Sunday, March 12, 2006

Feminists don't like some of our choices

In The American Prospect, Linda Hirshman takes issue with the choice of women to opt out of the workforce and stay at home to take care of their homes and families. (She, by the way, is on Bernard Goldberg's list of "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.")

In her opinion women shouldn't make this choice and that women still consider it a valid choice means that feminism wasn't radical enough. She doesn't believe they are really choosing.

She says:
They don'’t know that feminism, in collusion with traditional society, just passed the gendered family on to them to choose.

Here'’s the feminist moral analysis that choice avoided: The family -- with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks -- is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government. This less-flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral responsibility only of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust. Women assigning it to themselves is equally unjust. To paraphrase, as Mark Twain said, " man who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as a man who cannot read."”
She goes to say later that women who stay home are in some way cheating society. I would argue that women who are raising morally healthy, educated, civilized human beings are making a tremendous contribution to society. Although there are sometimes repetitive physical tasks that need to be done, they are not the totality or the essence of family life, nor are they usually borne only by women.

Hirshman suggests a series of "rules" for women, including "marrying down" and having only one child if you have any. I would guess that as a college honors graduate and the product of a two-career marriage, I am probably the sort of woman Ms. Hirshman can't stand. I think I've broken all of her rules.

I married a smart, ambitious man with the full knowledge that he would have a successful career in his chosen profession, and I'm sure she would be horrified that I waited tables to pay for him to get his masters degree, giving him even more of an edge in the game of money and power that seems to be her measure of worth. My degree was in the distinctly impractical field of history, with minors in the equally unmarketable English and political science. I have four kids and have opted to be a stay-at-home mom with a home business, something that I'm sure horrifies Ms. Hirshman.

I'm glad to know that enough women are choosing to stay home with their children to agitate the likes of Ms. Hirshman. And I'm really glad I'm one of them.

HT: Cranach

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1 comment:

Petersen said...

Words are always important. We "lost" the abortion war when the vocab changed from baby to "fetus." We are losing this war because feminist philosophy portrays itself as pro-female. But they're not. They're pro-neuter. Depending on the day, the nonsense they spew is either that men and women are exactly the same and the only distinction is a matter of plumbing (which no one believes) or, if there is a difference, it is that men are inherently oppressive and violent and should be punished. Feminism is not about equal pay for equal work. It is not about ending sexism. We are all for those things. It is about the destruction of families and the belittling of all men and women who choose to live in them. Feminism is the real heresy of our day. As all good heresies, it is wrapped around certain truths and sucks in men of good-will and intention.