8.19.2006

Is motherhood the new feminism?

"Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women's opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering."

--Elaine Heffner


I love this quote. And, I despise Linda Hirshman's view of feminism, which is the antithesis of this quote. For that reason, I'll be addressing what I call "Hirshman feminism" over the next few weeks by dissecting this article that she published last November and that sets forth the basic premise of her recent book, Get to Work.

Let's begin with his quote from the 4th paragraph of the article:
Why did this happen? The answer I discovered -- an answer neither feminist leaders nor women themselves want to face -- is that while the public world has changed, albeit imperfectly, to accommodate women among the elite, private lives have hardly budged. The real glass ceiling is at home. (Emphasis added).
I could not disagree more wholeheartedly with this "observation", which is really a baseless conclusion, upon which her entire thesis is based.

As I've repeatedly stated on this blog, I don't think that the world outside of academia has changed much at all in terms of "accommodating" women, and in particular women who choose to start a family. In my mind, that's the problem that needs to be solved.

Likewise, I think that many of the men of my generation are far more liberal and willing to enter into egalitarian relationships than their fathers were. Although there are certainly issues of inequality within some relationships, I truly don't think that that's the primary impetus behind women leaving their professional jobs.

So, why are our conclusions so different? Is it simply a difference in life views and experiences, or is there something else at work? What gives?

I'll try to figure out the answers to those questions and will address all of Hirshman's idiotic arguments in the weeks that follow. Should be fun!

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