Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Linda Hirshman is an idiot

There was this woman, Linda Hirshman, on Good Morning America this morning. She has written an article or book or something about how "educated", "privileged" women who choose to stay at home to raise their children are doing something that's bad for themselves, their children and society. Normally we're watching Sesame Street or something of that ilk at this time, but I had sat on the remote and changed the tv to channel 7. I'm just mentioning this because the segment had already started, and between that, my son's shouting and the fact that when I attempt to google this woman I'm coming up with nothing, and that GMA has little on their site other than a link to their message boards: Mommy Wars Rants means that I don't have more info about who this woman is and what it is she wrote. But this escalating nonsense about the so-called "Mommy Wars" has my blood boiling and so I must rant.

First, this is where I'm coming from. I have a BA in English from Wesleyan University (a "potted ivy"), and an MLS from Long Island University. I have chosen to work part-time and stay at home with my children until they are in school full-time. I'm evil to Linda Hirshman, pretty much. Part of the reason for this has to do with my own neuroses, stemming from childhood, that something could happen to my children in daycare/with sitter, i.e. abuse, and I wouldn't know about it. However this is my own issue, which shouldn't factor into the argument at large. Mostly, I chose to stay home with my children because I feel that the ages of 0-5 are the most important years of their lives, when the most brain development and learning take place, and their first experiences, impressions and learning should be from me. I feel that I should point out that I have a well-paying, flexible, convenient part-time job. And my career (librarian), though fulfilling, is not necessarily a "fast-track" career, so to speak. It is also a traditionally feminine occupation, and a job that a lot of people take up later in life as a career change, so there would not be a lot of stigma attached to me returning to work later down the line. I'm just pointing these things out b/c I am sure that they all color my perception of the issue.

Onto the "Mommy Wars," yet another anti-woman, anti-feminist issue cloaked as a feminist one. Why women must continue to pit themselves against each other as well as denigrate and de-value each others' choices is completely beyond me. Beyond me as well is why supposedly feminist scholars continue to judge certain women. I believe that the argument is that feminist scholars of the 60s and 70s worked hard so that we would be able to work, and now us stay at home moms are "opting out". Screw that. As a lifelong, self-identified feminist who's taken lots o' women's studies classes, I appreciate the work by earlier feminists to give us choices. Choices, bee-yotch. I don't care if anyone on either side agrees with me. I don't necessarily think women can have it all (at the same time, at least), but what's important is that there is an element of choice. That each mother is making what she (and her partner) feels is the best choice for her family and herself. The only people I feel bad for in the "Mommy Wars", who are of course never mentioned, are those women who are constrained by finances to either work or stay at home (childcare's expensive,ya'll, if you don't make enough money it doesn't pay to work, often). There are plenty of unhappy women, who wish that they could be at home or at work. Nobody cares about that.

That's because the arguments that the "Mommy Wars" are based upon are rooted in sweeping generalizations, misconceptions and outright fallacies. Intelligent, groundbreaking ideas like--all stay at home moms are unhappy, working moms are putting careers before family, stay at home moms stay at home all day and their children aren't well socialized, kids in day care are not as well socialized, no they are better socialized, SAHMs are selfish, working moms are selfish and so on. I know it looks stupid and contradictory, but there it is. I've seen these things written in articles, blogs and on message boards. There are so many variables determining what decisions people make and why, but instead we must reduce women and mothers down to two entities, the SAHM and the working mother. Because all SAHMs and all working mothers are exactly the same, right? Same values, same politics, same interests, same priorities. Yeah, right. What makes you a good mother is, again, choice and time. Being a SAHM does not necessarily make you a good mother if you choose to spend all your time watching talk shows and talking on the phone. Childrens' needs and development can just as easily be neglected by a mother in the home as without. Sorry, but there it is. A mother who works outside the home full-time may not have as much time with her children, but its what she does with it that counts.

Yes, I'm sure there are differences between children of SAHMs and working moms, but again I think that has more to do with the type of parenting going on. Just as there are differences among children of SAHMs and children of working moms. Obviously, I am pro-staying at home, but that's because I enjoy it, I'm good at it (and I make a little money at a job I enjoy too). We all make parenting choices based on our situations, desires, opportunities, experiences, and other factors. Instead of generalizing and judging, it might be better to think and empathize a little. Mothers have enough guilt and self-doubt to deal with on their own, we don't need it from others. Sisterhood is powerful!!! If you want something to judge, there are a number of people and issues that are genuinely dangerous to our children and their futures. Take aim at one of them.

In happy, snoopy-dancing news, less than a week to Lisa Kleypas' Devil in Winter. Over at Squawk Radio, she's given some teasers. Squee. I'm so excited for this book. It definitely seems like a change for her. Have I mentioned that I like heroes that are genuinely a bit bad? Squeeeeee. Oy vey. A romance reading housewife. I'll have to turn my brain over to Linda Hirschman and the editors of Ms. magazine. Maybe they can find someone who'll make better use of it, since apparently, I don't use it or need it at all.

ETA: I think this might be the same woman who wrote that article that was in NYT in the fall.


Sara said...

All parents love their children the same, whether they work outside of the home or inside...
The problem in Canada is a Lobbyist group for daycares, they use the x government to spurt out crap like "stay at home parents are selfish" and yes, these are feminists doing it. I call them die hard feminist because I know other feminist who don't believe that. I believe in equality for all parents, which ends in "fund the child". Because of these feminist our group was started and its not fair... we believe in equality they believe in funding only daycare so woman can work and be equal to men!

I am equal to any man already!

Thanks for the rant, I enjoyed reading it!!!

MamaZuzi said...

Here's what I found when doing a quick google:

Hope it helps. I myself am a mother of two on the other coast who works 20 hours a week in non-profit marketing and is with the kids when Dad isn't... I constantly feel stuck somewhere between SAHMs and Full-time Outside the Home Career Moms...

sybil said...

I want DiW more! So I should have it now. sez I ;)

C said...

I just finished my Linda Hirshman post.

Oh, by the way - LOVE your blog template! ha!

C said...

I just finished my Linda Hirshman post.

Oh, by the way - LOVE your blog template! ha!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to stop comment-whoring all over your blog in a minute but I just wanted to say I went to Wes too! Hello fellow Alum!

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful post. I didn't see the segment on TV but I'm sure I would have been just as upset about it as you are. I am a SAHM by choice and it's a hard job. Then again, if I was working with 2 little kids in daycare 10 hours a day, that would be hard too.
As women, we need to stop judging each other and start supporting each other regardless of the choices we make regarding working or not after having children. As you pointed out, choice is exactly what the feminists of the 60's and 70's fought for.
Thanks for bringing this up.