lives would be counterproductive. I don’t know if you mean to or not, but to change the subject from “women who choose to cede power in prominent positions damage future opportunities for other women, and should be held accountable for that decision and responsibility to other women” to “the whole system is broke” seems like a tactic meant to simply invalidate the concern in the first place. Any mess is going to seem overwhelming if we try to take it as the big picture, and nobody is denying that the big picture is messy.

    It’s still completely reasonable, and a lot more productive, to zoom in on one part of the picture and say “I’m going to start cleaning it here.”

  72. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

    Why don’t you consider the option that the parents could work opposite schedules? Additionally, the modern workplace permits telecommuting. What about that as a tool to permit both parents to work? Mom OR dad could be working while at home. So why shouldn’t they?

    I…do consider that option. All the time. Hence my argument that we aren’t going to see significant changes like this because the people who make it policy-changing levels in the government and workplace are not the people who care about such changes. The options I enumerated were realistic options available to the SAHMs who can afford to give up working now. Opposite schedules aren’t an option for them (they were an option for my stepdad’s parents, who worked factory shifts); telecommuting isn’t an option offered to them, and wouldn’t matter if it were, because caring for an infant actually requires your attention. Working part-time in the US means not having health benefits, so two parents working part-time is not a good idea if there’s an alternative.

    There’s a difference, zuzu, between changing one’s name and actually taking part in an activity. Would you say the same thing about teaching and social work, two other underpaid, overworked, traditionally feminine occupations? That you’ll believe that going into them has to do with desires and inclinations only when men go into them in equal numbers?

  73. Vivian
    Vivian June 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

    And while Wurtzel’s piece may not be accurate or useful when applied broadly, I think Jill’s, which was ‘inspired’ by Wurtzel’s, by and large is. And that’s primarily what I was referencing.

    And it shifts the focus to the less privileged, middle class, still educated women that could go to work or afford (barely) to stay home. However, I agree the outcome is all of the consequences she points out nevertheless, it is an argument about personal choices reverberating into society. In my opinion, it simplifies the process that goes into this choice making and it belittles it. It’s sort of like pointing fingers from a high ivory tower and deciding what sort of job is worthy of a feminist and what sort of job is not. And, so everyone knows, I think any job is worthy as long as it is done honestly and humanely.

  74. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

    Jill was taking Wurtzel’s piece and trying to ask exactly how Wurtzel’s argument is relevant to a broader base of people (and also how it isn’t).

    I don’t see where you see this. Her article is about the same wealthy SAHMs that Wurtzel’s is. Otherwise we’d be having a discussion about the wage gap, affordable daycare, and other such things.

  75. sophonisba
    sophonisba June 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

    I wanted to go out and work but I found out that reconciling my career ambitions with the reality of my child’s disability was very tough. Almost impossible.

    But not impossible for your husband, because –?

  76. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    Firstly, you’re never going to get any agreement that the government should compensate people for having children. I already hear pushback from the childfree about the great tax breaks we parents get, like the child tax credit and the dependent credit even begin to approach what it costs to care for a human being who cannot work.

    However, I think it’s perfectly fair to add into the marriage model that the work of full-time housekeeping and child care is compensated. Every year that a person engages in full-time child care is a year that they are “owed” a portion of their working spouse’s salary. Because they spend money too, that portion doesn’t endlessly accumulate, but because they are working on behalf of the spouse, who would otherwise have to engage in child care tasks, they are net sum “making” money… which must be paid out in event of divorce.

    Evidence may be required of full time child care. If the working spouse continues to attend all the meetings at school, transport the children to the doctor, and is present on all the shopping trips for children’s clothes, it’s prima facie evidence that in fact they engaged in child care and therefore the non-working spouse wasn’t doing it full time. So if a man loses his job and sits around the house playing xbox and his wife continues to do all the child care and then she divorces him, he doesn’t get payment for that.

    Full time housekeeping is a lot harder to track. People taking care of children take them places where their presence with the child is recorded, creating an evidence trail of who takes care of the kids; full time housekeeping pretty much happens entirely in the house. Documentation of the errands you run on behalf of the working spouse is about all you could present.

    This would never have a lot of effect on the marriages of poor people, because 20% of nothing is still nothing, but the upper middle class and wealthy men who get to be rich and powerful on the backs of their wives should not get to consider her labor “free”.

  77. Jasmine
    Jasmine June 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

    Usually I enjoy reading this website but I think this article smacks of elitism

  78. DAS
    DAS June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    Evidence may be required of full time child care. If the working spouse continues to attend all the meetings at school, transport the children to the doctor, and is present on all the shopping trips for children’s clothes, it’s prima facie evidence that in fact they engaged in child care and therefore the non-working spouse wasn’t doing it full time. – Alara Rogers

    Agreed with you about the man playing xbox full time not getting the same consideration as someone engaged in childcare full time, but in general, just because the working spouse does all the things you mention does not actually imply (in reality at least … IANAL, so I don’t know about the law as much). In many cases it is precisely not the primary care giver who attends meetings at school (such as parent-teacher conferences) because the primary care giver in the relationship is, well, at home caring for the kid, so in a sense that a working parent attends meetings is evidence that the other parent is the full-time care giver as (s)he is busy caring for the kid at home. Similarly, in my neighborhood where many families have only one car, it is the working parent who is responsible, as much as can be consistent with said parents’ work schedule, for taking the kid to doctors’ appointments, etc. as that is the parent with primary control of the car (for commuting).

  79. Lydia
    Lydia June 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm |

    @EG

    Well, there’s a few things about this that I think you might have some misconceptions about. Both parents don’t have to work full time to both be working (also, part time extends beyond a 20 hour a week job). Health benefits can be acquired for an entire family with just one full-time job. Night shifts are available for a lot of kinds of jobs. (Nursing. Movie theaters. Lots of kinds of retail outlets, though not all. Call centers. Global offices (meaning here, companies big enough to have offices elsewhere in the world who need people in the office at night because for them, it’s morning and they still have business to attend). Teaching at the college level.) So it’s not just factory work that exists as an option for parents seeking to balance a night shift with a day shift to take care of the kids. Also, once the kids are in school, daycare is no longer quite as much a requirement because the kids are going to be at school for X number of hours.

    Your original comment (which I was responding to) listed a number of options, but ‘work from home’ and ‘work night shifts or otherwise find a balance with your husband that lets you both work’ wasn’t on the list, so I responded questioning that choice.

    Also, I know you were responding to zuzu with the last bit, but I think you might not have gotten her point. She’s saying that giving up one’s maiden name as a part of marriage is not necessarily rewarding or fulfilling, anymore than being a stay at home mom is, and that men actively choose not to do so. The man’s choice is being preserved while the woman’s choice is essentially being made for her. Women who choose to become teachers or social workers may also feel that they are qualified for this sort of work, but not for work traditionally seen as ‘male’ work, because of societal pressure. So, yeah– more men in positions that are considered women’s jobs and more women in positions that are called men’s jobs would validate the suggestion that one actually chooses one’s position, rather than feeling pressured to pursue a certain type of job because of gender.

    This applies across the board. It would be wrong to say that since a large number of persons of color work in retail or the military that they clearly prefer those jobs, so why is it difficult to acknowledge that similarly presuming female preference to be a factor in choosing to change one’s name or work in “female” fields is equally wrong?

  80. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

    Not necessarily. In particular, sometimes who gets to be the stay-at-home parent depends on which parent is making more money.

    When women are making 77 cents on the dollar, “which parent is making more money” isn’t a neutral factor, either.

  81. Vivian
    Vivian June 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |

    But not impossible for your husband, because –?

    He made more money than I did. Waay more money — when we met we made the same amount of money, but we took different career paths — partly given my child’s disability. By now I am so far behind him paywise that I can’t take over if he needed to stay home (we have discussed this). I have continued to educate myself while my child is at school and will continue to do so and hopefully reenter the workforce (underpaid and over-educated) when he doesn’t need me as much as he does now.

  82. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |

    When women are making 77 cents on the dollar, “which parent is making more money” isn’t a neutral factor, either.

    Exactly.

  83. Stef
    Stef June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |

    @Aydan “Rather than castigate women for doing what makes them happy, and in many cases is the only financially viable option, let’s work for a system where raising children is valued and paid… which isn’t going to happen by tearing down the very women who do that work.”

    Quoting that because I think it gets to the bottom of this. We can polemicize all we want, but women and men are going to make decisions that work economically for their families. Not that many people are going to want to bang their heads against the wall of litte-to-no maternity/paternity/family leave time, expensive childcare and extra stress if they don’t have to. We’d be way better off demanding workplace policy changes than insisting that families twist themselves in knots to make ideologically ‘pure’ choices.

    At any rate, this upper-class opt-out stuff isn’t representative of stay-at-home moms in the US anyway. The last census found that women who stay at home are younger and less educated than their working counterparts. They’re probably more likely to be staying at home because they have few employment options. [Cite]

    So, I mean, with that in mind, do we really know that more CEOs and women in high places would help out their sisters lower in the pecking order? My company has a male CEO, but I sincerely doubt we’d suddenly get paid maternity leave if a woman took over.

  84. lt
    lt June 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

    First of all, people really need to keep in mind what Steve said @12: the two places you see the most SAHMs are at the top of the income scale, which is often discussed, but also at the bottom, where women find that the cost of childcare would outstrip their income. For the former, some Wurtzel’s and/or Jill’s analysis may hold, for the later, not so much. For the later we need the boring stuff we can theoretically all agree on but aren’t anywhere close to getting: good paid parental leave, affordable childcare, an end to wage discrimination, etc.

    When it comes to the actual 1%, and not just the upper middle class, I think things are different. I understand and share many of Jill’s concerns, but I’m just as likely to look at the context of those choices as related to the source of their wealth that makes their lifestyle possible. I do feel like sometimes wealthy women are the scapegoat for anger at the rich, because they’re seen as consuming rather than producing. But OWS happened for a reason – I just can’t get too excited about seeing more women running companies that exploit people and destroy the planet, or have any illusions that promoting some women to their forefront would change anything. Yes, we live in a capitalist world and I’m the last person to say women shouldn’t be concerned with money, and we do need more women leaders – but there is a difference between being independent and being the 1%.

  85. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    There’s a difference, zuzu, between changing one’s name and actually taking part in an activity.

    How is changing your name not taking part in an activity? It’s not like it happens automatically when you marry; you do actually have to file paperwork. Though, as DAS noted, it’s institutionally much easier for women to do so than men. And not, again, for neutral reasons: it’s “easier” for a woman to change her name because it’s societally expected of her, even though it’s actually easier to keep her name.

    Would you say the same thing about teaching and social work, two other underpaid, overworked, traditionally feminine occupations? That you’ll believe that going into them has to do with desires and inclinations only when men go into them in equal numbers?

    Yes. Because beginning in early education, girls are channeled into thinking about certain occupations, and boys others. Or are we to assume that our preferences for work are also completely unaffected by the social expectations of those who raise us?

  86. lt
    lt June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    Or, to put it more simply, I judge 1% housewives for being the 1%, not for being housewives. Of course, given that their status is contingent on marriage, one could argue they’re not really the 1%. Which is a fair point, but there’s certainly a 1% enabling role going on there.

  87. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

    Then there’s the question of dependence. Is it a good thing, when there are other options, to choose to be wholly financially dependent on someone else? I say no.

    Bullshit. The idea that the only model of an egalitarian relationship is one in which both members are totally independent and really only casually ‘together’ is not only offensive, it’s just dumb.

    My mother is a children’s book writer and my father is a lawyer. Both of them love their jobs, but because Mom is still fighting to get published, she’s pretty much financially dependent on my father- though, since they have a joint bank account and have been married 34 years, I don’t know what definition of dependance you’re advocating.

    You think she should quit doing what she loves and go get a job, because the money in her bank account comes from a man (oh, teh horrorz)? That’s fucking idiotic. Healthy relationships between two people who trust each other can take all kinds of forms. Egalitarianism does not mean everyone earns 50% of the money, does 50% of the laundry, cooks 50% of the time… Dad cooks because he loves it, Mom does housecleaning because she’s home for more of the day, they pretty much split parenting when my sisters and I were growing up.

    So yeah there are valid, egalitarian, feminist choices beyond your narrow model.

    /cosign the rest of the article, though.

  88. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |

    What happens if your father loses his job, or dies, amblingalong?

    Because my mother thought she had it made, too. Shit happens.

  89. Kira
    Kira June 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |

    I think it’s very important to talk about the fact that choices made by women are not automatically feminist choices, and to critically examine the ways in which devoting oneself mainly to unpaid work, including parenting, can be dangerous. But the core problem seems to be deeper than just women choosing to be stay-at-home parents, no matter what reasons they give and how valid they are. The core problem is that domestic labor–which is, of course, traditionally “women’s work”–is systematically economically and socially undervalued. Thus, women stay home disproportionately, are economically and socially disadvantaged thereby, and suffer in their careers in a result. Also, men are disproportionately dissociated from the unique benefits and joys that child-rearing and other domestic tasks can provide, which further devalues these tasks.

  90. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |

    How is changing your name not taking part in an activity?

    Because it’s not an ongoing activity providing a variety of feelings and experiences. You do it once.

    Because beginning in early education, girls are channeled into thinking about certain occupations, and boys others. Or are we to assume that our preferences for work are also completely unaffected by the social expectations of those who raise us?

    You’re talking about how inclinations and desires and preferences are formed, not whether or not they factor into our choices. Obviously socialization plays a significant role in how our desires and preferences are formed, but that doesn’t make those desires and preferences less real or powerful, or less worthy of fulfillment.

    Healthy relationships between two people who trust each other can take all kinds of forms.

    Amblingalong, the issue isn’t that financial dependence means that a relationship is unhealthy. What it means is that the financially dependent party is far more vulnerable in case the relationship isn’t healthy or doesn’t work out.

  91. workingmom
    workingmom June 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    Because I teach, I get to be home a bit more than other mothers during certain months of the year. I admit it: I am a better mother when I am working. I have more patience and more kindness for my children when I work, simply because I want to be with my kids after working all day. Never once did my husband think to ask me to give up my career. Any educated woman who lets her education waste, atrophy, deteriorate, thinking she can just jump into the swim when SHE is ready, or her husband, is wrong. The world spins around us. We learn balance. Yes, we are an anti-child society–because we have no balance. If more women gave up this illusion that it is all or nothing, and we all joined the workforce and parenting-force, we’d be a hell of a force to match.

    Many of the stay at home moms I know send their kids to day care and pre-k to catch a break. I don’t know from what, since staying at home with the kids is supposed to be their “jobs,” but many of them shop or train for 5Ks. I parent when I get home from work. And I teach my kids what they need for school and for life, as do all of the working moms I know. We’re in a sad state when women still think this is a decision they have participated in and not a choice for their own futures.

  92. Michelle
    Michelle June 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

    Alimony is NOT child support. Alimony is spousal support – ie: providing the lesser earning spouse with the funds which he/she need to live in the manner to which they are accustomed.

    The catch, with or without a pre-nup, is enforcement. You have to go to court which is daunting for any layperson and attorneys cost a lot of money. Which is why sometimes, pre-nups are helpful, but only if they’re written and executed properly.

    Explaining family law and pre/post nuptial agreements would take a series of blog posts but the lesson here is: in the event of a dissolution of a marriage where one did not execute a pre/post-nuptial agreement, GET A LAWYER to secure and defend your rights.

  93. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    Because it’s not an ongoing activity providing a variety of feelings and experiences. You do it once.

    And if you don’t do it, you never hear the end of it.

    You’re talking about how inclinations and desires and preferences are formed, not whether or not they factor into our choices. Obviously socialization plays a significant role in how our desires and preferences are formed, but that doesn’t make those desires and preferences less real or powerful, or less worthy of fulfillment.

    Just because we have real desires doesn’t mean that our desires are unaffected by the choices we are given. We do have lots of career paths to choose from, and from those choices we may have made an authentic choice in line with our desires. I’m not going to say that no one makes an authentic, fulfilling choice to be a social worker or teacher or what have you. But let’s be real: just because we’re happy with the choice we made from the menu we were presented with does not mean we might not have been happier with a choice from a different menu, or had we realized that we could have ordered off the menu.

    There are thousands of small decisions made along someone’s career path that turns them from pursuing a whole range of fields that might appeal to them (and pay them well), and many of those are gendered decisions.

    And it’s not like this is something that only affects women: look at men who want to go into caregiving professions such as nursing or early-childhood/elementary education. I used to date a guy who was a Head Start teacher, and he had a constant battle to be accepted as not a pervert.

  94. Julia
    Julia June 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

    The idea of choice is an often misunderstood one. Women might “choose” certain life paths, but those “choices” are so heavily skewed by what the culture and systemic inequality proscribe that I can’t say they even qualify as choices. And systemic injustice doesn’t mean intentional– a woman might never identify the systems in place as restrictive, but it does not mean that she hasn’t been affected by them. My two cents.

  95. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |

    It’s also worth considering the messages that we model to our kids. If staying home is your “feminist choice” and you actually have a full range of choices, what does that say to your sons and daughters about gender roles?

    Sorry, missed this.

    This is also stupid. The idea that people should purposefully defy gender roles when they, having a full range of choices, would prefer to do something that is in line with traditional gender roles, is dumb. It’s ok for men to have jobs or be stay at home dads, but women only get one of those choices. Way to fight patriarchy, there.

    The last thing we should be doing is telling women that, on top of everything else, they have to take jobs (like it or not!) because otherwise they’re bad mothers. Fuck that.

  96. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |

    Amblingalong, the issue isn’t that financial dependence means that a relationship is unhealthy. What it means is that the financially dependent party is far more vulnerable in case the relationship isn’t healthy or doesn’t work out.

    Sure, and I don’t disagree with that. That’s also not what Jill said.

  97. Cagey
    Cagey June 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |

    Choosing not to work when one is highly-educated and highly-skilled also has consequences for other women

    I don’t buy this, because I think implicit in this thought is the presumption that highly-educated and highly skilled women in positions of power are a boon for all women, which is just demonstrably false when considering the number of skilled and educated women who have used their position of power to gain access to a boys’ club where they just further screw over other women, in addition to other marginalized groups. It’s like trickle-down economic theory but with social change. And just like with that theory, I don’t buy that it works. I think the fact that these women are in the 1% in a country where predatory capitalism and a number of other screwed up systems is in place is more damning than the fact that they had the audacity to stay at home despite not needing to and having the skills to do something else.

    This is why the glass-ceiling rhetoric bothers me, because it reads like women wanting access to the highest echelons of an already monumentally screwed up discriminatory system that needs to be gone in the first place and putting some women at the top isn’t going to change that.

    Also implicit in this is the idea that highly-educated women in the workplace is somehow more feminist and thus more valuable(problematic for reasons above) than highly-educated women raising feminist-minded children is, which I’m not sure I agree with.

  98. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

    What happens if your father loses his job, or dies, amblingalong? Because my mother thought she had it made, too. Shit happens.

    1) The idea that my mother thinks ‘she has it made’ is pretty offensive. The fact that her job brings in less income doesn’t mean she’s lazing around eating bon-bons all day.

    2) Risk exists. The lifestyle my parents have chosen together entails some risk, and they accept that (and own life insurance to mitigate said risks). Other configurations in which they both worked would have other upsides and downsides- for example, my mom not being able to pursue the career she’s wanted ever since she was a kid- which they decided outweigh the risks of their current arrangement.

    Basically, you’re saying nobody should ever have a job that doesn’t pay very much when they could take a job that pays more, because omg so irresponsible real feminists earn lotz of moniez?

  99. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    Also implicit in this is the idea that highly-educated women in the workplace is somehow more feminist and thus more valuable(problematic for reasons above) than highly-educated women raising feminist-minded children is, which I’m not sure I agree with.

    Not to mention the (silly) idea that no highly-educated person would ever want to be a full time dad/mom. What’s really patriarchy-buttressing about these arguments is that, presumably, we’re still going to be fine with men who chose to be stay-at-home-dads. Men get more options, women get fewer. Yay.

  100. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    Reply to zuzu is in mod.

    (I hate mod).

  101. Karin
    Karin June 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    The women who are killing feminism are the ones who after they have their great career and great income decide there are no good men left and dont pass on feminism to a new generation.

    Not every woman wants to be a career woman, just like not every woman wants to be a black belt, or a soldier, or a bodybuilder, or or or.

  102. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    Also implicit in this is the idea that highly-educated women in the workplace is somehow more feminist and thus more valuable(problematic for reasons above) than highly-educated women raising feminist-minded children is, which I’m not sure I agree with.

    Yes! I agree with your whole comment, Cagey, but this part particularly resonated with me.

  103. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm |

    I know someone mentioned joint bank accounts as indicating a lack of dependence and an equalization of assets between the higher-earning spouse and the lower-earning or non-earning spouse. Which is true. Of course, that doesn’t help a women who thinks that 50% of joint assets are hers and will end up being used to help her children during her lifetime, and eventually will go to her children rather than to her parsimonious husband and his potential second wife, if she dies young and everything automatically goes to her husband, leaving nothing for her children, either when they need financial help or ever. Not that I have personal experience of this or anything.

  104. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

    The women who are killing feminism are the ones who after they have their great career and great income decide there are no good men left and dont pass on feminism to a new generation

    Wait. You’re seriously saying that women who decide not to have children are killing feminism? Wow.

  105. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    The women who are killing feminism are the ones who after they have their great career and great income decide there are no good men left and dont pass on feminism to a new generation.

    Fuck you, Karin. Seriously just fuck you. I refused to be a baby machine for the patriarchy, I’m not about to let some dipshit shamebot on a website tell me that I have to be a baby machine for feminism instead.

  106. unacomplished
    unacomplished June 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

    The women who are killing feminism are the ones who after they have their great career and great income decide there are no good men left and dont pass on feminism to a new generation

    also in b4
    – some women are asexual
    – some women are L/B
    – having a job != being feminist
    – raising economic status != being feminist
    – all the other stuff that even somebody like me who ISN’T a feminist can tell is wrong with this statement

  107. Karin
    Karin June 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

    Wait. You’re seriously saying that women who decide not to have children are killing feminism? Wow.

    If a disproportionate number of those women are what you would call feminist women then yes. The effect is there are gonna be less feminist FAMILIES. The number of children who grow up in traditional families with traditional roles increases and presto we are at da capo.

    Face it, feminism has been on life support since its inception. If we take away all the measures to push feminism, we are back at the 50s again. Feminism can not sustain itself, because there are not enough feminist families.

    But of course I am not saying you have to be a baby machine for feminism. We can accept the decline of feminism as a fact of life and just get on with our lifes.

  108. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm |

    So, feminism can multiply only through reproduction, not recruitment? Only women (and men) who grow up in feminist households can become feminists? Women without children can’t pass their values along to anyone other than their own children?

    Bizarre.

  109. Lydia
    Lydia June 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

    Karin, are you intentionally making a straw argument? Because I think it’s fairly obvious that there are plenty of feminists with families in this thread right here, right now.

    Not to mention your backhanded dismissal of the idea that feminists who choose not to birth babies could adopt if they wanted children, or be teachers or other influential members of the development of children in their every-day lives in meaningful and lasting ways that don’t include motherhood.

  110. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    We can accept the decline of feminism as a fact of life and just get on with our lifes.

    Mm, because it hasn’t occurred to any of us to ever spread feminism except through our vaginas. Like, I don’t know, teaching. Volunteering at institutions that do feminism-related work. Spending time with other people’s kids. Raising stepkids or adopting kids or fostering them. Being involved with school and college groups. Raising feminist issues repeatedly in classes and exposing fellow students to feminist concepts. Reading, writing and sharing feminist work. All of which, save the fostering/adoption, I have done – at 24 fucking years old, take note – for at least a year, each. Volunteered for six years, three of them full-time.

    But of course bowing to the patriarchy’s religion’s culture’s feminists’ pressure and being a good little complicit victim who has kids because she’s supposed to rather than an independent woman who has them because she wants to is the greatest contribution I can ever fucking make to society. Of course.

    Hmm, why does that sound so fucking familiar? Oh, right! Because guilt-tripping manipulative chucklefucks like you have chucked enough arguments at me to reproduce even over my (relatively fairly young) life that it all sounds like this dull wawawawawawa sound in my ears. I hear it every time you open your mouth and spew nonsense. wawawawawawa

  111. Karin
    Karin June 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm |

    So, feminism can multiply only through reproduction, not recruitment? Only women (and men) who grow up in feminist households can become feminists? Women without children can’t pass their values along to anyone other than their own children?

    Bizarre.

    Recruited by whom? Sure they can, but I see that as a slowing down of the process, nothing more. But yeah, not everybody has to be a feminist. I just wrote why its declining in my opinion and its common sense. The model with the higher baby output is the one that prevails. No need to hate on me for that.

    But it is only a problem if you need feminism to be mainstream, which in turn means others need to live a life the way you want them to, to make you happy.

    I am not like that. I dont care how many men and women are feminist. They can do whatever with their lives, so quit hating on me mmkay?

  112. Shadow
    Shadow June 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

    If a disproportionate number of those women are what you would call feminist women then yes. The effect is there are gonna be less feminist FAMILIES. The number of children who grow up in traditional families with traditional roles increases and presto we are at da capo.

    Quiverfull feminism? I never thought I’d see the day

  113. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

    Karin, my reference to recruitment vs. reproduction was my own little joke, which I assumed everyone would get.

  114. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

    Recruited by whom? Sure they can, but I see that as a slowing down of the process, nothing more. But yeah, not everybody has to be a feminist. I just wrote why its declining in my opinion and its common sense. The model with the higher baby output is the one that prevails. No need to hate on me for that.

    You know, that’s not how it hapenned in history. Unless you think feminism expanded because Pankhurst (who herself had divine revelation, apparently, since it has to start somewhere) overbreed contemporary conservatives. Which would leave me flabbergasted.

  115. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

    I just wrote why its declining in my opinion and its common sense. The model with the higher baby output is the one that prevails.

    Do you have evidence for this common sense? Or any sense of how what you are saying is identical to what racist, classist misogynnists have been spouting for two hundred years?

  116. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    Also…do you have any evidence that feminism is declining, or has been on life-support since its inception (I’m wondering when you date that, by the way)? I’m quite certain that in feminism has been one of the most successful social movements ever.

  117. Chataya
    Chataya June 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

    The women who are killing feminism are the ones who after they have their great career and great income decide there are no good men left and dont pass on feminism to a new generation.

    You know, some of us choose not to have kids because we don’t want kids, not because we got jilted one too many times by icky menz.

    No one has a duty to procreate, no matter how valuable the ideas that they could potentially pass on to a new generation.

  118. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

    I’m trying to think of a movement that has gained dominance via birth-rate. Anyone coming up with anything?

  119. librarygoose
    librarygoose June 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |

    @Karin

    Wait, don’t feminist have to shut up and expect to be offended? I remember that being your point in the BW thread. If we populate the world with feminists how will you ever sit through an action movie again?

  120. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

    I’m trying to think of a movement that has gained dominance via birth-rate. Anyone coming up with anything?

    Alive-ism. That’s the best I’ve got.

  121. Lydia
    Lydia June 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

    I am not like that. I dont care how many men and women are feminist. They can do whatever with their lives, so quit hating on me mmkay?

    Try reading the article/blogpost for why your response is completely missing the point, but in summary, here’s what the article is saying, basically:

    Women need to take responsibility for standing up for the rights of other women, because as with any inequality, the only way to fix it is to be willing to suffer the consequences of speaking out, to stand up for the rights of people even if you don’t consider yourself part of the disadvantaged group, and recognize the fact that even though you may have everything you personally want out of life as it is, others are suffering and need help.

    Change is made through personal sacrifices on every level of society, and while men can stand up for women’s rights and make a difference too, women need to be willing to stand up for the rights of other women, instead of apathetic to the possibility that women are being institutionally denied the right to equality.

    In short: ‘live and let live’ is exactly what doesn’t apply here.

  122. librarygoose
    librarygoose June 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm |

    I’m trying to think of a movement that has gained dominance via birth-rate. Anyone coming up with anything?

    Anatomically modern humans in their fight against Neanderthal oppression?

  123. Chiara
    Chiara June 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

    Recruited by whom? Sure they can, but I see that as a slowing down of the process, nothing more. But yeah, not everybody has to be a feminist. I just wrote why its declining in my opinion and its common sense. The model with the higher baby output is the one that prevails. No need to hate on me for that.

    … except that that it’s not feminist-women-having-babies vs anti-feminist-women-having-babies. The women having babies today who don’t identify as feminists on average hold views far more feminist minded views than the women of the 50s simply because of the culture they grew up in. The idea that if feminist women stopped having babies we would regress to the 50s. Think about racism. Very few people today identify as anti-racist activists, and yet if they all died out I don’t think race would regress to the 60s. Because a movement’s ideas and views can be in peoples consciousness without requiring that those people be social justice advocates. You know what I mean?

    Also the idea that whoever produces more babies gets more people with the same values as them is oversimplified IMO. I assume you believe that a feminist mum will teach her kid feminist ideas. Is the kid then immune from influence from anti feminist ideas in the culture? What about the fact that for at least some feminist identified women they were actually born and raised in an anti-feminist household or faced abuse — and their feminism is a reaction to that?

  124. Karin
    Karin June 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm |

    I’m trying to think of a movement that has gained dominance via birth-rate. Anyone coming up with anything?

    The patriarchy obviously. Unless you think its fiction. The woman has the babies, the man provides, if there is a divorce the children go with the woman while the man advances his career in between seeing the children 2 hours a week, you know, patriarchy.

  125. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    Karin, what you’re saying doesn’t make sense. If you were right, then feminism would never have come into existence in the first place.

  126. Karin
    Karin June 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    Also…do you have any evidence that feminism is declining, or has been on life-support since its inception (I’m wondering when you date that, by the way)? I’m quite certain that in feminism has been one of the most successful social movements ever.

    Look at England, where feminism kicked off earlier. Sure, they had their female prime minister in the 80s. And now? Take a look at the British Parliament now. And yes, its successfull bat far from mainstream and even further away from being self-sustaining. If all activities to promote feminism would cease, feminism would die off quite quickly.

    But like I said. I dont care, I do with my life what I want and everybody is free to do with her life what she wants. Nobody has to become a female engineer just so that I can see a higher female engineer ratio to be happy about.

  127. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    1) The idea that my mother thinks ‘she has it made’ is pretty offensive. The fact that her job brings in less income doesn’t mean she’s lazing around eating bon-bons all day.

    Well, then it’s a good thing I never said anything of the sort about bon-bons. Unless you think my mother was doing the bon-bon thing.

    2) Risk exists. The lifestyle my parents have chosen together entails some risk, and they accept that (and own life insurance to mitigate said risks). Other configurations in which they both worked would have other upsides and downsides- for example, my mom not being able to pursue the career she’s wanted ever since she was a kid- which they decided outweigh the risks of their current arrangement.

    That’s great. Just don’t pretend that their current arrangement doesn’t involve your mother’s dependency for her economic security on your father’s continued health, employment and marriage to her. She can pursue the career she’s dreamed of when it doesn’t pay because of her financial dependency rather than in spite of it.

    Basically, you’re saying nobody should ever have a job that doesn’t pay very much when they could take a job that pays more, because omg so irresponsible real feminists earn lotz of moniez?

    My, you have an active imagination, between this and the bon-bons.

    The women who are killing feminism are the ones who after they have their great career and great income decide there are no good men left and dont pass on feminism to a new generation.

    Because no feminist can a) be both employed and a parent; b) come from a non-feminist family of origin; and/or c) ever decline to have children for any reason other than hating men.

  128. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    I dont care, I do with my life what I want and everybody is free to do with her life what she wants.

    Unless she decides not to have children, then you care very much.

  129. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    I’m trying to think of a movement that has gained dominance via birth-rate. Anyone coming up with anything?

    Hasidism in Brooklyn, vs. Reform, Conservative, and Modern Orthodox Judaism?

  130. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    You do realize that it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that women got custody of the kids in case of divorce, right?

    Leaving that aside, what did patriarchy outbreed? When and where?

  131. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca June 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm |

    OMG why are we even reading this website right now?!?! We should all be having unprotected sex at this very moment with the most proximate opposite sex body in a desperate attempt to CREATE MORE FEMINIST BABIES!!! Did you know that every 7 seconds a feminist dies???? At its current rate of decline, the feminist population of North America will be entirely extinct by the year 2087. Do you want this to happen?!?!?! Apparently so!!! Because you are not currently lying down horizontal with labor pains, I can only deduce that YOU WANT THE PATRIARCHY TO WIN!!!!

  132. Mxe354
    Mxe354 June 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm |

    But yeah, not everybody has to be a feminist.

    …So not everyone has to support gender equality?

    That’s like saying not everyone has to oppose racism.

  133. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

    If all activities to promote feminism would cease, feminism would die off quite quickly.

    That’s true for everything, including patriarchy.

    As for England, “where feminism kicked off earlier” (I guess that’s true given that it’s an older country than the US)–Thatcher was a right-wing reactionary. How do you read her rise to power as some kind of win for feminism? Do you see Queen Elizabeth I as another early win?

  134. Mxe354
    Mxe354 June 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm |

    Also, it’s funny how Karin is ignoring the fact that the reason feminists were able to establish humane marriage laws, women’s suffrage, and so on was that they acted for themselves via direct action. It had very little to do with raising kids to be strong feminists.

  135. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    Do you see Queen Elizabeth I as another early win?

    Or perhaps we should cite Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, as an example of an early victory for British feminism.

  136. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca June 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

    Do you see Queen Elizabeth I as another early win?

    Elizabeth I of England was a huge accomplishment for feminism, but then she let everything she did for the cause slip between her long, boney fingers. Maybe if “The Virgin Queen” had birthed some frickin’ kids, we wouldn’t be in this godawful patriarchay today.

  137. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    If all activities to promote feminism would cease, feminism would die off quite quickly.

    And if all activities that promoted patriarchy would cease, so would patriarchy. And if I stopped eating I’d die. What’s your point?

    Or perhaps we should cite Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, as an example of an early victory for British feminism.

    Ooh, speaking of! Hey, Karin, I have the perfect image for you!

  138. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    Getting back to Jill’s initial premise, I still don’t see how this Wurtzel article is in any way a reasonable or well-informed jumping off point for discussing the bigger picture of how SAHMs are ruining feminism.

    Wurtzel’s handwringing, oh noes!, how dare you waste that Princeton education being a SAHM so completely misses the mark. Feminism isn’t (or shouldn’t be) only for the Ivy and Seven Sister educated, well-off, white women out there, notwithstanding the underlying premise of Wurtzel’s article to the contrary. Focusing on these 1%ers and how they are squandering their privilege is silly, because by their very nature they are such a infinitesimally small segment of the greater population.

