I will say this of the controvery which Linda Hirshman kicked off in late November of last year with her article, Homeward Bound, it has been a fascinating debate. Is it really a mistake for women to choose to stay at home and rear children? According to Linda, the answer is a resounding “YES!”
Now, in an article published in the Washington Post, Ms. Hirshman offers a follow-up with another article entitled Unleashing The Wrath of Stay-at-Home Moms. In this article, we see some additional insights, and perhaps a softer tone towards the moms who have chosen to stay at home. At the same time, you also see the same narrow focus on how “work” is defined and the value of one job vs. another.
I’m not going to go on at length about this controversy as so many have. I do think both articles are worth reading and I think the debate as a whole is an interesting and healthy one.
At the same time, I do want to add a few quick points:
- The fact that many women are choosing to have children and want to focus their attention on their children should not be taken as a bad sign. Why? Because, what Ms. Hirshman does not seem to talk about is what women do after their children begin their full-time schooling years. What I’ve seen and what I think is coming to be a trend is women who leave work, or minimize work during their children’s early years, then move back into the workforce as their children move into their FT schooling years. And with the growing shortage of talent in many metropolitan areas, companies are more than happy to give women options to either keep them onboard PT for a period of time, and/or bring them back later when women are ready to get back to their careers. I’m not sure where it is that Ms. Hirshman works, but in my corporate career, most of my bosses have been women, and more than half my colleagues as well, and I do not see that changing in any way, shape, or form.
- I wonder if Ms. Hirshman has considered that perhaps modern women get riled simply by the fact that someone is trying to tell them what to do and what to value. Perhaps the response offered by self-selected stay-at-home Moms to Ms. Hirshmans “Homeward Bound” article has less to do with religion, as she intimates in her Post article, and more to do with women exercising their complete freedom to choose any path they wish.
- One of the philisophical pillars of the women’s movement is the belief that there is NO difference between men and women. Religious conservatives like myself believe that, while men and women are different, we share equal rights under the Constitution. But in her Post article, Ms. Hirshman stated her belief that, without enough women influencers in the workforce, men will err in favor of themselves when it comes to important issues. While I believe such a thing is certainly a possibility, I find it quite interesting that Ms. Hirshman acknowledges the fact that men and women truly are different in some ways.
I remember, years ago, soon after starting a new job with a terrific company in Northern Virginia, telling my Dad about how great my new boss was. My boss was a career-woman with two children and I loved working for her.