More Responses to Hirshman
posted by Amy

There's a thoughtful, kind conversation going on over at Friday Playdate (and I don't just think so because it started with a link on this site). In response to Linda Hirshman's recent article, "America's Stay-at-Home Feminists, " Susan writes:

I struggle with the mommy thing, not so much because my children are not who I expected them to be, or even because I am not the mommy I imagined I would be, but because I don't want to do the 'housewife' things. I would rather spend my child-free time reading long essays about the failure of third-wave feminism, because that makes me a better wife and mother and member of society. And one could argue that I took all this on--the kids, the houswork, the butter--when I decided to leave my job and 'stay home'.

One could argue that Wade goes to work and doesn't get to choose what he does and does not do there. But I think that misses the point. Wade's job does not define him as a person; mine does. And Hirsch[man]is right, the mommy job defines us not by our intellect or our social activism but by our gender, and heaps on us the gender expectations of a century ago.

Read the comments, where several women are thinking over some of the issues and choices referred to in Susan's post.

Libby Gruner of Midlife Mama has an excellent critique of the article as well, and in the comments there's a link to yet another view of Hirshman's piece which I'm in too much of a hurry to link to. Libby writes, in part:

I think she's right, that it's not just the workplace but male-female relationships (and, maybe, men themselves) that are at issue. This came up again and again in my class discussions on Beauvoir. With little apology, the young women in my class spoke of wanting mates who would "take care of" them. Or attributed such feelings to "most women." The men were fairly quiet in our discussions, but when they did speak, they acknowledged the heavy expectations on men: to earn, to provide, to "take care of" a partner, a family. It's hard to be equal when you're claiming a position of dependency. It's also hard to be the "superior," the bread-winner.