    I would argue that Feminism actually needs to work much harder to show non-elite, non-white, non-wealthy women that they can and will also benefit from the greater mission of women’s equality in all spheres of their lives. So many women are struggling with daily issues in their lives that are completely divorced from the likes of Ms. Wurtzel and her insular world. I just don’t see how castigating Princeton women over choosing to be SAHMs instead of pursuing high powered careers in law, finance, politics or whatever is supposed to be at all relateable to most women out there today.

  139. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

    Wow, in addition to being a horribly narrow-minded and insensitive thing to say, implying that the only way women can contribute to feminism is by giving birth to children and then programming them to be little feminist robots also did a great job of totally derailing what was–in my opinion–an interesting and fairly civil discussion of how motherhood, feminism, the value of work, and gender roles intersected.

  140. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

    Wurtzel’s article is hateful and misogynistic. The work that women “traditionally” do is undervalued and un- or low-paid, and un- or low-paid work is always undervalued.

    Someone has to raise the next generation of capable, moral, educated human beings. I never understand why it is more “feminist” to pay someone else to raise our children. Child care is notoriously expensive, yet child care workers are notoriously underpaid and have few or no benefits. Child care workers are almost always women (what a coincidence), and are often women of color. So how does this work out to be the great feminist solution all these smug non-parents think it is?

    Furthermore, anyone who believes that women’s unpaid work does not contribute to the economy is fooling herself. The world could not operate without unpaid labor, of which something like 87% is performed by women. That does not mean that women’s unpaid WORK (including OMG raising our own children) is not valuable. It means women’s unpaid work is undervalued. Including women who care for other people’s children. That shit should be subsidized, and well-paid, with benefits out the wazoo.

    The next generation of children whose upbringing is so unimportant that NO WOMAN SHOULD DO IT (unless she’s underpaid to do so) will: perform your surgery; staff your hospice; run your financial institutions; provide your elder care; teach the NEXT generation of children (whose upbringing is also immaterial to society at large, I guess); clean your office; repair your car; grow your food; stock your warehouses; ensure your water is pure; run your government; drive on the highways and roads next to you; fill your prescriptions; guard your beaches; staff your hotels and vacation spots; pour your drinks; and anything else you don’t do for yourself after about age 30.

    So frankly, STFU about how “women raising children and keeping house don’t wooooorrrrrrrk” – even if they’re RICH, how the hell does Wurtzel or anyone else know what amount of work goes into their lives? – and STFU about how “housewives” and “stay-at-home moms” are RUINING FEMINISM because Wurtzel says so.

    And go back and re-read, because while she started out with a nasty, bullshit screed about the lives she assumes “1% wives” lead, she quickly moved on to paint all “stay-at-home” mothers with the same brush of sloth, laziness, and selfishness.

    And once and for all, raising children is hard. Very, very, hard. Extremely hard. Harder than any other job most of us have ever done. Go ahead and whine about “Ooooh, but it’s not THE HARDEST JOB EVVER” but anyone who knows what she’s talking about knows that it is fucking hard, back-breaking, draining, never-ending work. PERIOD.

  141. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm | *

    Why does there seem to be this idea floating around that women who work outside the home are not actually raising their children?

    Do they plug them into pods until they’re 18 or something?

  142. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl June 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm |

    Yah know, my parents managed to raise me to be a feminist without either of them staying home to raise me. Indeed, I think visiting both of their offices when I was a kid helped me understand my many many options.

    The work women do is consistently undervalued in most if not all world societies. In the Soviet Union, the majority (some 70 percent) of doctors were women (not sure what current post-Soviet rates in the various successor states are). However, the medical profession was nowhere near as prestigious as it was/is in the west, salaries were lower than in male-dominated professions, etc.

    My point: It’s not the job that makes it low prestige, it’s who does it. And then, those same low prestige people are funneled into those low prestige jobs. So it’s not that women happen to choose low-prestige, low or no-pay occupations such as child care, social work, teaching, staying at home with their kids, etc. It’s that society funnels women into them.

    This means that it is a feminist act to fight that push and open and expand other avenues EVEN AS we fight to get more respect for traditionally female roles and get more males involved in them.

    Does everyone have to buck the system, all the time? Of course not, but it is a feminist act to buck the system, and it is not a feminist act to go along with it.

    That does not mean one is not a feminist if one is in those occupations. It merely means that there was nothing particularly feminist about choosing them.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything here that Jill didn’t say in the OP, and better. But it does seem from some of this thread that some folks are unable to comprehend that not everything a feminist does is inherently feminist, or good for the cause, and that, living in a patriarchal society, most of us occasionally/regularly/constantly do things that aren’t inherently feminist (me, I put on mascara most mornings).

  143. Jadey
    Jadey June 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm |

    I am agreeing and disagreeing with so much that is being talked about, it’s hard to know where to direct this comment.

    First off, regarding the whole “better to stay at home and raise more feminists!” argument, you don’t have to pop out a kid yourself or even be involved in raising them 24/7 to contribute to them becoming a feminist/social activist. My mother was an excellent female role model. My father was a terrible male role model. Did I come out 50/50? Not at all – I also had a lot of other influences in my life, including other adults, peers, my own cultural and generation zeitgeist, as well as my own personal propensities that led me to where I am now. My parents were influential in my life, but they weren’t the be-all and end-all.

    In fact, the reason that my mother inspired me was because of who she is and how she lives her life, not the time she spent with me or the things she told me. She has led me by example. In her case, that was the example of realizing when her marriage was destroying who she was and taking the ballsy move to revamp all of her life expectations, leave her husband, and start again. The fact that she had a career that would allow her to support her daughters as a single mother sure as hell helped. But that’s not the only kind of example she could have set – it’s just the one she needed to in the life circumstances she had.

    I think going to the extremes of “I choose my choice!” feminism is a problem. And I also think that the fact that when staying at home is a “sacrifice” (because sometimes it is), the fact that women are more often steered toward that particular sacrifice more than men is a problem. And that the full-time raising of kids, even when someone wants to do that, is considered “women’s work” by default and therefore undervalued except in trivial, symbolic ways is also a problem. I totally get all of these

    But… as much as my mother set an example for me by the way she lived her life, which was to take charge of herself, not be beholden to her husband *or* to her kids to an unreasonable degree, and to challenge the expectations of sacrifice and misery that she had been raised with… I can also easily imagine a scenario where a stay-at-home mother, whether by choice or not, could also set an empowering example for their children and challenging systemic assumptions about who she is or how she ought to live. Maybe especially those SAHM who don’t fit the “mommy” ideal – poor, of colour, disabled, etc. To me it’s not just *what* people do, but *how* they do it. My mother wasn’t a feminist role model to me *because* she had a career and was financially independent – plenty of egregiously non-feminist women have careers and financial independence. It was specifically the way in which she took charge of her life and defined her own parameters, whatever those parameters were. Again, I agree that “choose my choice!” feminism is superficial and unproductive, but I also feel like it’s actually just a gross over-simplification of something that really is feminist and powerful and that expressions of autonomy and self-determination *even when the ends aren’t what every woman would want* are important. We do need to critique the systems which railroad women and misshape their expectations about what they want and how they can get it, but at the end of the day I can’t get on board with the idea that staying at home just can’t be feminist. It depends on how you do it. There are too many women being left out of the equation otherwise.

    One other thing that these conversations make me realize is just how few SAHMs (or SAHDs) I even know. Seriously – the only person I can think of off the top of my head who was a full-time SAHP was the woman whose daycare I attended pre-K, which she ran out of her own home, combining her career with her parenting. I don’t know anyone else among all of my (mainly middle-class and working-class) peers who was raised by a full-time stay-at-home parent past their early infancy *except* in a few cases where no other affordable childcare options (including daycare co-ops with neighbours/friends or grandparents) were available, in which case it was certainly not a luxury but an expensive necessity. As long as I can afford daycare and have a job I don’t despise (two things that are admittedly hard to guarantee), I don’t think I would ever consider stay-at-home parenting myself. I adore kids, but I don’t understand the need or the appeal of years of staying at home with them as a feature of “better parenting” (i.e., the obligation to stay home in order to be a better parent, rather than staying home because that’s what you would prefer to do). (This is totally separate from whether I think women can be SAHMs in a pro-feminist/female empowerment kind of way, obviously.) My father’s shittiness as a parent was actually only alleviated by the reduced amount of time we spent with each other after my mother split with me – the more time he was around me, the more fucked up our relationship became. My mother was around very little with her demanding job, but we used what time she had very well.

  144. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm |

    But it does seem from some of this thread that some folks are unable to comprehend that not everything a feminist does is inherently feminist

    Uhhh, what would you say exactly is un-feminist that people on this thread have advocated doing?

  145. Jadey
    Jadey June 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm |

    re: tinfoil hattie’s comments on the exploitation of child-care workers

    I think that’s a really valid observation, and also shows clearly where the conversations needs to be about classism (and racism), and not just sexism. At a certain point, attitudes toward *women* stop being able to explain all the nuances here. It depends to much on attitudes toward *which* women.

    I have to acknowledge that my as-yet in-mod comment is also swimming in class privilege at the end of it, where I talk about how I don’t personally get the appeal of SAMP and would definitely use daycare if it were available.

  146. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

    Also, because it is fascinating how this discussion has been completely ignored in this thread, not to mention the OP:

    Not all couples where one person is at home are straight couples. Hell, I’m currently technically “staying home” while going to school while my wife supports me!

    I know, I know! Minds blown! My decision is suddenly 34% more feminist!

  147. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm |

    Child care workers are almost always women (what a coincidence), and are often women of color.

    Who often have children of their own at home, even when “home” is another country.

  148. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm |

    And once and for all, raising children is hard. Very, very, hard. Extremely hard. Harder than any other job most of us have ever done. Go ahead and whine about “Ooooh, but it’s not THE HARDEST JOB EVVER” but anyone who knows what she’s talking about knows that it is fucking hard, back-breaking, draining, never-ending work. PERIOD.

    Also…how many people have the HARDEST JOB EVVER? Somehow, when my mother comes home exhausted from her job, nobody’s ever like “but being a social worker is so much EASIER than being a coal miner! Imagine if you were a coal miner!” Something can be hard enough to be exhausting and worthy of respect without being the hardest job ever.

  149. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm |

    Why does there seem to be this idea floating around that women who work outside the home are not actually raising their children?

    I also chafe at the use of the term “raise” to refer to caring for children, and I’m actually a SAHM. Of course it’s the parents who raise their children, even if they WOHM.

    Do they plug them into pods until they’re 18 or something?

    So many of these discussions about how SAHMs are supposedly ruining the world by not working at a paid job do seem to ignore the reality that kids don’t evaporate or go into a state of suspended animation while their parent(s) are outside the home working. Somebody has to care for those kids, and as others have pointed out repeatedly, that care is damn expensive and often frighteningly scarce. It’s a very real reality that many women look at the numbers and realize that they will be losing money if the work and pay for a caregiver.

    I also chafe at the idea that women are only doing real work if it is outside the home, because it’s directly tied to the patriarchal calculus that one is only worth as much as his or her capacity to earn money. The reality of how women get paid less than men has already been discussed at length here. Finally, there needs to be a whole lot less policing of women and their choices by other women in our society and a whole lot more forcing of mens’ hands towards greater equality of the sexes before any further change for the better can possibly be achieved.

  150. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    I also chafe at the idea that women are only doing real work if it is outside the home, because it’s directly tied to the patriarchal calculus that one is only worth as much as his or her capacity to earn money. . . . . [T]here needs to be a whole lot less policing of women and their choices by other women in our society and a whole lot more forcing of mens’ hands towards greater equality of the sexes before any further change for the better can possibly be achieved.

    I do often wonder why so few people ever seem to criticize fathers who (like the 1%’ers who are the subject of Wurtzel’s articles) are certainly affluent enough not to have to work all the time, and could work less or take time off if they wanted to, or at least make sure that they see their kids every day, but expect and assume that their wives will be the ones to stay home and “raise the kids.” There are few things I despise more than fathers who value their work over their children, when they have the ability to spend more time at home if they want to. Or ignore their children when they are home. Maybe fathers who stop seeing their children after divorce, or move away, but not much else.

  151. Tamara
    Tamara June 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm |

    I agree with commentators who question the utility of the OP’s discussion, considering it only applies to 1% of the population. I also question Jill’s assumptions about how more 1% women in the workforce would benefit the other 99%. So many assumptions in the OP.

    One point I wish to make about compensation for domestic work and child rearing (DonnaL’s comment 16) is that many jurisdictions do provide for this. In New Zealand we have a default matrimonial/relationship property law that says that after 3 years in a marriage or de facto relationship all of both parties’ property is owned by them jointly (certain exceptions aside). Furthermore, there is the ability for a spouse to apply for more than 50% if (usually) she can show that her financial situation at the end of the relationship will still be worse than the other spouse’s as a result of the division of functions within the relationship. You actually have to opt-out of these laws with a pre-/post-nup. We have had a version of this law for over 30 years now. It is not pie-in-the-sky stuff.

  152. Cathryn
    Cathryn June 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm |

    While I understand your post was intended to be about the 1%, it doesn’t read that way at all. Even the vast majority of women who choose to be stay at home parents and be financially dependent on their spouses are not in the 1%, but it sounds like you’re speaking to anyone in that position. There are millions of women whose spouses might earn 40k a year who choose to stay at home instead of work who are also passionate feminists, and while I understand your points, excluding them from the fight against patriarchy is only damaging to the movement.

  153. Maia
    Maia June 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm |

    I think the discussion of what role women’s individual choices have in feminism is an important one – and often something people speak past each other about. I don’t think this will be that discussion – which is a shame.

    But I have got to come to the defence of ‘the personal is political’ and Carol Hanisch. Zuzu asked if anyone actually read this essay – and the answer is apparently not. Because Carol Hanisch meant exactly the opposite of what you are arguing in this post Jill (and what most people mean when they say ‘the personal is political’). She wasn’t arguing that our personal choices have political implications – but our personal problems need (collective) political solutions.

    This is what Carol Hanisch had to say about staying at home or not, in the essay ‘the personal is political':

    Women are smart not to struggle alone (as are blacks and workers). It is no worse to be in the home than in the rat race of the job world. They are both bad. Women, like blacks, workers, must stop blaming ourselves for our “failures.”

    You can read the whole thing here.

    There’s no need to 100% misrepresent feminist theory and theorists to have this discussion (I’ll confess that the reason I care so much is that the original article ‘personal is political’ is basically exactly what I believe about the relationship between women’s choices, politics and liberation – and the way I would answer all the questions asked in this post).

  154. Danny
    Danny June 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

    Really dug this article. It’s very thought provoking and challenging. I’d love to see more posts like this, that really challenge beliefs and think critically about feminism as a whole. Thanks for the read Jill.

  155. EG
    EG June 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

    Also, many women look at their own paychecks and realize that childcare will take out a significant cut. But why is it assumed that childcare comes out of the mother’s paycheck? It should be a shared effort and, where necessary, a shared expense.

    I agree. But when the cost of childcare is greater than or equal to the woman’s paycheck, it stops making financial sense for the family as a unit for her to work for pay, and since, as zuzu notes, women are very likely to make less money than men, that’s how the calculation shakes out in reality.

  156. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm |

    but every single comment on this thread about “but who will care for the children?!” seems to forget that men can care for children too. And part of my point in the post is that if men had to consider these things, we would have MUCH more flexible workplace policies. 1% men wouldn’t be able to work 16-hour days; they’d have to help take care of their kids too.

    Really? “Every single comment” ignores that men can care for children, too?

    I’ve been one of the people bringing up the “but who will care for the children?!” argument, and I’ve brought it up in the context of needing to change the gender barriers from both directions, meaning that men will take on more roles considered “women’s work” just as women will take on more positions of power in the male-dominated workforce.

    As I said in an earlier comment:

    If we fight for equal worth from both sides, then it will be a lot easier for mobility across those arbitrary gender lines, which means there will be more men doing the caregiving as well.

    But if we devalue the work of caregiving, we de-legitimize that option and belittle the people who do that work, which not only demeans the (mostly) women already doing it, but places barriers to this kind of equalizing effort as well.

  157. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    Also, many women look at their own paychecks and realize that childcare will take out a significant cut. But why is it assumed that childcare comes out of the mother’s paycheck? It should be a shared effort and, where necessary, a shared expense.

    Sure, it’s a shared expense. But here’s the bottom line for so many of us (especially those who aren’t working at career type jobs that fulfill us and that bring us personal enjoyment, never mind jobs that have even halfway decent benefits packages) who are in two income households, if that shared expense is either going to equal or exceed the income that we will bring into the home it is terribly demoralizing and discouraging to envision continuing on at that job.

    It’s all well and good to rage at how childcare expenses shouldn’t be considered as something that comes out of the women’s income. I’ll rage right alongside you. But I’m not going to agree that women have some sort of duty as feminists to keep working at jobs that don’t cover their childcare costs, just because.

  158. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm |

    That’s great. Just don’t pretend that their current arrangement doesn’t involve your mother’s dependency for her economic security on your father’s continued health, employment and marriage to her. She can pursue the career she’s dreamed of when it doesn’t pay because of her financial dependency rather than in spite of it.

    Sure. And there’s nothing un or antifeminist about that.

    The argument Jill is making, which is that any partnership in which a woman is financially dependent on a man is inherently antifeminist, is misogynistic. There is one acceptable type of (het) relationship and one acceptable lifestyle for True Feminists ™? Blargh. Men can have careers or be SAHDs, but if a woman is a SAHM then she’s teaching her daughter to hate herself.

  159. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |

    Others have pointed this out, but every single comment on this thread about “but who will care for the children?!” seems to forget that men can care for children too. And part of my point in the post is that if men had to consider these things, we would have MUCH more flexible workplace policies. 1% men wouldn’t be able to work 16-hour days; they’d have to help take care of their kids too.

    And apparently you either missed or ignored the closing portion of my comment where I insisted that we need to do a lot more forcing men to treat us equally if we are going to see any real change for the better in our society.

  160. Miss S
    Miss S June 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm |

    And yes, it’s true that historically men don’t do that…but that doesn’t mean that their historical choice is a good one.

    Agreed. I’m not sure that “men do it” is a good enough reason to uphold something.

    For me, feminism is less about taking on characteristics of oppressors, and more about removing systems of oppression. Capitalism by nature doesn’t promote equality- it’s a zero sum game that relies on exploitation of people and resources. Why feminism remains in bed with capitalism is a mystery to me. Or maybe it’s not.

    And I’m wondering if anybody else has read the work of Christine Delphy, a French materialist feminist whose writing I remember being absolutely incisive on these very issues.

    I remember reading her in college. I might have to pull my Feminist Theory book off the shelf.

  161. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

    Others have pointed this out, but every single comment on this thread about “but who will care for the children?!” seems to forget that men can care for children too.

    Mm, and what of partnerships that don’t involve men?

    Way to heterosplain to the quiltbags, people.

  162. Lydia
    Lydia June 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm |

    For me, feminism is less about taking on characteristics of oppressors, and more about removing systems of oppression. Capitalism by nature doesn’t promote equality- it’s a zero sum game that relies on exploitation of people and resources. Why feminism remains in bed with capitalism is a mystery to me. Or maybe it’s not.

    This is definitely one of the big things I keep thinking. Capitalism is the ultimate pyramid scheme here, and depends heavily on the concept that someone is at the top of the pyramid and someone is at the bottom. A more socialist government would be able to benefit more people, but thanks to McCarthyism and scare-tactics with regard to the idea of communism springing up, that sort of suggestion is rarely put forth in the actual political climate.

    Socialist ideas are what lead to better and more complete education provided in other countries, for free; they are what lead to more humane AND more effective penal systems, they are what lead to universal health benefits. The problem with these systems is that they are hard to get in place. It takes time to make such drastic reform, and the one really bad thing for the USA is that we have a long history (of which a large percentage of citizens are brazenly proud) of being stubborn, selfish, and violent. There are good things about us, but there are some pretty bad ones, too. When the question is, “is this a problem? Are women being oppressed by this?” we’re actually still missing the point. Yes, it’s bad that women are being oppressed, but so are people of color, people of low economic standing, people of alternative sexual preferences, disabled persons. We need to be asking “is anyone being oppressed?” and if the answer is EVER yes, to say “how can we fix it?” instead of “well, I don’t know if that really counts as oppression…”

    I feel like this was, in fact, the original point of Jill’s post– that it’s on us to provide and police our own conscience and societally stand up for what’s right, even in the event that it’s not really beneficial to us directly. And citizens of the USA are encouraged to do the opposite. Instead of reading our right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ as a joint venture where we should all be looking out for each other, we tend to take it to mean we’re owed a shot at personal happiness, and darn the other folk.

    But– yeah. I think socialism is basically a more effective and fair means of accomplishing the goals of a governing system, and in some ways it has more ‘feminine’ qualities because it more highly emphasizes cooperation and nurture than our current patriarchy. The toughest part about it is that we’re not really a democracy or republic at the moment, not by the textbook definition. As Miss S says, our reliance on Capitalism is a zero sum game. As long as money takes precedent over environment, health, equality, etc., we’re not going to get anywhere.

  163. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm |

    And there’s nothing un or antifeminist about that.

    There’s nothing feminist about it, either. Just because your mother’s a feminist doesn’t mean her choice is a feminist one.

    The argument Jill is making, which is that any partnership in which a woman is financially dependent on a man is inherently antifeminist, is misogynistic.

    You’re, as noted, missing the point. But you do seem determined to believe that Jill is saying that your mother is being antifeminist, and moreover you seem impervious to reason.

  164. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm |

    Women, like blacks, workers, must stop blaming ourselves for our “failures.”

    Say! Some women are “blacks”! And some “workers” are “women”! Maybe even black women! Woo-hoo! That quote has always been problematic for me.

    Also: “staying home” to raise one’s own children does not equal “women who ‘work’ don’t raise their own children!” The point is, raising children seems to be something that Wurtzel feels should be assigned to underpaid, exhausted women (who, as eg pointed out, have children of their own, being cared for by someone other than themselves). Or maybe to dads, though they don’t seem to exist in Wurtzel’s world. Remember, the “men who run the world” KNOW that child-rearing isn’t a “job,” so why would they do it?

    I also disagree that the daycare and child care providers who are spending the majority of daylight hours with someone else’s children are not “raising” those children. Of course they are. Anyone who nurtures, cares for, and tends to a child for hours and hours a day is helping to raise those children.

    I still fail to understand the big objection to ANY WOMAN IN THE WORLD ZOMG raising her own children. Which is Wurtzel’s point, even though she just pretends to be ragging on the “1%.” Which is a stupid argument anyway. “They are RICH, so we can HATE THEM, those rich lazy b’s!” So much projection, so little time.

    I also love the expertise and lofty advice coming from people who not only have no children, but also have stated repeatedly how much they don’t want to have them. So maybe you’re not the biggest authorities on the subject of whether it’s work, what it entails, etc.

  165. April
    April June 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

    Jill, where you said

    But maybe it’s time modern “internet feminism” made room for polemics and hard-nosed viewpoints and positioned itself as a serious social movement, instead of focusing on identity and making everyone feel good.

    I completely agree with you. At a certain point, all the feel-good identity garbage does is venture away from the important goal of inclusivity and into a stale and stagnant position of lazy flag-waving, without the real action needed for serious social, political, and economic change.

    But the rest of this analysis, while I see where you’re coming from, is wildly inconsistent with my own feminist ideals, and for reasons having little to do with the highly irritating “I choose my choice” brand of feminism that I think you very rightly criticize.

    All right, so men with stay-at-home wives tend to think lowly of women and treat them with less respect, and deem us less capable than men. How does responding to that information with pleas and demands for SAHMs to get jobs make this situation more feminist? Since when is it our responsibility as women to ensure that our husbands and the fathers of our children is not a misogynist douche? Last time I checked, that’s his responsibility, not mine. I think it’s highly unfair to expect women to go into a workforce they have decided they will not be happy in in order to better guarantee a less sexist father for her children.

    We feminists tend to scoff at the suggestion that an appropriate way to reduce the threat of rape is to wear longer skirts. I see little difference in the logic employed in this scenario and those like it.

    And it’s all for what, exactly? The “greater good”? Just so that her kids won’t think that women are as capable as men at climbing corporate ladders? Sorry, that’s not the kind of life I want to live, and it has negative amounts of things to do with feminism and everything to to with an oppressive capitalist economic structure. One of the biggest reasons that I chose to have an abortion when I was pregnant was because my husband was just like me — a “creative type” who hated every second of the bullshit corporate job he had, and only did it to get by. With our educational backgrounds (some college off and on, no degrees), entry-level bank jobs were the best, and pretty much only, way to make a livable income. Both of us wanted to be stay-at-home parents. I just wasn’t willing to be the one who got stuck with the 18-year-long cubicle sentence, and I knew how miserable he’d be in the same situation, and having fully zero options in such an economy made the decision for me.

    I felt genuinely — and still very much do — that I could be doing something far more valuable to society by being a full-time parent to my potential kid than I could continuing to push papers around a desk in an office tower downtown. The idea that I should have found more value in the cubicle and my potential to get promoted to another cubicle on a higher floor until I retire or die is frankly appalling to me. And what’s with this idea that kids will think that because Mom stays home, all women are only good for parenting? I wouldn’t be showing my kid(s) that women stay home and men go to important things; I would be actively engaging my kid and teaching him or her that all people can do what they want, and educating my kid, and doing all kinds of other things that quite clearly would tell him or her that women are most certainly not incompetent or only made for parenting.

    I second just about everything EG and others said, referring to capitalism and the value of home labor, and the folly in accepting the hierarchical, capitalist paradigm as a legitimate and healthy way to go about business. Sure, it can be selfish to whine about doing what makes you happy at all costs, and failing to compromise personal happiness for the sake of… whatever. The greater good, maybe? The potential opportunities for future women for whom we’re martyring ourselves in careers we didn’t really want because we either prefer full-time parenting or maybe we rejected the ideological basis of the argument that we should go out and be obedient little wage slaves for the rest of our lives.

    No. That’s not the only way we can move forward. We do not have to accept that full-time parenting is invaluable or not worthy of compensation or respect just because our patriarchal, capitalist societal and economic structure deems it so. We need a full paradigm shift, otherwise we’ll never solve these problems. We need to start talking about capitalism again. We need to start talking about full-time parenting and other work — paid or not — done predominantly by women and its value, and what we should demand in return for it. And I have a feeling that as soon as it’s fairly compensated, more men will start doing it, whether it’s full-time parenting of their own children, or daycare and teaching and other low-paid but obviously vital work.

  166. antigone23
    antigone23 June 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm |

    I realize that no feminist is about to force me to go out and get a job (although good luck in this economy), but what deeply offends me about Wurtzel’s article, is the assumption that having a full time job should be a litmus test for feminism. I am a passionate feminist and I have had to endure much enmity throughout my adult life for making feminist choices. I’m not going to say that my decision to stay at home with my children when they are young is advancing the cause of feminism. But I strongly feel that feminism should not be about insulting or bashing women for making the choices they think benefit them the most within the constraints of a shitty system that doesn’t give us many good options to begin with.

    First of all, I’m not totally convinced that more women in the upper echelons of power really would help women, or would fix the broken structure of capitalist workplaces that demand that workers be always willing to put work first, be on call constantly, and put an unlimited amount of unpaid overtime. Because the woman who got to those positions of power, would have to have acceded to the demands of that system. Is it not unthinkable that they would instead internalize the values of that system and reinforce that system? From what I’ve seen, this is generally what happens. As it currently stands, in order to be a top executive or politician on a national scale, or countless other positions of power and influence, one must either 1) not have children at all; 2) have a stay at home spouse or 3) have a full-time, live-in nanny — the latter of which may be easy once you are making 7 figures, but is probably damn difficult when you are starting out. So the women who have basically given up work/life balance to climb the ladder, are they going to try to make things easier for women who don’t want to make those sacrifices? Or are they going to say, “I did it, they can too”? Based on what I’ve seen of human nature, I’m betting a lot are going to go for the latter.

    And by the way, what about all the many women who have no interest in climbing the corporate ladder, or being politicians? Are they also traitors to feminism? Should all feminists be compelled to work in male-dominated professions? Who is going to do all the (devalued) work that women currently do? Someone has to do it, however unimportant and worthless you may think it is.

    I also disagree that if women are working, corporate America will have to change. The majority of women with children ARE working. Corporate America hasn’t changed. The average work week has actually INCREASED since the 1950s when most men had a stay at home wife. That’s the whole fucking point, and that’s why so many of us have opted out of this rat race and said screw it. You think that male workers, if their wives also work, can just say no to their employers’ demands that they work 50-60 hour work weeks? That they be accessible on their smartphones 24/7? That they be willing to drop everything and stay late when a “crisis” happens, even when daycare closes at 6? Not going to happen. Employees simply do not have the bargaining power to do this individually. They will be seen as not committed to the job and there will be consequences. Unless we make some collective, political demands about working hours, overtime, paid leave, etc., nothing is going to change. When both spouses have demanding jobs like that and they have children is either they have to get a nanny, or one of them drops out, or one of them switches to a lower paid, less demanding career. And chances are it’s the woman, for a ton of reasons–lower income, social pressure, personal preference, and how about the fact that she just frigging birthed a kid and needs more than 6 weeks to bond and recuperate? You know, if I lived in Canada and had a year of maternity leave, I might very well have gone back to work. If my job had reasonable hours, that is. Right now I’d prefer to work part time rather than be home full time, but part time childcare is expensive and my husband’s job won’t consistently give him off nights or weekends (this is in addition to his normal 8-5 schedule that he must keep), so he can’t be counted upon either. And no, we aren’t 1% either. Not even close. These are the hours and commitment that are expected for a job that puts you just above the median family income in this country. So I made the best choice I could in the situation. I’m still a feminist, I’m still equal, and I am totally in control of all the finances and yes, there are risks but I’m aware of them and I have them under control. Lots of two income families in this country are totally financially unstable and making terrible financial decisions that will leave them destitute in the case that something bad happens, so let’s just say I’m totally sick of this argument.

  167. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll June 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

    Women, like blacks, workers, must stop blaming ourselves for our “failures.”

    Holy.

    Shit.

  168. Chiara
    Chiara June 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    Capitalism by nature doesn’t promote equality- it’s a zero sum game that relies on exploitation of people and resources. Why feminism remains in bed with capitalism is a mystery to me. Or maybe it’s not.

    Yeah this I’m interested in having discussion about too. I find here in the UK it’s possible to have conversations about capitalism and socialism and how ideas from both can be used together so people can use their talents and make money but also without keeping brothers and sisters down. So the people on the bottom of the money hierarchy aren’t getting fucked over and are still able to live.

    But in my experience when iv brung up these issues with americans they start frothing at the mouth and going apeshit. I mean I know that’s an unfair generalisation but that’s just my experience. I guess it’s because of in the past there was communism which caused the death of millions of people so I can understand why there’s a negative reaction to anything that shares slightly similar ideas to that. But IMO pure capitalism ends up with people getting fucked sometimes too — there should be a good mixture of both capitalism and socialism (NOT communism) in the right proportions. I think countries like sweden and denmark take this too far, but perhaps a country like the netherlands has the correct ratio.

  169. zuzu
    zuzu June 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

    I also disagree that the daycare and child care providers who are spending the majority of daylight hours with someone else’s children are not “raising” those children. Of course they are. Anyone who nurtures, cares for, and tends to a child for hours and hours a day is helping to raise those children.

    And yet it’s only mothers who work outside the home who are told they’re not “raising” their children. Fathers who work outside the home get credit for doing so.

    Also: “staying home” to raise one’s own children does not equal “women who ‘work’ don’t raise their own children!”

    I still fail to understand the big objection to ANY WOMAN IN THE WORLD ZOMG raising her own children.

    That’s quite the turnaround in only a paragraph or two.

    I also love the expertise and lofty advice coming from people who not only have no children, but also have stated repeatedly how much they don’t want to have them. So maybe you’re not the biggest authorities on the subject of whether it’s work, what it entails, etc.

    I might feel this was directed at me if I felt that you’d at all comprehended what was written.

  170. Maia
    Maia June 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

    Hey I feel I should have explained that extract that I was quoting a little more. Because I didn’t give it any context people have rightly had a “that’s fucked” reaction.

    Carol Hanisch wrote the article ‘The Personal is Political’ in 1969. That’s where the phrase came from – although it’s usually used now in a way that means exactly the opposite of what she was saying.

    Obviously some of the ways she expressed her point reads really fucked-up now – because language use and common analysis has developed since then. I would say the point she was trying to make was: “oppressed groups should not be blamed for actions that they take, which supposedly uphold oppression.” But obviously without the context of the whole article it’s hard to get that now.

    Sorry for quoting something without giving it enough context.

  171. Meghan Murphy
    Meghan Murphy June 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm |

    Jill. This is a good post. I think it’s important to point out that many of the points you make here, for example:

    “it’s time modern “internet feminism” made room for polemics and hard-nosed viewpoints and positioned itself as a serious social movement, instead of focusing on identity and making everyone feel good.”

    “But that aside, Wurtzel poked some things that needed to be poked – “I choose my choice” feminism first among them.

    In any comment section on the internet where feminism comes up, someone will pipe up and cry, “But feminism is about CHOICE!” No. Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying “Any choice women make is a feminist one and so we can’t criticize or judge it.” Feminism isn’t about creating non-judgmental happy-rainbow enclaves where women can do whatever they want without criticism. Feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality for all people, regardless of gender. It’s not about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, or treating women like delicate hot-house flowers who can’t be criticized.”

    Have been made over and over again by many feminists online. This is what radical feminists/those who are critical of liberal feminism, in particular insist on pointing out with reference to numerous popular positions in third wave feminism.

    Again, I think the post is great, really… But perhaps consider giving credit where credit is due. You are certainly not the first to make these points/criticisms. It feels as though you are practically quoting verbatim without referencing any of those who have been developing and putting forth these arguments for some time now.

  172. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm |

    There’s nothing feminist about it, either. Just because your mother’s a feminist doesn’t mean her choice is a feminist one.

    You managed to stumble across the point! A choice to work or not work cannot be characterized as inherently feminist or antifeminist, based on the choice that is made and absent context. The reason I brought up my mother is as an example of a woman who chose not to go out and make money, which Jill said is antifeminist. Jill- you said women who don’t work are teaching their kids antifeminist lessons, and you’re subsequent post to the contrary is splitting hairs.

  173. Tracey
    Tracey June 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm |

    I feel like this was, in fact, the original point of Jill’s post– that it’s on us to provide and police our own conscience and societally stand up for what’s right, even in the event that it’s not really beneficial to us directly.

    But how does that equate to entering the workforce? Entering the workforce with the option not to does not necessarily equate to “standing up for what’s right.”

