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MAMA LIKES

Must-Read of the Week
posted by Amy

Go read this Bitch Ph.D. entry written in response to Rebecca Traister's Salon.com piece on Terry Martin Hekker's article in the Sunday NYT "Paradise Lost (Domestic Division)" and David Brooks' idiotic column in the same day's paper (not linked to because you'd have to pay for it, which is just wrong.)

Here's an excerpt from Bitch Ph.D.:

ůmen WANT to do more emotional work in their relationships--which suggests that, rather than using the "happy home life" argument to attack women who point out power inequities in the conventional distrubtion of men = paid work, women = unpaid work, advocates for home life would do better to urge men to pursue happiness by doing more of the fulfilling, satisfying, and important work of childcare, homemaking, and emotional caretaking, even if doing so means sacrificing economic power, because it would make them happier. It would also, funnily enough, free women up to mind their economic safety and pursue power without having to "choose" not to have children, or to hire full-time nannies.

It's the false either/or distinction that's bullshit, not the argument that women should--gasp--pursue money and power in realms other than at home. Does the workplace need to change to accomodate this? Hell yes, and we oughta push hard to make that happen. But we're only pushing with one arm as long as we don't recognize that this is not "just" a women's issue; it's an issue for everyone. It isn't reminding women to watch their backs, to plan for their economic futures, and to pursue direct as well as indirect power that undermines family life; it's failing to require men--and by extension, the worlds of work and politics--to take kids, family time, and other "low status" but vitally important realities into account. Instead of telling women they can't have it all, we need to remind men that they can.

Terry Martin Hekker, by the way, wrote a Times column about 25 years ago about the satisfactions of being a full-time homemaker and stay-at-home mother. (Then, like so many advocates of women staying at home, she took her show on the road, going on book tours and lecture circuits.) In last Sunday's Times, Hekker wrote:

If I had it to do over again, I'd still marry the man I married and have my children: they are my treasure and a powerful support system for me and for one another. But I would have used the years after my youngest started school to further my education. I could have amassed two doctorates using the time and energy I gave to charitable and community causes and been better able to support myself.

Lots of food for thought in Bitch Ph.D.'s post, Traister's piece, and Hekker's, too.