New York Magazine Trolls Women With Every Mommy Wars Stereotype You Can Imagine
New York Magazine published an article this week called “The Retro Wife: Feminists who say they have it all by choosing to stay at home.” Oh boy. I was unsure how many stereotypes you could fit into one article about women, work and family. This one seems to have covered them all.
The article basically says women are naturally more inclined towards parenthood than men (yawn) and are much happier when they stop fighting against nature and return to their “instinctive” state – mother and housewife of course: “Meanwhile, what was once feminist blasphemy is now conventional wisdom: Generally speaking, mothers instinctively want to devote themselves to home more than fathers do.” Wow. Conventional wisdom? I’ve seemed to have missed that study. I do remember the reports that proved the numbers of stay-at-home-dads are steadily growing, though. Too bad all of these fathers aren’t “instinctively” devoted to their children. What a bummer.
This is an article about a certain class of women – those with money – who choose to stay home with their kids. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t think it’s fair to extrapolate this very limited, entitled world-view on the masses to make a false claim about women turning away from the work force – and by default, feminism. Being a housewife and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive ideas. This article claims to be making this very point – but it really isn’t.
The article begins with a focus on Kelly Makino, a magna cum laude graduate with a master’s degree from Penn – whose maternal instinct somehow nullified all of the groundwork she laid for her professional career:
Kelly calls herself â€œa flaming liberalâ€ and a feminist, too. â€œI want my daughter to be able to do anything she wants,â€ she says. â€œBut I also want to say, â€˜Have a career that you can walk away from at the drop of a hat.â€™â€‰â€
Hmm. That’s an empowering lesson for a young girl. Do whatever you want. Really whatever. It totally doesn’t matter what career path you chooseÂ because you’ll be dropping it anyway if you decide to have a family. So, do we suggest that our daughters graduate with honors and go on to get masters degrees at prestigious institutions like you did? What would be the point? If you’re just looking for a hobby until you secure some marital and maternal bliss – I suggest doing something cheaper. And more fun.
â€œThe feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now itâ€™s happening at home,â€ says Makino. â€œI feel like in todayâ€™s society, women who donâ€™t work are bucking the convention we were raised with â€¦ Why canâ€™t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?â€
This article is basically a Suzanne Venker redux – by a younger, hipper writer working for a cooler media outlet than Fox News. Can we please stop saying that men have no paternal instincts, women aren’t happy unless they are stay-at-home moms, and the way to fix an unfair wage gap is by giving up and dropping out of the rat race entirely? That is just ridiculous. And it certainly isn’t doing women – or feminism – any favors.