Thursday, March 01, 2007

Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Feminism

Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell's joke about a female ref at Monday's Celtics game wasn't a big deal. Not particularly funny. Not particularly offensive. It was a guy, calling a basketball game, making a joke about a bad call.

Maxwell's apology wasn't much, either. A classic "If you think I did something wrong, you have my permission to think I'm apologizing for it" that has become the norm in this situations.

The real story, in my opinion, isn't the story at all, but rather the reaction to it. My 96.9 FM TALK colleague Margery Eagan sums it up best in her Boston Herald column today. The reason women have reacted to Maxwell's "get back in the kitchen" comment is because of their own conflicted feelings over having left the kitchen in the first place.

One the one hand, there's the motherhood movement, celebrating the decision of smart capable women to do the hard work of raising their own children. On the other hand, as Eagan points out:

"Anytime I hear someone tell a woman doing a man’s job she should get 'back to the kitchen (and) make me bacon and eggs,' here’s what else I think: that nobody respects people who make bacon. It’s bringing home bacon we admire. Oh, we talk a good game. The sacredness of motherhood. The selflessness of setting aside career ambitions to devote yourself to home and hearth, blah, blah, blah. That’s what we say. But those who actually do it? No respect from the world, their men or their children, either.

Sorry, all you stay-at-home moms. And dads. It’s just another Hallmark card scam.

Feminist icon Linda Hirshman is even more direct. Her latest book Get To Work condemns any "elite woman" (intelligent, motivated graduates from elite colleges) who falls into the trap of "choice feminism" and decides to leave the workplace:

"Bounding home is not good for women and it's not good for the society. They aren't using their capacities fully; their so-called free choice makes them unfree dependents on their husbands...

For all its achievements, feminism cannot make more progress, private or public, until it turns its spotlight on the family. Child care and housekeeping have satisfying moments but are not occupations likely to produce a flourishing life....

Deafened by choice, here's the moral analysis these women never heard: The family--with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks…allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government. This less flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral responsibility only of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust. Women assigning it to themselves is equally unjust."

Every mom who shows up for work must deal with the knowledge that her career choices will have some negative consequences on her children. Now every smart woman who makes the ideal choice for her children is being told she's letting down the sisterhood and even Western Civilization itself!

A sister just can't win--in or out of the kitchen.

UPDATE: Special thanks to Linda Hirshman for agreeing at the last second to be a guest on our show today. She's fundamentally wrong about, well, everything, but our conversation was fascinating and revealing.

Additional thanks to my lovely bride, The Warden, for finding the answer to the repeated question, "Does Linda Hirshman have children?" The answer, from Linda's website:

I have had two husbands, including the present one, a biological daughter and two stepdaughters and one standard poodle, Alexis de Tocqueville. The three daughters have, among them, four graduate degrees and three jobs.

I apologize to Linda for missing that during the show today. We had some technical issues and I couldn't access the section of her bio with that information.