    The same line of reasoning was used to shame women for having sexual relations with men, and continues to be used to shame women today. It is absolutely possible to be a SAHM and to be socially conscious. In the context of this discussion, the argument seems to amount to setting aside your own career desires and doing something that doesn’t make you happy, and likely won’t give much benefit to society, or in the case of the corporate world might actively be detrimental.

    As applied to this conversation, it fails to establish how many jobs are upholding systems of oppression. I fail to see how 50% of Monsanto’s leadership being female would be in the best interests of all women, and that goes for a lot of other companies as well. In addition, there are a lot of rich conservative women who do not see things like on-site daycare (which will likely be staffed largely by lower-income women); free child-care and after-school programs, etc. as being things to fight for across the board, especially as requirements.

    And women not in the workforce can still mentor other young women, being in the workforce is not a requirement for that.

  174. Jadey
    Jadey June 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm |

    For me, feminism is less about taking on characteristics of oppressors, and more about removing systems of oppression. Capitalism by nature doesn’t promote equality- it’s a zero sum game that relies on exploitation of people and resources. Why feminism remains in bed with capitalism is a mystery to me. Or maybe it’s not.

    I completely agree with this, except… on a personal level, I don’t know how to opt out. I would love to see ideas on that. Especially as I enter the workforce and become someone who earns capital, I am seriously looking for meaningful (and feasible) ways to subvert capitalism and I tend to come up pretty empty. Like, when it comes to childcare specifically, does anyone here have suggestions for sustainable socialist models? Are there any that don’t rely on having a well-organized local social network? (I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms, but my biggest stumbling block right now is living in a new and smallish city without a talent for establishing these kinds of resources with a high likelihood of needing to relocate frequently anyway for employment purposes.)

  175. Tamara
    Tamara June 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm |

    April @170 – excellent contribution.

  176. Azalea
    Azalea June 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm |

    I have to wonder, how many people would honestly get up and go to work everyday if money was not a motivating factor because they had more money in th ebank than they’d earn at work?

  177. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm |

    And yet it’s only mothers who work outside the home who are told they’re not “raising” their children. Fathers who work outside the home get credit for doing so.

    You’re still missing the point. It’s not that mothers who work outside the home aren’t raising their children. Of course they are. And so are fathers (maybe! depends on the father, yes?)

    The point is, there is nothing morally wrong with women raising their own children. Why is this hard to understand?

    That’s quite the turnaround in only a paragraph or two.

    Nope. It’s completely consistent. Wurtzel objects to women raising their own children, not to women raising other people’s children. Classist, sexist, and plain old bullshit.

    I might feel this was directed at me if I felt that you’d at all comprehended what was written.

    Yeah, well, I am not responsible for your projections.

  178. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm |

    @April, you are AWESOME.

  179. April
    April June 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm |

    @Athenia (18):

    What irks me is that these wealthy ladies have the money to run for positions in government. They could at the very least do that.

    We have more than enough people in office representing the minuscule “1%” of our population. We don’t need to add more just because they’re women. It’s proven time and time again that just because a politician is a woman, doesn’t mean she represents all women, or that she will even try to make the lives of all women and all people any easier (Bachmann. Palin. Haley. Do I really need to go on?). Women possess just a much capability of being corrupted by wealth and power as men do, and this is demonstrated pretty much constantly. We need actual, real, regular people in office, not more obscenely rich ones. It also makes me really sad to realize just how nonchalantly the fact that you need to have a ton of money to win an election is referred. I mean, elections are essentially paid for, and we’re fighting about whether or not moms are societally obligated to be wage slaves.

  180. Keres
    Keres June 21, 2012 at 12:05 am |

    But when the cost of childcare is greater than or equal to the woman’s paycheck, it stops making financial sense for the family as a unit for her to work for pay, and since, as zuzu notes, women are very likely to make less money than men, that’s how the calculation shakes out in reality.

    Sure, it’s a shared expense. But here’s the bottom line for so many of us (especially those who aren’t working at career type jobs that fulfill us and that bring us personal enjoyment, never mind jobs that have even halfway decent benefits packages) who are in two income households, if that shared expense is either going to equal or exceed the income that we will bring into the home it is terribly demoralizing and discouraging to envision continuing on at that job.

    It’s all well and good to rage at how childcare expenses shouldn’t be considered as something that comes out of the women’s income. I’ll rage right alongside you. But I’m not going to agree that women have some sort of duty as feminists to keep working at jobs that don’t cover their childcare costs, just because.

    So, women don’t get raises? Or get hired for better paying jobs? Or their kids don’t go to school and so the daycare cost decrease? Or their kids don’t get old enough to watch themselves?

    These comments seem to assume that childcare expenses will outstrip a woman’s income forever and ever and ever. That seems unrealistic. Taking a hit in childcare expenses is nothing compared to the one she’ll take if she stays home for a some years and has to go back to work.

  181. Maia
    Maia June 21, 2012 at 2:00 am |

    I agree with everything April has said, and also those who are querying capitalism and the nature of work. Part of the big picture how feminism works stuff that Jill was discussing, is acknowledging that we have different political analysis – and if you accept capitalism as a system – then obviously your feminism is going to be very different than if you don’t (I fall in the don’t category).

    But I one of the big things missing from Jill’s post is an acknowledgement of what the reality is if women in relationships with men (particularly, but not exclusively, ones who work lots of hours) work in paid work and have children. Because what happens is this:

    Men [who have stay-at-home wives] literally have nothing other than work to worry about. They have someone who is raising their kids, cooking them dinner, cleaning the house, maintaining the social calendar, taking the kids to doctor’s appointments and after-school activities, getting the dry-cleaning, doing the laundry, buying groceries and on and on (or, in the case of 1% wives, someone who coordinates a staff to do many of those things). That model enables men to work longer hours and be more productive; women in the workplace cannot compete (yes, stay-at-home dads exist, but there are a few thousand of them in the United States, making them uncommon enough to be insignificant for the purposes of this conversation).

    I have done childcare for families where both parents are in paid work for years – dozens if not over 100 different families (and almost all hetrosexual couples). And never has a man who is a relationship with a woman called me to organise childcare. It doesn’t matter how much work she’s doing and how much work he’s doing – every single time co-ordinating the childcare has been women’s work (same with grocery shopping and so many of the other things listed. And the one’s that weren’t done by the woman in the relationship – were bought – such as cleaning). Just because women are in paid work, doesn’t mean they have to do any less unpaid work, and it really, really doesn’t mean men do more. Read Bitch PhD or Blue milk for extremely personal accounts of this. Even if you really value equality and really fight for it in your relationship (with a man who really values equality and really fights for it) the man in hte relationship will still be much more in the situation Jill describes above when both parents work.

    You can’t opt out of the impossible no-win situations that patriarchy puts women in. This thread has traversed so many structural reasons that result in women deciding that not doing paid work is best for them. One women, or even the maximum number of women who could possibly be persuaded on the basis of this rhetoric, deciding differently, are not going to make any difference to that structure.

    Choices about our lives are neither feminist nor anti-feminist unless we are joining together in struggle to fight for a better world (or oppressing other women).

  182. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 21, 2012 at 2:43 am |

    Otherwise, what you’re asking a significant number of women to do is to sacrifice their own happiness and lives for the hope of making policy shifts to give other people the happiness and lives that they themselves weren’t able to take, and that’s asking a lot.

    QFT

    Anatomically modern humans in their fight against Neanderthal oppression?

    Quoted for hilarity.

    But I have got to come to the defence of ‘the personal is political’ and Carol Hanisch. Zuzu asked if anyone actually read this essay – and the answer is apparently not. Because Carol Hanisch meant exactly the opposite of what you are arguing in this post Jill (and what most people mean when they say ‘the personal is political’). She wasn’t arguing that our personal choices have political implications – but our personal problems need (collective) political solutions.

    Quoted for emphasis!

  183. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 21, 2012 at 3:14 am |

    In any comment section on the internet where feminism comes up, someone will pipe up and cry, “But feminism is about CHOICE!” No. Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying “Any choice women make is a feminist one and so we can’t criticize or judge it.” Feminism isn’t about creating non-judgmental happy-rainbow enclaves where women can do whatever they want without criticism.

    So this part is bothering me and I’ll try to explain why although this may be a bit scattered.

    One of the constraints women constantly face is that we are supposed to be the “caretakers” not just of children and families but of communities. We are asked constantly to sacrifice our own personal happiness, to think of everyone but ourselves as part of the feminine ideal.

    The reason “Choice Feminism” resonates with me is because it centers women and their desires in the conversation.

    Feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality for all people, regardless of gender. It’s not about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, or treating women like delicate hot-house flowers who can’t be criticized.

    I disagree. Feminism(TM) is about achieving equality AND surviving inequality. These things are not mutually exclusive but they do often conflict. Personally, I lean heavily on the side of helping people survive in the world we live in. Of course criticizing women for doing what they need to do to survive an unequal world accomplishes neither. Its seeking an individual solution to a collective problem.

    Re: Dependency & Making the “Right” Choices

    1) We’re all interdependent. The idea that people are independent in a capitalist system is a USian fantasy. Personally, I think we’d all be much better off if we acknowledged that particular fact.

    2) I’m with a bunch of other people in the thread who object to the idea that adopting “working male” value system and model of behavior is how we solve inequality. Seems assbackward to me. I completely reject the idea that the appropriate way to run your life is to work 5 gazillion hours to earn money and power and then promptly die. No thanks. We need to build a better model for equality and I don’t think you can ever get there using law firm partners as a model for a happy and well-balanced life.

  184. unacomplished
    unacomplished June 21, 2012 at 5:10 am |

    I completely reject the idea that the appropriate way to run your life is to work 5 gazillion hours to earn money and power and then promptly die. No thanks.

    Well if your single, the idea of spending all your time at work isn’t so bad… I do ;)

  185. Tracey
    Tracey June 21, 2012 at 5:32 am |

    Also, I still fail to see how this isn’t applied to poor women/families who choose to have children (especially poor women/single mothers) without being patronizing. This line of thinking seems to cast them as being inherently unfeminist, selfish, and anti-social or at worst just ignorant.

    It sets up a class of women who should know better than to put them selves in marginalizing positions (1% well-educated SAHM) and women who can’t be expected to know better.

    Also, one point that bothers me in the original piece and in the post here, is the assumption of a woman being smart enough to get these great educations, but nor smart enough to sign a pre-nup giving them some access to funds should they divorce.

    Its just more than a little annoying to see yet another conversation centered around upper-class white women making decisions that few women, especially poor women, have access too. In addition, it assumes that more women in higher management jobs will “trickle down” to women at the bottom and across society. Yes, of course. Kinda like all the middle and upper class white women who left their kids with nannies so they could spend time at conscious-raising sessions. Of course, while at these sessions the experiences of lower-income women and WOC were not at all honored, which seems to address the notion that high-level white women in the workforce would be any more understanding of most women than similarly positioned men.

    1% SAHM mothers can be, and some are, politically and socially engaged. However, why is it believed that wealthy women who are more than capable of looking down on women who “have more kids than they can afford” or who choose to go into low-paying positions, who aren’t as well-educated formally, etc. In addition, someone still has to care for the children, at least until they are a certain age. And if the idea is for women to reach the same levels as men, that isn’t going to play out as men working less, but rather women working more hours and longer hours. For wealthy parents who can afford it, that means pushing more labor off on after-school programs (which often don’t stay open long enough) and sitters (which I guess would make them job creators).

    “If we were not there in those Pink Collars, loving and educating other women’s children, often times at the detriment of our own babies (low pay, no paid sick leave/vacation, no health insurance in most of these positions) , could those White women be all that they can be? Nope, not at all”

    I fail to see the answer to the “War on Women” being rich white women joining the paid workforce. I fail to more rich white people becoming even more rich and powerful as the answer to anything. The notion that more white women in positions of power and privilege would automatically be better for women than the current structure of mostly white men is seriously a problem, a problem that has plagued feminism for a very long time. And then there are people who wonder why “feminism” is rejected as a label by some? Seriously?

  186. Michael BC
    Michael BC June 21, 2012 at 5:36 am |

    Most of this seems pretty sensible to me. One thing I noticed though was that you say that a person, especially a parent, can be more productive at work if their partner is a full-time housespouse doing all the domestic work for them. And that’s probably true. But if it is true, that’s going to be the most effective division of labour for couples where one partner works in one of these super-competitive fields and the other doesn’t. Criticizing a couple for working as a team because of a possible effect on their children’s and colleagues’ attitudes towards gender roles seems an awful lot to ask. There’s still plenty we can do to foster sensible attitudes in our children and colleagues without making economically damaging choices for ourselves. And if everyone with children did put in about half the labour children demand, I suppose that’d just mean super-competitive fields would be dominated by childless people, which does nobody’s work-life balance any good. It’s all very difficult. I did like most of your article though.

  187. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 5:42 am |

    I’m seconding everything April, Tracey, and Kristen J said. The problem is not with feminism taking too soft a position on domestic labor and the women who do it uncompensated; the problem is with liberal feminism’s disconnection from and abandonment of a radical socialist analysis. Capitalism is inherently patriarchal because of its ultimate dependence on the unpaid labor of women in order to reproduce itself, and blaming women for doing that unpaid labor is blaming an exploited group for its own exploitation.

    Chiara, I certainly agree that Communism (big C) has caused far too much suffering and death to ever be trusted, but that doesn’t really explain why the US goes apeshit at the thought of national health care while the rest of the world understands it to be a normal feature of the modern world–the CP caused, I venture to say, no deaths here in the US. On the other hand, capitalism has certainly caused its share of deaths as well, from women in the East End of London in the nineteenth century with phossy jaw, to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, to the suicides at the smartphone factories in China.

  188. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca June 21, 2012 at 5:57 am |

    April, you rock. I agree with pretty much everything you have to say.

    I thought the original Elizabeth Wurtzel article was absolutely atrocious. Jill’s reframing of it was a lot better and corrected the most offensive parts. . .and I’m glad an interesting conversation has been kicked off.

    I agree with the commenters here who have been raising concerns about the legitimacy of capitalism. My main problem with Jill’s post is that she’s encouraging more women to assimilate into the most destructive parts of capitalistic workforce. In what possible way is society helped by someone choosing to be a corporate executive instead of choosing to stay home with her kids? To me, it’s clear that one of these choices involves doing something inherently necessary and useful (parenting) while the other involves doing something completely unnecessary and destructive (oppressing and exploiting the 99%/working class). Perhaps we need equal representation of women among serial killers and mafia bosses as well?

  189. Natalia
    Natalia June 21, 2012 at 6:06 am |

    My point: It’s not the job that makes it low prestige, it’s who does it.

    THANK YOU.

    Also, no one has brought up biological children specifically, so I will go ahead and do that.

    If you have a biological child, this means that the person who carries, gives birth and/or breastfeeds is likely to develop a very particular bond with said child, especially when the child still quite young. I don’t think this bond is necessarily *stronger* than the bond that, say, a traditional father figure will feel – but it’s certainly very specific, and very influenced by physiological processes.

    It can be damn hard to go to work in the morning when you’re leaving behind a small, helpless creature whom you recently nurtured in the womb. I went back to full-time work six weeks after giving birth, and there were times when I would lock myself in a bathroom stall and weep from anxiety – because I was at work, and my son was with nanny/daddy and WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENED. And it’s not as if I had much choice in the matter either.

    I still wouldn’t have it any other way – I’m a worker bee, I love my job, and in my more settled state, I like that I have the opportunity to miss my child, so that I can come home to him and have joyful reunions. I’m also very lucky that Moscow has comparatively affordable childcare while we are also able to pay our nanny a living wage.

    But I don’t romanticize the workplace either. It is what it is. Sometimes, it’s damn hard. Sometimes, I’m getting ready for work and he’s weeping in daddy’s arms – and I want to punch a wall, because I need to comfort him, to be with him, and I can’t.

    In general, I think that for people living “real” lives (as opposed to Scrooge McDuck-like lives), a number of tough compromises come up the minute they have children. You give up on some stuff, in the end. Men who continue working full-time give up on some stuff too – it’s just that in doing so, they face less scrutiny and criticism.

    Until we place more value on child-rearing across the board, that’s not going to change.

  190. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 6:19 am |

    I’m with a bunch of other people in the thread who object to the idea that adopting “working male” value system and model of behavior is how we solve inequality. Seems assbackward to me. I completely reject the idea that the appropriate way to run your life is to work 5 gazillion hours to earn money and power and then promptly die. No thanks. We need to build a better model for equality and I don’t think you can ever get there using law firm partners as a model for a happy and well-balanced life.

    I think that when put this way you’re going to see Jill and others insisting this isn’t what they mean.

    But then they will still hold onto the idea that it’s so important that women continue to fight their way to the top of corporate America to make it easier for those who come after them. Like it or not, that has been a pretty standard meme in the modern Feminist movement since the 1970’s.

    I think part of that is also the reality that women like Jill and others here all already have jobs they love and enjoy and that compensate them well. Which translates into an inability/refusal to see that so many women don’t have that, and in fact have jobs that make them little money, hold absolutely no prestige, and that they only do because they have no other choice. I’ve said it before here and I’ll keep saying it because I think it bears repeating, Feminism needs to do a whole lot more to bring those women into the conversation and fight for them as well.

  191. thinksnake
    thinksnake June 21, 2012 at 6:19 am |

    I’d just like to say as a person considering changing much of my ‘lifeplan’ (such as it is) in order to train in child care, this whole conversation is very interesting! Definitely not the sort of thing that I get to read in the newspapers where I live.

  192. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 6:40 am |

    I think part of that is also the reality that women like Jill and others here all already have jobs they love and enjoy and that compensate them well. Which translates into an inability/refusal to see that so many women don’t have that, and in fact have jobs that make them little money, hold absolutely no prestige, and that they only do because they have no other choice.

    Quoted for emphasis. And there is an obvious class issue here: it’s easy to extol the virtues of working for pay when you’re doing what you love, you feel it’s worth doing, and you feel that your work is valued and well-compensated. But how many people–even how many middle-class people–are lucky enough to have that? Lots of jobs suck; lots of workers are unappreciated; most of us are underpaid. And then you have a baby, and it undeniably needs care, and labor is undeniably rewarded, sometimes immediately (with a happy baby and/or a smile), and you feel appreciated, and you’re spending time with somebody you love, which is pleasurable for lots of people. And having done both, I would far rather take care of a baby or toddler than file papers and enter data, let alone do some of the jobs less pleasant than that.

    When I have a child, I will not leave my job; first of all, I can’t, because I need the income, but importantly, I don’t want to, because I love my work and I am appreciated it for it by many of my students and colleagues (given my student loans and meds, I am still underpaid). But when my mother had me, she’d been doing this and that to help make ends meet, nothing back-breaking or miserable, but nothing particularly great, either: copy editing, working in a book store, writing encyclopedia articles. She didn’t have any sense that what she was doing was useful or important or appreciated. And motherhood is, as Lauren said, a social trigger that allows women who can afford it to walk away from unsatisfying jobs. And you know what? Good. Fuck those jobs. If we can find a similar trigger for men, we could start to shake things up a bit.

  193. Julia
    Julia June 21, 2012 at 7:46 am |

    Here’s the thing – there is a very interesting article on this page, and yet people are diving into personal attacks, or writing lengthy defenses of their life choices. Maybe if we try to keep a critical distance, even in this personal topic, we can get somewhere.

  194. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 7:54 am |

    there is a very interesting article on this page, and yet people are diving into personal attacks, or writing lengthy defenses of their life choices

    I strongly disagree.

    Jill’s discussion of the Wurtzel article is premised upon using a classist, elitist article as a jumping off point for discussing the bigger picture of why SAHMs are undermining Feminism. Once again, the Wurtzel article is based entirely upon the author’s own personal anecdata of her insular, privileged and wealthy segment of the Manhattan elite. It’s utterly ridiculous to hang your hat upon someone else’s ancdata because it supports your argument, and then say to others, nope, your own anecdata does not a counterpoint make.

    Jill’s own argument falls apart because it still rests upon similar classist and elitist notions of career work and Feminism.

  195. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 7:55 am |

    Here’s the thing – there is a very interesting article on this page, and yet people are diving into personal attacks, or writing lengthy defenses of their life choices. Maybe if we try to keep a critical distance, even in this personal topic, we can get somewhere.

    The personal attacks started when Jill accused women who stay at home of teaching their daughter anti-feminism. It’s not surprising people felt the need to respond forcefully.

    On a basic level, the fact that patriarchal structures push women to do certain things does not mean those things are bad or wrong. We can critique a culture in which women are expected to stay at home- and acknowledge that even many women who believe they ‘freely chose’ to stay at home had their choices shaped by that pressure- without saying that staying at home is inherently wrong, or antifeminist.

    The idea that working is the litmus test for feminist is, in addition to being all kinds of privileged nonsense, stupid. If someone gets more pleasure out of staying home with their kid than their job, if they can figure out how to make it work, more power to them.

  196. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 8:00 am |

    anecdata

    I hope everyone realizes that this word was coined as an intentionally sarcastic rebuttal to people who think the plural of ‘anecdote’ is ‘data.’

  197. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 8:01 am |

    And there is an obvious class issue here: it’s easy to extol the virtues of working for pay when you’re doing what you love, you feel it’s worth doing, and you feel that your work is valued and well-compensated. But how many people–even how many middle-class people–are lucky enough to have that? Lots of jobs suck; lots of workers are unappreciated; most of us are underpaid. And then you have a baby, and it undeniably needs care, and labor is undeniably rewarded, sometimes immediately (with a happy baby and/or a smile), and you feel appreciated, and you’re spending time with somebody you love, which is pleasurable for lots of people. And having done both, I would far rather take care of a baby or toddler than file papers and enter data, let alone do some of the jobs less pleasant than that.

    Exactly! Thanks, this is what I was trying to say, but more eloquent.

  198. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 8:15 am |

    I hope everyone realizes that this word was coined as an intentionally sarcastic rebuttal to people who think the plural of ‘anecdote’ is ‘data.’

    Sure, and I was using sarcasm to point out that “I know better because my own experiences trump yours and I reject your reality because it doesn’t reflect mine” is not really a valid way to go about having a logical and well reasoned discussion/debate.

  199. S.H.
    S.H. June 21, 2012 at 8:19 am |

    Here’s the thing – there is a very interesting article on this page, and yet people are diving into personal attacks, or writing lengthy defenses of their life choices. Maybe if we try to keep a critical distance, even in this personal topic, we can get somewhere.

    Since when are people’s actual life experiences not relevant to a discussion about life choices? this smacks to me of the assholes on the Hill who want to ban contraception but refuse to hear from anyone who actually uses it. Let’s have this discussion led and solely held by people who don’t even have children to begin with and silence those who do? Oh yeah, great setup for a critical discussion.

    But fine, you want critical distance? This is a politically disastrous position to take. We saw what happened with the Rosen/Romney debacle, it blew up in democrats face and it handed a huge gift with a big fat bow on it to the Romney campaign. Shitting on SAHM’s is not going to embolden feminism, it is going to push it farther and farther from the mainstream. Because contrary to the popular belief that feminism is being advanced solely on the internet, there are living breathing people in the field often doing volunteer work in critical areas such as the reproductive rights movement and the battered women’s movement. Those organizations depend heavily on non-paid positions often filled by women who SAH or work only part time, because it is they who have the hours to give.They may not have jobs, they may be SAHMs, and GASP! they may fall into the dreaded 1%, but they are doing some heavy lifting for the cause. So it’s really not the brightest idea to alienate them and shit on their life choices in the name of improving the women’s movement. Ain’t gonna work folks.

  200. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 9:04 am |

    Shitting on SAHM’s is not going to embolden feminism, it is going to push it farther and farther from the mainstream.

    Amen to this.

    Look, so much of the rhetoric surrounding how SAHMs are ruining Feminism are bound up in the already discussed elitism and classism that, even if it isn’t the intended goal, appears to link a woman’s worth as a person and a feminist to her capacity to earn money. Finger wagging at women who may have turned their backs on a capitalist existence that dumps on them and takes them for granted in order to be SAHMs only makes Feminism appear petty and utterly divorced from the reality of how the other 99% live their lives.

    Which is why Wurtzel’s fapping on about her strawSAHM, anti-feminist, Princeton grad who is wasting her education and privilege when she should be setting the corporate and feminist world on fire grates so much. How about instead of insisting that said Princeton grad, as one of the elite, owes it to women and Feminism to go out and work we insist that she do more, real, concrete things to help those who are not in the elite? And ffs, let’s stop dumping on women, especially those women who are already at the bottom, and start leaning on men and the male establishment that continues to perpetuate a system that takes so much from women especially and gives so little in return.

  201. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 9:06 am |

    But do you think the stay-at-home wives of the 1% are really doing much to challenge capitalism or remove systems of oppression? Their at-home labor is exactly what’s propping up the current system.

    I’d like to know what labor the stay-at-home wives in the 1% are doing before I consider. Those families tend to farm their domestic labor out to poorer women. Regardless, I don’t think that if they go into the workforce, they’d exactly be working to spread the wealth and happiness around.

  202. Natalia
    Natalia June 21, 2012 at 9:14 am |

    So this (very long, but very good) piece by Ann-Marie Slaughter is actually pretty timely…

    She’s a mother and a high-flyer, and, well, a lot of what she says rings true. Particularly about the need to redefine the arc of a successful career:

    “The American definition of a successful professional is someone who can climb the ladder the furthest in the shortest time, generally peaking between ages 45 and 55. It is a definition well suited to the mid-20th century, an era when people had kids in their 20s, stayed in one job, retired at 67, and were dead, on average, by age 71.

    It makes far less sense today.”

    Hell yes.

    Also:

    Consider the following proposition: An employer has two equally talented and productive employees. One trains for and runs marathons when he is not working. The other takes care of two children. What assumptions is the employer likely to make about the marathon runner? That he gets up in the dark every day and logs an hour or two running before even coming into the office, or drives himself to get out there even after a long day. That he is ferociously disciplined and willing to push himself through distraction, exhaustion, and days when nothing seems to go right in the service of a goal far in the distance. That he must manage his time exceptionally well to squeeze all of that in.

    Be honest: Do you think the employer makes those same assumptions about the parent?

    You know, I never even thought about it from this perspective before, and I’m a mother who’s definitely been negatively impacted by assumptions people make about mothers in the workplace.

  203. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 9:15 am |

    Sure. But do you think the stay-at-home wives of the 1% are really doing much to challenge capitalism or remove systems of oppression? Their at-home labor is exactly what’s propping up the current system.

    Why do we or should we care what this tiny little group of super-wealthy women do with their lives? Seriously, I don’t see what real good or progress can come from this intellectual exercise. And insisting that they are doing all the rest of us women a disservice by not working seems so utterly silly to me. Especially when Wurtzel herself assumes that they should instead be storming the corporate and political battlements in service to Feminism.

    Because the reality is that it’s highly doubtful that those women would be doing any real good for the other 99% in the process. I’m frankly sick of our capitalist, bootstrappy system here in the U.S. that preaches at us that if we only work harder and keep our nose to the grindstone we too can grapple our way to the top. Because it’s a lie. The 1% are now in the position of jealously guarding the top and can and will do anything they can to keep those on the lower rung at the bottom. Guilting and shitting on SAHMs as if they are somehow to blame for this reality or that if they just went out and worked for a living is just another way to distract from the reality of how our society and capitalist system works.

  204. Miss S
    Miss S June 21, 2012 at 9:19 am |

    We’re all interdependent. The idea that people are independent in a capitalist system is a USian fantasy. Personally, I think we’d all be much better off if we acknowledged that particular fact.

    This so much. Too many Americans seems especially invested in the idea that we are all completely independent of anyone else. It’s a boost to their egos maybe, but it’s untrue. Even if you work and earn a paycheck, you’re still dependent. You depend on your company for a paycheck; you depend on the people who buy your products or services to keep you in business. As someone who works in the service industry, it’s very easy for me to connect the people who come in my job to eat, and the money that I earn.

    This Chiara, is why it’s so hard to get social programs here. People in the US are very invested in the idea of bootstraps, pretending that there is an even playing field, and pretending that all you need to get ahead is hard work. Work here tends to be a larger part of an individual’s identity than you would find in other places.

  205. Miss S
    Miss S June 21, 2012 at 9:31 am |

    Sure. But do you think the stay-at-home wives of the 1% are really doing much to challenge capitalism or remove systems of oppression? Their at-home labor is exactly what’s propping up the current system.

    What makes you think that these women, who benefit enormously from capitalism (at the expense of everyone else) would challenge capitalism in their professional lives? They seem like the least likely candidates. Not all women in power give a shit about the rest of us. There was an article on Jez yesterday about a group of wealthy women protesting health care. These aren’t women I want in office. Too often, their attitude is “I got mine, screw everyone else.”

    It’s like trickle-down economic theory but with social change. And just like with that theory, I don’t buy that it works.

    It doesn’t. That’s because people at the economic food chain aren’t interested in creating jobs, they’re interested in building wealth. (Also, people aren’t job creators. Demand is.)

  206. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |

    And motherhood is, as Lauren said, a social trigger that allows women who can afford it to walk away from unsatisfying jobs. And you know what? Good. Fuck those jobs. If we can find a similar trigger for men, we could start to shake things up a bit.

    Unless a woman is independently wealthy, the only women who are able to say fuck it are the ones who pin all their financial security on another person. There is a power differential there that is inherently dangerous to the individual. And socially, this means that a huge portion of middle-class and upper-class women (ostensibly the women who have the influence to grow the pie for the rest of us) are voluntarily handing away their social power and financial security. Folks have issues with the capitalist system, and the lack of racial and class criticism that’s involved in this, but there must be a system that both protects women’s agency and power that can be

    This is what amblingalong and zuzu are going on about. I would love to quit my job and do something amazing, like curate antique children’s books or become a freelance writer. This will never happen primarily because of my class status and my current status as the family breadwinner. As the person in the house with the majority of the education and earning potential, if I die, or if I leave my husband, he’s fucked. I’m sure he’d like to think that I wouldn’t do that to him, and that we’re always going to be married forever and twoo wuv and all that. But if the research bears out, money will become a problem for us, divorce may be in the cards, and he would be wise to devise an exit plan should he need one. No, it’s not romantic. Yes, it sounds cruel. But marriage on the books is little more than business contract, and by virtue of my income and credit, everything is in my name. If I wanted to fuck him over, it would be all too easy. I agree with the criticisms on the idea of dependency in the US, but at the same time, without any social safety nets, it is what it is.

    What’s interesting is that on the flip side, these tensions are less of a problem with the woman in the marriage is the lesser earner. Her place is, naturally, the home. She only works outside of the home to have something to do with her free time. She only keeps her job so long as she can pay for childcare. And if she doesn’t want to work, that’s fine, it’s her hobby. The husband’s money is the real money, and his work is the serious work that deserves all the gravity and consideration here.

  207. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 9:40 am |

    I said that a mother staying home doesn’t challenge anti-feminist assumptions. I obviously don’t think that any woman who stays home is by definition Not A Feminist. I do think that staying home does reinforce some deeply-held cultural assumptions about gender. And the scientific literature seems to back this up — girls of working mothers are more independent, more likely to work themselves, etc.

    But see how this sticks all the burden on women? After all, by the same token, men working reinforces ‘deeply held cultural assumptions about gender’ but I don’t hear you calling for them to all stop having jobs.

    Women are under no obligation to sacrifice their personal happiness on the alter of ‘challenging anti-feminist assumptions.’

  208. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 9:43 am |

    Folks have issues with the capitalist system, and the lack of racial and class criticism that’s involved in this, but there must be a system that both protects women’s agency and power that can be

    Fail. I was going somewhere with this. The general point is that there has to be another way, or a middle ground between what shit we have now and our ideal lady utopia. People are going to have to work for money, no matter what, and not everybody is always going to have the awesome job. But the goal needs to be better access to education for all, and better access to skills for all, less focus on how to climb to the top or opt out altogether, and figure out a way for more women to be more represented on all levels of employment so we’re not financially hobbled right out of the gate.

    I really hate Linda Hirshman and the capitalist feminist insistence that a woman’s worth is measures by her income. But on the other hand, as long as women and feminists remain afraid to talk about money and how we get it, we’re screwed. We live in a capitalist system. Our well-being has to be more stable than our marital status.

  209. antigone23
    antigone23 June 21, 2012 at 9:44 am |

    Shitting on SAHM’s is not going to embolden feminism, it is going to push it farther and farther from the mainstream. Because contrary to the popular belief that feminism is being advanced solely on the internet, there are living breathing people in the field often doing volunteer work in critical areas such as the reproductive rights movement and the battered women’s movement. Those organizations depend heavily on non-paid positions often filled by women who SAH or work only part time, because it is they who have the hours to give.They may not have jobs, they may be SAHMs, and GASP! they may fall into the dreaded 1%, but they are doing some heavy lifting for the cause. So it’s really not the brightest idea to alienate them and shit on their life choices in the name of improving the women’s movement. Ain’t gonna work folks.

    This is a great point. When I was unemployed several years ago, I did some volunteer work just to get me out of the house while I was looking for work. One of the organizations I volunteered for was Planned Parenthood. Most of the volunteers, and most of the fundraising, came from affluent stay at home or part time working wives. There’s more than one way to support feminist causes, and acting like these women would be doing more good for feminism if they they were sitting in a cubicle all day making money for a corporation is ridiculous.

    And hateful screeds like Wurzel’s really do contribute to the perception of feminism as an impractical fringe movement that many women who believe in equality are loath to identify with.

  210. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 9:45 am |

    Unless a woman is independently wealthy, the only women who are able to say fuck it are the ones who pin all their financial security on another person. There is a power differential there that is inherently dangerous to the individual.

    But- and this is the key point here- if people are willing to accept the risks that come with financial dependancy in exchange for benefits like persuing their dream job, than who the fuck are we to tell them they’re making the wrong choice?

    Taking a job has risks. Not taking a job has risks. Every single choice we make has risks and benefits. The fact that you (and I mean you generally, not Lauren specifically) think the risks of a given arrangement outweigh the benefits is not a good reason to tell other people they must make the same analysis.

  211. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 9:48 am |

    (Sorry for all the awful spelling in the above two posts. I type fast when I’m at work.)

  212. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis June 21, 2012 at 9:48 am |

    Lots of jobs suck; lots of workers are unappreciated; most of us are underpaid. And then you have a baby, and it undeniably needs care, and labor is undeniably rewarded, sometimes immediately (with a happy baby and/or a smile), and you feel appreciated, and you’re spending time with somebody you love, which is pleasurable for lots of people.

    Pleasurable for lots of women. For a variety of reasons, this is not a viable option for most men. Not that life for single mothers is a bed of roses. I’m sure it’s not. But there’s another side to the equation here.

    And motherhood is, as Lauren said, a social trigger that allows women who can afford it to walk away from unsatisfying jobs. And you know what? Good. Fuck those jobs. If we can find a similar trigger for men, we could start to shake things up a bit.

