Wednesday, November 30, 2005

but wait, there's more

I can hardly keep up with the various responses to the American Prospect piece I talked about below. Here are a few really worth your while; read the comments, too:

Mrs Coulter of Republic of Heaven collected one good bunch of links.

Mamazine picked up a couple more (yes, including me!).

And Jen has some more to say over at the Literary Mama blog, which you should be checking out regularly anyway.

Dr. B. gets her own link, even though she's linked in Mrs. Coulter's post, too, because she takes the by-now-contrarian position of mostly agreeing with Hirshman. Dr. B. doesn't mind dishing out advice or making rules, which is what some folks find particularly annoying about the piece. I might give different advice, and would certainly make different rules, but it is worth noting that agreeing with Hirshman doesn't necessarily mean you're antifeminist.

I actually think Beauvoir would agree with much of what Hirshman says. If, as Beauvoir and her existentialist colleagues believe, you are what you do, AND IF (here's the big if, for me) only public, money-making "doing" matters, then LH is right.

The problem is, public money-making "doing" isn't the only game in town. It is, however, a game that I'd actually like to see more women in if only because they might change it. I vote for women politicians, try to patronize women-owned businesses, even read novels by women BECAUSE they are engaged in a kind of public "doing" that is different from the mainstream while still, somehow, part of it. I like that women need to be reckoned with in these ways.

And, as I've said before (in comments on some of those posts linked above, I think), choices can be constrained. Many women "choose" to stay home not because they really and truly want to but because the other options (full-time child care, low wage labor, part-time work with no benefits, whatever) are less appealing. I never chose to stay home, so I will not be so arrogant as to claim that no one else "really" does, either--but I do know many women who would have chosen differently if they had real options.

This is, again, getting too long. And I'm feeling like maybe it's time for something really frivolous. Too bad Becca's not blogging about "All My Children," because I could really get behind that...

edited to add...
There's another data-rich post here and another bunch of links, some new, some old, here (both on Alas, A Blog).

4 comments:

chip said...

on the issue of choice: Many women "choose" to stay home not because they really and truly want to but because the other options (full-time child care, low wage labor, part-time work with no benefits, whatever) are less appealing. You should add that some women (and men) "choose" to stay home because their high-powered high-paid job is less than appealing. My wife is one of those women. Perhaps a "traitor to feminism" according to Hirshman, but I don't think feminism means staying in a job that is crushing your soul and depriving you of a family life even if you are paid a lot of money. Or maybe I don't know what feminism is...

In fact there is little choice for men or women in those kinds of jobs. Hirshman assumes that any reasonable soman/person would "choose" the job. I think she's wrong.

The perfect option for us would have been to both be able to work part-time and be home full-time part time. As it worked out, we traded places staying at home full time, though are both now working since our youngest was in elementary school.

Libby said...

Chip, absolutely. My husband is currently staying home from what was a less-than-satisfying (and, actually, not even that high-powered) work experience. For years, we've said what we really want is one and a half jobs between us...but we have never quite been able to accomplish that. I do think feminism is, in part, about rejecting bad options. That said, "staying home" isn't an option for everyone, either. Sigh.

bitchphd said...

Nice summation. I'm totally a deBeauvoir feminist, although I also recognize that conflating one's identity with one's work is not necessarily the route to a happy life, so I'm still working through that issue. And yes, I agree: the central issue of whether identity = work is really at the heart of the Hirshman debate.

expatmama said...

Thanks for posting all of these links, Libby. I could spend hours surfing from one response to another, but I'll just pop in with one more comment (I was going to post it to your latest, but couldn't resist the chance to comment right after after the illustrious Dr. B!

I just wanted to say that here the Community of Madrid/City Hall of my city has launched a big campaign to get men to do more of the housework/caretaking/etc. work, with newspaper ads, TV spots, and now a pamphlet that includes a chart listing various household tasks and a place to write in the number of hours you and your partner each spend on them. It's also grounds for divorce here if your partner does not share equally in the household duties (though I doubt anyone has actually ever taken advantage of that clause.) And I doubt that housework is shared any more equally here than in the US, but I have seen this issue in the news at various points in time, which is at least a step in the right direction...