Monday, June 18, 2012

Sorry mom, what you do is meaningless

Yikes, I ran into an ugly morass of a feminist rant against women who let down the team by actually staying home and, the horror!, being a mother. Get a barf bag and click if you dare Elizabeth Wurtzel's screed in the Atlantic 1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible. Under the headline we read Being a mother isn't a real job -- and the men who run the world know it. You pretty much know what you are going to get after that....

What follows is a litany of ugly and often crude self-loathing silliness from a woman who apparently thinks that all stay at home moms are the bimbo trophy wives of domineering rich guys who spend their days shopping and going to yoga while hubby is at work. Here is a sampling...

I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time -- by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits -- is her feminist choice. Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own. 
 And there really is only one kind of equality -- it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo -- and it's economic. If you can't pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent.
I have to admit that when I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton -- one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better -- but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed. I'm not much of a moralist -- I have absolutely no right to be -- but in the interest of doing what's right both for me personally and for women generally, I have been strict with myself about earning my keep.  
Because here's what happens when women go shopping at Chanel and get facials at Tracy Martyn when they should be wage-earning mensches: the war on women happens. 
Most mothers have jobs because they need or want the money and fulfillment; only in rare cases are they driven by glory. 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. 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.
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. Yes, of course, it's something -- actually, it's something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle of making okay meals and decent kid conversation. But let's face it: It is not a selective position. 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). Even moms with full-time jobs spend 86 percent as much time with their kids as unemployed mothers, so it is apparently taking up the time of about 14 percent of a paid position. And all the cultish glorification of home and hearth still leaves us in a world where most of the people paid to chef and chauffeur in the commercial world are men. Which is to say, something becomes a job when you are paid for it -- and until then, it's just a part of life. 

Yikes. Shockingly a woman who is a lawyer in New York City doesn't seem to get what life is like in the rest of the country where being a mother rather than an employee is hardly a glamorous life of pedicures and Chanel. Wouldn't have expected that. I found it especially odd that she seems to think that a leaving home mom somehow spends almost as much time with their kids as an "unemployed mother" (and the notion of that phrase being used to describe women who raise children is worth an entire post of it's own). Maybe if you count the time sleeping as "spending time" with your kids that makes some sense. Since kids leave for school and return from school at generally different times than mom, many children are not in school yet because they are under 5 and adding in the 1/4 of the year or more that kids are not in school, that idea is ridiculous on its face. Thus we have a reminder of the old saying that statistics never lie but liars use statistics.

As Robert VerBruggen writes in his rebuttal, Elizabeth Wurtzel Should Get Out More, even a half-hearted attempt to gather some facts rather than relying on anecdotal evidence gathered in an atypical city like New York would reveal stats like...

65 percent of married women who stay home with children under 18 years old live in households that earn less than $75,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the United States Census Bureau.

Turns out that being a stay at home mom is not the sole privilege of the wealthy but is actually a conscious choice made by many middle-class families that make up 2/3 of the stay at home mom population. Kind of deflates the whole premise of her article but hey that is OK because most of the people reading her article have the same myopic vision of American family life. Anything that affirms their worldview is fine and dandy.

While Ms. Wurtzel gets essentially nothing right in her entire essay, an impressive feat, there is one truth that is inadvertently written.  Being a mother isn't a job. It is a calling and a far more important one than being a lawyer, one that doesn't come with a pension or vacation time or a time clock. There is indeed a war on women and it has been going on for decades, a war against mothers that has led to generations of single mothers, millions of aborted children and an entire population of children who have raised themselves. Instead of berating women who choose to raise their children in a vain attempt to validate her own life, perhaps Ms. Wurtzel could try to encourage those who are striving to raise children in a culture that demeans and diminishes the value of home and family.


Aussie John said...


"For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink".

Bethany W. said...

Good grief...

I don't know if I should laugh or cry. I really do hurt for that poor lady.