Last week, I had some delicious fun laying into the title and blurb from the newest book by Dr. Laura Schlessinger: In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms. To those who may not have read my first post on the subject, I will reiterate that my issues with this book have nothing to do with stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) and everything to do with the culture of mommy-shaming that people like Dr. Laura help to perpetuate. Working or not working is a choice, but God knows that some people get their knickers in a twist when women actually make real, meaningful choices. And the only right choice in the eyes of Dr. Laura and her ideological cohorts is for women to be SAHMs.
I’m revisiting this again because the book was excerpted yesterday on The Today Show‘s website. Predictably, Schlessinger comes out swinging:
Until I was thirty-five, I never wanted to be a mother. At least, that’s what I thought, largely because of having been in university during the 1960s, when I was brainwashed (aka had my consciousness raised) into being a feminista for whom a career, with its promise of personal importance, power and success, was what a real woman was supposed to aspire to.
Brainwashed by “feministas”? Oh that’s right, I forgot about that stealth team that broke into my apartment, burned my bras, glued hair onto my armpits and forced me to watch Gloria Steinem speeches, Clockwork Orange-style. They also turned me into a lesbian.
The problem was, no matter how many successes I had, there was that constant “something missing” feeling. It didn’t dawn on me that the empty feeling had to do with my uterus, breasts and arms; I was clearly missing being a mommy.
Ah, the uterus, breasts, and arms. Great job reducing mothers to the sum of their body parts!
I have been attacked incessantly for supposed hypocrisy concerning this issue of child care; I couldn’t possibly have done all the things required of my career without neglecting my son. Well, those critics are just plain wrong – and clearly defensive out of some well-earned guilt.
Yes, you are hypocritical. No, that does not mean you “neglected” your son. There it is again, the old trope that working mother = neglectful mother. Obviously if you worked and did not neglect your child, then logic dictates that other women can do the same thing. And “well-earned guilt”? My mother worked her ass off to build her career and never once neglected me or my sister; in fact, she does the opposite and still won’t stop bugging us even though we’re grown up! She does not need to feel guilty or defensive about her work-family dichotomy, because she nailed it.
It is so very doable if you are:
committed to the priority of raising your children yourself; part of a marriage, which obviously provides two parents;
Part of a marriage! I see! So single moms need not apply to your hallowed world filled with SAHMs? Because it’s kind of hard to leave the workplace if you don’t have a partner with their own income. And those gay folk? They can get married in a few places, but my guess is Schlessinger wouldn’t be in favor of any lesbian SAHMs.
Underpinning all of this is this assumption that men are always the principal breadwinner, and that he has enough of an income that the wife doesn’t need to take a job, never mind whether or not she wants one. I wonder what Dr. Laura would say to a mother with three children, whose newly-unemployed husband made $27,000 a year before being laid off, who has no college degree because she left educational and professional ambition behind “for the good of the family”, and now has to find her way in the job market so that the family can pay their bills. Schlessinger’s blind spot of privilege is glaringly obvious here. Not all SAHMs will be able to stay that way as job losses mount in this recession and their spouses receive pink slips. But don’t worry, she’s not really out to condemn anyone!
There used to be a guilt factor about parenting your own kids versus paying someone else to. Guilt is not the motivator it used to be, as folks have shifted from “should” to “feel like/or not.” These days, the “feely” answer usually wins out.
Huh? So you’re not saying anyone “should be” a SAHM, but that they should look deep within themselves to discover whether or not they “feel like being” a SAHM? I think I need a translator. Oooh, never mind — it’s time for more feminism-bashing!
That’s when the feminist movement’s mantra of choice got confusing: the decision to be a homemaker and full-time mother became a stupid, gross, dangerous error instead of a respected opportunity for self-expression and a deeper valuing of family life with regard to the well-being of a woman.
Hahaha yes, because all I do every day is sit on park benches and mock mothers as they play in sandboxes with their children. I then steal their children’s toys and leave them at the Altar of Feminism, where they are melted down and turned into Jimmy Choos for feminist women to wear into the corporate boardroom, hopefully de-balling a few men with those stiletto heels as she goes. Then I mock the mommies some more.
However, in all fairness, that’s why it is called “the women’s movement” — it is for, by, and about the well-being of women, not children or families. Wait, don’t women benefit from the joy of motherhood and the bonding of marriage? I guess feminism does not see those as significant enough to warrant making the sacrifices necessary for the commitment to child-rearing and wife-ing.
“Wife-ing” is not a word. Stop that shit right now. While you’re at it, stop with the whole feminism-is-selfish bit. Just stop. Nobody ever forced me to turn in my virtual feminist card when I learned my belly was housing a baby. Somehow I was able to be overjoyed about the prospect of being a mother and still consider myself a feminist. Wouldn’t my son have been better served by a mother who was afforded the greatest choices and chances to accomplish her goals than a mother who had no say in the matter and was guilted by people like Dr. Laura for just trying to do what she knows is best for herself and her family?
The excerpt ends on a truly disgusting note.
I recently received an email from a young girl doing a pro-con report for school on day care versus mother care. She wanted me to give her information, as arguments in favor of the mother-care side seemed difficult to find.
So what does the eminently logical Schlessinger do? She prints an email from a woman named Lisa who lost her 22-year-old son in a car accident. A woman who is a SAHM.
As obviously touching and compelling as Lisa’s letter is, I’m sure the überfeminists would recommend that the touching alternative would be to stockpile reports and videos taken by day-care workers, nannies, and baby-sitters,so that if the worst does happen, and a child is lost, you still have those memories…just through the eyes of other people.
Oh my fucking God! WHAT?! So you should stay at home because otherwise you will be filled with guilt and regret should a totally random catastrophic accident hit your family?
Thank God the excerpt ends here, because my brain is sending off sparks through my ears and I think it’s about to explode.