I do agree with Wurtzel that not every “choice” can be labelled feminist (I find “choosy choice” feminism a bit ridiculous) and that being supported by a man financially is a dubious feminist position. I myself feel that it’s important to support oneself financially, and yet, I hate working for the “man” and most certainly would have wanted some time off from work if I’d had a child (which could be accomplished through better policies).
On a side note, I read a book last year called Daughters of Aquarius by Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo that does address the history of feminists who had countercultural leanings as opposed to those who wanted to make it in mainstream work culture. These women tended to attach themselves to men who were part of the counterculture, however, not corporate types.
Wurtzel’s article (I disagree with the last part about mothering taking 14% of one’s time since the full-time moms are doing the daycare):
Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it? The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.
…and there really is only one kind of equality — it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo — and it’s economic. If you can’t pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent.
…failing as a feminist is a unique problem of the wealthy, but consequences impact women all the way down the line. It happens that most women — and men — are living feminist lives because of economic necessity, whether they mean to or not. Most families are kind of like Sarah Palin’s was before she made her pit-bull star turn: lots of kids and both mom and dad have to bring in what money they can. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 nearly 71 percent of women with children under 18 worked. Most mothers have jobs because they need or want the money and fulfillment; only in rare cases are they driven by glory. To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met — none of whom do anything around the house — live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income. In any case, having forgotten everything but the lotus position, these women are the reason their husbands think all women are dumb, and I don’t blame them. As it happens, fewer than 5 percent of the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, 16 percent of corporate executives, and 17 percent of law partners are female. The men, the husbands of the 1 percent, are on trading floors or in office complexes with other men all day, and to the extent that they see anyone who isn’t male it’s pretty much just secretaries and assistants. And they go home to…whatever. What are they supposed to think? They pay gargantuan American Express bills and don’t know why or what for. Then they give money to Mitt Romney.
…Hilary Rosen would not have been so quick to be so super sorry for saying that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life if we weren’t all made more than a wee bit nervous by our own biases, which is that being a mother isn’t really work. Yes, of course, it’s something — actually, it’s something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle of making okay meals and decent kid conversation. But let’s face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation). Even moms with full-time jobs spend 86 percent as much time with their kids as unemployed mothers, so it is apparently taking up the time of about 14 percent of a paid position. And all the cultish glorification of home and hearth still leaves us in a world where most of the people paid to chef and chauffeur in the commercial world are men. Which is to say, something becomes a job when you are paid for it — and until then, it’s just a part of life.
Interesting response here, although she ignores Wurtzel’s point that the choices of the 1% impact the rest of society (especially when images of their lives dominate the media and drive the policy discussions):
…Wurtzel labels women who do not work outside the home as women who are hurting feminism, and that is a concern. It’s an excellent example of a feminist getting distracted by an easy issue, rather than addressing the difficult questions that modern women face. Most women don’t fall into the “1% wives” category, and it’s nonsensical to spend time ranting about the few, rich women who are frittering their lives away when the vast majority of women face tougher questions.
…why should life be so unbelievably difficult for mothers or families in general? I think the only way to achieve the kind of equality that she is talking about is for women to stop marrying and having children. That would solve the whole problem. But what if you want a family?
The debate, in my mind, needs to be a bit larger than “Should Mom Work?” The question is, how should families function while the children are young? Does it always need to be at the expense of the mother’s career? Why don’t we have better options? Why do all our choices have to be so difficult? And why are people hiring women without families to write about how mothers should behave?