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Missing the point

American feminists have totally lost it over the motherhood thing.  Digby has another take on the issue and she quotes Katha Pollitt.  Go take a look.  I think women are like ships crossing in the night and it’s just getting to be confusing as all get out.  I have to partially agree when Digby says:

This discussion about motherhood gets to the very heart of the issue: a women’s “value” is still largely a reflection of her relationship to men in all kinds of ways from economic status to moral agency. And I don’t think most modern women are aware of it on any conscious level — at least I’m not, until something like this ‘War on Women” comes along and I’m forced to take a fresh look at all my assumptions. It’s primal stuff, buried deeply in the human subconscious and hard to ferret out.  But it’s quite real and this so-called conversation we’re having about women’s rights in this political campaign is mostly just dancing around it.

I said partially because I don’t think the “relationship to men” is the problem here.  The problem is that we have not evolved as a country as we should have because we are stuck with a very primitive religious legacy where half the nation is determined to categorize everything into their proper places.  In this case, this half of the nation sees women as uteruses and mothers.  I don’t know about Digby but I am sick of being defined as a mother first.  Or if not a mother, something less than a woman.  That’s just stupid.  We are persons first and are many things to many people.

But solving the problem does not include turning poor mothers into “professional” mothers.  Somehow, we have this crazy notion that Ann Romney types and other middle class women have some kind of “privilege”.  Mebbe.  I don’t know.  My perspective on this is that with that privilege comes a pretty big sacrifice, your personal autonomy.  In this case, it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman.  If you are not capable of supporting yourself, you’re screwed.  Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

It is regrettable that women who want to be full time mothers don’t always have this opportunity.  Maybe they are the perfect June Cleavers and through fate or circumstance, they ended up without any means of support.  That does not make them better or worse people than Ann Romney.

What it does make them is unexceptional.  Mothers have always worked.  They’ve worked for hundreds of thousands of years.  It was only in the last century or so that any woman of modest means was able to afford to stay home with her kids and how did that turn out?  Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House about such a woman back in the 19th century, just about the time when women moved out of the fields and into the factories and the standard of living for everyone started to rise.  And what did Nora do in the end?  She left to become herself.

I really don’t care about who is staying home with their kids.  I have frequently found SAHMs to be judgmental and unfriendly towards working mothers but I have NEVER envied them.  Never.  Mothers who work are sometimes exhausted, frequently overworked and often underpaid.  But they are the norm.

What is aggravating is that knowing this is the default, our country has made so little effort to accommodate working mothers.  And this, too, is not rocket science.  There are other countries that do a much better job of helping working parents.  We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.

In fact, we don’t even need to debate which lifestyle is better.  It doesn’t matter what the motivations are that keep the country from evolving.  All we need to do is make a commitment to fix it.  So, instead of asking why all women can’t be like Ann Romney, why don’t we ask how we can be more like Segolene Royal?

24 Responses

  1. I don’t have anything constructive to say on this. I’ve only ever been insulted -sneered at – by moms – both varieties, the stay at home and the working (I hasten to add: not all moms). For not fulfilling my greatest purpose, I guess. Opening this topic has no upside and turns whatever was valuable about the label “war on women” into a “war among women”

    Which sucks.

  2. Oh, and this is a weird thought, On my dad’s side, I come from a long line of single working moms – his mother was a divorced mother of two and her mother was a widowed mother of five. They both worked their whole lives and raised successful, self-supporting children.

    My mother’s mother also worked — all through the depression.

    So there’s nothing new in any of this.

  3. I think WE have been insulted by the Ann romneys who state that motherhood is the most important and hardest job in the world. Given that the vast majority of the women in the world work, and this is as un changeable as gravity, why are we supposed to feel less than adequate for 1.) supporting ourselves and 2.) not wanting to be stay at home moms? It’s not that men make motherhood not valuable. It’s that this country seems to be determined to shove it down our gullets whether it’s good for us and our children or not.
    I don’t like the way this conversation is going. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t want to be a full time mother should have to apologize for that.

    • I don’t like the way this conversation is going. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t want to be a full time mother should have to apologize for that.

      Exactly.

  4. Finally. The truth.

    The only way to personal freedom is to be self-supporting. That’s it. There is no other way.

    Fuck the nonsense about staying home with the kids. Nice work (I loved it) – and far less demanding than the “real” workplace, by the way, as I well know from personal experience – but, unless you are independently wealthy, when the shit hits the fan (and it most assuredly will, since marriage is a societal construct designed to keep the woman subordinate and to keep husband and wife from having sex with each other), you are stuck big time.

