Sunday, November 20, 2011

A re-run: "What's going on? Women are coming home!"

I rarely do re-posts on the blog, as somehow there is always something new to say, but today is a special occassion. I had an email from a reader who was outraged by some sayings of feminist Linda Hirshman, and wondered whether I might consider debating her points. Now, as it happens, I already wrote a blog post in response to Linda Hirshman years ago, back when I was still single. Here it is:


This article is a rather old one, but this is the first time I came across it. Thanks to Green Eyes for sharing the link! When I saw it was written by Linda Hirshman, I already had a vague guess about its contents, and was proved right: Hirshman expresses her deep and sincere concern about women who make the choice to opt out of the workforce and go home to their families. It was a true masterpiece as a whole, but some of the following pearls of wisdom really got me ticking:

"What is going on? Most women hope to marry and have babies."Really? What backwardness! What lack of rational thinking! Of course, this is the reason why we are all here in the first place, but why on earth would someone willingly choose this sad fate for themselves, if they have glorious alternatives in the form of high-paying career, dating into their late thirties, fertility treatments in their 40's, and loneliness in later years?

"Prying women out of their traditional roles is not going to be easy."
Pay attention to this, ladies. It's not about what you want. It's not about what your husbands and yourselves decided will be the best for your family. It's not about what makes you peaceful and happy, or gives you contentment, or enables you to take better care of your children; it's about someone's willingness to push a certain anti-utopian agenda on us all.

"If women never start playing the household-manager role, the house will be dirty… Either the other adult in the family will take a hand or the children will grow up with robust immune systems."You should never allow yourself to make an effort to keep your home pretty, tidy and well-managed; you should never allow your home to become a safe haven of relaxation, warmth, love, joy and hospitality, because if you enjoy your home, this might make 'prying you out of your traditional gender role' much more difficult. Don't mind if your children get infections from food pathogens, either. The important thing is that you don't give in to your natural drive for making your home neat and clean!

"Have a baby. Just don't have two. A second kid pressures the mother's organizational skills."
You mean, being a busy wife and mother of many children makes you better at organizing, multitasking, being flexible, effective and resourceful? Or you mean that motherhood and home life are a full-time job? That's no news to us. We knew it all along, and as a matter of fact, we don't see anything wrong or negative in it. It's the feminist camp that tried to convince us family and motherhood are of little value, and rob us of our intelligence, skills and talents.

But if – as we are told all the time – it's all about 'choice', why should they even care about what we freely choose?

"We care because what they do is bad for them."If you make your husband and yourself happy by being keeper-at-home, it's bad for you. If your children have their Mommy with them, it's bad for you. If you don't give into the habit of addictive consumerism and live frugally and resourcefully, it's bad for you. If you have time to pursue your talents, practice hospitality, and create a peaceful life for your family instead of being exhausted, harassed, overwhelmed and stressed out, it's – again – bad for you. To keep matters simple, everything that is bad for your career, independence and/or bank account is bad for you.

"Now the glass ceiling begins at home. Although it is harder to shatter a ceiling that is also the roof over your head, there is no other choice."
This statement really simplifies the matters. These are no hints or implications: it's acknowledged that what we are encouraged to do means shattering the roof over our heads. Fortunately, no one can force me – or you – to do that. I'm opting out. I choose to keep the roof – and my home – intact.


Anonymous said...

The whole article that you linked to is baffling. The essence of it is that the highest aim of women should be to become men. Why would a woman want to try to become a man? It's a ridiculous, futile and unattainable goal. Surely any self-respecting woman is going to try to be the best woman she can be. I read somewhere that if you and your spouse are exactly alike, one of you is superfluous. Men and women are necessarily different. Flipping it around, who would be interested in a man whose highest goal was to become a woman? Like I said, an absolutely baffling article.

Anonymous said...

What a sad article. It's odd to me that so many people forget that the whole point of work is to feed and support yourself and your family - it's such a twisted worldview in which the work it the source of identity, power, status, and the family is an optional add-on. I'm so, so thankful not to live in Ms. Hirschman's world.

Miu said...

I think not everything about feminism is bad, but Linda Hirshman is using the most abstruse arguments I have ever heard.
I wonder how she wants to convince someone with those absurdities.

Anonymous said...

Strange--I have a PhD, have a neat home, have both had a career and been a housewife, and have no children--and I am happy. I can't recall having been lonely since I was about 10 . . . sad and strange that we all waste so much wind telling one another what we _should_ want. If you, Anna, want to be a housewife with children, then I hope you are the best at those that you can be, and that they satisfy you. If another woman wishes to be the opposite, I hope the same for her. And don't get me started on this nostalgia for the "golden age" when all women were housewives . . . believe me, it did not exist; some were happy, others were miserable. Much abuse happened and was covered up. And of course the invention of the wife at home, despite what many people think, is relatively recent--women have always worked, either at home or, often, outside of it, since our species appeared. At all events, blessings on you, and may all who seek honest paths be happy in them.

MarkyMark said...

That was a MASTERFUL critique-well done! The travesty is that people like Linda Hirschman and her ilk get all the print & air time that they do to spread their lies...

Anonymous said...

Having a job doesn't make women men. Neither does taking steps to remain employable so that if something were to happen, a woman could financially support a household. Never forget the women who are left waylaid by divorce, spouse death, or unemployment or disability of the spouse. To be responsible, every wife should consider what would happen if she were financially responsible for the whole household. If you don't have some pathway in mind to a viable career to support your household, it is not using your head.