    This relates to what April and others have mentioned. Just trying to get more women into high-power corporate jobs is a losing game. And, the “similar trigger for men” isn’t a big mystery. Again, looking at countries like Sweden, it’s a lot easier there for men to find fulfillment in raising children, and lo-and-behold when men have this option many of them take it.

  213. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 9:52 am |

    Unless a woman is independently wealthy, the only women who are able to say fuck it are the ones who pin all their financial security on another person. There is a power differential there that is inherently dangerous to the individual.

    Nobody has argued otherwise, so I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

    And socially, this means that a huge portion of middle-class and upper-class women (ostensibly the women who have the influence to grow the pie for the rest of us) are voluntarily handing away their social power and financial security.

    What “huge portion”? Who’s talking about a “huge portion”? Doesn’t this very article start out with Jill acknowledging that we’re talking about only the wives of rich men? And she goes on to reiterate that in the comments. Even if we say the top 10% instead of the top 1%, we’re not talking about a huge portion at all. We’re talking about insufferable Wurtzel’s insufferable friends.

  214. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    Pleasurable for lots of women. For a variety of reasons, this is not a viable option for most men.

    The men I know seem to find pleasure in being with their children, but if you say otherwise, I will not argue. It’s not a viable option for most women, either.

  215. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    If I wanted to be trollish-except-not-really, I could point out that high-powered women who belong in the 1% tend not to be terribly interested in feminist values unless they’re actually working in the social service field in some way or the other. You think Indira Nooyi gives a fuck about dismantling patriarchal structures and the capitalist system that brought her to the top of her field? How about Condoleeza Rice? Sarah Palin? Margaret Thatcher? The Queen of motherfucking England?

    Your argument, Jill, rests on the idea that (potentially) high-income WOMEN are setting feminism back. Mine rests on the idea that high-income ANYBODY is uninterested in dismantling patriarchy. Why?

    Because it works for them. And fuck you, they’ve got theirs.

  216. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    Final thing, and it’s just a personal anecdote.

    I was a single mom that really struggled to get through college and get gainful employment. I finally did, at an awful job, which I stayed at way too long because they paid you to sell your soul, and then was finally able to switch to a cushy office job in a sleepy, well-compensated industry. The ol’ boys’ club is alive and well here. Business meetings are conducted on golf courses and shooting ranges. I purse my lips silently at racist and sexist jokes because I know full well that HR is not laying off the entire executive staff because of my inclusive principles.The men in the highest offices (they’re all men) have stay-at-home wives who handle all of their home and children-related needs. There are a group of women in this office who, with *very* few exceptions, are pigeon-holed into a helper status for the duration of their careers, and who are, when they try to move into different or more technical departments, are told that they must meet requirements that are above anything ever required of a male candidate. I know some of it is straight sexism, because I pursed my lips through a conversation with the hiring committee in which they expressed that women are untrustworthy because they might spring sexual assault or harassment charges against a guy if business went bad. Or because they’re just incapable of understanding difficult technical components, or discussing them with men.

    It’s classic glass ceiling business. It’s difficult not to conclude that I will never be promoted in this company because of my gender. I’m lucky to have this job in this economy, but again, as the family earner, my family’s mobility and ability to make ends meet is being artificially limited. I don’t know that having more women in power running the company would make a difference — I suspect there would be less expression of straight sexism in the office. Then again, the more women there are in any industry, the less prestige and pay it commands overall. My only thought is that more women in every industry at all levels is the solution, and that we should encourage women who participate in the capitalist system (all of us) to participate in more meaningful ways than consumption alone.

  217. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    Pleasurable for lots of women. For a variety of reasons, this is not a viable option for most men. Not that life for single mothers is a bed of roses. I’m sure it’s not. But there’s another side to the equation here.

    Good grief.

    Can we not derail about the poor mens and how bad they have it?

    And whether or not it’s pleasurable for you, one man in the internet, does not negate the reality that plenty of other men can and do find caring for their children pleasurable and something they want to do (even fulltime.) The argument that several of us are making here is that you and other men like you must shift your cozy, self-serving paradigm of female inequality so that women don’t have to struggle so much to fight against an unequal playing field.

    So stop whinging about how hard it is for men, because it isn’t as hard as it is for women. And remember that if you were to actually undertake a good faith start at fighting against sexist paradigms at work, in society and at home at least half of the battle for women’s equality would be won much more easily.

  218. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |

    What “huge portion”? Who’s talking about a “huge portion”? Doesn’t this very article start out with Jill acknowledging that we’re talking about only the wives of rich men? And she goes on to reiterate that in the comments. Even if we say the top 10% instead of the top 1%, we’re not talking about a huge portion at all. We’re talking about insufferable Wurtzel’s insufferable friends.

    You’re a master at moving goalposts. Does your back get tired? I was arguing with your assertion that “fuck it” is a great strategy for women in jobs that aren’t personally fulfilling.

  219. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 21, 2012 at 10:09 am |

    But see how this sticks all the burden on women? After all, by the same token, men working reinforces ‘deeply held cultural assumptions about gender’ but I don’t hear you calling for them to all stop having jobs.

    Women are under no obligation to sacrifice their personal happiness on the alter of ‘challenging anti-feminist assumptions.’

    This, this, this. Thank you so much, amblingalong. You’ve been saying what I wanted to in this whole thread, just BETTER.

  220. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 21, 2012 at 10:15 am |

    Even if we say the top 10% instead of the top 1%, we’re not talking about a huge portion at all.

    I also think that it’s key to mention that we’re not talking about even 10%-ers here. Depending on the geographic area, it’s pretty easy to be in the top 10% and still have it make financial sense for a woman to stay home with young children rather than go to work and put the children in daycare. Daycare is really expensive and adds up quickly. And women are more likely to be in low-paying jobs, because, patriarchy. And, of course, once a woman starts taking off time to be a SAHM, she becomes less likely to be in a higher paying position when she has another child, so probably even more likely to stay at home rather than put children in daycare. It’s a rigged game.

    Also, pressuring women to be in male-driven high-stress jobs is just shit. I’m not becoming a science professor, because the tenure race is AWFUL and I want to have children some time in the next 5 years. If I don’t, then I risk my fertility and become one of *gasp* those moms who gives birth into her late 30’s and maybe even early 40’s. Because that just sounds awesome. But hey, maybe I’d have more social capital. Sounds totally worth it to me.

  221. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 10:24 am |

    Does your back get tired? I was arguing with your assertion that “fuck it” is a great strategy for women in jobs that aren’t personally fulfilling.

    I’ve had back problems since I was a kid, thanks for asking.

    I think you misread “fuck those jobs.” It does not mean “everybody should quit those jobs,” because then those people would starve. It does mean “why should women who can walk away from them stay.”

    It’s not a question of it being a great strategy–for most people with tedious jobs, it’s not a feasible strategy, so it doesn’t matter how many women would do it if they could. It’s a question of examining why women who are able to financially stay at home do. And if the job isn’t compelling enough to keep them, that’s a real issue, unless what you expect is for women to sacrifice their own happiness in order to stay in a career they don’t like in order to satisfy some nebulous idea that things will be better with women at all levels of the professions.

    But on an anti-capitalist note, yes, fuck the jobs that make people miserable and don’t compensate them well enough.

  222. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  223. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    If I don’t, then I risk my fertility and become one of *gasp* those moms who gives birth into her late 30′s and maybe even early 40′s. Because that just sounds awesome. But hey, maybe I’d have more social capital. Sounds totally worth it to me.

    OMG, is this another example of the u r doing it rong? Because if so, I has teh fail with my mid/late 30’s baby making via IVF, SAHMing self.

    I need a scorecard over here, people, if I am going to ever have a chance of becoming a successful feminist.

    (Just having some fun, in case my jokiness fails to translate over the internets, Shoshie.)

  224. Athenia
    Athenia June 21, 2012 at 10:40 am |

    We have more than enough people in office representing the minuscule “1%” of our population. We don’t need to add more just because they’re women. It’s proven time and time again that just because a politician is a woman, doesn’t mean she represents all women, or that she will even try to make the lives of all women and all people any easier (Bachmann. Palin. Haley. Do I really need to go on?). Women possess just a much capability of being corrupted by wealth and power as men do, and this is demonstrated pretty much constantly. We need actual, real, regular people in office, not more obscenely rich ones. It also makes me really sad to realize just how nonchalantly the fact that you need to have a ton of money to win an election is referred. I mean, elections are essentially paid for, and we’re fighting about whether or not moms are societally obligated to be wage slaves.

    Oh, I totally agree with you….I was just keeping with the theme and subject of the post.

  225. Thank you for your support | The Stay-at-Home Feminist Mom

    [...] were only two negative comments. One was over on Feministe. Although I disagree with Jill’s agreement with Wurtzel, I thought she made some germane points [...]

  226. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis June 21, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    @225 EG and @225 Lolagirl:

    I hesitated to say what I said because I knew it would likely be seen as “a derail about the poor mens”. My point was not that men don’t find children as a source of pleasure, it’s that being able to have children in the first place, or spend time with children you have — that is, having a source of personal fulfillment other than one’s job — is practically speaking quite difficult for men. That is very relevant to a discussion about gender and work.

  227. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 21, 2012 at 11:17 am |

    Well, this is timely.

    I just read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece, and I think what she has to say about young women who ask her about the work/life balance is particularly important:

    “I look for role models and can’t find any.” She said the women in her firm who had become partners and taken on management positions had made tremendous sacrifices, “many of which they don’t even seem to realize … They take two years off when their kids are young but then work like crazy to get back on track professionally, which means that they see their kids when they are toddlers but not teenagers, or really barely at all.” Her friend nodded, mentioning the top professional women she knew, all of whom essentially relied on round-the-clock nannies. Both were very clear that they did not want that life, but could not figure out how to combine professional success and satisfaction with a real commitment to family.

    Part of Jill’s point in the OP is that women need to be in high powered positions so that they can act as trailblazers for the women coming up behind them, but what happens when the women coming up behind them don’t see them as role models, but as cautionary tales of what can go wrong? That’s the danger, I think, in defining (as Wurtzel does) success as solely economic. Not everyone sees it that way (I certainly don’t) and if we refuse to recognize that there are other, valid definitions of success, it doesn’t matter how many women force themselves to go through the motions for the good of the movement. People aren’t going to follow unless it matches their own definitions of success as well.

  228. sizzle
    sizzle June 21, 2012 at 11:20 am |

    I’m not buying its super difficult for men to spend time with their children. They choose not to. I know personal stories are not everything, but whatever here is mine. My father took care of me for the first few years of my life. That was 29 years ago. He then chose an area of law to practice in that had less prestige and less money than others, but way better hours. When my parents divorced the split custody 50/50. I remember asking him why he had us so much when all the other kids of divorce I knew saw their fathers every other weekend. He said “Because I wanted it.”

    I know that is a single story, but it is what is driving me nuts in this discussion. It Is possible for a father to stay home, to choose his children over a powerful career path, and to not give into gender constructed roles of shared parenting. So why is the default overwhelmingly still only women who make any of these concessions for their families? I agree with criticisms of the capitalist system but we are talking about right Now. And right now women are expected to make all the concessions for their families

  229. fanshawe
    fanshawe June 21, 2012 at 11:29 am |

    My point was not that men don’t find children as a source of pleasure, it’s that being able to have children in the first place, or spend time with children you have — that is, having a source of personal fulfillment other than one’s job — is practically speaking quite difficult for men.

    But to the extent this is true, it is largely the result of endemic discrimination against women. Because of discrimination, women make less money, so it’s less likely that they will be able to support a family as a sole or primary income-earner. Women and men are subject to socialization beginning in childhood that normalizes certain choices, and those choices disproportionately place women in disadvantaged or relatively dependant positions. Etc.

    And, sure, there may be some vague social sanctions against a stay-at-home dads’ “real-man” credentials that women don’t face. But mothers (full-time working, stay-at-home, and everything in between) also face all sort of vague social sanctions, and it’s hard for me to belive that those that men face are “worse” in any meaningful way.

  230. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 21, 2012 at 11:32 am |

    I’m not buying its super difficult for men to spend time with their children. They choose not to.

    This indeed. I was raised fairly equally by my parents (who homeschooled me while both holding down more than one job, fwiw). My dad took care of cleaning, my mom cooked, both taught me, both played with me and read to me and made incredible efforts towards ensuring they spent time with me. And given that my dad was away on business 6 days a month on average that wasn’t easy. No, my mother doesn’t earn a salary and is entirely dependent on my father for income, but she runs a non-profit organisation of some size and works an incredibly demanding schedule. Would she be dead in the water if my dad died tomorrow? Probably – for the 2.5 seconds it would take her to write her resume and/or accept one of the numerous academic positions she’s already been offered over the years.

    My uncle and his wife switch off; he works ten-fifteen days a month elsewhere in the country, but does most of the housework and all the child care when he’s home. She has a high-income job that demands 12 hours a day; he works from home when he’s not away, and also earns a pretty substantial amount, though not as much as she does.

    tl;dr I know, I know, the plural of anecdote is not anecdata, but it is entirely possible to do the shared-parenting thing while having demanding jobs. Men wibbling about how their high-paying / demanding jobs don’t leave them time to spend with their kids get zero sympathy from me. If my dad could homeschool me while holding down a full-time job, I don’t see why an hour a day to kick a football around the park is this impossible dream for high-income men. They don’t give more of a shit about their kid’s emotional support than their next gigantonormous bonus – because emotional support is what wimminz are for, right? – is what it boils down to.

  231. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 11:36 am |

    My point was not that men don’t find children as a source of pleasure, it’s that being able to have children in the first place, or spend time with children you have — that is, having a source of personal fulfillment other than one’s job — is practically speaking quite difficult for men. That is very relevant to a discussion about gender and work.

    And I still disagree.

    The system perpetuates itself because men (at least men like yourself) don’t make it a priority, aren’t willing to fight for better work-life balance, and too often aren’t willing to step it up at home either. Because to do so would tip the boat too much and threaten their positions at the top of the power structures that are so firmly in place here in the U.S.

    Because if you and other men like you did fight harder you would make it whole lot easier for women to gain greater equality across the board. Once our society stops seeing activities that are traditionally with women and the feminine aspects of life, such as child care and household work as solely the domain of women they will no longer be consigned to that lowly domain and will be given greater respect as a whole, and men doing more to change that pov will go a long way towards such a paradigm shift.

  232. zuzu
    zuzu June 21, 2012 at 11:40 am |

    The point is, there is nothing morally wrong with women raising their own children. Why is this hard to understand?

    Who’s saying it is? Other than Wurzel.

    In any event, the 1% still have nannies even if they don’t work outside the home, so they’re not really doing the work of childcare like women who stay home because they can’t afford child care.

  233. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 21, 2012 at 11:57 am |

    I think when it comes to jobs that suck, as a society, we need to re evaluate how people around us and below us in our jobs are treated. There’s a lot of bullying. And don’t give a shit attitude that goes on in some jobs. We also need to re evalute the importance of the types of work being done. Garbage disposal and childcare are oftern spit on as jobs, yet they are vital to sanitationor health or the ability to do pretty much any other job respectively.

    I sometimes think that what drives most of the middle class in the effort to accumulate more wealth or stability financially is the illusion. That these things provide a defence against uncertainty. And wealth will do that, for a short time in matters that relate strictly to financial stabilty or creature comfort.

    As I see it, feminists who are working at the top of their proffession and saying you can have it all under the current system if its just tweaked a bit don’t realize that they are playing a rigged game. Look back at history and you realize fathers once spent more time with their families too. The ability to do that was steadily eroded by the system and now that women have entered the workforce as full particpants (or at least striving to be, if we ever get paid properly) that same established system is grinding down families even faster.

  234. zuzu
    zuzu June 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    Why do we or should we care what this tiny little group of super-wealthy women do with their lives?

    Maybe because their husbands are the ones setting policy, either at the government or the corporate level. In their own lives they see that women, when faced with difficulty balancing work and family, quit their jobs, leaving them free to succeed as success is currently defined. Do you think this makes them more or less likely to challenge the idea of success or institute changes that will allow for greater work/life balance?

    Also — I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss men who’d like to spend more time with their kids. Unless men start challenging the culture which says that women, not men, stay home with the kids, the culture of working father, SAHM on which most companies are built is not going to change. They’ve got a shit-ton of cultural conditioning and corporate culture to overcome as well.

  235. Mary Joan Koch
    Mary Joan Koch June 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

    A feminist and the mother of four feminist daughters, the grandma of 5 young grandkids, I found motherhood and housewifery utterly incompatible.

    Reading so-called feminists denigrating caregiving just as much as corporate capitalism does, horrifies this lifelong feminist.

  236. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

    I hesitated to say what I said because I knew it would likely be seen as “a derail about the poor mens”. My point was not that men don’t find children as a source of pleasure, it’s that being able to have children in the first place, or spend time with children you have — that is, having a source of personal fulfillment other than one’s job — is practically speaking quite difficult for men. That is very relevant to a discussion about gender and work.

    Actually, I strongly agree with this; the distance from their own children is to me one of the strongest arguments for patriarchy hurting men as well as women. It was not clear to me from your first post that this was what you meant.

    zuzu, I don’t know; it seems like inherent in the idea that rich, policy-setting men see their wives quitting jobs and think that’s fine is the assumption that policy-makers and employers deny us the things we need to make lives better because they’re ignorant, they just don’t know how important those things are. I don’t think they’re ignorant; I think they don’t care.

    I also suspect the causality works the other way round; I suspect the super-rich policy-makers seek out women who will subordinate their careers to their husbands’ specifically in order to enable them to maintain the status they have. Remember the big “scandal” over the fact that Howard Dean’s wife opted to stay where she was and continue her work as a doctor rather than give up her practice to follow him around helping his campaign?

  237. zuzu
    zuzu June 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

    EG, I don’t think they’re ignorant. I do think they don’t care. But one reason they don’t care is that it doesn’t affect them, and they don’t see people like themselves doing what their employees want.

  238. Karin
    Karin June 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

    So thats it? Somebody did not like one of my posts (I dont even know which one) and nothing I say gets out of moderation now?

  239. zuzu
    zuzu June 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm |

    Yes, Karin, it’s all a conspiracy to silence you.

    :::eyeroll:::

  240. Mxe354
    Mxe354 June 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    So thats it? Somebody did not like one of my posts (I dont even know which one) and nothing I say gets out of moderation now?

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/06/17/why-is-my-comment-in-moderation/

  241. Andie
    Andie June 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

    Mxe354

    Ahaha, you’re one step ahead of me.

  242. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

    I want to go back to this and this argument that 1%ers are not worthy of feminist consideration.

    We have more than enough people in office representing the minuscule “1%” of our population. We don’t need to add more just because they’re women. It’s proven time and time again that just because a politician is a woman, doesn’t mean she represents all women, or that she will even try to make the lives of all women and all people any easier (Bachmann. Palin. Haley. Do I really need to go on?). Women possess just a much capability of being corrupted by wealth and power as men do, and this is demonstrated pretty much constantly.

    So, these folks are running the show? Like, they are paying for the entire presidential election on both sides, and Republican SuperPACs are literally going to funnel more than a billion dollars into the Romney campaign? And they’re going to do that again and again and again with every Senate, Congressional and major gubernatorial campaign in the country? And right-wing, pro-business ideologies are going to dominate? So, yes, we should care about the 1% and what’s going on in the upper eschalons. And we should care about imparting liberal and feminist values on the 1%, and making sure that women are playing the game, because even if they are corporate scum women do have a liberalizing effect, and they do force politicians to take women’s rights into account, and make room for women’s concerns.

    And really, we’re at a point where feminism has nothing to say about or to the most ambitious and powerful people among us? What is that?

    Do I really care about the individual power of any given 1% woman? No, not really. Do I care about the aggregate, and realize that a very small number of people in this country hold very large proportions of the power? Yeah. We have to get past this liberal taboo of thinking that money is dirty and that moral people don’t squabble for it, so that people that talk basic economic principles and needs aren’t automatically given the side eye and told to check their privilege.

  243. lt
    lt June 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    I think Lauren makes an important point above – it is important to have more women at all levels of all industries in order to cut down on the most overt sexism and hopefully open up models for more hospitable life/work arrangements. But focusing on the most super-visible 1% women as CEOs and so forth doesn’t really get at that. I just realized that we all assume that these 1% housewives would naturally be those job superstars. But marrying or being born rich isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) the main qualification. I want to see women from all backgrounds visibly be recognized, not just as CEOs but as artists, educators, activists, etc.

  244. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

    But focusing on the most super-visible 1% women as CEOs and so forth doesn’t really get at that. I just realized that we all assume that these 1% housewives would naturally be those job superstars. But marrying or being born rich isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) the main qualification. I want to see women from all backgrounds visibly be recognized, not just as CEOs but as artists, educators, activists, etc.

    I don’t think Wurtzel illustrated this very well, but that article that I linked above by Slaughter, also in the Atlantic, does. The point is that as women pull themselves up the ladder, the work-life balance is so overwhelming (in a way that is not overwhelming to men, because there are systems set up to exploit the unpaid labor of women in their favor) that women frequently drop out of the running for the highest spots. The hiring pool is already small, but the pressures exclusive to women in this hiring pool are such that they drop out before they’re able to reach their full potential.

    Really, read the Slaughter essay. It’s pretty eye-opening.

  245. milquetoast
    milquetoast June 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm |

    the assumption that policy-makers and employers deny us the things we need to make lives better because they’re ignorant, they just don’t know how important those things are. I don’t think they’re ignorant; I think they don’t care

    I´m don´t know what you`re missing, EG? We have to watch the freeloaders. Everybody hates handouts and subsidies. Our policy makers had something, something bootstraps and poor great grandfathers who also had bootstraps. Even if our policy makers came from ultra-wealthy families, they still boostrapped the hell out of private school! Women, and especially women of color, don´t have these bootstraps, so it´s really their fault `cause they´re lazy, non-bootstrap having people. Who needs adequate social services? Nobody. You just need some elbow grease (it works the best with the bootstraps).

    I prefer my tax dollars and services (like adequate schooling) to go to the wealthy, since they´ve shown their bootstrappyness and boostrapping is a trickle-down economy.

  246. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists June 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

    Well, this is timely.

    If only this article had been the subject of Jill’s piece, we could have had a productive discussion.

  247. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm |

    We can have productive discussions?

  248. Lydia
    Lydia June 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    @Tracey 179:

    But how does that equate to entering the workforce? Entering the workforce with the option not to does not necessarily equate to “standing up for what’s right.”

    Not quoting your whole comment, but am responding to it. In the context of my own comment, I had explained my own concept of “what’s right” in my previous paragraph (which I have handily included below). This is notably unrelated to the majority of the conversation that’s occurring, and has nothing to do with villefying SAHMs:

    There are good things about us, but there are some pretty bad ones, too. When the question is, “is this a problem? Are women being oppressed by this?” we’re actually still missing the point. Yes, it’s bad that women are being oppressed, but so are people of color, people of low economic standing, people of alternative sexual preferences, disabled persons. We need to be asking “is anyone being oppressed?” and if the answer is EVER yes, to say “how can we fix it?” instead of “well, I don’t know if that really counts as oppression…”

    In the context of my own comment, I am saying that I believe it is important to make it a personal goal to do whatever one can (and maybe more than one thinks one can, since ‘whatever one can’ could lead to an apathetic perspective of ‘oh, I can’t help right now’) to correct social injustice, to work in favor of equality. Thus, ‘what’s right’ in this context is “acknowledging and trying to fix problems when they’re identified”.

    As for entering the workforce with the option not to: Choosing to work when you don’t have to does still put you out there as a potential model for what it’s like when someone of your group(s) is an active member of the workforce. We are talking about the visibility of an example behavior, here. Yes, as a lower-class black woman someone in the workforce is setting an example; but because she is lower-class, fewer people are likely to know about her or reference her. It is not an ideal part of the system, nor one we should consider sacred or inveterate, but people of higher economic standing are more visible examples. For whatever reason, the wealthy (and in the past and other countries than the USA, nobility and royalty) are usually the most visible and talked about persons of any nation. This is historically just the way things have shook out. It’s a rare and special occasion that someone who is actually poor or of lower socio-economic class becomes as famous as those who are wealthy.

    Thus, the suggestion here is that persons of wealth are highly visible, and have the option to set an example. In this particular case, we’re saying that women of wealthy status have the opportunity to publicly make a point of working even though they don’t HAVE to, and hopefully help to dispel the false belief perpetuated by the patriarchy that women are not good, dedicated, or efficient workers. These women are not better or more noble or more desirable champions of this cause than any other woman. They are simply more visible because of their existing wealth.

    I’d also like to address the question of whether the jobs that these women could be pursuing would change in some way with female leadership. While I agree that changing the leadership to be more female-represented guarantees nothing, I do think that having more women in the workplace on every level would greatly benefit all women. (And I know others have said this.) Basically, all of the things we’re talking about are interconnected. More women in the workplace means that women can’t be called a minority as easily; more women in competitive or high-paying jobs means women have representation at high levels. This means something DIRECTLY when we’re talking about lawyers; how comfortable are we going to feel trying to fight for the right to equal pay when the lawyers representing us are men, and the judge is a man, and the jury is men? Doesn’t the lack of a female voice in recent political hearings that have lead to systematic stripping of women’s rights in several states this year illuminate how badly we’re affected by a lack of a woman’s perspective in proceedings that have to do with the legislation of women’s rights? Even women currently in office are being silenced. So, when you have the choice to be an active part of that climate, or to voluntarily remove yourself from the workforce because you’re in the 1% so you don’t NEED to be part of that climate, isn’t choosing to silence yourself…problematic, to say the least?

    Unrelated to Tracey’s comment, I’ve seen increasing vitriol about stay-at-home parents, to the point that the issue is being portrayed in many comments as ‘stay at home moms’ versus ‘working moms’. I object, and hopefully loudly enough that someone might notice, to the suggestion that all women are mothers, that only mothers count as women, or that the responsibility of women to decide whether to be a housewife or not is legitimized by having children or not having children. The implication seems to be that a woman who has children has the right to be a housewife, and a women who does not would be lazy. If we’re defending the right to be a housewife, let’s be straightforward and include all housewives here.

    Thus, take the ‘taking care of kids’ part of this conversation out of the equation. I think those of us here can agree that both women and men in heterosexual relationships with kids should be participating in the raising of the children, whether they are or are not. (I think all parents in any family situation should be involved in the raising of their children. And should be permitted and socially encouraged to do so.)

    What the real conversation here is about is this: “If I choose to be a housewife, am I hurting the feminist position that women are equal and should have equal rights?”

    The question to ask is: “Well, can men choose to be house husbands?”

    The answer is: “No.”

    The labor that is done around the house is not socially valued because, theoretically, if you were single and living alone, you could probably clean your house up enough to keep yourself happy while still working. Maybe you wouldn’t be working full time. In any case, cleaning around the house is something that a person CAN do in conjunction with holding a job. (Nothing about parents here. Remember: Parenting is a separate discussion in the context of this comment.)

    Thus, is it reasonable or fair that men are expected to work and women are expected to stay home in a standard heterosexual relationship? No. Because men don’t have the choice to stay home in the standard model, and women don’t necessarily have the choice to work.

    Is it reasonable or fair that women who might have the option, skills, education and financial backing they need to work in jobs that are difficult to acquire even for men, but are choosing not to because they do not financially require the money since they are married to rich husbands? No. Because these are highly visible people who are actively choosing not to work which, among other things, perpetuates the myth that most women don’t want to work. (It also perpetuates the extremely frustrating myth that women don’t go to college to get degrees, just to find husbands.)

  249. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    Unless a woman is independently wealthy, the only women who are able to say fuck it are the ones who pin all their financial security on another person.

    No, some of us have taken a huge risk (like men do) and started our own small businesses, and hired women who bring their children to work when they are sick, and have flexible schedules, and work from home when they have to.

    That’s feminist, too. And it can be done years after “dropping out” of the work force to do the lazy, fruitless, non-work of tending to (our own) small children. Challenge the male paradigm. What about women in other countries, who scrape together whatever they can to earn a living and take care of kids and maybe grow a farm or make things to sell at market? Micro-loans. Women-to-women networking.

    We live in patriarchy and it sucks, every day. We might as well try to make it suck in a way that at least benefits it. Screw the traditional capitalist way. We can create the model WE want to live with.

  250. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

    “in a way that at least benefits US” I meant to say

  251. Donna L
    Donna L June 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

    I really liked the Slaughter article. (It makes Wurtzel’s look even more embarrassingly shoddy by comparison.) Especially the emphasis on men needing to change what they value, and the hopeful tone that they are.

  252. samanthab
    samanthab June 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    Jadey’s question about models goes to the heart of it, for me. All of us who are struggling to subsist in the unhealthy society that is 2012 late capitalist USA have to make a lot of compromises of our ideals. Just in order to get through every day. I think our work environments are beyond toxic, and while I’m not interested in being a SAHM myself, I can really get why women would want to opt out. None of us are unfeeling robots who can plug along endlessly at the “right” thing.

    Ultimately the problem with judging women for personal choices is that it’s wasted energy. We could and should be finding common ground for attack, i.e. capitalism and feminism cannot co-exist, rather than making women feel like crap for their compromises. I don’t disagree with a lot of Jill’s original post. We should feel free to talk about what’s wrong with a choice, but we also be listening as intently. Maybe you all have fabulous jobs and never compromise your ideals at all. But I know I do, and that I don’t like it . It wouldn’t do jack shit to tell me so; I already work very hard to minimize it.

    And, yeah, I second Jill’s recent comment. I appreciate the very enlightening comments in this thread.

  253. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

    The Slaughter piece is excellent.

  254. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    I can really get why women would want to opt out.

    But raising children isn’t “opting out.” It’s being part of the work force in a different – albeit undervalued and unpaid – capacity.

  255. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists June 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

    We can have productive discussions?

    I don’t know, does producing indignation count?

  256. Alphabet
    Alphabet June 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    @tinfoil hattie

    “But raising children isn’t “opting out.” It’s being part of the work force in a different – albeit undervalued and unpaid – capacity.”

    That was like a slap on the forehead ‘duh’ for me right there. I have long had a problem with the whole “opt-out” conversation (including the fact that it isn’t actually happening in any meaningful way despite what Linda Hirschman insists based on her NYT wedding section anecdotes). But the word itself- that’s the biggest problem! It isn’t opting out! It is doing a different part of the work necessary to keep the country running.

  257. Lauren
    Lauren June 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    I don’t know, does producing indignation count?

    If so, we’re got to figure out a way to monetize it, because we’ve got it in bucketloads.

    See, we’re entrepreneurs!

  258. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm |

    The question to ask is: “Well, can men choose to be house husbands?”

    The answer is: “No.”

    What? Why not? Of course they can, if they are independently wealthy or marry a wealthy woman. They’re conditioned not to, but they certainly can choose to do so if they wish.

  259. Lauren M
    Lauren M June 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

    I have to say, this has been one of the most interesting conversations I’ve read on this site. I don’t essentially agree with the OP, but I love to read and understand POV that don’t necessarily fall in line with what I believe. I have to say the ensuing discussion minus a few personal attacks has been very educating on both sides.

    Something small that hasn’t been brought up that I keep thinking about is Homeschooling which I think is a very viable argument for SAHParenting and also for those questioning what type of ideals and gender roles are going to be taught to subsequent generations. At least with homeschooling, to a certain degree, some of the enforced gender roles and expectations can be limited or delayed while the child is not in a traditional school setting. I also agree whole-heartedly with all those who are championing the rights of those who do underpaid, nonpaid, and undervalued work. This is the main reason that I was interested in feminism in the first place. I do believe there is value, very high value indeed, to work that is commonly thought of as “woman’s work,” and also to work that is done in the home. I also think there should be great value ascribed to all actions that we can take to currently undermine and opt-out of systems that are unhealthy for all but 1%. Personal anecdotes aside, I do believe that self-sustainability in the form of child-care and homeschooling combined with environmental sustainability in the forms of cloth diapering or supplementing food consumption with homegrown and canned when possible helps not only our environmental footprints, but detaches us in greater ways from the rat-race that is holding women down. Redefining our life purposes in ways that aren’t attached to climbing social and economical ladders I think is helpful in rejecting deeply held ideas about what genders should fill what roles and how those roles are subsequently appreciated (or not.)

    And just to point out, I am not advocating any of this position from a strictly “women should stay at home and homeschool their children while the men work” POV. I definitely think that women can and should rise to the highest ranks in their fields and can certainly do so and have a family if they choose. I just also believe that there are other options that are completely different and yet still uphold the same feminist ideas and values. It’s all in how it’s practiced. I think feminism can be expressed through a wide array of life choices that may look completely different, but yet can still advance the same set of ideals. That’s where I cannot get behind shaming women that choose a different path. Perhaps their values regarding work (esp. in a capitalist society) are not in line with yours.

  260. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    Is it reasonable or fair that women who might have the option, skills, education and financial backing they need to work in jobs that are difficult to acquire even for men, but are choosing not to because they do not financially require the money since they are married to rich husbands? No. Because these are highly visible people who are actively choosing not to work which, among other things, perpetuates the myth that most women don’t want to work.

    In other news: women should never ever enjoy baking cookies, or watch soap operas, or cry, because then they’re just perpetuating stereotypes!

    Repeat after me: The responsibility for stopping oppressive stereotyping lies with the people doing the oppressing, not the oppressed.

  261. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    Thus, take the ‘taking care of kids’ part of this conversation out of the equation. I think those of us here can agree that both women and men in heterosexual relationships with kids should be participating in the raising of the children, whether they are or are not. (I think all parents in any family situation should be involved in the raising of their children. And should be permitted and socially encouraged to do so.)

    This is so utterly ludicrous, because it completely misses the point entirely. Furthermore, it is patently insulting to those (women and men alike) who are fulltime caregivers to children, regardless of whether or not they are the parent of those children.

    SAHMs are doing a great deal more than a childfree women who is not working, because they have the work of taking care of a child to do all day long.. I’m not going to get bogged down in the whole it’s the hardest job ever business, but the work involved in taking care of children is hard work that is often very exhausting emotionally and physically. This is the primary reason parents must pay quite dearly to have someone else provide the daytime caregiving to their children.

    FFS, can we get past this nonsense already and stop with the who works harder, WOHP v SAHP, repression Olympics bit?

  262. zuzu
    zuzu June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |

    Something small that hasn’t been brought up that I keep thinking about is Homeschooling which I think is a very viable argument for SAHParenting and also for those questioning what type of ideals and gender roles are going to be taught to subsequent generations. At least with homeschooling, to a certain degree, some of the enforced gender roles and expectations can be limited or delayed while the child is not in a traditional school setting.

    How so, if it is the mother in the traditional caregiver/teacher of young children role?

