That's right. According to one cranky woman with a soapbox, I'm the kind of gal who's killing female equality.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the book "Prozac Nation," is taking on a new topic -- she says women who can afford to be stay-at-home mothers are killing feminism, while at the same time inciting the newest round of the Mommy Wars!
Who knew that someone like me could single-handedly end a movement that's been around since the days of Mary Wollstonecraft (the mother of the woman who penned Frankenstein) and fan the flame under a new skirmish in a war that I hate! Here I thought I was just taking care of my family and working from my home office to add to our bottom line!
However do I find the time for all that and manage to dismantle centuries of women's equality efforts?
According to Wurtzel, mothers like me can't be feminists if we step off the career ladder even for a moment to take on full-time parenting duties. Feminists, she says, earn their own money and don't rely on men. And since motherhood isn't a paying job, it's not a real job in her book; therefore, she claims it logically follows that stay-at-home moms can't be feminists.
I'll give you a moment to collect yourselves and let that sink in.
But Wurtzel goes further in stoking her own brand of mommy wars, contending that stay-at-home mothers are just Chanel-shopping, mani/pedi-getting burdens on society who are sending pure feminists like her back to the stone ages. Wurtzel suggests that mothers who can afford to raise their own children and not work outside the home for money are little more than trophy wives who claim they're caring for their children, when they're really just lunching at the club with the girls while the nannies are home doing the heavy lifting.
So it seems that my 20+ pre-motherhood years as a working professional with two degrees and some pretty nice titles mean nothing. For Wurtzel, as soon as I stepped off what she deems an appropriate feminist track, all my accomplishments, education and, I'm guessing, brains were erased, leaving "champions" like her to move women forward. In Wurtzel's world, my feminist bona fides were wiped out by one little girl. And she wants the world to believe that my role in parenting that one little girl is a traitorous act to the sisterhood.
Now I know I don't technically fall into her category of not doing any paying work, since I'm fortunate that I can work from a home office to manage various parenting duties, instead of having a 60+-hour-a-week office position using my law degree that would require me to either hire full-time help or have a laundry list of excuses when I'd need to take my daughter to a doctor's appointment, soccer practice or if I wanted some time off to attend one of her school performances. But because I have the financial flexibility to split my time between working at my computer and managing the carpool, I know I am just as much in Wurtzel's cross-hairs as are traditional stay-at-home mothers.
What is Wurtzel's proof for her diatribe against moms? Why her own personal experience, of course! The unmarried and childless Wurtzel claims that most of the stay-at-home mothers she's met do nothing around the house that would qualify as work. Her inference that these women are a lazy, good-for-nothing mommy wannabes isn't subtle. As someone with a degree in political science, I'm a bit of a polling junkie, and I dare say that her sample and data collection efforts are seriously flawed and don't come close to supporting her conclusion.
But her uber-judgmental view of professional women who become stay-at-home mothers is nothing new. We've heard this nonsense before -- that any woman with a college degree who "opts out" of their career sets us all back (even though that so-called theory of opt-out motherhood has been soundly debunked by actual evidence). Now Wurtzel is taking up the mantle of mother-bashing for her generation.
What I find just as disturbing as Wurtzel's premise is that a publication as well-respected as The Atlantic would publish such a rant. I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised that she found an outlet for her unsupported theory since we live in an era of traditional and online media competing for eyeballs and ad revenues. I know full well that much of the time, well-reasoned analysis loses out to the the written equivalent of whirling dervishes sending us into a pop culture spin.
So will Wurtzel's argument pick up where the "Ann Romney never worked a day in her life" meme left off? Sadly, at least among women who self-identify as feminists, it will. Some I know are already jumping on that bandwagon -- ones without children who have yet to come to the realization that the mere act of becoming a mother can make you more of an activist, feminist, or advocate because of the new lens through which you view the world. Sadly, I expect that her unfounded musings will gain much more attention than any commentary calling her out for her inflammatory remarks.
And if Wurtzel's own mother is living, I hope she sends her daughter to her room without dinner for believing it was a good idea to throw so many hard working women under the bus.
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