Foreword from Jessica Carlson, Contributing Editor, The Imperfect Parent:
Linda Hirshman is the author of the recently published criticism of the inadequacies of today’s feminists, "Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World". She has been criticized for saying that privileged, educated women who choose to stay at home to raise their children are hurting themselves and others. Her militant stance of what is and isn’t feminism has caused firestorms all over the blogosphere and in the media
From an article by Ms. Hirsham herself, published on the American Prospect Online (www.prospect.org), she outlines what she (presumably) considers honest criticisms about women as homemakers. These outlines consist of I. The Truth About Elite Women; II. The Failure of Choice Feminism; III. What Is to Be Done?; and finally, IV. Why Do We Care?
Within this outline, Hirsham offers advice as the first few “rules” for young women to follow, “[F]ind the money. Money is the marker of success in a market economy...Yet somewhere along the way the women made decisions in the direction of less money. Part of the problem was idealism; idealism on the career trail usually leads to volunteer work, or indentured servitude in social-service jobs, which is nice but doesn’t get you to money.”
She goes onto say, “Marry young or marry much older. Younger men are potential high-status companions [but you can have the financial power at the beginning]. Much older men are sufficiently established so that they don’t have to work so hard, and they often have enough money to provide unlimited household help. By contrast, slightly older men with bigger incomes are the most dangerous, but even a pure counterpart is risky. If you both are going through the elite-job hazing rituals simultaneously while having children, someone is going to have to give. Even the most devoted lawyers with the hardest-working nannies are going to have weeks when no one can get home other than to sleep. The odds are that when this happens, the woman is going to give up her ambitions and professional potential.”
Other quotes which seek to diminish the hard work, integrity and role of the stay at home mother:
“If women never start playing the household-manager role, the house will be dirty, but the realities of the physical world will trump the pull of gender ideology. Either the other adult in the family will take a hand or the children will grow up with robust immune systems.”
“If these prescriptions sound less than family-friendly, here’s the last rule: Have a baby. Just don’t have two.”
Hirsham keeps up her angry feminist vigilance against mothers who choose their children over their careers in a Washington Post article she wrote, entitled “Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-At-Home Moms”. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/16/AR2006061601766.html)
She writes, ”I said that the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings.”
She goes onto say, “Okay, I'm judgmental. [T]hat was what people really hated: the judgment. That working women have the better life. Kapow! I had wandered, it seems, into ground zero of the Mommy Wars.”
One of our contributors, Alan Thomas, has written an open letter to Ms. Hirshman in response to her brand of feminism. From a male’s perspective, he questions her motives and her credibility. Although Thomas claims, “Hirshman styles herself as a progressive liberal, fighting the good fight against right wing zealots who would keep women down. It is true that she is far from a social/religious conservative. But in economic terms, her stances would fit better at a conservative magazine like National Review than at the liberal American Prospect where her piece was published. She refers as contemptuously and dismissively to socialist ideals as any Wall Street, bowtie-clad Republican would. She exhorts women to steer clear of social work professions, and pursue maximum capitalism instead. She advises them to attain aristocratic privilege--both through such high flying corporate careers and by marrying rich old men--and then to use this privilege to hire servants to raise their children. She even refers to those who change diapers as 'untouchables'! One gets a sneaking suspicion Hirshman has read her share of Ayn Rand, an author who was as right wing economically as they come, but who seduced her share of "liberal" women readers to her philosophy because she featured strong, capitalistic women protagonists.”
I beg to differ.
I don’t know if partisan politics are so clear-cut here. Just because one doesn’t agree with a certain ideology doesn’t necessarily mean they are diametrically opposed to one’s own personal political affiliation. Feminism by nature is more of a liberal agenda than it is a conservative agenda. I think her viewpoints paint a more accurate portrayal of the feminist extreme. The most radical of one side is the scary realization of how any political point of view can become fringe and illogical when magnified into radical extremism. I’m afraid the left will have to claim and denounce her at the same time. Conservatives champion the role of stay-at-home moms and in their radical interpretation, they would rather see women “know their places” in the home, so the opposite would hold true for Ms. Hirshman’s philosophy. I believe it to be totally inaccurate to accuse her politics of being opposite of what she, herself claims, in order to disown and disassociate with her outrageous brand of feminism.
Mr.Thomas, thinks otherwise as he demonstrates in his open letter to Linda Hirshman:
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