    It’s not like kids don’t pick up on this stuff only in school.

    1. Lauren M
      Lauren M June 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |

      I said it could be limited or delayed because it is obviously inevitable. I would think that other places children would pick up on this would be from popular culture in the form of television, movies, etc or perhaps from their home environment. So, if they aren’t influenced in school, their tv and movies are limited, and their home environment is pretty gender neutral then yes, I think that their exposure to “men do these actions and they are perceived as worthwhile and good” and “women do these actions and even though we consider them extremely necessary, we don’t give them an actual value and consider the person doing them to be lesser.” would be limited. Point being, I’m wary of any situation where women are encouraged to do what is the typically male role and chastised when they choose to do what is typically the female role.

  263. Lydia
    Lydia June 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    @269 (EG)

    You’re right, I forgot to go back and edit that. I meant to specify, “Yes, but it is frowned upon.” Which was meant to illustrate the fact that the inequality goes both ways. I’m sorry!

    @271 (amblingalong)

    You’re intentionally missing the point! I am not saying that it’s bad to bake cookies, or any of these things. I am saying that it is a bad example to acquire a bunch of highly specific skills that lead to a specific career, and then decide you don’t really feel like doing it after all.

    It could be argued that people get degrees for jobs they decide they don’t really want after all all the time, but not everyone who decides they don’t want to go into the profession they studied for decides to quit the workforce. (I am specifically one such, and I had to get my degree with merit scholarships because of my financial situation. I was extremely lucky to get that degree, I worked my ass off for it, but I was SICK of my field of study by the time I finished and got a job doing something I hadn’t learned to hate, instead). What I’m saying is that to do so and then go to being a housewife as your go-to ‘if I don’t use my degree, I guess I’ll…’ sets a bad example for anyone who actually cares what the 1% is doing. (Which, judging from celebrity news…is at least some people?)

    @272 Lolagirl

    Um…I think you completely missed my point?

    I said: Let’s take childcare out of the equation and just look at this as housewives versus working women, regardless of childcare.

    Childcare is hard, undervalued, and should be the responsibility of both parents or all parents if the family is not your standard heterosexual family. It should be supported at a governmental level and currently is not. But not every housewife is also a mother, SO, let’s talk about just housewives since I think we can all agree that childcare and the people who do it are extremely important things, within this thread of discussion.

    You said: Childcare needs to be valued!

    I don’t see where we disagree? Unless you deny the fact that not all housewives are also mothers?

  264. Lydia
    Lydia June 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm |

    @271 amblingalong

    To be specific, I agree that the oppressors are responsible for fixing the oppression, but I also don’t think that’s an excuse to just give in to the oppressive roles provided until said oppressors decide to stop.

  265. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    How so, if it is the mother in the traditional caregiver/teacher of young children role?

    It’s not like kids don’t pick up on this stuff only in school.

    Zuzu, I can’t speak for everyone – and certainly not for the “religious homeschooling” type people – but I went into a lot of detail on how my parents split childcare in comment #241. I still feel that I was raised in an incredibly progressive and loving household in many ways, though the patterns of unhealthy behaviour from earlier generations persisted, and that my father’s feminism (of the “worked it out myself” kind rather than the academically acquired) was at least as important as my mother’s independence and drive. About the only “traditional” gendered things that happened around the house were that my mom spared my butterfingers dad from cooking, and my dad took care of finances because mom has no head for numbers, and possibly undiagnosed dysgraphia.

    Of course, both of them worked full-time (though my mother is unpaid, as she founded and runs a non-profit organisation for about 18 years now and has repeatedly refused a salary ) so I might not be the sample you’re looking for.

  266. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    @272 Lolagirl

    Um…I think you completely missed my point?

    Apparently.

    Frankly, I think you muddied the waters past the point of comprehensibility by getting into your sidetrack about houswives and the work they do, divorced from any discussion re the work done by SAHPs. This whole debate has nothing to do with houswives or the presumed responsibilities they may have if they take that role on fulltime.

  267. Zac
    Zac June 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    What people decide to do with their children should be a personal choice and for anyone to put someone down for what they decide to do is wrong. You don’t owe anyone in this world anything, except for the children you decide to bring into this Earth. No one owes a movement of any kind their life. You can support things but basically if you are going to argue that anyone should do anything with their children other than what they want (outside of healthy circumstances) you’ve basically lost me completely. Women shouldn’t care more about some other person’s agenda than how their children are raised. Neither should men.

  268. Worthwhile Reads: Feminism + Housewifery

    [...] Feminism + HousewiferyJune 21, 2012 By Libby Anne Leave a CommentWow. When Jill posted her article, Feminism + Housewifery, on Feminste, she knew it would be provocative and controversial. She even ended her post with [...]

  269. Donna L
    Donna L June 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    A piece by Rebecca Traister in Salon, criticizing not so much the Slaughter article itself, but its misleading presentation by The Atlantic as yet another “can women have it all” article:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/06/21/can_modern_women_have_it_all/singleton/

  270. shfree
    shfree June 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

    While it seems that some frown on personal anecdotes, I honestly am at a loss, here, because there has ALWAYS been a ginormous income differential between me and my ex-ish, (not together, still legally married) even before the accidental conception. He worked in academia, with all of its rockin’ benefits, I worked crap food service jobs part time. Naturally, being that I worked a crap food service job, it was really easy for me to quit work, after my daughter was born, because even shitty daycare in Chicago would have been more than I would have made, and why stay in a crap job? I did eventually find employment again after my daughter went to school at the local abortion clinic that I volunteered with after we had moved out of Chicago, but once my ex found this FABULOUS job in the city we both really wanted to move to (we were still together at the time) that nearly doubled his income, it seemed foolish not to take it. Even though I broke up with him less than a year after we moved here, and I’m still just counting on the fact that he won’t suddenly decide to become a complete and utter asshole, because that income difference that we have always had is now that much bigger. As he has had upward mobility, and I have stagnated, not just because I’ve been a SAHM, but because I opted to return to school instead of trying to find a job when I moved here.

    So. I know it technically isn’t supposed to apply to me. Because I’ve always been firmly in the middle class, due to my ex’s income. But, as a person who, outside of two glorious years where she worked at a not for profit abortion clinic part time, and actually got benefits for the first time in her life, has had shit job after shit job, really resents the idea that it is somehow BETTER and more feminist for my daughter to see me work than not work at all. I’ve cried at night because of how shitty my coworkers at one job have treated me. I work in a deli at a grocery store now, and it is fucking demeaning, and I am supposed to be grateful to work there, and I practically have to beg for whatever hours they can give me just to live. Explain to me how being stressed and at my wit’s end because of a fucking job is the best thing for my family, and the best way for me to advance the feminist cause? And again, I KNOW this isn’t supposed to be about me, but technically, my family isn’t struggling.

  271. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm |

    These articles seem based upon a faulty premise: that children, and their care and upbringing, is some sort of nuisance-y anomaly that women have to dispose of, one way or another. But children are reality; they are the rule, not the exception. Our society seems mired in the myth that children are just some weird thing that happens to women, who then have to deal with the “problem” themselves.

    Until we embrace children as fully valuable human beings whose care is worth our collective time and brain power, women will be relegated to “staying home” and taking care of them, or “finding daycare” so they can work for pay. It is not a “women’s problem,” it is our society’s duty to care about and support the rearing of children.

    Does this mean anyone is obligated to have children? Of course not. But it means that, at the very least, one’s obligation is to NOT denigrate people who are trying our damnedest to raise them the best way we know how. Because we live in a horribly sexist society, said denigration too often translates into holding women responsible for our own oppression – as Wurtzel’s article demonstrates quite handily, and as several commenters have stated more eloquently than I have here.

  272. Lydia
    Lydia June 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    This whole debate has nothing to do with houswives or the presumed responsibilities they may have if they take that role on fulltime.

    The title of the article is “Feminism + Housewifery”, not “Feminism + Stay At Home Momery”, so I think it’s completely reasonable to talk about the responsibilities of housewives without letting the conversation be sidetracked with defensive statements about the value of being a stay at home mom.

  273. S.H.
    S.H. June 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm |

    The title of the article is “Feminism + Housewifery”, not “Feminism + Stay At Home Momery”

    You’re absolutely right about that, but the crux of both the article and Jill’s post really focus on SAHM’s as opposed to strictly SAHW’s. I don’t know why there’s such a disconnect between title and content. I actually clicked on the link to Wurtzel’s piece before continuing to read Jill’s post and thought it was headed in a completely different direction (until I saw the big ol’ baby carriage pic after the title) .

  274. EG
    EG June 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm |

    The title of the article is “Feminism + Housewifery”, not “Feminism + Stay At Home Momery”, so I think it’s completely reasonable to talk about the responsibilities of housewives without letting the conversation be sidetracked with defensive statements about the value of being a stay at home mom.

    Well, it’s tagged “stay at home moms,” not “housewives,” so discussion of SAHMs seems pretty on-track to me.

  275. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm |

    To be specific, I agree that the oppressors are responsible for fixing the oppression, but I also don’t think that’s an excuse to just give in to the oppressive roles provided until said oppressors decide to stop.

    Ok, but you’re assuming being a SAHM is de facto an oppressive role and anyone who does it would rather be doing something else. That’s a huge and, in my experience, unfounded assumption.

  276. Tony
    Tony June 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm |

    But I have got to come to the defence of ‘the personal is political’ and Carol Hanisch. Zuzu asked if anyone actually read this essay – and the answer is apparently not. Because Carol Hanisch meant exactly the opposite of what you are arguing in this post Jill (and what most people mean when they say ‘the personal is political’). She wasn’t arguing that our personal choices have political implications – but our personal problems need (collective) political solutions.

    Right. Which I basically said in the post?

    Choosing a career over full time motherhood isn’t a collective political solution, it’s a personal choice that has some tangential collective impacts. A collective political solution would be like getting a bunch of women together and demanding paid maternity leave, subsidized house work/child rearing, and subsidized child care from the US government. In Hanisch’s day, although the thinking was downright medieval by some standards (blacks, women vs. women exclusive?), by other standards it was far superior to the thinking today, because she didn’t think twice about speaking about politics, whereas today, sometimes it seems as if feminists are afraid to talk about it.

  277. Tony
    Tony June 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm |

    That should be “blacks, poor vs. women exclusive?”

  278. Miss S
    Miss S June 22, 2012 at 12:28 am |

    Part of Jill’s point in the OP is that women need to be in high powered positions so that they can act as trailblazers for the women coming up behind them, but what happens when the women coming up behind them don’t see them as role models, but as cautionary tales of what can go wrong? That’s the danger, I think, in defining (as Wurtzel does) success as solely economic.

    Exactly. I’m intelligent, educated, and no amount of money would convince me to work 80 hours a week to hopefully make partner in a law firm. I already have anxiety, I don’t want to have nervous breakdown. Plus, I want time to enjoy life. I want to enjoy my family and friends, and miy kids if I ever have them,

    Repeat after me: The responsibility for stopping oppressive stereotyping lies with the people doing the oppressing, not the oppressed

    Right. But keep in mind that the people who are oppressing us under capitalism don’t want to stop, because they are making money off our oppression.

    A collective political solution would be like getting a bunch of women together and demanding paid maternity leave, subsidized house work/child rearing, and subsidized child care from the US government.

    This is exactly what we need, but the U.S. and the people in power don’t like poor people, and they don’t like women. I don’t know if it’s possible to have universal health care and day care, maternity leave, subsidies for taking care of elderly parents.

  279. Amy k
    Amy k June 22, 2012 at 12:32 am |

    I think the author misses a rather major point. Maybe not all women want the type of success she values. Maybe some us (stay at home moms) see our choices as a measure of success. We choose to have less money, power etc. in hopes that we can not only raise our children ourselves, but have they opportunity to enjoy doing it. We don’t see ourselves as dependent, but part of a partnership. Maybe we’re smarter than men. We can achieve happiness without being on a fortune 500 list.

  280. Lauren M
    Lauren M June 22, 2012 at 1:02 am |

    @tinfoil hattie #281 – exactly
    @macavity – not sure why you linked home-schooling and religion?

  281. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 22, 2012 at 1:25 am |

    @Lauren

    Because there’s a significant subset of the homeschooling community in North America that are doing so in order to maintain niche religious fundamentalist beliefs, which include extremely rigid gender roles and bigoted values. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/ if you want more information. I was raised by much more secular parents who were homeschooling for reasons of location (we were in extreme rural India) and my education was extremely secular – I was the one who sought further religious/spiritual knowledge and culture and I still know more than they do today. I didn’t want the two brands of homeschooling to be conflated.

  282. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 22, 2012 at 6:59 am |

    @tinfoilhattie

    Our society seems mired in the myth that children are just some weird thing that happens to women, who then have to deal with the “problem” themselves.

    Until we embrace children as fully valuable human beings whose care is worth our collective time and brain power, women will be relegated to “staying home” and taking care of them, or “finding daycare” so they can work for pay. It is not a “women’s problem,” it is our society’s duty to care about and support the rearing of children.

    Exactly! The part that keeps grating me in these conversations is how easily people lump taking care of children in with chores and housework, as if children are just one more obstacle to overcome. Children are people, and parents build relationships with those people. When we demean that, we are demeaning the human qualities that go into that kind of caregiving.

  283. EG
    EG June 22, 2012 at 7:09 am |

    I still think the causality is the wrong way round here. I don’t see any reason to think that policy-makers oppose measures that would make our lives easier because their wives stay home so those measures don’t matter to them; it seems far more likely to me that they seek out wives who will stay home. Even Jill says as much when she writes

    I’ve spoken with many of the bright young single men who are on the receiving end of high-level male mentorship. They often express a desire to have kids and a stay-at-home wife, and they ALWAYS couch it in gender-neutral terms — “It’s not that I expect my wife to stay home, it’s that I think one parent needs to stay home with the kids when they’re very young. I don’t want my kids taken care of by strangers.” And when I would say, “Well then why don’t you stay home?” the response was, “Well I would, but at the point when I’m having kids I’m going to be at a crucial point in my career and I can’t just take off a few years, so it’s not about gender, it’s just about the fact that it would be impossible for me.” To which I would say, “Well what if she had a career too, and taking several years off would be damaging to her career?” To which they would say, “Well we would obviously talk about this long before we got married, and I just wouldn’t marry someone who was in that position.

    [Another example, Lydia, of how sidelining discussions of SAHMs in this discussion is disingenuous; it's there in the original]

    If a woman won’t stay at home, they won’t marry her; instead, they’ll marry someone who will. And as we’ve discussed the pressures and incentives that induce some women to stay at home with their kids, they’ll find one who will.

    Similarly, it’s not that the left is afraid of money or thinks money is evil. The causality is the other way round. It’s that people who have money move to the right, because right-wing policies are what ensure that they will keep more of their money.

  284. EG
    EG June 22, 2012 at 7:11 am |

    Our society seems mired in the myth that children are just some weird thing that happens to women, who then have to deal with the “problem” themselves.

    Until we embrace children as fully valuable human beings whose care is worth our collective time and brain power, women will be relegated to “staying home” and taking care of them, or “finding daycare” so they can work for pay. It is not a “women’s problem,” it is our society’s duty to care about and support the rearing of children.

    I could not possibly agree more. Babies and children are not some weird personal aberration. They are necessary to a society that wishes to continue beyond one generation and they are members of that society whose needs matter.

  285. africaturtle
    africaturtle June 22, 2012 at 7:43 am |

    The day the stay at home break down is 50% women and 50% men is the day I’ll consider the argument that women choose staying home because its so fulfilling and worthwhile and totally as much of a job as any other.

    Isn’t there something to be said here about the physical side of actually carrying a baby and having breasts with which to feed this baby? Babies need their mother’s pressence to survive. On a very simplistic level, the same cannot be said for the father.

  286. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 7:46 am |

    Babies need their mother’s pressence to survive.On a very simplistic level, the same cannot be said for the father.

    That is factually incorrect on like six different levels.

  287. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |

    amblingalong, it may not be factually incorrect in countries other than the U.S. – in poorer countries, for example, there is no ready access to handy-dandy baby formula.

  288. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |

    Similarly, it’s not that the left is afraid of money or thinks money is evil. The causality is the other way round. It’s that people who have money move to the right, because right-wing policies are what ensure that they will keep more of their money.

    The left absolutely has a problem with money. Have you ever tried to run a leftist organization that wasn’t 100% volunteer? Or, online, seen a blog totally dissolve, and the blogger melt with apologies, for incorporating ads? It happened on this site a few times. Or seen people feel pressured to apologize for the privilege of having a job that barely pays the bills? Or see here, where you associate wanting money with right-wing greed. The only thing standing between a generation of leftists who feel like money ruins everything is Silicon Valley. Otherwise, the left has very real, long-standing issues rectifying our values with the accumulation of personal wealth, even at modest levels.

  289. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |

    amblingalong, it may not be factually incorrect in countries other than the U.S. – in poorer countries, for example, there is no ready access to handy-dandy baby formula.

    Africaturtle didn’t write “some babies may require their mother’s presence to survive.” Particularly in the context of a conversation about SAHMs/SAHDs, what she said was wrong.

  290. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |

    amblingalong, it may not be factually incorrect in countries other than the U.S. – in poorer countries, for example, there is no ready access to handy-dandy baby formula.

    Africaturtle didn’t write “some babies may require their mother’s presence to survive.” Particularly in the context of a conversation about SAHMs/SAHDs, what she said was wrong.

  291. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 8:57 am |

    Isn’t there something to be said here about the physical side of actually carrying a baby and having breasts with which to feed this baby? Babies need their mother’s presence to survive. On a very simplistic level, the same cannot be said for the father.

    So I guess babies with mothers who didn’t give birth to them and/or don’t breastfeed them don’t survive.

  292. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 22, 2012 at 8:59 am |

    Well, it’s tagged “stay at home moms,” not “housewives,” so discussion of SAHMs seems pretty on-track to me.

    I think this disconnect may be what’s behind part of Wurtzel’s outrage over her wealthy social compatriots being SAHMs. Leaving aside the likelihood that most of those women have nannies on staff, I don’t think Wurtzel has the first clue what is actually involved in providing fulltime childcare, and I can see where she may assume it’s all about mindless housework. That sort of misunderstanding also seems pretty common among people who criticize SAHMs.

    Exactly! The part that keeps grating me in these conversations is how easily people lump taking care of children in with chores and housework, as if children are just one more obstacle to overcome. Children are people, and parents build relationships with those people. When we demean that, we are demeaning the human qualities that go into that kind of caregiving.

    This is really the crux of the issue, isn’t it. Caregivers and SAHPs alike hopefully understand how important the early years of a child’s life are. Caregiving is about so much more than just warehousing kids while their parents are at work, and sadly while our society in the U.S. pays lipservice to this notion it does absolutely nothing to make this a reality.

    I and plenty of other women I know had a hell of a time finding high quality childcare when our kids were born. A high quality, government subsidized childcare system would go a long way to alleviate the stresses that lead a lot of women to opt to become SAHMs. As would extended, paid parental leave and greater work flexibility for workers. Unfortunately, that sort of stuff gets labeled as socialism here in the U.S. and it really is a shame.

  293. EG
    EG June 22, 2012 at 9:00 am |

    Or see here, where you associate wanting money with right-wing greed.

    No. I associate having a great deal of money with supporting right-wing policies that enable you to keep that money. And I think that the stats on political affiliation will bear me out. Just as whiteness is correlated with support of racist policies, and maleness with sexist ones, wealth is correlated with support of ones that bolster and support the power of the wealthy classes. I don’t see what’s so controversial or phobic about this.

    Have you ever tried to run a leftist organization that wasn’t 100% volunteer? Or, online, seen a blog totally dissolve, and the blogger melt with apologies, for incorporating ads? It happened on this site a few times. Or seen people feel pressured to apologize for the privilege of having a job that barely pays the bills?

    The leftist organizations I’ve worked for/with have always had paid employees, but they’ve never had enough to do without either volunteers or lots of employee time spent raising donations–not because they feared or loathed money, but because people with big chunks of money are unwilling to share with leftist organizations. I don’t know about blogs shut down, but no, I haven’t seen a lot of apologizing for the privilege of having jobs–I have seen acknowledging that not everybody has them and that it’s even rarer to like them.

  294. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |

    The leftist organizations I’ve worked for/with have always had paid employees, but they’ve never had enough to do without either volunteers or lots of employee time spent raising donations–not because they feared or loathed money, but because people with big chunks of money are unwilling to share with leftist organizations. I don’t know about blogs shut down, but no, I haven’t seen a lot of apologizing for the privilege of having jobs–I have seen acknowledging that not everybody has them and that it’s even rarer to like them.

    Really? Fine, you have the last word. Even while you’re last words are a fine example of liberal moral conflict with money.

  295. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |

    wealth is correlated with support of [policies] that bolster and support the power of the wealthy classes.

    Except for Jews and African-Americans. As a general rule. Historically and even now.

  296. Esti
    Esti June 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |

    I associate having a great deal of money with supporting right-wing policies that enable you to keep that money. And I think that the stats on political affiliation will bear me out. Just as whiteness is correlated with support of racist policies, and maleness with sexist ones, wealth is correlated with support of ones that bolster and support the power of the wealthy classes. I don’t see what’s so controversial or phobic about this.

    I don’t know if it’s phobic, but it’s not correct. More of the most affluent voters used to identify as Republican, but in recent years that’s dramatically shifted and now a virtually identical number identify with each party: And in the last election, 52% of the rich voted for Obama even though they knew he would raise their taxes.

  297. Esti
    Esti June 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |

    Gah, link fail. The link shows party affiliation, not Obama voters.

  298. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 9:33 am |

    you’re [sic] last words are a fine example of liberal moral conflict with money.

    Just out of curiosity, how exactly did you reach that conclusion? I don’t get it.

  299. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |

    So I guess babies with mothers who didn’t give birth to them and/or don’t breastfeed them don’t survive.

    Of course not. But can we also not diminish the very real impact that pregnancy and childbirth have on a woman’s body? Ditto for the recovery involved in the postpartum period? I think this was the point the OP was getting at, and it’s undeniable that our system here in the U.S. makes it very difficult for women during those experiences. There are so many stumbling blocks put in the way of women, attempts to limit access to birth control, difficulties in accessing quality maternity care, no paid postpartum leave, no concessions to breastfeeding/pumping mothers (either at work or in public in general,) the aforementioned difficulties in obtaining affordable, quality childcare.

    Some of this stuff also extends to men and non-biological parents as well. Parents in general, regardless of how they came into that role, get lots of lip service paid to how important their roles are in their childrens’ lives and to society in general. But it’s all just window dressing.

  300. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    A high quality, government subsidized childcare system would go a long way to alleviate the stresses that lead a lot of women to opt to become SAHMs. As would extended, paid parental leave and greater work flexibility for workers. Unfortunately, that sort of stuff gets labeled as socialism here in the U.S. and it really is a shame.

    This. So much. I don’t have kids, but find good, affordable childcare is something that Mr. Shoshie and I worry a lot about.

  301. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 9:46 am |

    But can we also not diminish the very real impact that pregnancy and childbirth have on a woman’s body?

    That has nothing to do with the post Donna and I were responding to, which was claiming the only way babies could survive was with their mothers breastfeeding them (and that this is why women have a more profound connection to their children/ should stay home more).

  302. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 9:47 am |

    PS- not all mothers have breasts, and not all father don’t.

  303. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 9:49 am |

    you’re [sic] last words are a fine example of liberal moral conflict with money.

    Just out of curiosity, how exactly did you reach that conclusion? I don’t get it.

    Thanks for the [sic]. I apologize for not proofreading a comment on a blog before I submitted it.

    Frankly, I get a whiff of intellectual dishonesty from her series of comments, that she’s more interested in being right than understanding the discussion and what it means. It’s her right to be pedantic, but it’s frustrating when you’re trying to comment in good faith. I think it’s pretty apparent that the left, at least in the United States, has problems talking about and rectifying our values about money with the fact that we live in a capitalist system and what that means when it comes to brick and mortar activism. EG’s comments are distant from the questions I actually asked about money, but the overlay is revealing of a liberal romanticization of being broke, especially when it comes to volunteerist activism and social justice jobs, and the kneejerk assertion that people with money aren’t interested in liberal policies anyway, which is demonstrably not true. It’s truisms like this that deserve a challenge, but clearly I’m not up to it.

    Regarding my comments about blog ads, apologizing for class status, and blogs “dissolving” under the conflict (which was meant to be taken figuratively), if you’ve spent even a little time in the feminist blogosphere, and I know EG has, you’ve witnessed this personally a dozen times. Denying this dynamic seems weird, especially from within the community.

  304. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    That has nothing to do with the post Donna and I were responding to, which was claiming the only way babies could survive was with their mothers breastfeeding them (and that this is why women have a more profound connection to their children/ should stay home more).

    That was the second part of her comment, but you are clearly ignoring the first sentence where she specifically stated:

    “Isn’t there something to be said here about the physical side of actually carrying a baby and having breasts with which to feed this baby?”

    PS- not all mothers have breasts, and not all father don’t.

    Thanks for the snark, but if you actually read my comment you would see the part where I extended my comment beyond cis moms.

  305. samanthab
    samanthab June 22, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    tinfoilhattie, have you never heard of Nestle: http://boycottnestle.blogspot.com/
    Formula is very actively promoted in poorer countries, where its use is much more dangerous due to tainted water supplies, increased need for antibodies for toxic exposure, etc.

  306. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 22, 2012 at 9:56 am |

    Isn’t there something to be said here about the physical side of actually carrying a baby and having breasts with which to feed this baby?

    Apparently the answer to this age old question is a flat out no.

  307. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    rectifying our values about money

    What? Do you mean “reconciling”?

    I still don’t see how you managed to extract all that from EG’s comment.

  308. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 10:06 am |

    I extended my comment beyond cis moms.

    Yes, to men and non-biological parents. How all-inclusive of you!

    Apparently the answer to this age old question is a flat out no.

    Speaking of snark! Nobody said that. You can’t really divorce the statement you quoted from the problematic one that followed it, providing an answer to that “age-old question.”

  309. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 10:07 am |

    What? Do you mean “reconciling”?

    Email me your address and I’ll send you and EG a box of red pens.

  310. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 10:16 am |

    That was the second part of her comment, but you are clearly ignoring the first sentence where she specifically stated:

    “Isn’t there something to be said here about the physical side of actually carrying a baby and having breasts with which to feed this baby?”

    Right. She asked that question, and then she answered it: “Yes, it suggests it makes more sense for women to stay home.” I don’t think anyone is suggesting there is nothing to be said about carrying babies/having breasts; it’s just that the thing that is to be said is not what AfricaTurtle is saying.

    Thanks for the snark, but if you actually read my comment you would see the part where I extended my comment beyond cis moms.

    Yeah, right after you wrote that the only uterus-havers are women:

    But can we also not diminish the very real impact that pregnancy and childbirth have on a woman’s body?

    You jumped into people’s criticism of someone else’s problematic post and are now taking things directed at the original post as criticisms of your totally different argument, which is based largely on a misreading of said OP. Cool it.

  311. yoginimama
    yoginimama June 22, 2012 at 10:17 am |

    1) Affluent “1%” women staying in the work force will not cause their careerist husbands to slow down and wash dishes and become more egalitarian. It will cause them to hire nannies and housekeepers.

    2) A model where one partner works, and one stays at home, is more efficient than a model where both partners work. In cases where there is enough money for one partner to stay home–or, conversely, NOT enough money to pay for child care if both partners work–it is hardly surprising if one partner decides to stay home.

    3) Likewise, as many have said, it is NOT efficient to pay people to do a job/jobs that you could do yourself if you were at home. Especially since many mothers want to take care of their kids themselves.

    4) The way to empower women is not to force them to work, but to change the laws that punish them for not working. Housewives should accumulate Social Security like paid workers, for example.

    5) As a “dependent person” (psychiatrically disabled AND a SAHM), I think that screaming in horror that SAHM-ing makes women dependent is counterproductive. This is especially true in a capitalist economy where so many people are “unnecessary” because the rules of our economy require us to hire as few people as possible (for as little pay as possible). The “dependent” are here to stay, not just because of age and medical conditions, not just because of a desire to stay home with small children, but also because of the way the economy runs, because it wouldn’t be possible to hold wages down if bosses needed workers more than workers needed bosses. We’re all caught up in a situation far bigger and more complicated than our own lives. Those born, sickened, aged, or “chosen” into dependency have a function in this economy and this world. We need advocacy and solidarity from our able SAHM counterparts, not horror and fear.

  312. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |

    Donna, I will readily admit that the way that earlier comment read was problematic. The OP hasn’t come back to clarify further what she meant, and that definitely makes it difficult to clarify what she was getting at.

    Isn’t there something to be said here about the physical side of actually carrying a baby and having breasts with which to feed this baby? Babies need their mother’s presence to survive. On a very simplistic level, the same cannot be said for the father.

    It sounds like the OP is being quite literal in her comment, and it’s true from a literal standpoint that the biological father can not do the gestating of that baby. The whole breastfeeding thing gets into pretty murky waters. As a general matter, I don’t want to run this argument into ground, but I got the impression that the OP had no intention of denigrating or dismissing fathers in general, or non-bio parents, or non-cis parents, etc.

  313. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 10:24 am |

    Email me your address and I’ll send you and EG a box of red pens.

    Since that was the second time in this thread that you used the word “rectifying” in that mysterious way (see comment # 300), I thought perhaps that your usage was intentional, and was giving you a chance to enlighten me.

  314. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |

    I thought perhaps that your usage was intentional, and was giving you a chance to enlighten me.

    Actually, sometimes my ADD gets in the way of perfectly communicating complex thoughts. Or I’m blindingly stupid. You tell me.

  315. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl June 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |

    This whole sidetrack is apparently a whole minefield, I had no idea. I honestly had no intention of offending anyone when I used the language I did.

    That said, amblingalong, are actually suggesting that all comments regarding pregnancy and gestation must clarify the nuances involved in the sexual identification of the person doing so? If so, fine, I’ll ask that we not diminish what happens to a uterus having person during gestation and during the post-partum period. Because it’s monumental, and our society loves to diminish it and treat it like it’s all no big deal, so stop complaining you whiner and get back to work already, we don’t give out free rides to anyone in this country, HDU.

  316. S.H.
    S.H. June 22, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    Sure. But good luck with actually seeing any change if that’s your activism plan.

    I’m not seeing the potential for better results by targeting specific groups within the oppressed. Can’t remember a time that ever worked. It may be politically popular to target the 1% at the moment, but politically and practically it can lead to nothing other than a larger backlash.

  317. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 10:48 am |

    sometimes my ADD gets in the way of perfectly communicating complex thoughts.

    And yet, remarkably, it didn’t get in the way of your perfectly communicating all of the following gratuitous (but undoubtedly complex!) personal insults in what had previously been a relatively civil discussion:

    intellectual dishonesty

    more interested in being right than understanding

    pedantic,

    liberal romanticization

    kneejerk assertion

    Amazing how that works sometimes!

    And, yes, I do generally defend people I like, when they’re not around.

  318. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis June 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |

    But good luck with actually seeing any change if that’s your activism plan.

    That’s right. Because members of the oppressor class probably aren’t going to see themselves as members of the oppressor class. A lot of them are going to see themselves as good guys, except for cynical guys like Paul Ryan.

  319. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    And yet, remarkably, it didn’t get in the way of your perfectly communicating all of the following gratuitous (but undoubtedly complex!) personal insults in what had previously been a relatively civil discussion

    It must be my state school education. Where one of the things we learned is how the concentration on grammar over the ideas that the speaker is attempting to communicate is a complex way of demeaning and silencing the speaker for always making them apologize for how they talk. And it’s arguably classist. It’s more telling of you than it is of me, frankly.

    I should have reserved my thoughts about EG’s rhetoric for myself, and for that I apologize. But I don’t apologize for my thoughts about policy or of the passion I feel that these are the stakes and that we have to be real about the aggregate consequences of our individual choices. Money and the lack thereof, raising children waaaaaay below the poverty line, begging and apologizing for needing it, have been the chorus of my adult life. It’s miserable and depressing. And my personal experience with the way that fellow liberals have viewed this plight — that it’s somehow laudable, or romantic, or morally pure — is fucked up. EG’s denial of this dynamic admittedly touches a nerve.

  320. zuzu
    zuzu June 22, 2012 at 11:16 am |

    gratuitous

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Look, the left definitely has a problem with money. EG walked right into that one by equating wealth with support of right-wing economic policy, which is demonstrably untrue (see link above). Indeed, not only do a hell of a lot of well-to-do and wealthy people support lefty causes and policies, but a lot of the Republicans’ strategy in appealing to low-income white and evangelical voters has been to convince them that they should support policies benefiting the rich because they, too, might one day be rich. See the work of Thomas Frank for examples of this.

    If you haven’t seen left-wing or feminist blogs catching flak for having ads at all, let alone for the content of those ads, then you either haven’t spent much time in the blogosphere, or you haven’t paid much attention. Mind you, there are a lot of complaints about the ads, but few donations, and an awful lot of demands made on bloggers who are in essence volunteers.

    Moreover, the actual liberal media, such as The Nation, or NPR/PBS, depends on well-educated interns who can spend a year or two in a very expensive housing market without pay. Do you think that just anyone can take those jobs? Here’s what Steve Gilliard, who wrote often on this subject, had to say:

    So how many non-white staffers do the magazines of opinions have?

    If you walked around the New Republic with a dead cat, how long could you swing it before you hit a person who was dusky of tone?

    My bet is that your arm would fall off first.

    Yet, their elitist hiring practices have never been seriously questioned. If you got the staffs of the Weekly Standard, NRO, Atlantic, Nation, New Republic and Harpers, how many non-whites who lack an Ivy pedegree would be seen there?

    The media elite in the US has been dedicated to hiring their children and their childrens friends for decades. No one notices or cares about this lack of diversity.

    And one reason that no one notices or cares is that the left will not talk about money. Nor does the right want them to — as evidenced by the fact that as soon as money is brought up, the speaker is ridiculed or shouted down by accusations of starting a class war.

    We’re already in a class war. And yet, we’re so conditioned not to point that out, that we get upset when anyone does.

    To go back to the original post, the point of using the 1% or the 10% for these discussions always gets lost in the rush to prove one’s bona fides by pointing out that not just rich women are SAHMs, and some don’t have a choice: the whole fucking point is that these women are the ones who actually HAVE a choice, and the way they exercise that choice is open for criticism. Someone who doesn’t work because she can’t afford childcare? DOESN’T HAVE A CHOICE, AND IT’S THUS NOT ABOUT HER.

