Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Times, good till the last sentence

Shoot, Thursday's my teaching day, and life really is hard enough when I'm on working mom duty, without starting the morning with the New York Times' latest on motherhood.

Positives: thank you, NYT, for finally asking some social scientists what they think.

Big Negative: the last line: We have equality at work, but not in our families.

No: this is the latest line; it's also parroted by Linda Hirshman. The workplace is okay, it's family, the private zone, where the problem remains unsolved. No, that's patently untrue. I'll tell you, my family lief is damn fine. My problem is that none of my workplaces have ever had a decent policy or programmes or childcare for people who work there. That's my problem. And my other problem is that as long we see this issue as either family or work, as always binary, always divided, we can't solve it. The separation is the problem.

That's when we can't see how they're all woven together:how our workplaces rely on ideal workers with no family responsibilities, how they rely on someone else's home labors to support the worker, and how they can't accommodate to mothers who don't have someone else's labor to rely on (except for that most excellent new century family: the working mom and stay at home dad).

That's the problem. Now tell that one out loud.


Anne Zelenka said...

I nearly screamed when I read that last sentence. It's the new way to say "it's your own fault you can't balance work and family." I totally agree that it's the interaction of work and family that's problematic, not solely what happens at work or what happens at home.

Thanks for a great post. I am planning to blog about it too, later today.

kj said...

Why do they think so many women who can leave the traditional workforce? Because at home, they can have inequality? Right.
How about because the traditional workforce's idea of "part time" for may professionals is 40 hours a week? Because the mere suggestion that you've been forced to put a child's welfare above work probably means that you won't get the crucial assignement next time?
Sure, leaving--or switching to a more flexible career--may mean you take on an "unequal" role at home, doing more of the traditional female or mother things--but what the Times is missing is that that's often a voluntary part of the deal. I cook, he cleans. I make breakfast at an ungodly hour on three days a week, he does four. I handle all child care arrangements and pick up the slack if there's fall-out and it's possible, because I'm working part time and it's easier for me--and if it isn't, he steps up to the plate.
We can work it out with our partners. It's the Partners (in my case, the law firm partners) that aren't listening!