    Fuck the nonsense about alimony. Take it and shove it up your ass, buddy. I’ll make my own. That’s equality. My hubby was fabulously wealthy, an advertising wunderkind who turned batshit crazy. I refused to take a penny of his money and put myself through law school instead, and I have now outlived him by 20 years. He died within three months of my driving west from NYC with two kids in tow, $25,000 in cash, a law degree, and not knowing where I’d land up.

    I’m working on a theory that the only way to true equality with a man, at least in the man’s primitive mind, is not to have sex with him. It’s maddening as hell, but there you have it.

    The fact that white men now have to COMPETE for jobs is driving them bonkers. They do not know how to compete, not really. They never had to. The fact that women are taking over certain professions usually associated with men (like doctors, psychologists, lawyers) is driving them NUTS!

    Without even trying we have them on the ropes. That’s why we now have all these pathetic attempts to put the genie back in the bottle. They are scared shitless.

  5. You are right about being self supporting or self sufficient. I just wish people would just let people be what they want to be. The Anne Romney’s of the world made their choices and like you say their is a price to pay for that just like everything else you do will have its price. I have done both. SAHM get it from working moms like they think we do NOTHING all day and I have been told that my children are going to grow up to be criminals because I put them in daycare while I worked. The thing that conservatives will never realize is that because of all the “free market” reforms have been enacted women are never going to be able to stay home anymore. It’s survival of the fittest out there and most women simply cannot risk not working. Even if you are married, there is no guarantee that your husband won’t lose his job and then you’re going to have two people not working and boy are you going to be in a pickle. And if you’ve been a SAHM where are you going to get a job when you need one? If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while no one wants you. Everything is hard. Raising children is hard but so is working and raising children and to say that raising children is the hardest job in the world—well, i wouldn’t go that far. It depends on the type of children you have. Some are easy, some are not. My mother worked and I turned out fine.

  6. Thank yoy for discussing the topic without going completely over the top with the all-men-are-pigs rhetoric.That’s as tiresome as the “you’re a racist” knee jerks from the O-fluffers.

    • I like men a lot. My dad was a man. He was pretty decent. Sure, he came from another era but I always had the impression that he could be taught, unlike some modern men who pretend to be sympathetic but really couldn’t give a shit. When my dad made a mistake or jumped to conclusions, I could always tell he felt bad about it. Sometimes his social conditioning got ahead of his critical thinking skills but I knew that he’d adjust sooner or later. You could reason with him. Too bad the current batch of Democratic guys aren’t like that.

      • I like men a lot too. A whole lot. They make great playmates. The greatest. A lot of the younger ones actually have potential. The ones my age, 67, not so much. Women have endurance; men konk out by age 40 unless they are in tiptop shape physically and emotionally – which takes tremendous effort, something most of them are not used to and cannot find. After 40 (and usually before in most cases), the man is looking for a caretaker. Not a lover. Not a partner. Someone to do his laundry and tell him where he needs to be at any given moment and generally organize his life. And let’s face the facts: most men cheat. If you’re cool with that, then OK. If you’d like a relationship of mutual trust, with a decent amount of satisfying sex, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree with this marriage scam. A woman should not invest too heavily in a man. Period. She should stand on her own two feet.

        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I would love to debate young Ezra (what a tool) or Yglesias ( what a fool) or Kos (who is still CIA, I’d bet my ass). These guys (along with their lord and master Obama, who I continue to maintain is a CIA puppet, hence the domestic drones and the right to assassinate a U.S. citizen anytime, anyplace, etc.) have no idea how sexist they are (as if they’d give a damn). To put it mildly, they are ill-prepared to deal with a real feminist.

        I demand respect and equal treatment. And I get it or I fight (til the death) or I decide it’s not worth it and I’m outa there.

        BTW, I am a very cheery person. Very sunny disposition. I’m known as Little Mary Sunshine. I’m not bitter, not a whit. I just won’t pretend to assuage some fragile male ego. Not gonna happen. The truth is the pathway to freedom. The truth may not be pleasant, but it’s the truth. And this post just happened to hit on some ideas I’ve been working on for many years now. White men are fighting a losing battle, and, somewhere in the depths of their bowels, they know it. We can work (and do very well at our jobs), tend to the kiddies, keep the house in order, partake of great sex, and get up the next day and do the same thing all over again. Can they? (and, for those doubters, yes, it is a competition to see who is the strongest, a competition set up by men – only they never thought they’d be on the losing end. Hence, their current hysteria – like they’re on the rag, don’t you know?)

        • {{snort!}} you are too funny!

          yes, they’re losing it. The problem is that cultural conditioning is making it easy for them to maintain a foothold.

        • I am sure that statistically your observations are totally correct.