    Then there’s all the butthurt: HOW DARE YOU INSULT AND DEVALUE THE WORK OF SAHMS!!???!! Which is of course the exact tactic that the Romney campaign pulled when Hilary Rosen made her absolutely true, if inartfully stated, observation that Ann Romney really has no idea what women who are struggling economically go through. Suddenly, it all became about attacks on SAHMs, and any chance for a critique of capitalism/privilege was lost. Instead, you had struggling women getting outraged on behalf of a woman who wrote off more than double their annual income on just one of her many dancing horses.

    And then no one was talking about Hilary Rosen’s point, which was that there’s a War on Women.

  321. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 11:19 am |

    I loved this article, Jill! Spot-on about the whole “choice feminism” phenomenon, too; every choice a feminist makes is not a feminist choice. Period. That’s not even a judgy statement, nor applicable only to other people, that’s just reality.

    I’m glad you are (again) challenging the “I choose my choice” thing. It’s not a bad jumping-off point for a lot of women — it’s at least a pretty empowering feeling for the n00b feminist — but it’s an unsophisticated and often plain wrong model for anyone past Feminism 101. And I’m amazed that every sociologist in the world doesn’t bust a gut laughing every time it’s said, too!

    As for SAHM: I respect my (previously) SAH mom immensely, and she is a tough and able lady, but jeezus she did not make the choice to stay home freely. Her work had crap maternity leave, she was making less money than my dad, her engineer-y work environment was hostile to women, her second child had health problems for the first year, and she wanted to breastfeed. All of those factors added up to her “choosing” to stay home. And frankly, now that she’s gone back to work (decades later) she is a much happier person than when she was using her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering to wipe tiny asses all day. /anecdote

  322. Donna L
    Donna L June 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |

    And it’s arguably classist. It’s more telling of you than it is of me, frankly.

    Actually, it was just my responding in kind to someone I thought was being an asshole.

  323. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 11:31 am |

    If a woman won’t stay at home, they won’t marry her; instead, they’ll marry someone who will. And as we’ve discussed the pressures and incentives that induce some women to stay at home with their kids, they’ll find one who will.

    I think there are some genuinely (potentially) progressive guys out there who just plain don’t understand how sexism functions in the workplace, without a wife working outside the home to enlighten them. Anecdote: my dad, who is way more aware of things like “toxic work environment” now that mom’s back in the workforce. He hears about the shit she puts up with and now his eyes are a little more open to it, always.

    Isn’t that how awareness-raising works? It’s not gonna do jackshit for the hardcore sexists, but the casually privileged guys might get their eyes opened a bit by having the women in their lives try to hold down a corporate job.

  324. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 11:33 am |

    Sure. But good luck with actually seeing any change if that’s your activism plan.

    If you really suport the idea that the only properly feminist choice is the one directly in opposition to the patriarchally-expected one, then you are being every bit as restrictive as the patriarchy- in fact, you’re still allowing the patriarchy to determine what choices are appropriate for whom.

    This reminds me of when one of my gay female friends got shit for playing hockey (from other gay friends!) because she was just ‘feeding into stereotypes’ which ended up hurting them. In other words, she shouldnt do something she enjoyed, because the kyriarchy wanted her to enjoy it. Ditto with me and speaking Spanish in public.

    sometimes my ADD gets in the way of perfectly communicating complex thoughts.

    Are you trying to insinuate that criticizing your ideas is a form of ableism?

    It must be my state school education.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

  325. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 11:36 am |

    That said, amblingalong, are actually suggesting that all comments regarding pregnancy and gestation must clarify the nuances involved in the sexual identification of the person doing so?

    Uh, when those comments are erasing the experiences of trans* people, then yes? In general any time you use the terms ‘women’ and ‘people with breasts/uteri’ interchangeably, you’re doing something wrong..

  326. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 11:37 am |

    Does anyone here know about that equation that proves that women are evil? Here: http://shonari.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/proof-girls-evil.jpg It relies on the idea that women are expensive, and money is evil. I feel like liberals buy into that latter idea too much, sometimes, when really the whole thing is silly as hell. But I do feel like it somewhat encapsulates the patriarchy’s view of SAHM; that’s what we’re up against, that thinking, when we say that not having a job means you won’t be taken seriously in this world.

  327. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 11:41 am |

    Are you trying to insinuate that criticizing your ideas is a form of ableism?

    My ideas? No. Go ahead. Criticize my ideas.

    Emphasizing perfect grammar and word choice in lieu of addressing ideas that are otherwise clearly communicated? Yes, it’s a way of demeaning people that has historically targeted the speech of people who don’t perfectly speak the King’s English. Racist, classist, ableist, yes.

    I’m not usually one for defending the jump to ableism in a heated argument, but this is a slippery one for folks interested in social justice.

    Address the ideas, not the grammar.

  328. EG
    EG June 22, 2012 at 11:47 am |

    the overlay is revealing of a liberal romanticization of being broke, especially when it comes to volunteerist activism and social justice jobs, and the kneejerk assertion that people with money aren’t interested in liberal policies anyway, which is demonstrably not true.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting the liberal romanticization of being broke, especially regarding volunteerist activism or social justice jobs. One of the reasons I’m not in a social justice job is because they’re very long hours with very little recompense. Recognizing that this is the situation is not romanticization; it’s reality.

    Donna’s point about Jews and African Americans is heartening; Esti’s about votes for Obama is less so. He campaigned on taxing the rich and is doing so again, but as of yet this policy has not been enacted, and there’s no public option in his health plan (though obviously I support it as it’s better than what we have). There are plenty of reasons to prefer Obama to Romney, but I’m not convinced that progressive economic policies (I should have specified the “economic” part) are in there, particularly as the Democrats have been pushed back to promoting positions that had been previously held by the Republicans years ago. I do not trust Democratic presidents on economic matters, not since Clinton presided over and signed off on the destruction of AFDC.

    Now, I believe you, Lauren, overestimate my participation in any blogosphere. I commented regularly on feministing years ago; I comment regularly here today; a few times a year I check Angry Black Woman. Otherwise I really don’t hang around the internet, as I find these sufficient for my procrastination, and the only time I’ve seen ads brought up is when they seem to specifically counter the message of the blog (lose 10 pounds in 10 days kind of things).

    As for pedantry, that’s a fair cop. I’m pedantic. But I prefer blue pens. Red is hard to see.

  329. Miguel Bloomfontosis
    Miguel Bloomfontosis June 22, 2012 at 11:48 am |

    By the way, I’d like to recommend the film “Polisse”. It’s really good, although the topic may be hugely triggering for some people. (Totally off topic, but we’re in the 300s comment-wise, so what the hell.)

  330. Lauren
    Lauren June 22, 2012 at 11:50 am |

    As for pedantry, that’s a fair cop. I’m pedantic. But I prefer blue pens. Red is hard to see.

    Big fan of blue Pilot pens, here.

  331. EG
    EG June 22, 2012 at 11:51 am |

    In other words, if I were a fan of the “romance” of being broke, I would have taken the community organizing job I was offered when I was young. I didn’t find poverty romantic then and I don’t find it romantic now; I’d like you to explain where my rhetoric implies that I do so I can correct it, or, failing that, I’d like you not to read your hot-button issues into my comments.

  332. zuzu
    zuzu June 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    I’m not sure where you’re getting the liberal romanticization of being broke, especially regarding volunteerist activism or social justice jobs. One of the reasons I’m not in a social justice job is because they’re very long hours with very little recompense. Recognizing that this is the situation is not romanticization; it’s reality.

    And why are these jobs so poorly compensated? Could it be that the work itself is supposed to be the reward?

    The people who can take these jobs are either those who can afford to because they have someone else supporting them (or did not have to take loans out for school), or who are so poor the low wages make little difference to them. Is there really a need for such low wages?

  333. James Sweet
    James Sweet June 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |

    I don’t really have any disagreements, but I just want to mention, I actually kinda wish my wife would get a job (then I wouldn’t worry about money so damn much all the time), but she feels one parent should stay home with the kids, and she wants it to be her. Basically, I totally don’t mind working in an office (whereas if my wife were going to bring in enough money to justify the daycare expenses she’d have to go back to her old career, which is office work, and she has vowed to never work in an office again), while she claims to want to spend as much time as possible with our young kids as they are growing up.

    I don’t feel great about all of this. As you say, “The personal is the political,” after all. But I don’t really see a whole lot I can do about it. She is passionate about raising our kids herself without relying on daycare. I try to balance it by working from home as much as possible so that there is a good balance of the domestic work we take on. But there it is, for whatever it’s worth…

  334. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    I don’t feel great about all of this. As you say, “The personal is the political,” after all. But I don’t really see a whole lot I can do about it. She is passionate about raising our kids herself without relying on daycare. I try to balance it by working from home as much as possible so that there is a good balance of the domestic work we take on.

    I think this is actually a fair place to ask “what about the mens”, here. Certainly having the SAHM model could breed a fair amount of gendered resentment in a marriage, especially when it’s so heavily gendered a model.

    I know that, as a kid with a SAHM, I went through a long period of time where I often resented her on my dad’s behalf because he was the one financially supporting us, while she had a lot more free time on her hands for hobbies (once we were all in school.) It taught me that mom’s are a bit selfish and useless, because they do not contribute as much as an involved dad does — my dad was working full time and parenting every available second.

    Having a full-time SAHM truly can send some toxic messages to one’s children, especially the budding feminist ones. It teaches a model of passivity and reliance on men, no matter how much your words try to counter your actions.

  335. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    (The first part of that should be in blockquotes, obvs.)

  336. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

    @samanthab, as a feminist since 1973, of course I have heard of Nestle. They used to give out free formula until a mother’s milk dried up, and then the mother was stuck with having to buy formula, or letting her babies go hungry. How much extra money do you think poor women in non Western countries have for formula? I stick to my point that it’s not readily available everywhere.

    @amblingalong, poor women in poor countries breastfeeding are not just “some” women, but I’ll concede that the original commenter may have been speaking from a Western-centric viewpoint.

  337. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm |

    How much extra money do you think poor women in non Western countries have for formula? I stick to my point that it’s not readily available everywhere.

    If access to clean water isn’t available everywhere, drinkable formula sure as hell isn’t either. :p

  338. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

    @amblingalong, poor women in poor countries breastfeeding are not just “some” women, but I’ll concede that the original commenter may have been speaking from a Western-centric viewpoint.

    Ok, let’s think about this.

    If you say “babies die if not breast fed,” that is demonstrably untrue, since a subset of babies are not breast fed and do not die.

    So yes, some babies will die if not breast fed. Some is a word which means “a subset of the total amount.” Some women are poor and in poor countries, and some women are not one, or the other, or neither of those things.

    As a result of the above, the original statement was untrue, as has been obvious to literally everyone here, except for you. I can’t believe you are seriously trying to argue this point, which leads me to believe you just are trying to have the last word. No?

  339. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm |

    I stick to my point that it’s not readily available everywhere.

    Christ.

    The fact that “some babies require breast milk to survive” is not enough to prove correct the statement that “babies die if not breast fed by their mothers.”

    This is, pointless, derailing semantic trolling.

  340. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

    Not to mention that breastfeeding doesn’t need to be done by mother, and indeed it was typical practice (among wealthy) to give their newborns to “professional breastfeeding women” (no idea how’s that called in english).

  341. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    Not to mention that breastfeeding doesn’t need to be done by mother, and indeed it was typical practice (among wealthy) to give their newborns to “professional breastfeeding women” (no idea how’s that called in english).

    I believe the term was/is ‘wet nurse.’ Also amazing how babies who are adopted don’t all spontaneously die, isn’t it?

  342. Lyanna
    Lyanna June 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm |

    Everything zuzu has said here is spot-on.

    Tinfoil Hattie: quit your stupid whining about how only housewives raise their children.

    Yes, you did say that. You said that every time you complained about how people on this thread have a problem with women “raising their own children.”

    Some people on this thread have a problem with the housewife model.

    The only way you could think that people on this thread have a problem with women “raising their own children” is if you think that housewifery = “raising your own children.”

    Which is nonsense. And insulting nonsense, to boot.

  343. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

    Cosign Lyanna. zuzu you’ve been fantastic!

  344. Lydia
    Lydia June 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

    @ 333 (Zuzu)

    Yes. This is pretty much what I was trying to say. Thank you for clarifying, I was really unsure how to continue participating in the discussion without conveying this idea.

    @ 336 (Bagelsan)

    I’d like to chime in and say yes to this. (Anecdote: My SO was among a group of male friends of mine who would not acknowledge that I was being discriminated against back in the day, because all of them were offended by the potential that they might be sexist. In the modern day, because we’ve kept talking about it and not just let it drop, he now recognizes and can identify sexist behaviors that, despite being progressive, he and his friends used to (or sadly in some cases still do) practice.)

    I think the toughest part about this challenge– to engage the people who are tacitly supporting the oppression that all minorities face– is that you CANNOT succeed in getting sexist people of any gender to listen to you unless you talk to them in a non-threatening fashion. Even if they’re clearly doing something hurtful to you, they have to personally realize that they’re doing it and it’s hurtful before you can talk about it.

    On a similar note, I do realize the importance of getting men who perpetuate these problems to acknowledge them and be willing to fix them; I just also think that women are entirely capable of being sexist against themselves thanks to a variety of social conditioning factors, and it’s as important to get those women to support women’s rights as it is to get men to support women’s rights. (And people of all genders and races to support rights for people of all genders and races, really.)

    And on a side note…One of the things I particularly agree with about the original article is the assessment that being nice and going to great lengths to support EVERY choice is not helpful to furthering the cause of equal rights for everyone.

    What I want to say is: I would judge, as a consequence of this action, ANY person who chooses to stay at home and not do work, for ANY reason, regardless of gender. I don’t think very highly of certain friends of mine who choose to live at their parents’ house, and work a part-time schedule for their parents (when they feel like it) and are nearly thirty; who choose to rely on their roommates to pay rent because that is easier than getting a job hunt; and who choose to be housewives or husbands, as opposed to getting a new job. None of the people I’m talking about have children, but this problem applies to all of them. They have chosen to rely, financially, on someone else, voluntarily infantilizing themselves and putting their lives into the control of their parents, roommate or romantic partner.

    And I think that, if you have the option to go out and participate in society meaningfully, you should, in whatever way best suits you. These are people whose contributions are literally to stay at home and play video games instead of working, volunteering, or even doing housework. So, in my personal experience, I’d value a stay-at-home-mom’s choice as much more reasonable than a housewife/househusband, because I see childcare as actually doing something with that time.

  345. Lydia
    Lydia June 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm |

    oops, in pending moderation comment, I meant to say “getting a job” or possibly “doing a job hunt”, but not “getting a job hunt.” Sorry!

  346. Links 6/22/12 | Mike the Mad Biologist

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  347. Fayeraylina
    Fayeraylina June 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    As a childfree woman, when I see calls for “more support for parents” and “family-friendly workplaces” I brace myself because I frankly feel like I already do enough to subsidize and accommodate parents.

    I pay a much higher rate in income taxes due to no dependent deductions or tax credits. I will never be among the “47% paying no taxes” households unless my income drops to less than $10K a year. Ditto for state taxes. Those taxes help to fund public assistance to low income parents, most of which public assistance I will not be eligible for no matter how destitute I am because I don’t have children. I also pay property taxes to fund public schools and public accommodations for children that are of no use to me personally. I understand that being a member of a community obliges me to contribute to the public good but I think the tax code takes quite enough from me to benefit children.

    At work I regularly and cheerfully cover for parents who need to leave early or come in late due to kid issues. I take shifts for people who have families on every major holiday. Our company has on-site day care and generous health plans for dependents. The aforementioned are forms of compensation which mean that my co-worker with three kids who is at the same level as me is actually getting thousands more in total annual compensation than I am. Those types of benefits come directly out of salaries, according to economists.

    So I’m paying way more in taxes out of a salary that’s lower than it should be because of parents and yet I’m still not doing enough to help them. Apparently it’s not enough to expect fathers to share more equally in the responsibility of child-rearing so that mothers wouldn’t take such a hit on their career aspirations. What parents, especially middle class and affluent ones, appear to want is a utopia where parenthood is 100% subsidized and workplaces are required to reward people who have spent a good deal of time away from work exactly the same as people who put in full time and effort on the job. It’s fucking absurd.

    And before anyone even starts blathering about Europe and their generous paid parental leave policies, talk to me about that when we have single payer health care and free college and strong unions and labor protections and all the other good things countries in western Europe provide to all their citizens. Also remember that those policies were implemented in response to panic over a “low birthrate”, which is not a problem here. (Low birthrates aren’t ever a problem anywhere but that’s a whole nother topic.)

  348. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm |

    As a result of the above, the original statement was untrue, as has been obvious to literally everyone here, except for you. I can’t believe you are seriously trying to argue this point, which leads me to believe you just are trying to have the last word. No?

    No. That is why I said, “I concede that the original commenter may have been speaking from a Western-centric position.”

    I do not believe we are disagreeing. I believe I did not state my point clearly.

  349. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    Tinfoil Hattie: quit your stupid whining about how only housewives raise their children.

    Yes, you did say that. You said that every time you complained about how people on this thread have a problem with women “raising their own children.”

    That is absolutely not what I said. My point, which I have reiterated several times, is that according to Wurtzel, women who raise their own children are not working, but women who do the exact same tasks/caretaking/raising of other women’s children, for pay, are “working.” That’s just lazy bullshit on her part. “It’s work if you get paid for it.” Riiiight.

    From the original article:

    “Being a mother isn’t a real job – and the men who run the world know it.”

    And here is where the AUTHOR conflates housewives with stay-at-home mothers:

    “To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria.”

    Here’s where she blames women (mothers? housewives? It’s not clear) for men thinking they are stupid:

    “In any case, having forgotten everything but the lotus position, these women are the reason their husbands think all women are dumb, and I don’t blame them.”

    Here, again:

    “Hilary Rosen would not have been so quick to be so super sorry for saying that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life if we weren’t all made more than a wee bit nervous by our own biases, which is that being a mother isn’t really work.”

    Several commenters here have said that raising children, whether or not one is paid to do so, is work. I am one of those commenters, and I stand by my statement whether or not you fling childish insults my way. Again: I am not responsible for other people’s projections, so whatever you’re ascribing to me is your shit.

  350. Fayeraylina
    Fayeraylina June 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

    I’m about 50 comments in and noticing a lot of the talk is veering very close to suggesting that women should be paid to be mothers but none of you will just come out and admit that’s what you want. Where will the money come from?

  351. Fayeraylina
    Fayeraylina June 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

    We give lip service to motherhood being the most important job ever, but do almost nothing to support mothers.

    Bullshit. Low income mothers get WIC, food stamps, free/reduced school lunches, EITC, housing assistance, Medicaid, free college tuition, and host of other public assistance that poor women who aren’t mothers don’t get. Does it mean they are living lavish lives and are only in it for “the check”? Of course not, but the point is it’s not only mothers who are getting screwed out of the gains in productivity by the 1% crowd. Everyone is. What we need is a massive resurgence of the labor movement and redistribution of the assets that the rich have STOLEN from workers. Everyone should be getting much higher wages, not just more subsidies.

  352. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm |

    I don’t think anyone says that being a parent isn’t work.

    Except for Wurtzel, and isn’t that what this post is about? The article she wrote?

  353. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

    I also pay property taxes to fund public schools and public accommodations for children that are of no use to me personally.

    But we all have a stake in how the next generation is raised, and education and community services for children are an integral part their upbringing. Because children grow up to be adults who (it is to be hoped) provide services and products that we who are adults now will (continue to) need as we age.

  354. Can Women Have It All? | Care2 Causes

    [...] been reading a lot of conversations lately about how choices women make are not always feminist choices. I’ve also been told on occasion that it isn’t very “feminist” of me to [...]

  355. valentifan69
    valentifan69 June 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    most privileged women in the world, who have (or could have) enormous economic, political and social power…. So politically, what does it mean when those women choose to be financially dependent on their husbands and stay home raising kids? It means immediate financial insecurity for those women…

    That’s nonsense. In ordinary families a SAHM would be insecure. But were are talking about the 1%, and you have to have multimillion dollar net worth to get in that group. These people are very financially secure.

    If you left a relationship you’d certainly take enough capital with you to be able to live a very comfortable life by any reasonable standard, whether you work or not. You certainly wouldn’t have to worry about things which effect the majority of working stiffs – like paying the rent next month. Yes, you might not be able to continue with an incredibly privileged lifestyle you are acustomed to, but that’s not financial insecurity.

  356. unacomplished
    unacomplished June 22, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

    But we all have a stake in how the next generation is raised, and education and community services for children are an integral part their upbringing.

    That only seems true for parents or close family of people with children. I honestly am pretty sure if everybody under the age of 18 died tomorrow I would be mostly unaffected except the collage girl who works at the sandwich place by my house would probably be replaced.

  357. zuzu
    zuzu June 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

    I will never be among the “47% paying no taxes” households

    Possibly because those households simply don’t exist.

    Everyone pays taxes. EVERYONE. Even if you’re homeless and make your living panhandling and collecting bottles, you’re going to wind up paying taxes on something you purchase (’cause what else are you panhandling and returning bottles for but to buy stuff with the proceeds?).

    Just because someone doesn’t have to pay federal or state income taxes doesn’t mean they don’t pay SSI, UI, Medicare, sales tax, sin tax, taxes on utilities, parks fees, property taxes, school fees, license fees, registration fees, parking tickets, and on and on and on.

    Rather than griping about low-income people who get a break on income taxes when a disproportionate amount of their income goes to sales tax and property tax (which, yes, renters pay as part of their rent), maybe you should worry about a company like GE, which generated $14.2 billion in profits in 2010 yet paid no income taxes.

  358. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 22, 2012 at 7:52 pm |

    @Fayeraylina,

    No. Just no. From one child free woman to another you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. Children are people deserve the things they need to thrive. And we all should share in the cost of caring for those children. Its not about what you get out of it, its about sharing the resources of our society with all its members.

    Parents, in general, spend far more in time, energy and actual dollars than child free people. Those “tax breaks” and corporate subsidized child care are about redistributing some of the costs of caring for children.

    And give me a break about how much better economically parents do than the child free. I have so much more disposable income than my salary peers that its somewhat ridiculous. I mean seriously, the $12k in free childcare and tax deductions barely even begin to cover the food, clothing, health care, education expenses, etc. that children need.

  359. Sharing the love « The Lady Garden
    Sharing the love « The Lady Garden June 22, 2012 at 11:23 pm |

    [...] wonderful Jill on Choice, and having it. …social change has been actively impeded when it comes to gender equality, [...]

  360. The real reason why you should be careful in your discussions about mothers « blue milk

    [...] these posts at Feministe on stay-at-home mothers, and then this one on the ‘choice’ to be mothers, and then this one on birth activist [...]

  361. EG
    EG June 23, 2012 at 5:47 am |

    I honestly am pretty sure if everybody under the age of 18 died tomorrow I would be mostly unaffected except the collage girl who works at the sandwich place by my house would probably be replaced.

    Sure. And how about when you turn 50? 60? 70? 80? Do you want doctors around then to help you out when you get sick? Busdrivers to get you places should you be unable to drive? Cooks and waitstaff? Electricians? Plumbers? Baseball players–or you can fill in whatever sports/arts you like better? IT staff? A functioning society?

    Then you do have a vested interest in seeing that children are raised well. Congratulations, you’re part of a society. So you pay taxes that fund schools. We all pay taxes that go to things that do not benefit us immediately and directly. My taxes go to buslines that I never, ever use and probably never will, as well as a tramline. They also go to hospital wings I will probably never ever use, as certain conditions just aren’t in my family. That’s what it means to live in a civil society.

    I don’t think anyone says that being a parent isn’t work. But it’s not a job. I mean, it’s true of a lot of things that when you do them it’s a part of life, but if you want someone else to do them then you pay that person to do the job. See, e.g., cleaning your house, doing your laundry, cooking your dinner, tending your garden, styling your hair, doing your make-up, etc etc etc.

    That’s true, Jill, but for most of those things, the only person who benefits from them is me. So who cares if my house is neat or not, or I take good care of my hair (well, we know the burden on women to look “nice,” but you know what I mean)? But raising children and keeping house for somebody else benefits the children and the men of the household as well. That work is of financial value to an individual (the man) and to society (producing the next generation), and with respect to the latter, has to get done (unlike my hair, which, as important as I find it, civilization could probably stagger along without my efforts toward maintaining).

    And why are these jobs so poorly compensated? Could it be that the work itself is supposed to be the reward?

    Personally, I think that kind of rhetoric has evolved–has had to evolve–because of the institutions’ inability to provide any other kind of reward. And so the jobs attract people for whom that is true. And who, as you note, can afford to take the small bit of remuneration they offer because of parental support, which is one of the other reasons I’m not in that field.

  362. EG
    EG June 23, 2012 at 5:55 am |

    I honestly am pretty sure if everybody under the age of 18 died tomorrow I would be mostly unaffected except the collage girl who works at the sandwich place by my house would probably be replaced.

    Also, you know what else about this rhetoric? It’s obnoxious. How about this? I have one remaining grandparent. Once he dies, I’m pretty sure that I would be almost completely unaffected if everyone over 70 died. So when he dies, can I start whining about my taxes going to Medicare and Social Security?

  363. 'Having It All' Was Never the Point: On the Atlantic's Cover Story - Forbes

    [...] She counters it with an equally bogus vision of what feminism is: that we validate whatever paths women choose as feminist choices because women make them. This isn’t feminism, because it does nothing to advance the lot of women overall. [...]

  364. Lyanna
    Lyanna June 23, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Nonsense, tinfoil hattie. Wurtzel says parenting is work, but not a job.

    And she’s right. If parenting were a job, let along a “full-time job,” then neither one of my parents raised me because they both worked long hours. Which is crap.

  365. S.H.
    S.H. June 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm |

    from the article:

    Hilary Rosen would not have been so quick to be so super sorry for saying that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life if we weren’t all made more than a wee bit nervous by our own biases, which is that being a mother isn’t really work.

    and from Jill’s post:

    Choosing not to work when one is highly-educated and highly-skilled also has consequences for other women.

    and of course Rosen:

    Ann Romney never worked a day in her life.

    Seems like lots of people are playing semantics here, but are easily getting tripped up by their own words.

  366. Allison
    Allison June 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

    “That only seems true for parents or close family of people with children. ”

    Heh – erm, not exactly. There are seriously reams of economic papers and articles out there proving exactly the opposite – that we childfree people are the real freeloaders, benefiting massively from the sacrifices of parents. Or at least, we will be when we get older. Child tax credits and the like don’t even begin to make up the difference. Not to mention that every current adult was once a child and reaped the benefits of things like public education, child tax credits, maternity leave, etc., so it’s a little sketchy to try to kick the ladder down now.

  367. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    Once he dies, I’m pretty sure that I would be almost completely unaffected if everyone over 70 died. So when he dies, can I start whining about my taxes going to Medicare and Social Security?

    This is still ageist, obviously, but still also a way more valid point! If we spent the amount of money that we do on the last 3 months of life on well-baby care, we’d have some pretty fucking healthy babies. If we’re gonna whinge about a whole group of people, make it old people. ;p

  368. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

    Jill:

    I don’t think anyone says that being a parent isn’t work.

    tinfoil hattie:

    Except for Wurtzel, and isn’t that what this post is about? The article she wrote?

    Lyanna:

    Nonsense, tinfoil hattie. Wurtzel says parenting is work, but not a job.

    Here’s a direct quote from Wurtzel’s article:

    Hilary Rosen would not have been so quick to be so super sorry for saying that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life if we weren’t all made more than a wee bit nervous by our own biases, which is that being a mother isn’t really work.

    She goes on to talk about how something is a “job” when you get paid for it, but she very clearly and very specifically devalues the actual labor that goes into parenting. If you were inspired by the Wurtzel article and want to discuss some of the (valid, in my opinion) issues that it raises, fine. But don’t tell the parents who are very rightfully insulted by her demeaning and dismissive attitude that we are reading something she didn’t say. She said it, and it she said it very straightforward.

  369. Allison
    Allison June 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

    I share the frustration with I Choose My Choice feminism, but does that mean we have to go to the opposite extreme and embrace “hard-nosed polemics,” when they are also soft-headed, utterly simplistic polemics? Elizabeth Wurtzel is a provocateur, but then, so is Rush Limbaugh. And I’ve always found her a sloppy thinker with a wide misogynist streak. Though to be fair my impression of her was initially formed by reading Bitch, which is a bizarre polemic against everyone from Mary Jo Buttafuoco (should have died!!) to Hillary Clinton (will never amount to ANYTHING, and certainly not Senator or Secretary of State) – and man, that one has to be embarrassing now. I think of her as the exemplar of Men Treat Women Badly Because We Suck So Much feminism. I think I prefer the Choose My Choicers.

    I don’t even trust her about the tiny, narrow slice of the female population she claims to be writing about; i.e., 1% women in her social circle. I don’t believe her that these women never do a thing around the house, and only stay home so they can drink lattes and get facials all day. I don’t believe her that their husbands feel they come home to “whatever,” and that’s why they treat other women poorly. If a man treats me poorly in the workplace, I’m not going to blame his wife. When I read a study saying that men with stay-at-home wives act like sexist asses in the workplace, I’m going to assume that sexist asses favor traditional gender roles before I assume that their wives turned otherwise decent men into sexist asses.

    Also, and I realize this is a personal revulsion rather than a logical argument, but I just find this whole idea that women who stay home with their kids should be ‘held accountable to other women’ really distasteful. Mainly because for every woman I know who’s had that choice to make, whether to take time off after having a baby has been an incredibly wrenching decision, whatever she ultimately decided, and full of guilt and self-recrimination either way. The last thing those women needed was more coals heaped on their heads.

    And I’ll note that no one enjoys it when the shoe is on the other foot. I’ll note that Karin’s comment about Quiverfull feminism got lots of push-back. But if one woman’s personal decision to stay home for a few years makes her “accountable to other women,” then so does your (or my) decision to go back to work or not to have kids in the first place. In fact, I don’t think you can make one argument about how SAHM’s are creating unrealistic expectations and making it harder for other women in the workplace that doesn’t apply equally to childfree women like myself. Because I don’t have kids, I can stay late and work weekends without conflict or guilt. This arguably makes it harder for working parents of both genders. Should I be held “accountable” for my choice not to have kids?

  370. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza June 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    (and please tell me in what universe low-income moms get free college tuition)

    Not to be overly snarky, but, uh, outside USA? You know, places where tertiary education is state-funded?

    Yes, yes, i know there is no universe outside US of America. :D

  371. unacomplished
    unacomplished June 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

    Sure. And how about when you turn 50? 60? 70? 80?

    judging by current race, sex, diet, lifestyle, and lifespan statistics I highly doubt ill live long enough for any of that to become an issue. I figure most people doing those jobs will still be my age during most of the time I need them. ;)

  372. zuzu
    zuzu June 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

    There are seriously reams of economic papers and articles out there proving exactly the opposite – that we childfree people are the real freeloaders, benefiting massively from the sacrifices of parents. Or at least, we will be when we get older.

    I’d love to see links to that, since I hardly believe that contributing to Social Security and Medicaid since I was 16 (among other things) means nothing at all.

    Personally, I think that kind of rhetoric has evolved–has had to evolve–because of the institutions’ inability to provide any other kind of reward. And so the jobs attract people for whom that is true. And who, as you note, can afford to take the small bit of remuneration they offer because of parental support, which is one of the other reasons I’m not in that field.

    Just because you can’t take those jobs doesn’t mean that the left doesn’t romanticize them. Indeed, the fact that pay is low and remains so because the people filling those jobs are supposed to get some kind of deep spiritual meaning or sense of satisfaction/social contribution out of them rather argues in favor of the romanticizing of them. I also don’t agree that the institutions have little choice but to keep salaries so low; again, if the work were seen as something that should provide a living wage as well as meaning, there might be greater effort on the part of the institutions and the funders to match the real operating costs. Instead, they rely on volunteers and poorly-paid staffers, and thus wind up only truly open to the elite.

  373. BlackHumor
    BlackHumor June 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |

    May I just chime in here to say, I find it very funny how everyone who attacks “choice feminism” has to say something to the effect of what an unpopular opinion it is and how they’re really speaking truth to power, even though it’s clearly not an unpopular opinion at all. Even counting the commentators here, there’s two “choice feminists” (three including me, I suppose, though I don’t plan to stick around) versus EVERYONE ELSE.

  374. EG
    EG June 23, 2012 at 10:58 pm |

    I don’t think the left romanticizes being poor any more than any other facet of our culture does–the right romanticizes poverty (the poor but honest and hardworking farmers whose kids pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, blah blah blah), Hollywood does (cf. Titanic), etc. It’s a cultural feature that doesn’t strike me as any more prevalent on the left than anywhere else, but Hollywood pays, and right-wing institutions pay. There are left institutions that don’t necessarily rely on interns and volunteers: unions, which have revenue in the form of dues, and, in the past, have had support from less savory sources as well. So I’m just not seeing this powerful ideological force that is determining the material conditions. My bias is always to see it the other way round, though, so we’re probably just approaching it differently.

  375. Weekly Feminist Reader
    Weekly Feminist Reader June 24, 2012 at 10:26 am |

    [...] defends Elizabeth Wurtzel’s controversial polemic on 1% [...]

  376. Allison
    Allison June 24, 2012 at 11:00 am |

    “I’d love to see links to that, since I hardly believe that contributing to Social Security and Medicaid since I was 16 (among other things) means nothing at all.”

    It’s not that it’s worth nothing at all – it’s that it’s worth something to current seniors, not to you personally/people in our generation. Social Security works as a transfer system from young to old, not as a personal savings plan as some Republicans have argued for. When we get old, assuming S.S. is still around – which I actually think is fairly likely, 3rd rail of American politics and all that – we’ll be supported by the younger generations who are still working. Thus, those of us who haven’t contributed to the younger generations by having children are, in that sense, free-riders. Which is a problem (or “problem”)because S.S. is thought by many to decrease fertility rates, since people no longer have a need to have children to support us in our old age – we can rely on other people’s children to do so. We’ve socialized the benefits of having children without truly socializing the costs. Hard to socialize the costs of a screaming baby with a full diaper, let alone the 20+ years of physical, emotional, and economic toil that goes in to producing the next generation. And to the extent that we do socialize those costs, like say public education, it doesn’t even out when you consider that we all reaped those same benefits as children ourselves. See e.g. here: http://ideas.repec.org/p/uwo/uwowop/20091.html, and here: http://bigthink.com/Mind-Matters/are-childless-people-freeloading-on-the-worlds-parents (Berreby disputes the fertility-depression hypothesis but not the essential free-rider problem.

    As I said in my earlier comment, which was in moderation for a while so you may not have seen it, I don’t have any kids myself and am not thrilled with the prospect of other people feeling entitled to criticize that choice. So this is not an argument that everyone should go out and have a baby to save our society. Just an argument for less whining on the part of we childless/childfree about the paltry support we do provide to parents and kids.

