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MAMA LIKES

Better Late Than Never
posted by Sheri

Here's some of Andi Buchanan's response to dealing with some of the negative feedback she got after the BookTV interview, in which the panelists discussed some possible solutions to the issue of work/life balance for moms:

Barbara Ehrenreich had some great advice about how to respond to this kind of thing. A questioner at the panel mentioned the controversial UVA professor whom I'd had the pleasure of debating at last year's Festival and asked what the students could do to confront him on his outdated views on gender and women in general. Barbara's advice was: don't engage him on that, because it's clear that he's not going to be swayed by anything anyone has to say on the matter. Don't even go there. Instead, tell him, "Great. That is excellent that you feel so strongly about women's roles as mothers and men's roles as breadwinners. Now, what are you going to do to help get workers a living wage to make that possible?"

I think that is wise advice, and the kind of tactic that can work with a lot of people, including those who are not happy to hear what we have to say about the difficulties of contemporary motherhood or the work-life balance. Because it's a tricky way of revealing that the policies they think would only be in the best interests of "hip mama" "entitlement whores" (yes, a quote from one of the emails) are actually (brace yourself!) for the benefit of everyone.

On a similar note, check out Miriam Peskowitz's response to the same feedback:

We've been persuaded that childcare is a private cost, kind of like a yearly vacation to Disney World. It's something extra.

Well, it is something extra, and it isn't. The question of who shoulders this extra cost should be up for question. Currently we think of childcare as an extra, not a necessity. K-12 education is seen as a necessity, still, and funded collectively. I'd like to see us debate which category—extra or social necessity—childcare falls in. I think it belongs in the latter category, and that we need to shift from seeing it as extra to seeing it as a necessity. In the long run, childcare costs should be shared by all who pay corporate taxes in America. After all, they're the ones who really, truly need us to work. And they're the ones who have been getting quite the tax cuts lately. Childcare should be seen as part of the employer's cost of doing business in our country. If that cost is shared, then each of us and each of them would barely feel it.