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.
My Dad listened to me for a bit and then asked an interesting question. He asked, “what is it like working for a woman?” I was surprised by the question until I realized that, though my Dad had hired many women into the workforce during his years in government, at the start of his career, very few women worked outside of the home.
So, while my Dad helped change all of that, he had never had a woman as his boss, and was simply curious. I thought hard about the question, and I don’t really remember how I answered it, mainly because I couldn’t really understand how to answer it.
You might as well ask me what it is like to live under a blue sky. What is it like? Well… It just is. What is it like having a woman for a boss? It’s, well… like perfectly normal.
Which should underscore to everyone as it did to me the tremendous amount of change wrought in just one generation by the feminist movement. From my father’s generation to mine, women went from being a scarce part of the workforce to being a normal part of it.
Are there gains to be made yet? Very likely. Should women worry over losing ground in this society? I don’t think so. Men like myself, who, by the way, do a LOT more housework than our Dads did (and I say that as someone who just recently finished mopping the floors and washing the dishes and am now settling down on my bed in the role of pajama-clad blogger) would never want to go back to the days where women were largely excluded from the workforce. I like things the way they are now, and I’ve never heard a single male co-worker ever lament the loss of those “old days.”
One other quick point; Ms. Hirshman should really try and correlate some of the data in her upcoming book with James Taranto’s theory of the “Roe Effect.” I think she will find that it makes for some interesting reading. And it may just be that, to ultimately secure the gains made by feminists over the past decades, it is necessary to let those corporate moms nurture their children at home for while, if they so choose.