  377. africaturtle
    africaturtle June 24, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    So I guess babies with mothers who didn’t give birth to them and/or don’t breastfeed them don’t survive.

    I guess i figured it was obvious enough that I was stating the “rule” not the exception. Of course i know you can buy a bottle and formula. Of course i know back in the day you could go milk the goat and spoon-feed an orphaned infant…of course you could find a neighbor that was lactating and ask/pay her to do it for you.

    I also recognize paternal (and/or communal) defense/support/provision is in many cases essential for a mother and infant to both survive and thrive. I’m thinking of this in the more “primitive” sense of needing to hunt for food, for example.

    My point was that in expecting a true 50/50 split between male and female parents “choosing” to be in the home is ignoring, to a certain, point the very real place biology has in our lives/choices. To me it is logical that a mother would need a “break” from other work while recovering from the birth experience and that the realtionship durring the preschool years would be (IN GENERAL) rather “fussional” requiring more time/effort/energy from both parents, but especially the mother. (i say especially the mother because i am still going back to a rather primitive model of prolonged breastfeeding as “normative” for our speecies).

    I recognize we currently have way more “options” at our disposal, but when you give birth your breasts (IF you have them… JEESH! i feel like i have to put a qualifying clause on EVERY line i write now…that’s tiring.) your breasts will fill up with milk and that’s just the way it works. I don’t see why anyone should have to appologize for pointing out the “obvious”.

  378. Popi
    Popi June 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm |

    Thank you for saying exactly what I am thinking. I am kind of tired of being afraid to say that motherhood is not a job and opting out however you frame it is not feminist, whether you choose it because you’ve been convinced that in order to have a good family life and raise children well you need to have one stay at home parent and that has to be you or for another reason, it is still a choice that reinforces the structure of the society that sells you that sexist narrative. Everybody can choose what to do, but giving up your career instead of working out a fair way for you and your partner to have both a professional and a family life is not the feminist choice however you frame it.

  379. Redstocking Grandma
    Redstocking Grandma June 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    I hated Wurtzel’s post and your approval of it that I temporarily removed this blog from my Google Reader.

    I am a month short of 67. I am far more interested in children having it all than adult women or men having it all. Unlike Wurtzel, I know what I am talking about. I have been a feminist for 60 years. I also have 4 adult daughters, 5 grandkids, 5 younger brothers, 11 nieces and nephews, 8 great nieces and nephews. As the oldest of 45 first cousins, a children’s librarian, a social worker, a parent educator, I have interacted with thousands of children.

    Just once I would like to read a so-called feminist express concern about the millions of children who are being drugged into obedience with psychiatric drugs never tested on children.

  380. Redstocking Grandma
    Redstocking Grandma June 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

    No real feminist ever equates motherhood with housewifery.

  381. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    Just once I would like to read a so-called feminist express concern about the millions of children who are being drugged into obedience with psychiatric drugs never tested on children.

    Perhaps you should be on the mental health thread… >_>

  382. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 24, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

    africaturtle, you may find it tiresome to have to remember that not everyone who gives birth is a woman, but I’m afraid it’s something you’ll have to get used to, since more and more people who identify as men or genderqueer are having babies these days. See this piece that was referenced in today’s Self-Promotion Sunday, about the issues raised by this trend for the medical profession as well as the general “culture” of pregnancy: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/06/13/preparing-trans-baby-boom

  383. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    (IF you have them… JEESH! i feel like i have to put a qualifying clause on EVERY line i write now…that’s tiring.)

    I’m really sorry for how very tiring it is for you to remember that trans people are people. Allow me to express my sincere apologies at the incredible effort it takes to write the phrase “mothers (with breasts)”, as opposed to the two lines of whine you felt it was easier to type. Add to that, further, my condolences at the stupendous amount of thinking you have to do to express yourself in trans* friendly ways! I know, it hurts.

    Would you like some tea to rebuild your energy?

    How about a crumpet?

  384. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    whether you choose it because you’ve been convinced that in order to have a good family life and raise children well you need to have one stay at home parent and that has to be you or for another reason, it is still a choice that reinforces the structure of the society that sells you that sexist narrative.

    I think it’s fair to point out the influences of a sexist narrative on the choice to ascribe to traditional gender roles, even if they are the roles that work best for an individual woman and her family, but how can you see the sexist framework so inherent in that choice and not recognize the equally demeaning traditional framework in choosing to define success in purely economic terms (as Wurtzel does). Her choice (and it is a choice) to attain success through capitalism and the accumulation of wealth is equally informed by a male-dominated narrative.

  385. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

    Argh! My comment at #397 – I was having brainfail. In the light of Africaturtle’s comment, it should have been “people with breasts” rather than “mothers with breasts”, as she was talking about men who have breasts rather than women who don’t.

  386. zuzu
    zuzu June 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

    When we get old, assuming S.S. is still around – which I actually think is fairly likely, 3rd rail of American politics and all that – we’ll be supported by the younger generations who are still working. Thus, those of us who haven’t contributed to the younger generations by having children are, in that sense, free-riders.

    I still don’t buy it. The pieces you quote argue for more of a tax break for children, but don’t argue that the child-free are free-riders.

    I pay SS, I pay Medicare, I pay property taxes which are used to fund the educations of children I didn’t produce, I pay taxes to support health and nutrition programs aimed at families with children that I have not and may never use. Someone who forgoes paying work and stays home to raise children does not pay those taxes (at least the payroll taxes), even if they produce children who will pay into the system. If you want me to believe that the child-free are actually free-riding, you’re going to have to do better. And maybe use a less loaded and frankly, fucking insulting, term than “free-riding.”

  387. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |

    That is absolutely not what I said. My point, which I have reiterated several times, is that according to Wurtzel, women who raise their own children are not working, but women who do the exact same tasks/caretaking/raising of other women’s children, for pay, are “working.”

    Tinfoil, don’t you get that this is exactly what you are being critcized for and why you actually agree with Wurtzel more than you think? Women who have someone else doing tasks/caretaking are raising their own children! Doing tasks and caretaking is part of raising children, but by no means the only thing. Plus it’s not just rich people who need help with the tasks and caretaking, what about single mothers who need to work? What about the disabled?

    When people talk of parenting being the most important job in the world it is largely metaphor, meaning that producing good honest people who will make a difference in the world is extremely important. It does not mean that the cooking/cleaning/driving tasks are only important if done by a parent.

  388. Allison
    Allison June 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

    I’m sorry you feel fucking insulted, but the fact is that if one plans to collect Social Security and/or Medicaid and one doesn’t have kids (plural), then one is taking more out of the system of inter-generational subsidy than one is going to put into it. This is what economists refer to as a “free-rider” problem. It’s not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s just math.

    “I pay property taxes which are used to fund the educations of children I didn’t produce, I pay taxes to support health and nutrition programs aimed at families with children that I have not and may never use.”

    Did you go to public school? Then it’s only fair you pay property taxes to fund the very education programs you benefited from. (And if you went to private school from nursery school on up, I really have no sympathy.) Health and nutrition programs are for the very poor, not families with children in general. In fact, I hate to tell you, but adults without kids benefit from health and nutrition programs too. I know, socialism.

  389. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 1:31 am |

    Fat Steve, you are conflating housework and running a household with raising children. I am not.

    Anyone who cares for children is helping to raise them. In Wurtzel’s view, that is neither a “job,” nor is it “work,” unless you are being paid to do it. That is absurd on its face.

  390. chava
    chava June 25, 2012 at 5:37 am |

    The “raising you own children” phrasing sets off my alarm bells as well, as it is often a dog whistle for a certain..disdain towards working parents.

    HOWEVER. It is worth giving a lot more weight to the ethical problem Tinfoil brought up at the beginning of the thread. If we, ourselves, are not doing the work of childcare, we are most likely (under)paying another woman to do it. Said woman is likely either a POC, an immigrant, or both. So tell me again how working outside the home magically solves gender inequality? Childcare stays woman’s work, it stays underpaid–upper class women just get to benefit from the layered inequalities of class and gender.

  391. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 25, 2012 at 7:24 am |

    Fat Steve, you are conflating housework and running a household with raising children. I am not.

    Anyone who cares for children is helping to raise them. In Wurtzel’s view, that is neither a “job,” nor is it “work,” unless you are being paid to do it. That is absurd on its face.

    Well, my argument was that you kind of were. And still are. Helping to raise a child is not raising a child. What you seemingly fail to appreciate is that the ‘work’ involved with parenting and keeping a house is a completely different beast from the ‘job’ of a parent to raise children who make a positive contribution to society (to some extent.) So even within the milieu of staying at home, ‘work’ and ‘job’ can mean totally different things.

    Would you be happier if we called it ‘employment’? Would it have been okay if Hilary Rosen said ‘Ann Romney has never been emp-loyed a day in her life.”? Exactly what word would you deem acceptable to describe the situation of working in a paid capacity?

  392. Lyanna
    Lyanna June 25, 2012 at 9:33 am |

    Exactly, Fat Steve. The nanny or babysitter isn’t “raising the child.” At most, they are helping to raise the child.

    And really, it’s disingenuous to pretend there’s no difference between a job that you get paid for and can get fired from and that requires your full-time attention, and work to which none of this applies (no, parenting doesn’t require your 24/7 attention, otherwise NO PARENT COULD HAVE A JOB EVER).

    chava: what ethical problem? It’s not ethically problematic to hire a nanny, whether she be a POC or an immigrant or not. It would be ethically problematic to pay her poorly, or to make inappropriate demands of her, but that’s not an inevitable feature of the relationship.

    And yes, it does further gender equality to work outside the home even if the nannies are mostly female, because (1) it enables women to get into more prestigious, high-up professions, and (2) it creates jobs for female immigrants. Underpaid ones, perhaps, but would it be better if they didn’t exist?

  393. EG
    EG June 25, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    requires your full-time attention, and work to which none of this applies (no, parenting doesn’t require your 24/7 attention, otherwise NO PARENT COULD HAVE A JOB EVER).

    Could you provide an example of work that does require your full-time attention, 24/7? Or even work to which people devote every minute of attention for 8 hours at a stretch? Let alone paid work that wakes you up every three hours?

    Parenting does take 24/7 attention; it is still possible to have jobs and hobbies and such, because not every minute requires exclusive attention. The same is true of other work.

    It’s not ethically problematic to hire a nanny, whether she be a POC or an immigrant or not. It would be ethically problematic to pay her poorly, or to make inappropriate demands of her, but that’s not an inevitable feature of the relationship.

    No, it’s not inevitable. It’s just the way it shakes out in real life. If we are just talking about the super-rich, well, they do hire nannies even if the mom isn’t working for pay. Most of the rest of us don’t make enough to pay a nanny poorly, much less well.

  394. EG
    EG June 25, 2012 at 9:51 am |

    By the way, who takes care of the nannies’ children while they’re taking care of professional white women’s?

  395. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |

    And really, it’s disingenuous to pretend there’s no difference between a job that you get paid for and can get fired from and that requires your full-time attention, and work to which none of this applies (no, parenting doesn’t require your 24/7 attention, otherwise NO PARENT COULD HAVE A JOB EVER).

    What does this even mean? What activity of any kind requires 24/7 full-time attention? We sleep. We eat. We have lives. The time we get to devote to those lives outside of paid work varies depending on our positions and our abilities, but there is nothing that requires “full-time attention . . . 24/7″ so to say that parenting doesn’t count as work because it doesn’t meet a requirement that NOTHING meets is incredibly unfair.

  396. chava
    chava June 25, 2012 at 10:43 am |

    chava: what ethical problem? It’s not ethically problematic to hire a nanny, whether she be a POC or an immigrant or not. It would be ethically problematic to pay her poorly, or to make inappropriate demands of her, but that’s not an inevitable feature of the relationship.

    And yes, it does further gender equality to work outside the home even if the nannies are mostly female, because (1) it enables women to get into more prestigious, high-up professions, and (2) it creates jobs for female immigrants. Underpaid ones, perhaps, but would it be better if they didn’t exist?

    As EG pointed out, the way it shakes out in real life IS that nannies and other childcare professionals are often underpaid, abused, etc. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving someone a job, don’t get me wrong. There IS something wrong with a system (patriarchy. anyone?) that undervalues caring work and more often than not abuses carers.

    I hire a team of women to clean my house. Was it wrong of me to give them a job? No. Is the housekeeping industry home to some pretty problematic shit? Yes. Do I delude myself into thinking that hiring another woman to do the same work for pay furthers the equality of women or is somehow more feminist than cleaning my own house? No. I’m also rather skeptical of the argument that we can ignore the intersection of gender and class here because it “enables [some] women to get into more prestigious, high-up professions.”

  397. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |

    Fat Steve and other non-parents, if someone is spending several hours per day caring for, nurturing, teaching, and loving a child, that person is helping to raise that child. Child care is not the same as housework! Do you even know what goes into the care of children?

    As far as “raising my own chiildren,” it means exactly that. How would you orefer I phrase it? I provided the same care, love, nurturing, tending, and attention as a daycare or babysitter or nanny would have done for a 6-8 hour block of the day. Tell me again why that was not work. Tell me why it is worthy of feminist sneers because I did it for my children instead of for someone else’s. Explain why such non-work requires that anyone other than a child’s parent be paid for doing the exact same thing – and that it’s somehow feminist and advancing the good of society because there’s a salary involved.

    As far as parenting not being 24/7? If you think it isn’t, I recommend you not have children. In the beginning months it certainly is, make no mistake about it. It is grueling. As the kid aages, you’re just “on call.” But your time is never truly free and clear until the kid ages out of the household. It is a profound, shocking, and permanent change.

  398. chava
    chava June 25, 2012 at 11:05 am |

    As far as “raising my own chiildren,” it means exactly that. How would you orefer I phrase it? I provided the same care, love, nurturing, tending, and attention as a daycare or babysitter or nanny would have done for a 6-8 hour block of the day.

    Well, I’d prefer you acknowledge that your phrasing is usually used by stay-at-home parents to shame working ones–e.g., “Well I raised my OWN children. YOU let the nanny raise them for your big fat career, you selfish &*^%. ”

    My MIL pulls that one on me all the time when she tells me how I should give up my career. Of course, like many women, she adds a nice dose of classism and racism–“YOU have the special special genes and education needed to raise the bestest little white children! Don’t you dare let some dirty stupid woman who didn’t go to Yale do that!”

    Whether or not you mean it that way, the “raising your own children” catchphrase often gets used to shame mothers and to imply that paid carers are stupid/dirty/innappropriate.

  399. Donna L
    Donna L June 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm |

    But your time is never truly free and clear until the kid ages out of the household.

    My son is 22, and in some ways my life still revolves around him!

  400. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    chava, I see your point, and I am still raising MY children as opposed to else’s. The problem is not with my word choice, the problem is what on earth are we, as a society, doing to collectively rear healthy, happy, productive members of society?

    Jill: Getting your house cleaned and your hair dyed and your car repaired and your clothes dry-cleaned is not the same thing as raising children. It’s not just “a part of my life” to raise children. If it were that simple, nobody would give a shit how children were raised.

    If you truly, honestly believe that raising kids is just all on a par with tossing another load of laundry in, or scrubbing the floor, or picking up the drycleaning or mowing the lawn or changing the furnace filter or fixing the car, then you have no idea what raising children involves. And maybe that’s the crux of this whole post.

  401. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    I didn’t say it’s the same as raising children. No one did.

    Except:

    Because as others have said, it IS work, but when it’s for your own child it’s work that is also part of life. I can pay someone else to clean my house; when I clean it myself it’s still “work,”

    If you’re putting raising children on the same scale of “work” as cleaning your house, you are necessarily comparing them.

  402. valentifan69
    valentifan69 June 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    I provided the same care, love, nurturing, tending, and attention as a daycare or babysitter or nanny would have done for a 6-8 hour block of the day. Tell me again why that was not work.

    It’s really simple.

    Before the industrial revolution work basically meant expending effort – so farming your own land for stuff you could eat was work, and so was raising kids. That is still one definition of work; but a new definition also came into being around this time: a job, profession or means of earning a livelihood through paid employment. That meaning became important because in an industrial economy with a division of labour it was important to be able to earn money in order to support your self in a market economy, as being self-sufficient became less of an option.

    What you are doing isn’t work in the second sense. It’s perfectly sensible for people like Wurtzel to talk about the value of waged labour and use the word work to describe it. People have being using the word work in the way Wurtzel is using it for the last two centuries, it’s totally standard usage, I don’t think you can reasonably object to this use of language. Insisting on using an irrelevant definition of work is basically just trying to change the topic and doesn’t contribute anything.

  403. Tony
    Tony June 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm |

    It’s not just “a part of my life” to raise children. If it were that simple, nobody would give a shit how children were raised.

    What do you mean by that? It isn’t anybody else’s business how you raise your child, as long as they aren’t being abused and aren’t a danger to others. Are we bringing up the idea that part of the job of parenthood is to mold tomorrow’s future ideal citizen, as a contribution to society?

  404. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

    Are we bringing up the idea that part of the job of parenthood is to mold tomorrow’s future ideal citizen, as a contribution to society?

    I don’t think most parents love the level of scrutiny that concept entails… :p

  405. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

    Are we bringing up the idea that part of the job of parenthood is to mold tomorrow’s future ideal citizen, as a contribution to society?

    To mold tomorrow’s decent, responsible, moral, contributing citizen, uh, yes. What else do you think parenthood is? Besides drudgery that isn’t worthy of economic consideration because it doesn’t fit a post-industrial revolution definition of “work,” that is.

    Talk about semantics. And as a total aside, I don’t give a rat’s ass if I piss off Wurtzel or anyone else because I don’t consider economic reward the most – nay, the ONLY – important thing about how I spend my time. For crying out loud.

    I recommend Anne Crittenden’s The Price of Motherhood for a reality check on whether or not parenting, specifically motherhood, is work.

  406. olympia
    olympia June 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    I appreciate the discussion Wurtzel’s article has propagated, even though I have troubles with her conclusions. Giving a solid poke to the soft fluffy banter of choice feminism is always cool by me. I agree that what we do affects society, and it’s important to consider it in that context.

    That said, as chava and tinfoil hattie have elaborated, SOMEONE has to take care of the kids. And if both parents want to remain in payed employment, that often equals underpaying someone else to do that kid caring. It can mean denigrating the work that goes into child care, acting like it’s no really work. It’s a situation I know well, as a former teenage babysitter. At the time, I was afraid to ask for more money than the $2/hour or so I was getting, because I’d been taught that babysitting wasn’t really work- a belief that is widespread, and continues to this day. And it’s a problem.

  407. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    So, lemme get this right. If well educated white women pay WOC from lower SES to raise their kids while they, the WEWW, spend 80 of the children’s 100 awake hours at a JOB, that’s Advancing Feminism?

    BRB, have to clean blown lobe off the floor.

  408. BalancingJane
    BalancingJane June 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |

    No. If well-educated white women who are married to well-educated wealthy men force their husbands to actually do their fair share of raising children, that’s advancing feminism.

    Children: NOT JUST WOMEN’S.

    Absolutely, and I think that equally shared parenting is a path toward more equitable arrangements, but I think that negotiation is made much, much more manageable by valuing the work of caregiving to begin with. There’s a world of difference between starting a conversation with a partner about how to share work that you both see as important and valuable than starting a conversation about how to share unwanted responsibilities that you both see as beneath you. I don’t see how the space for equally shared parenting is furthered by demeaning work that’s traditionally considered women’s work just as it has been demeaned by patriarchal structures in the past. That doesn’t change anything.

    Also, I don’t see room for this kind of negotiation in Wurtzel’s piece at all. Her assertion is that women have to be at THE TOP of their fields to be advancing feminist agendas. She’s bemoaning the lack of female representation among the ranks of CEOs and Fortune 500 companies. The type of flexibility and workplace negotiation necessary to make equally shared parenting a successful reality very rarely correlates with that kind of corporate success. Again, I don’t think that’s something that’s going to change as long as we keep demeaning the work of caregiving. If we expect men and women to equally share the work in both the out-of-home and in-home spheres, we need to work to culturally establish both of those spheres as valid and important.

  409. Tracey
    Tracey June 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

    No. If well-educated white women who are married to well-educated wealthy men force their husbands to actually do their fair share of raising children, that’s advancing feminism.

    Children: NOT JUST WOMEN’S.

    But how does this come back to SAHP being bad again? Because not every woman whose husband takes child-care responsibilities is going to want to enter the workforce, and they certainly may not want to dedicate the time and effort it takes to reach higher levels in management. Some may only want to work part-time, or may chose to volunteer, or none of the above. When looking at such a small subset of people, it is very possible that a lot of them would not want to work in the market, especially rising to the levels of power they are chastised for not aspiring too, even if their husbands took on more household responsibilities.

    This piece isn’t framed as making men take more childcare responsibilities, but in shaming women for not entering the paid job market and aspiring to high levels of management. It assumes that the only reasons these women, in a very small subset, don’t work for money is because their husbands refuse to take childcare responsibilities.

    As someone mentioned above, if choosing to be a SAHM is anti-feminist, then so is having children at all because even with a partner, it is still going to impact your career if you are sharing in any of the responsibilities.

    That men in these subsets need to take responsibility is a great message, but it isn’t the one conveyed here.

  410. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    Yes, children are not just the women’s, but women going off to work does NOT translate to their high-powered husbands staying home.

    For the record, the median number of wage earners in the families in the top %ile is 2 (according to latest census figures), from which we may conclude that the majority of women at that income level are already working. Alas, that does not appear to have made any noticeable dent in the absolute dearth of family-friendly policies or programs in the US.

    And I hate to break it to you, but childcare agencies don’t have male nannies. Over 10years and 4 different agencies (looking for emergency and back-up daycare, as well as some cross-over afternoon help) I’ve yet to even see the profile or resume of one single male-identified candidate. So, women working outside the home will necessarily be hiring other less advantaged women in 99 cases out of 100.

    The families with <2 wage earners are all in the lowest 40% of income. Whatever else this means, it surely indicates limited ability to pay for outside childcare, which is a median of ~$120/wk nation wide and more like ~200/wk in my neck of the woods for full-time care.

    Grok these stats (among others):

    – The average cost of full-time child care for an infant in a center in 2009 ranged from more than $4,550 in Mississippi to more than $18,750 in Massachusetts.
    – In 36 states, the average annual cost of center-based infant care exceeded 10 percent of the state’s median income for a two-parent family.
    – In every U.S. region, the average center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food.
    – Center-based child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded the average annual rent and mortgage payments in 18 states.
    – Infant care is costs 40-70% of median single earner income and 13 – 20% of median dual earner income in the most expensive quintile of states.

    AND these are costs incurred in an industry that barely pays the providers a living wage – 9.70/hr but often requires a degree and/or licensure.

    (And there you go, ppl who think parents are "making out" with our schmancy tax breaks and gummint cheese.)

    cite: http://www.naccrra.org/sites/default/files/publications/naccrra_publications/2012/cost_report_073010-final.pdf

    SO, the majority of rich women are not SAHM, and the majority of SAHM are poor women with piss-poor choices provided them among the lack of alternatives in the 21st century US. It's not the SAH part that produces the financial insecurity, it's the devaluation of "women's work". AKA patriarchy.

  411. Tony
    Tony June 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    Part of the problem also is that at extremely high levels of income, there is a diminishing marginal utility to having two incomes. If the higher earner (let’s face it– in the cases Wurtzel is reacting to, the man) is making in the high five figures or low six figures, then having a second income can significantly increase well-being of the household. But if the man is making in the high six figures (I believe the national threshold for being in the top 1% is about $379,000; but in places like New York City it’s well over half a million) or the seven figures, then what financial gain is there of his wife working?

    In other words, by the time these couples get to this point, they’re pretty much boxed in by incentives, Princeton degree or no. With the caveat of some definite risks that have been pointed out upthread, and with the definite caveat that their husbands have it much better than they do in the exercise of power and financial independence, these pampered wives know that they still are in a very enviable position. The seeming frivolity of their lives and the perpetual (but abstract) risk of losing some status through bereavement is a low price to pay for living a 1% lifestyle without having to be employed.

  412. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    If you’re putting raising children on the same scale of “work” as cleaning your house, you are necessarily comparing them.

    Cleaning your house is part of the work that stay at home parents have to do. Are you suggesting that cleaning the house is a leisure activity and not part of taking care of your family?

  413. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines June 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

    This is starting to look like Choice Feminism versus I’ve Got Mine Feminism.

    I also want to break something down here.

    If being a CEO is so wonderful and self-actualising for women, because it’s all about the paid work and looking after children is just some kind of personal task (which is either drudgery/or selfish enjoyment but of no benefit to society, apparently). If that is the message we want to put out into society, I’m not sure it’s going to have the impact we want in terms of men doing more of the parenting, because work is still being painted as the valuable, fulfilling option.

    Instead, how about moving away from the presenteeism, “my job is my life mind-set” and towards recognising that looking after children is important and can be fun and rewarding and generally building a culture that recognises that people (not just those with children) have a life outside of work and that life should be more important then your job.

  414. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    @Safiya Outlines –
    I agree, and for clarity, when I wrote ‘family friendly policies’ I mean families of any size or configuration.

  415. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm |

    Are you suggesting that cleaning the house is a leisure activity and not part of taking care of your family?

    I don’t know, Steve, giving a baby a bath and mopping the floors takes about as much time, but I’m not terribly emotionally invested in my floors. Nor do my floors feel terribly traumatised if I don’t hug them on occasion.

  416. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

    Nobody drags you off to jail for neglect if your floors aren’t mopped, unless children live in your home, either. Also, if there are two het parents, it’s not the DAD who gets hauled off to jail.

  417. igglanova
    igglanova June 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

    So, women working outside the home will necessarily be hiring other less advantaged women in 99 cases out of 100.

    Can someone explain why this is necessarily a bad thing? Families that pay for childcare have created valuable jobs that workers are eager to do. If childcare workers are being exploited or treated unfairly then that is definitely an issue, but it is an issue that can be addressed with proper oversight – it won’t just go away if mothers stay home and care for their own kids.

  418. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines June 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

    P.S I am wetting myself laughing at the mere idea that shaming/belittling/disparaging being a SAHM/working part-time Mum is the thing that feminism needs to become a “serious social movement”.

    I did not realise that all we need to progress is to do the same sort of mockery crap dudes do.

    I thought what stopped feminism being a serious social movement was it’s frequent throwing of many other women (WOC, poor, disabled, GBLT, etc) under the bus in the favour of the interests of the privileged few. However, I don’t aspire to be a CEO, so I’m probably part of the problem.

  419. Tony
    Tony June 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm |

    @Safiya,

    To take up the other side of it though, it’s not as if feminism has no investment in the percentage of women who are CEOs, political leaders, top managers, and other kinds of public leaders. If Congress was all men, CEOs were all men, and the top 1% earners were all men, saying “oh motherhood is work too, and it’s important and fulfilling” just isn’t a satisfactory answer to that from a feminist perspective. Yes, that response is correct, but it doesn’t address the issue. It’s more of a smokescreen, actually, that confuses and muddles the issue.

    I also wouldn’t put too much stock in formalistic definitions of work. The point isn’t that a personal assistant or Wal-Mart cashier is formally paid and therefore what they do is important. It’s not. The point is that these 1% husbands have a lot of power as massively wealthy earners, as leaders, as lawmakers, as opinion influencers and the like. Social movements should view accepting the value of money as simply a matter of grounding your work in real world relevance. No matter who you are, what cause you are in, money helps.

    So I see what Wurtzel is saying- there definitely is a good point there. The only trouble that this piece gets into, IMO, is where she goes after the women themselves and not the context that they made their choices in. And the reason for that is that if you’re trying to advocate for women, I don’t think that attacking their personal choices is the most effective. Intellectually, ‘choose your choice’ is stupid, but in practice, everyone defends their choice (btw- there’s an interesting tangent here about how in American culture, admitting that you are unhappy or made the wrong choice is a faux pas, whereas bragging is considered modus operandi. The one exception is when people have already overcome the cause of their unhappiness.)

    But I think we should be able to say that certain patterns in society (like the one Wurtzel identified) are not good for equality without saying necessarily that the individual choices are at the root cause of what’s wrong. Then I would still bring it back to the onus being on the oppressors to stop oppressing, than the oppressed to reconsider their choices in light of oppression.

  420. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |

    Sure, what could possibly be bad about relegating child rearing and housework that doesn’t pay a living wage to WOC?

    FFS; igglanova where is the evidence that US policy makers or the very rich have any serious interest in protecting the standard of living for or interests of poor people and WOC? And what of *THEIR* children – as has been stated before.

  421. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

    Can someone explain why this is necessarily a bad thing? Families that pay for childcare have created valuable jobs that workers are eager to do. If childcare workers are being exploited or treated unfairly then that is definitely an issue, but it is an issue that can be addressed with proper oversight – it won’t just go away if mothers stay home and care for their own kids.

    Yeah, I don’t get that either. Somehow we decided that anyone caring for another person’s child must be SO EXPLOITED despite that not always being the case. And yeah, those people who are being exploited? Probably don’t want their low-paid jobs turned into no jobs.

  422. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm |

    Cleaning your house is part of the work that stay at home parents have to do.

    And there’s the problem. Cleaning the house is not, in fact, part of the work that stay at home parents have to do. It is part of the work that all the adults and capable children living in the house have to do.

    Taking care of small children takes. all. day. long. Except for nap time, should you be fortunate enough to have kids who nap regularly and predictably.

    As far as chores & child-rearing being “comparable,” Mr. tinfoil hattie (who from the beginning forewent the big, 70-hr/wk super-career to be able to spend time with his family, as did I) wants to know: “Do you LOVE your toilet?”

  423. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm |

    Mr. tinfoil hattie (who from the beginning forewent the big, 70-hr/wk super-career to be able to spend time with his family, as did I) wants to know: “Do you LOVE your toilet?”

    Yes.

  424. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm |

    As far as chores & child-rearing being “comparable,” Mr. tinfoil hattie (who from the beginning forewent the big, 70-hr/wk super-career to be able to spend time with his family, as did I) wants to know: “Do you LOVE your toilet?”

    tinfoil, I don’t know your Mr from Adam, but I kind of love him. Just saying.

  425. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm |

    Well, macavitykitsune, I kinda love you. Also just sayimg.

  426. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm |

    @tinfoil

    *beams* Thank you!

  427. igglanova
    igglanova June 25, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

    FFS; igglanova where is the evidence that US policy makers or the very rich have any serious interest in protecting the standard of living for or interests of poor people and WOC? And what of *THEIR* children – as has been stated before.

    Good grief, US-centrism strikes again. That your government has its failings does not condemn the practice of putting a kid in daycare as immoral. And…really, it’s not as if all childcare workers are poor and suffering. Starting salary for an ECE working in a daycare facility is not terrific (pink collar profession, sigh…) but you won’t starve to death on it, either.

    Besides which, how do you propose we make life better for exploited childcare workers? Just dry up the entire job pool for them by telling women to get thee back to a kitchen? Or actually lobby for change, which admittedly takes a lot more actual effort than scolding mothers who’d like to remain relevant engineers, artists, scientists, politicians, businesswomen?

  428. randomAnon
    randomAnon June 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm |

    [A block of text decloaking off the port bow]
    The framing of this debate (here and in the original article) seems a bit wrong headed to me.
    This seems like a labour market policy issue not one of “choices”
    Surely the reason that 1% households have a division of labour is the result of the way the types of jobs that the rich do (finance, corporate law, ceo etc) have been constructed in the last 30 years or so, i.e. long hours, super involved close knit boardrooms etc.

    The persistence of this corporate culture (imho) is partly because of the demands of short term profit maximisation in the finance, corporate, law etc industries and the US deregulated labour market.
    But it also functions, (especially with regard to the long hours worked and paternalistic relationships) as sort of a social control measure designed to perpetuate a class.

    I think that when this requirement is taken as unchangeable the division of labour based on existing social norms; man works long hours, women takes care of or (more likely) supervises taking care of (young) children, is expected and even somewhat logical.
    The issue is changing this type of labour practice.
    If hours worked (just for instance) were simply limited this practice would have less of an incentive to continue.

    I also take issue with the idea that women who are super rich managers and capitalists will act to support womens rights in wider society. Surely the vast majority will act as capitalists and high managers and advocate things that benefit them as capitalists not women as a whole, the Margaret thatcher syndrome.
    At the very least It would be very interesting to see how many 1% women are politically active in a progressive way, I imagine it is very few.
    Anecdotally these women (stay at home super rich mothers) seem to be already involved in republican political organising in a Joanne herring sort of way I don’t think their political views would change if they were CEO’s and partners

    With regard to regular people, there are countries where parental social policy is far more advanced (and has better outcomes for most famlies).
    Excellent Swedish paid parental leave and the and the “dads month(s)” where men are in charge of childrearing.

    the Danish system of super awesome crèches

    Germany and France have very generous payments and state assistance to family’s and mothers (Germany also has a watered down Swedish style parental leave system).
    These policies were won by social movements not rich people
    and it will in all probability take an absolutely massive one to change US social policy.

  429. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

    Besides which, how do you propose we make life better for exploited childcare workers? Just dry up the entire job pool for them by telling women to get thee back to a kitchen?

    Honestly, igglanova, I’m seeing another pattern here. Obviously, since raising kids isn’t “work” (and if it is, it’s comparable to cleaning floors), people (overwhelmingly women) who are engaged in full-time professional kid-raising don’t need good salaries, they’re just…doing what comes naturally to their ladybrainz.

    Yes, absolutely, regulation and improvement of conditions is the right way to go where childcare workers are concerned. I’ve been arguing that motherhood is work, yes, but I’m far from interested in making it the ONLY work women are allowed to do.

  430. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

    As a working scientist mom who has had to use daycare for the past 10 years, I am not scoffing at anything of those. And YES, since the article in the OP was about the US 1%- I believe NY and LA were mentioned – I was limiting my points to US policy.

    I am giving the stink eye to arguments that suggest rich(er) white ppl keeping WOC in low-paying undervalued overworked jobs is a GOOD thing for those WOC and in line with advancing feminism.

    The fact that I am paying a whopping $10/hr (whoo-fucking-hoo, and yet it’s all I can afford and I’m scrimping on groceries and utilities to do so) with no benefits to a woman who is psyched to have it so she can stave off homelessness by the skin of her teeth does not in ANY WAY alter the fact that the whole fucking set-up is exploitative and at HER and HER CHILDREN’S expense. We’re ALL being put into the meat grinder by this system, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pretend that I’m not standing on top of other people’s necks while waiting to be grist. And I’m certainly NOT going to try to sell it to the person I’ve been put on top of that they’re better off b/c at least I’m not STOMPING on them.