          But, I have to stand up for the men in my family – my dad, brothers and the men my sisters and I married. They do not match your profile in any way. None. Go through your list and mentally add – except the guys in Katiebird’s family.

          (I’d feel completely disloyal and undeserving of their love and support if I didn’t stand up to say something in their defense

        • I think the young guys (under 40 and under 30 even more extreme) are a lot more sexist than the guys of my cultural generation. (born from about 1962-1967) That even showed up in all things- a survey Esquire magazine did a couple of years ago of men in their 20’s, 40’s, and 60’s. In the questions having to do with attitudes toward women the guys in their 40’s had the least sexist attitudes, the guys in their 60’s were next, and the guys in their 20’s were appallingly sexist. If you look at what was going on that influenced each generation though, as they were growing up, you can put it together why. 60 something guys are the upper baby boom so were exposed to second wave feminist thought as young men. 40 something guys were exposed to second wave feminist thought from their earliest years, and were old enough when the backlash hit (especially the ones 45 and older) to not get so brainwashed by it as the younger men. 20 something men grew up totally under the backlash and under the massive pornification of women that happened in media culture once the world wide web and more sophisticated video games emerged in the mid 1990’s. Their attitudes about women is strongly influenced by the porn they’ve seen virtually 24/7 since they got interested in females sexually.

  7. I think “War among women” says a lot. Some of you are your own worst enemy that have bought into the concept that you are house keeping robots instead of people. I’m thinking of the women who called the Rush Limbaugh show to agree that Sandra fluke was indeed a slut as he described.

    You saw the same thing happening when female posters at Dailyass joined in with the Hillary bashing. Who benefits from women being kept at each other’s throats?

    • Regardless of the path they choose, from full time stay at home mom to single professional women should not tolerate any bashing among themselves or from men.

      • Absolutely. But SAHMs are still self-righteous and haughty. Note that I didn’t say they’re lazy. They’re way too overinvolved in their kids lives and their neighbor’s business. Other than that, I’m fine with them.

        • There certainly seem to be a plethora of self-righteous and haughty SAHM’s posting all over the web since Rosen made her statement. I wish that they would have bothered themselves to read her entire comment or, at least, stop reading into it something that was not there.

      • On the mark, Mister. (A suggestion for the women– every time you can, when discussing male performance [of any sort] always mention how the men were dressed and how they looked [“a little puffy around his thin, cracked lips.]) {damn that looks like an equation}.

    • mr mike, that sounded a bit patronizing. Of course we could say the same about men…that sometimes some of you are your own worst enemies. Whatever. But you do make a good case for us women folk ending the war among women and closing ranks against men.
      Now I do not mean that in a drastic way. I have two sons and various brothers, nephews and friends that I love and value. So I certainly don’t think men are the enemy or anything. I just think women have to put our gender first for awhile. We need to think about what is best for women rather than what is best for every other group instead.

      • I’m less convinced than ever that substantial numbers of women will ever speak in concert on any issue that benefits us all. The vicious comments from women on the right on the topic of access to affordable birth contol stunned me. Really, what kind of woman doesn’t understand that reproductive choice is at the heart of female empowerment?

        • Maybe they understand it very well? Maybe they are just against empowerment for other women because they never sought it for themselves? Maybe it is just their form of ” I have no shoes, what do you need feet for?” dog-in-the-mangerism?

          I can only speculate because I am obviously not privy to the inter-woman discussions women have when there are no men to hear or read the comments. I can only wonder what might get said in such total safe-zones.

          If there are, say, a hundred million women who will take one position or another on these problems, perhaps different groups of women will divide up into different theory-action groups to pursue different approaches. Five different theory-action groups of twenty million women apiece might get five different sets of different things done. Would they all just cancel eachother out?

          If inter-gender sympathy and understanding are perhaps too much to hope for, are crass intergender coalitions of shared self-interest still possible? Might there be working male parents who would want a more working-parent-friendly society of the sort which the European Union Financial leadership is currently trying to destroy all over Europe through forced austerity programs? Might working parents of
          all genders who want what Europe still somewhat has be able to study who their enemies are in this country, and figure out how to target and
          “crush . . .kill . . . destroy . . . ” those enemies so as to stop those enemies from being able to stop us from having nice things? Social policy-wise speaking?

        • but that is not all women on the right. I am equally stunned by those women and the women on the left who could wear SP is a C*nt t-shirts, or suggest that she deserved to be gang raped. That was just a small group on the idiot left. They don’t get to win.

        • Women’s comments as reported by — men.

          Or, when Ann Romney is reporting, the comments of women near the rope line at a Romney rally. Self-selected group there.😉

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