LISA BELKIN in her Huffington Post column in November wrote about a woman lawyer at a Washington, D.C. firm who left her job because of the demands of motherhood. She departed the firm with the folowing note to her coworkers:
“I…have chosen to leave private practice, and the practice of law (at least for now),” she concludes. “I truly admire all of you that have been able to juggle your career and family and do not envy what a challenge it is trying to do each well.”
To Belkin, this was another instance of how the workplace is unfair to women and has not been magically altered to accommodate parenthood. No matter how much evidence there is that the workplace will never, ever accommodate motherhood, the laws of physics preventing anyone from being in two places at once, the dream will never die in the mind of an ideologue like Belkin.
The blogger, The Elusive Wapiti, writes about the Belkin column:
For my female readers out there, would any of you be able to tell me what the positive cost-benefit calculation is for this? Why would you have kids only to pawn them off on a min-wage, doesn’t-care-about-them-as-much-as-you-do, probably-doesn’t-share-your-values caregiver from 9 AM – 6 PM (after a 1 hr commute each way), go through the pain of daily chore negotiation (a weakness of equalitarian marriages that reject gendered marital behaviors), and generally run yourself ragged?
This isn’t a gotcha question, I’m truly attempting to divine where the value is in this equation, other than the utility gained from self-actualization.
The answer at least partly lies in the six-figure salary, which was probably supplemented by another good salary.
Here’s what I want to know. When is this lawyer going to apologize publicly for having taken training and education that could have gone to someone who would have used it? How many men who must support their families, and do not have the luxury of “life/work conflicts,” have been denied opportunities by women who later threw away their career preparation when they became mothers? We will never count them all.
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How many men who must support their families, and do not have the luxury of “life/work conflicts,” have been denied opportunities by women who later threw away their career preparation when they became mothers? We will never count them all.
Lower class men (e.g. underclass, working class and lower middle class) are disposable in this society. Liberalism has hit them the hardest. There is little concern about them in the schemes of liberalism. It’s all about the internal conflicts and adventures of the liberal upper-middle class and upper-class woman. If she has conflicts, then fine. But don’t impose these conflicts on others, because they can lose a lot.
From the original post: “…In a way, it’s heartbreaking. I don’t know this woman, and I don’t know what her hopes and dreams are or might have been…”
If the blatantly obvious continues to be ignored – that as mothers women have, whether they like it or not, the greater talent for the hands-on care of children and homemaking in general, and that through this most noble responsibility they become the very heart of the home, which is a great privilege – if this is to be tossed aside in the name of following dreams, then we have no choice but to take the issue to it’s logical conclusion: men also should be free to decide, always and under all circumstances – since it has been established that there are no intrinsic differences, strengths, weaknesses, natural talents, inclinations etc., between mothers and fathers – men should be asked whether or not they want to work or stay home… or do a little bit of both. After all, everyone has hopes and dreams. And it is clear that one person’s dream can’t have more value than someone else’s – that would be unfair. Now where does that leave us – should a woman who wants to stay home be handed a briefcase and shoved out the door? After all, her husband is trying to fulfill a dream. Continuing along this line of thinking: we hear all the time about what happens when both parents want to work. What if both want to stay home? What then? Aren’t two dreams even better than one?
What strikes me about the Belkin article is that the time log at the bottom would, 50 or 60 years ago, be a crushing schedule for a single, successful man, let alone a working mother with a baby and toddler. How could this ever be considered normal, even in the professions?
It is telling that Belkin does not dismiss the very real work that homemakers do — their work makes possible a type of life like the poor harassed woman lawyer’s had been. But even if this woman lawyer had had a full-time homemaking husband, the amount of extra work she takes home would erase any chance of meaningful family time at the end of the day.
Why would a person do this to herself? And more importantly, why would anyone? Doesn’t it seem sad that in a decade or so, a working mom will look back on those frantic, resentful bedtimes with those precious little ones, and wish with all her might she had them to do over again, without all the craziness? Good for this former lawyer. I hope she will spend many, many, many hours just sitting on the floor, playing and reading and talking with her kids, and napping when they nap, and walking around her neighborhood enjoying the trees and the sky. I hope that when her husband comes home, he finds her tired, but smiling and relaxed, ready to drink a glass of wine with him and share about the day. It’s a wonderful, challenging life, and it’s one with ENOUGH TIME.
I hope she does more than enjoy her own life. She needs to tell others that she has been fed a pack of lies and admit that she willingly embraced them. It’s not simply about what makes her or any other woman happy. It’s also about the field of law and the institution of motherhood. The model she has pursued denies excellence in both these areas.
Why did she say to her coworkers, ”I truly admire all of you that have been able to juggle your career and family and do not envy what a challenge it is trying to do each well?” What is there to admire about someone neglecting her own home?