  431. Best of the Interwebs Part 2! « thescarletapple

    [...] No long introduction, lets just get into it shall we?  Pixars Brave was finally released (and its quite lovely!). Malificent, starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, has started filming! England’s All Party Parliamentary group published their report on Body Image. Incredibly, Body Image really is front and centre at the moment. Lingerie Football visited Australia, and left before we had a chance to blink. Yawn. Disney banned junk food ads in an effort to curb obesity – though, I personally think its a pretty weak effort… Men have featured in the media discussing their body image problems. The Vatican seems to be having an issue with its Radical Feminist Nuns again. Femen protested the Euro 2012 fearing a potential spike in prostitution. It has also been reported that three members of Femen were allegedly abducted. Someone did some research that found that feminists are actually the biggest advocates of (ugh) attachment parenting (guess where I sit on that?). Ms Magazines 40th anniversary celebrations continue! Three members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot are still behind bars, where they have been since early march – What the hell, Russia! Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote an interesting piece for The Atlantic regarding feminism. stay at home mums, and the war on women, and Jezebel weighed in, among others. [...]

  432. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm |

    Well put, IrishUp. Thank you.

    When I did get back into the job market, I felt exactly as you describe. Hooray, my 67-year-old, widowed child care worker was getting $160 per week from me! Lucky ducky. Yeah, it was what we could afford. We paid her if she was sick and we paid her if we were sick/on vacation and we fed her when she’d let us, and it still wasn’t enough. We knew it, and she knew it. She had another family she worked for the other three days, because she had to earn more money.

    I don’t think it was all that magnanimous a gesture, frankly. We definitely had the better end of the deal. But hey, I was a “real” feminist again, finally!

  433. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

    Some people on here pay shit wages = paid childcare is always exploitative. Got it. 9_9

  434. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 26, 2012 at 12:11 am |

    Yep, bagelsan, that’s exactly what we’re all saying. We should be saying that all the women of color earning shitty wages from parents are happity-dappity because they have jobs. Woo-hoo! I have seen the light.

  435. Marianne
    Marianne June 26, 2012 at 7:00 am |

    Jill actually makes the point Wurtzel was presumably trying to make under the layers of bile and vitriol and polarizing comments about SAHM not being real adults. Rational measured arguments actually change minds, who knew? This actually made me do a complete 180 on what I thought of the original article.

    This reminds me of what Sheryl Sandberg said in her Barnard College Commencement speech about women “leaning back” in the workplace before they even have a partner, let alone kids, and making a lot of little choices to accommodate the possibility of having to go part-time or become a SAHM at some point in the future. They don’t put themselves forward for promotions, they don’t take on extra projects, they don’t make themselves an indispensable member of staff because they “want more balance” so they can deal with home-life responsibilities they don’t even have yet. Not because they can’t wait to take on those responsibilities and they are only working until they can find a rich husband and settle down at home, but because society tells them over and over again in thousands of different insidious and not-so-insidious way that minding the kids is a woman’s job. I seriously can’t remember the last time I saw an advert where a man was doing the laundry or hustling the kids out to school or cooking the family meal?

    So, when the time comes for a couple to decide who is going to stay at home with the kids, the “choice” has already been made. The husband, who has never given a minute’s thought to his “work-life balance” has been shooting up through the ranks of his profession, he makes more money, he gets more benefits, he might even make partner in a few years. Clearly, it makes more economic sense for the woman, who has been quietly working away at the same desk for the same pay check for five years, to give up her career. And yeah, because they sat down and had a chat about it, I guess it’s technically a “choice”.

  436. S.
    S. June 26, 2012 at 9:57 am |

    I think people need to understand that the SAHMs being criticized here are not all SAHMs that ever SAHMed, but rather the ones who do so and defend it because it’s their CHOICE and that’s FEMINIST because they CHOSE that CHOICE.

    My feminist mom stayed home for a few years after my sibling was born and she never called that choice feminist and empowering. She called it a SACRIFICE, because that’s what it was.

  437. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 26, 2012 at 10:30 am |

    I think people need to understand that the SAHMs being criticized here are not all SAHMs that ever SAHMed, but rather the ones who do so and defend it because it’s their CHOICE and that’s FEMINIST because they CHOSE that CHOICE.

    Thanks for clearing that up. Now: Which SAHMs are the bad ones? My neighbor? My friend with four kids? My mother, maybe. Or me? Perhaps the lady across the street. I hope you can give me sure-fire methods for identifying them, so I can villify and isolate them even more. Which they deserve, for having an attitude nobody has ever demonstrated they have.

  438. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 26, 2012 at 10:44 am |

    I think people need to understand that the SAHMs being criticized here are not all SAHMs that ever SAHMed, but rather the ones who do so and defend it because it’s their CHOICE and that’s FEMINIST because they CHOSE that CHOICE.

    Hmm. I guess we need to redefine feminism as “about women’s equality, unless you’re a stay-at-home-mom. then you’re just a tool of the patriarchy and fuck you.”

    Remind me again how many feminists in the 1800s were in full-time patriarchy- whoops I mean feminism-approved employment? By which I mean 40 hours a week or more, bringing home a salary? Volunteer work, working from home and activism doesn’t count, obviously, because those aren’t work. Not really. There’s babies involved.

  439. sakura
    sakura June 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |

    My feminist mom stayed home for a few years after my sibling was born and she never called that choice feminist and empowering. She called it a SACRIFICE, because that’s what it was.

    now, see, I think I’m pretty feminist, or feminist enough, and I feel like going to this stupid job every day is a sacrifice. because I’d much rather interact with my children than have to be apart from them. I feel like we all take a loss when I’m not around and they’re with a sitter.

    so am I more of a feminist than your mom, even though I resent every minute of time the workplace steals from me?

  440. Rachele
    Rachele June 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    I find it strange that no one is asking how to use mothering of the stay-at-home variety as a platform for advancing feminism. There’s a lot of postulating about whether it is or isn’t a feminist choice, or whether it can be considered feminist under certain circumstances or from a particular perspective, or how it is un-feminist but necessary for survival in some cases, etc.

    Everyone seems to have a clear idea about what constitutes feminism in the workplace. I think we’re still sort of shaky about what that might look like at home. Many feminists try to think and live outside the structure of traditional familial relationships. And if that works for you, great. But sometimes an awareness of privilege and power structures doesn’t really evolve until after you are committed to someone in a traditional contractual marriage. Or someone may find the socio-economic benefits appealing or necessary to survival. Or they may be running out old programs of societal imprinting or caving to societal pressures to marry and start a family. Or maybe they find that traditional relationship highly desirable even if it doesn’t turn out exactly like they expect.

    It is all just fine and dandy to tell women that it was stupid to make those concessions to the patriarchy and they should grow up and get a job like a big girl because what they are putting their time, labor, mind, and passion into is a waste of time, that anyone could do it, and they are just setting themselves up for failure in the long run. But what is the real point of that? What is the message here? That it’s too late for us to contribute to the advancement of society? That we should toss aside the shackles chaining us to the stove and our children and trade them for corporate sponsored ones? Cause here’s the deal: I like my life. I put tremendous effort physically, mentally, and emotionally into managing the day-to-day lives of my household as well as enriching us all in more complex and subtle ways. I find it rewarding and challenging-but-not-painfully-difficult.

    In my experience, my feminist (and other) values are transmitted through my relationships. On the surface, I do a fair bit of cleaning and cooking and wiping butts and noses and relatively less pursuing of money, and my children see that and are aware of the dynamic of, “dad works, mom stays at home.” But that is not translating to, “Dad is in charge of the money and real work; Mom is in charge of cleaning up after everybody.” In fact, based on what comes out of my nine-year-old’s mouth, he sees Dad as a corporate wage slave being paid unfairly for the hard work he does with no energy or time left over to enjoy life, pursue hobbies, engage in the community, or further educate himself, and Mom as having the brains to opt out of the corrupt system and invest in feeding herself intellectually, helping those in greater need than ourselves, build strong relationships, and exercise her creativity. He also sees his father pitch in with necessary menial tasks whenever he is not at work without bemoaning my inadequate housekeeping or expecting a cookie and a pat on the head.

    Regardless of whether or not there are children or whether one partner in a relationship works and one doesn’t, regardless of whether we are superficially engaging in a system which is typically considered sexist, we can still have egalitarian relationships with someone who is supposed to be our partner in life. If we are working as equals to achieve the quality of life we desire in myriad creative ways, communicating openly with each other and with our friends and family about our roles and boundaries, and giving each other a boost whenever needed to further our personal goals, we are essentially fulfilling our duties as partners and setting a good example, in my opinion.

    My working at a job wouldn’t make me a better feminist or make us any more equal than we already strive to be. I would have less time to engage in activism and volunteer work, less patience for difficult conversations with family and friends about power and privilege, and fewer resources to help kick off ventures with people who have had some major attitude shifts and been inspired to do something by those very conversations. (I know this because I have been a working mom, and without a person primarily dedicated to running the household, including the finances, we had less money, time, and patience than we have now no matter how evenly we divided the housework and childcare.)

    I know this is all anecdote, personal history stuff, but bear with me here; I’m about to get back to my original statement. What if instead of trying to eradicate the stay-at-home mom from existence we talked about how stay-at-home feminist moms could aid working women, particularly those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and/or mothers and how we could structure our privileged, hetero marriages to make the advantages and assistance flow in the opposite direction from the way it rolls now? In other words, the current power dynamic, which is rightly being taken issue with, is that working men with wives at home to take care of children and family business can be unfettered by those responsibilities and climb the ladder more readily. I would like to see stay-at-home mothers and working mothers working together and supporting each other by swapping child care or meal prep or other skills/services/products. Husbands/fathers could lighten the load at home to allow women to invest energy in extra-familial work and would necessarily pull back at the job, leveling the playing field. Community but not communal.

  441. Rachele
    Rachele June 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm |

    One more thing, and then I’ll shut up. The financial insecurity is not insurmountable. My husband and I have come to see the light about all the ways our society tries to give women the shaft, and we recognized at some point that I would be pretty screwed if he died or left. If I died or left, it would be hard, but at least he still has earning power and credit. So we made a tremendous commitment to saving money and having backup plans on our backup plans if for some reason things don’t work out for us. I hold the reins to our finances. He can’t even access our emergency savings account unless I die. We each have a whole life policy with enough to fill in what the other provides financially for ten years should either one of us die. we put investments and loans in my name solely so that I have credit history. And I have a budget to invest in stocks or business endeavors so that I have something extra to fall back on in place of work history. In case you’re wondering we were hovering a couple thousand above the poverty line for years, though we are doing a bit better recently, so it was tough for all of us to make the transition from a paycheck to paycheck situation. I know not everyone can put aside enough money to make this happen, but if you can, I recommend it highly. Feeling like I have a safety net is very freeing and reaffirms for us both that our relationship is cooperative rather than codependent.

  442. igglanova
    igglanova June 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm |

    Yep, bagelsan, that’s exactly what we’re all saying. We should be saying that all the women of color earning shitty wages from parents are happity-dappity because they have jobs. Woo-hoo! I have seen the light.

    I understand that people are trying to do right by WOC here and get their critical analysis on (albeit lazily, in my opinion), but I think we’re falling into a racist stereotype when we assume that the majority of people taking care of children as a profession are non-white. Have you set foot in a daycare recently? You might be surprised.

    Also, nobody is saying anything nearly as ridiculous as ‘all the women of color earning shitty wages from parents are happity-dappity because they have jobs.’ Come on, people. At least try to argue without flying completely off the handle. I’m saying that we should do something to improve the shitty wages situation, but that the problem of exploitation – when it happens – will not disappear if you remove the opportunity for childcare workers to get any kind of work. A person who stays at home for the kids is not morally superior to one who hires a nanny or takes those kids to daycare, even by one iota. They just keep the problem of worker exploitation comfortably out of sight.

  443. Feminism: Work and Family Balance « clareminnies

    [...] On Feministe I also read this blog post: Feminism + Housewifery [...]

  444. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

    igglanova, I reponded to hyperbole with hyperbole. Really, it’s quite a common tactic on this thread.

    And where I live (suburb of 1m people), the VAST majority of child care workers are women of color on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. As are the vast majority of house cleaners, fast-food workers, and bus staff/cleaning staff in restaurants.

    Here’s a good rule of thumb: if white dudes aren’t applying in droves and clamoring to work at whatever it is, you’re looking at a crummy job.

  445. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 27, 2012 at 11:16 am |

    Here’s a good rule of thumb: if white dudes aren’t applying in droves and clamoring to work at whatever it is, you’re looking at a crummy job.

    So, the biological sciences? :p

  446. Eat the Damn Cake » you are probably not a good enough feminist

    [...] her supportive response, Jill, of Feministe, writes: “No. Feminism is not about [...]

  447. unacomplished
    unacomplished June 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm |

    How about this? I have one remaining grandparent. Once he dies, I’m pretty sure that I would be almost completely unaffected if everyone over 70 died. So when he dies, can I start whining about my taxes going to Medicare and Social Security?

    why wait, I mean if you never end up collecting on Medicare or SS it was pretty much a mandatory charity donation right?

  448. Anne-Marie Slaughter websplosion: Response roundup on “Having It All” (and tweet chat!)

    [...] dangerous than the “I choose my choice” brush-off that tends to surface when someone takes the politics of housewifery to task, is the contention that women want to be doing all this work. That we are naturally inclined [...]

  449. IrishUp
    IrishUp June 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

    First off, I try to do right by PEOPLE. I fuck up and show ass like everyone else, but I am concerned that PEOPLE are treated with justice.

    Second, I’ll take the lazy approach of “what TFH said” (also, a hearty H/T for hanging tough).

    Third, while I’m usually too lazy to perform to the cheap seats, I’m feeling energetic, so lemme substantiate the observations being made here with some data!

    Women are 47% of the total workforce, but 97% of childcare workers in the US. Ninetyfuckingseven.

    Median wage for women is ~$13.50/hr, median wage for childcare workers is $7.70/hr. 28% of child care positions pay <$5.15/hr. Average annual salary is about ~$15,700; 15% live in poverty compared to 8% of women workers overall.

    28 and 32% of Latina and African-American women are employed in service industries compared to ~20% of white and asian women. Women make up 51% of management/professional occupations, African-Americans and Latin@s are <9%.

    cite:
    http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/PB_caregivers.pdf

    US Bureau of Labor Statistics

    In conclusion, the burden of housework and childcare that gets deferred when (rich(er)) white women return to the job force in professional capacities, falls on other, poorer women who are disproportionately Latina and African-American.

    Flavia Dzoden is a MUCH better and MUCH less lazy writer than I am, and she explores the global implications of this topic:

    http://tigerbeatdown.com/2012/06/27/we-cannot-have-it-all-because-we-no-longer-have-dreams/

  450. igglanova
    igglanova June 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

    IrishUp, you’re good at identifying problems, but you’re even better at ignoring solutions. I am well aware that many jobs are chock full of injustice. I don’t need more convincing. But what do you propose people do to fix that? Simply electing to stay home rather than create a paid job for a childcare worker is the same as doing nothing. That choice does not make a positive difference in the world, although it does allow for the smug satisfaction of feeling free from ideological taint.

    Honestly, though, I’ve had to ask the same question so many times in this thread that I doubt I’m going to get any attempt at an answer, and I suspect that that is because – behind all the hot air – you actually have nothing to say.

  451. Misaki
    Misaki June 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm |

    Step one of “more equality” is creating more jobs, so someone looking for a job can actually find one: http://jobcreationplan.blogspot.com/

    Which would allow this situation:

    >I don’t want my kids taken care of by strangers.” And when I would say, “Well then why don’t you stay home?”

    By having both parents work ‘part-time’.

    Female business owners are common up to a certain size of business; one possible explanation is that they like more interaction with employees.

  452. Absolutely Yes « in the shape of a woman

    [...] more dangerous than the “I choose my choice” brush-off that tends to surface when someone takes the politics of housewifery to task, is the contention that women want to be doing all this work. That we are naturally inclined [...]

  453. Lyanna
    Lyanna June 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

    @EG and Chava:

    I didn’t say parenting isn’t “work” because it’s not 24/7. But in case you haven’t noticed, people do say it’s a 24/7 job. People also say it’s a “full-time job,” which is plainly false. If it required as much time as a full-time job then no person could do it unless they were a SAHP.

    As for nannies: who said anything about “ignoring” the intersection about class and feminism? I’m merely saying that hiring nannies shouldn’t be condemned per se, which is what you’re doing when you say that women with jobs (whom you describe as white women) who hire nannies are succeeding “on the backs” of women of color. As if there are no women of color who hire nannies, and as if the nannies would be better off without the jobs.

    I’m quite well aware that nannies and other domestic workers are often abused. What I disagree with is that the solution is to avoid hiring nannies, rather than paying them fairly and giving them decent working conditions. I think when you make a blanket statement that women who hire nannies are succeeding “on the backs” of those nannies and are “exploiting” them, which people have done on this very thread, that’s making the implied argument that hiring a nanny (or babysitter, or whatever) is bad, and I think that’s nonsense.

  454. Lyanna
    Lyanna June 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

    Or, basically, what igglanova said.

  455. EG
    EG June 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

    By having both parents work ‘part-time’.

    And as long as neither parents nor children need health insurance, that will work really well.

  456. Link Love (30/06/2012) « Becky's Kaleidoscope

    [...] “In any comment section on the internet where feminism comes up, someone will pipe up and cry, “But feminism is about CHOICE!” No. Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying “Any choice women make is a feminist one and so we can’t criticize or judge it.” Feminism isn’t about creating non-judgmental happy-rainbow enclaves where women can do whatever they want without criticism. Feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality for all people, regardless of gender. It’s not about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, or treating women like delicate hot-house flowers who can’t be criticized.” Feminism + Housewifery – Feministe [...]

  457. Cassandra Woolf
    Cassandra Woolf June 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm |

    I stayed at home with my 4 brilliant, creative daughters for 15 years and later took care of my grandson for his first 2 years. I have been an editor, librarian, and social worker, but those were the most challenging, fascinating years of my life.

    Mothering and housewifery are incompatible if you are doing mothering right. Since I required my future husband to read The Second Sex before we made love, i have done less housework than any woman know. My idea of domesticity is putting my books in alphabetical order.

    My four daughters have internalized that men do housework. I am relieved their husbands have rescued them from squalor. Apparently today’s young feminist mothers do not change diapers. They nurse; daddy is the diaper king. Men are different. They compete over whose child has the most disgusting poops,

    I assure women that I am the indispensable friend whose house will always be more of a wreck than theirs. Only do half the housework. There is a critical period of 15 minutes at age 2 that if you play your cards right, your child will think it is fun and beg to do it. Children can learn to do laundry very early. Lower your standards. Then lower them much more. They are discovering that dirt is healthy.

  458. Cassandra Woolf
    Cassandra Woolf June 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    My daughters are 39, 37, 33, and 30. Their husbands have given just as much thought to work/family balance because from the beginning of their relationships, my daughters have absolutely insisted that they do. As a result, their parenting is equal. In one instance, my son-in-law made it possible for her to commute to DC from NYC 3 days a week when they had a 2 year old and 4 year old.

    Hey, mothers raise sons. So we can’t keep blaming men for everything. I am so glad I had five younger brothers and have never met a man who could intimidate or outargue me. High school and college debate is invaluable as well. I talked myself into Fordham as a sophomore the year they accepted women as freshman. I was the first girl most Jesuits had taught. To be the only woman and best student in my political science classes was almost orgasmic.

    and I talked myself into Fordham as a sophomore the year

  459. africaturtle
    africaturtle June 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

    I’m really sorry for how very tiring it is for you to remember that trans people are people. Allow me to express my sincere apologies at the incredible effort it takes to write the phrase “mothers (with breasts)”, as opposed to the two lines of whine you felt it was easier to type. Add to that, further, my condolences at the stupendous amount of thinking you have to do to express yourself in trans* friendly ways! I know, it hurts.

    Would you like some tea to rebuild your energy?

    How about a crumpet?

    sure, i’ll take you up on that offer. Would you also like to see a caveat for those in wheelchairs if i reference the activity of “walking”? Do i need to include “signing” if i refer to “talking”? Do i need to recognize that not everyone types their replies by hand and give credit to voice activated computer systems as well? Maybe we should also add parenthesis for those who are bald before mentioning any references to hair styles. … and you probably should stipulate if your crumpets are gluten free, or not, since that would be more inclusive for those with food allergies.

    pft. apart from the sarcastic bit, i did want to say sincerely, i’ve come to this site a couple of different times via links of other blogs i really like and respect. The content of the articles (here) i often find intriguing. I was raised to believe feminism was of the devil (quite literally). We are all on a learning curve. But the comment sections here (everytime i’ve tuned into a thread) are rather vicious… leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The themes are thought provoking, but the pressure to only express the “right” kinds of thoughts is palpable.

  460. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

    Would you also like to see a caveat for those in wheelchairs if i reference the activity of “walking”? Do i need to include “signing” if i refer to “talking”?

    -_- No, but if you’re referring to building plans, I sure would like to see ramps put in. Also, “move” and “communicate” are perfectly decent words that accommodate pretty much everything without you having to type more, if you’re that interested.

    The themes are thought provoking, but the pressure to only express the “right” kinds of thoughts is palpable.

    “Trans people can also be mothers” is a phrase whose rightness you have to put in scare quotes? Fascinating. Please, show your ass some more. And again, you’re allowed to use marginalising language to your lovely heart’s content – just don’t expect people to be polite and accepting and demure and never call you out on it.

  461. Misaki
    Misaki June 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    And as long as neither parents nor children need health insurance, that will work really well.

    There are solutions. Give part-time workers partial coverage that goes to an existing plan, or just buy individual coverage. The only real reason for employer-provided insurance to exist at all is the tax advantage, which is purely a function of existing law and can be changed—in fact, the Republican party would like to make individual insurance receive similar tax benefits (more than what is already possible).

    There is a somewhat illogical attitude that benefits provide a form of solidarity between employee and the business (which might be a direct result of tax law) but this is very possibly a reason why long-term unemployment is more common for older people. This article on Apple’s retail stores says that deterring older workers with higher health insurance costs is one advantage of the relatively low compensation rate at Apple’s stores. As they say about free lunches, …

  462. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

    [QUOTE]the pressure to only express the “right” kinds of thoughts is palpable.[/QUOTE]

    I’m sorry that it’s such a heavy burden on you to remember to avoid statements that are intended to be all-inclusive but are phrased in a way that very obviously excludes LGBT people, or any other marginalized group that should be included. It’s really not that difficult. And it’s one thing to make a mistake; it’s another thing to go out of your way to complain loudly about how tiresome it all is.

  463. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 30, 2012 at 9:53 pm |

    Of course, if what bothers you is the inability to be openly homophobic or transphobic, then please just go away!

  464. chava
    chava June 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

    I didn’t say parenting isn’t “work” because it’s not 24/7. But in case you haven’t noticed, people do say it’s a 24/7 job. People also say it’s a “full-time job,” which is plainly false. If it required as much time as a full-time job then no person could do it unless they were a SAHP.

    Errr…it *is* a full time job, even a “24/7″ job. I think you’re using ‘parenting’ in the softer sense of ‘being the parent.’ But the work of childcare is a 24/7 job, which is why working parents have to hire (or marry) help to fill in for the hours of the day they aren’t there. Not to mention that the whole idea of the ‘second shift’ in feminist thought rests on the idea that the childcare done after one arrives home constitutes a second job, in effect.

  465. EG
    EG June 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm |

    Give part-time workers partial coverage that goes to an existing plan, or just buy individual coverage.

    So…this first thing doesn’t happen, and as for the latter…this couple is wealthy, now, and can afford to buy good coverage, even though they’re both working only part-time?

  466. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm |

    or just buy individual coverage.

    Do you have any idea how much that costs when you don’t pay for it as part of a group plan with an employer? *Especially* if you have any kind of health issues? I can’t even imagine being able to afford health insurance if I worked part-time and didn’t have health insurance through my job, given my long history of health problems. Even with group health insurance, it’s a huge amount of money, especially because my son is back on my plan now that he’s graduated from college. (This is one of the reasons, other than just not being able to cope with stress very well, that I have several years worth of unopened pay statements sitting on my desk, and wouldn’t know what the answer was if someone asked me what my salary was, or how much money I have in my checking account — I just can’t deal with it, and block it from my conscious mind after I do my taxes every year!)

  467. DonnaL
    DonnaL June 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm |

    (I should add that it’s not that I have so much money that I don’t need to know these things. It’s that I’m able to save so little money that I don’t want to know them. I’ve even been known to bounce checks every now and then, which people my age really shouldn’t be doing anymore! OK, derail over.)

  468. Lauren M
    Lauren M June 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    Shit – even when I was physically able to work full-time, I couldn’t afford health insurance. Not every vein of employment offers an affordable health insurance plan or one at all. My salon “offers health insurance” in the sense that, if you ask, they will give you someone’s card so you can get an individual plan.

  469. Giant Comfort » I’d Rather Be Happy

    [...] her supportive response, Jill, of the blog Feministe, writes: “No. Feminism is not about [...]

  470. Cara
    Cara July 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    Dropping out of work entirely for years is another more personally dangerous and more socially irresponsible choice altogether.

    Oh, screw that. “Socially irresponsible.” Get over yourself. Who the HELL are you to blather about social responsibility? As if caring for children isn’t contributing to society on a much more fundamental level than being exploited by a system that can shove another cog in the machine the second you drop dead.

    You can talk about how damaging it is for women to be the default caretaker, and also about the fact that being the default caretaker means a woman is in a vulnerable position, financially and socially, if the breadwinner decides he doesn’t like her laugh. You can even say feminists need to think about that, and need to CONTINUE to push for social change so that things are more equal for everyone–namely, so that men can do caretaking, women can be valued for something BESIDES caretaking, and perhaps society can pull collective head out enough to STOP DEVALUING CARETAKING and start treating it as the necessary SOCIAL service it is and paying for it accordingly.

    But getting all hoity about an already oppressed person, who by the nature of being female is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t, and airily declaring that she’s socially irresponsible, without knowing anything else about her, is just…pathetic.

  471. A double standard. | emporiasexus
    A double standard. | emporiasexus July 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |

    [...] was thinking some more about Jill Filipovic’s post about Feminism  + Housewifery.  It was a thoughtful post in which she discussed, among other things, the way in which personal [...]

  472. Liberal feminists realize that feminism is a movement after all. Confusion ensues. | Feminist Current

    [...] Filipovic over at Feministe picked up on the piece and added all sorts of things that I agree with, such as the idea that feminism is actually a [...]

  473. Cara
    Cara July 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm |

    These comments seem to assume that childcare expenses will outstrip a woman’s income forever and ever and ever. That seems unrealistic. Taking a hit in childcare expenses is nothing compared to the one she’ll take if she stays home for a some years and has to go back to work.

    What’s unrealistic is forgetting that “taking a hit” is NOT an option for a woman who needs to earn money.

    Job money – More than Job money = negative money

    Working for “career building” != “NEEDING a job”. NEEDING a job means you’re in the hole and need money.

    In other words, once again, the women who would lose all their income in paying for child care and therefore don’t work are NOT the women in the 1%.

  474. Lyanna
    Lyanna July 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

    Chava:

    Errr…it *is* a full time job, even a “24/7″ job. I think you’re using ‘parenting’ in the softer sense of ‘being the parent.’ But the work of childcare is a 24/7 job, which is why working parents have to hire (or marry) help to fill in for the hours of the day they aren’t there.

    I’m using parenting in the sense of “raising children,” which I guess you could equate with “being the parent,” and I’m pushing back against the idea that you need to stay home to count as “raising your children.” That raising children is a 24/7 job. It’s not.

    I don’t agree that the work of childcare is a 24/7 job, either, at least not once the child starts going to school and sleeping through the night. Is it possible that a parent might need to get up in the middle of the night to take care of a child, or come to school in the middle of the day for some purpose? Sure. But we don’t refer to jobs as being 24/7 because they require you to be on-call for dire emergencies 24/7.

  475. shfree
    shfree July 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

    Hah, insurance. I remember the first time I had a seizure when I was out from under my parents’ insurance, when I wasn’t medically controlled yet. I had a full-time job, but I wouldn’t qualify for insurance until after I had been there for a year. Imagine my terror when I came to in the ambulance to find out that my friend, meaning well, had handed over my correct ID and gave them all of my contact information. (Not that they couldn’t get it from me later anyway, I am incapable of lying when coming out of a seizure, it seems) At least I was able to get the hospital to write off about $2000 of that ER visit due to the fact that they were a Catholic hospital, and by law they have to write off x amount of dollars a year to maintain non profit status. (Did you know they charge extra for a CAT scan after hours? True fact!)

    But back on topic, currently right now I’m working simply to work, and it SUCKS. I need to have some sort of job experience here, just because a three year gap to go to school just doesn’t appeal to employers. Which pisses me off.

  476. Guerrilla Mom
    Guerrilla Mom July 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    Holy crap. I had several points to make, but I forgot them all by the end of that piece.

    My biggest point is this: Who cares what the 1% does, when that 1% isn’t representative of most of us? You make a lot of assumptions in this post that are speculative at best, and extremely sexist and narrow minded at worst.

    Sorry, but feminism is about choice – as much as you say it isn’t. There is a difference between being tethered to your home because you have no options, and deciding to stay home with your kids. Also, alimony laws exist, so you can stop worrying about the 1% and their loss of careers to motherhood.

  477. chava
    chava July 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    I don’t agree that the work of childcare is a 24/7 job, either, at least not once the child starts going to school and sleeping through the night. Is it possible that a parent might need to get up in the middle of the night to take care of a child, or come to school in the middle of the day for some purpose? Sure. But we don’t refer to jobs as being 24/7 because they require you to be on-call for dire emergencies 24/7.

    Yeah, so–when the child is at school, the school is taking care of them. When they’re sleeping through the night, someone has to be in the house with them. Whether or not it’s the parent, someone has to be either on call (nights) or working/doing active childcare (school) until the kid is old enough to be left home alone and/or generally fend for themselves.

    And yeah, I think of jobs where people have to be constantly on call as pretty 24/7 (doctors, firemen, etc). I mean yeah, you fit in life around your call schedule, but the possibility of having to drop everything is always there.

  478. Mxe354
    Mxe354 July 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    As if caring for children isn’t contributing to society on a much more fundamental level than being exploited by a system that can shove another cog in the machine the second you drop dead.

    Love. This. Quote.

  479. Matt
    Matt July 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

    Pretty sure that if you drop dead they can and do shove another cog in the parenting machine also.
    Not all child rearing contributes positively to society in any case.

  480. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

    Pretty sure that if you drop dead they can and do shove another cog in the parenting machine also.

    True. Very few people are objectively irreplaceable.

  481. EG
    EG July 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

    Pretty sure that if you drop dead they can and do shove another cog in the parenting machine also.

    Really? Seriously? Are you seriously going to contend that parental death does not have a significant effect–a significant, painful effect–on the child being parented?

    And believe me, I’ve seen it happen. If parents do not make extensive and detailed plans for their children in the even of the parents’ death, “another cog” is not just shoved in. The children suffer immensely as they are bounced from one unstable, unwelcoming, temporary abode to another.

    Not all child rearing contributes positively to society in any case.

    Indeed. For instance, I don’t see that Mitt Romney’s parents’ caretaking has contributed at all to society. But somehow, when scores are totted up in the real world, it’s never the rich white people whose parenting is found wanting, is it?

  482. DonnaL
    DonnaL July 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |

    Pretty sure that if you drop dead they can and do shove another cog in the parenting machine also.

    I take it that you never lost a parent at a young age yourself. It’s not that easy. It’s not remotely comparable to the essential fungibility of most people at their jobs.

  483. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

    Pretty sure that if you drop dead they can and do shove another cog in the parenting machine also.

    Oh, do tell us about the interchangeability of parents! Why, I – a full adult, even – wouldn’t notice if my mom died tomorrow, because my mother-in-law and I get along really well and it’s exactly the same, right?

    Oh wait. Wrong.

  484. Lyanna
    Lyanna July 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    @ chava:

    I think your most recent comment contains a lot of assumptions I want to push back against.

    For instance, I don’t think what schools do is “childcare.” There is a basic child-supervision and child-safety element to it, sure, but that’s not the point. The point is education on designated subjects, not “caring for” the child or “raising” the child.

    I also don’t think of those jobs where you are always on-call as 24/7 jobs. By that standard, any important relationship is a 24/7 job. I’m always “on-call” if my parents, who have health problems, need help. I don’t consider myself doing a 24/7 job because of it. I’m always “on-call” if my partner needs me for something important. My partner and my parents are less needy than children, so the call is less likely to come, but if it comes I will drop everything and go, as much as any parent would. And yet, I wouldn’t say I’m doing a 24/7 job by being my parents’ daughter, or by being a partner. I’m not. Saying that would create a false impression of work where none exists. What exists is the potential for work.

    I’m not just being pedantic here. I think there’s a real problem with the rhetoric of parenting being a 24/7 job. The same is true for the “cog in the machine” rhetoric being spouted above. Such rhetoric devalues parents who work outside the home (obviously they’re not being real parents!) and single people (obviously they’re doing nothing so important as parenting! They’re just cogs in a machine). It sentimentalizes children and parenthood. It encourages the harmful attitudes of those who would blame mothers for not being perfect saintly martyrs who are constantly vigilant and hyper-protective. It encourages the harmful attitude that nothing is more meaningful in life than procreation and child-rearing. It’s a false glorification.

  485. Matt
    Matt July 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

    Assumptions. How fun. Its good to know feministe hasn’t changed.
    At least Bagelsan didn’t feel the need to straw man me with arguments I never made, some of which no reasonable person could possibly infer from my comment.

    Donna, you don’t know my life. Firstly, I never said that it has a minimal effect on the child. Secondly even if I had said this that still isn’t grounds to infer that I did not lose a parent at a young age. Children who lose a parent are, to borrow a feministe fave, not a monolith.

    Macavity, pretty transparent straw man, way to shoot down a statement I never made.
    EG, ditto.

  486. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 2, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

    Macavity, pretty transparent straw man, way to shoot down a statement I never made.

    o_O How many ways to read “shove another cog in the parenting machine” are there? …unless you don’t know what the implications of calling someone a cog are, of course.

  487. EG
    EG July 3, 2012 at 9:10 am |

    Seriously. By all means, explain how “shove another cog in the parenting machine” should have been understood.

    Lyanna,

    I fundamentally disagree. What schools do is child care. It’s not just about education. It’s about maintaining their physical and emotional safety, and that’s a huge part of parenting. It’s also about socializing children, and that’s another big part of parenting. Drawing a sharp line between education and care is what allows disadvantaged children to suffer and drop out.

    And the call being less likely to come makes all the difference. Your parents aren’t going to call you every time they get sick and throw up. You don’t have to arrange care for them when you go out. There does come a time when being a daughter does become 24/7, just as there comes a time when being a parent no longer is, but the likelihood of being called in, of having to be on alert, makes all the difference.