Monday, July 18, 2005

60 minutes

I was listening to this program on the radio last night on my way home. I was looking for traffic on the 8s, but they just plugged in the CBS TV audio to let the broadcast studio cool down, apparently.

Anyway, it was ostensibly about highly successful women who give up their careers to be full-time mothers. But what it really seemed to be was about Linda Hirshman, who (as a philosopher- she told us) has decided that women who do such things are damaging womenhood and flat out making the wrong decision. Ahem.

A couple nuggets:
"The women that I have interviewed are completely dependent upon the goodwill of their wealthy income-producing husbands," says Hirshman. "They chose dependence."

"It's different to talk about their right than what's the right decision," says Hirshman. "As Mark Twain said, 'A man who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as a man who cannot read.'"

"These women are choosing lives in which they do not use their capacity for very complicated work," adds Hirshman. "They are choosing lives in which they do not use their capacity to deal with very powerful other adults in the world, which takes a lot of skill. I think there are better lives and worse lives."
Well, that's nice. Fact one: none of this is possible if people don't reproduce and raise fresh replacements for us all. Fact two: it is easier to raise nice, decent, intelligent children when the parents spend more time with them. One way to do that is to have one parent stay home full time. Fact three: Linda Hirshman is an asshole.

I'm not willing to say that the quality of parenting suffers when both parents work, but it sure is a harder life for everyone involved. The people who make these decisions seem to feel the same way. I don't really think it's fair to lay the future of an entire bloc of demographics on people who are making good decisions for themselves and their families. Yes, for that instant snapshot of time, these women are dependent on their husbands for support. But what Hirshman fails to acknowledge is the work these successful women did for the family before (and presumably after) the child rearing years. What wealth did the woman add to the family while she was working, and is it only through that wealth that they are able to have this instantaneous single income arrangement? When the kids get older, will they resume working to pay for decent college, and saving for retirment so as not to be a burdeon on their families?

I hesitate to use this analogy, but I will anyway. I don't think it would be nearly as acceptable for someone to say "asians who choose manual labor over the sciences are failing in their duty to their race". It's just as ignorant as what this Hirshman person is saying is my point.

In other news: it's fucking hot out. I think I'll leave it out. But seriously, can we get a little rain? We've only had 0.89 inches since June first (and that's officially at O'Hare airport- I seriously think we haven't gotten half of that here). And I don't think I've cut the grass in two months. Dead brown. The only green in the lawn are the weeds.

On the other hand, if it's going to be hot out, you want it to be dry. The only really intolerable part is getting into the 130 degree car numerous times a day.


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