Re: Adam

1

It is hopelessly tedious and yet important that I say this before B: you are both speaking of masculinity, not maleness. You MCPs.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:19 PM
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No, Tweety's the Master Control Program, not ogged.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:21 PM
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Wait, we had this thread before, but that time it was about Megan.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:21 PM
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Do my bidding, puny humans!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:23 PM
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Gee, if only we had grooming rituals to emphasize status in the pack/ reinforce bonding.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:23 PM
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Can we ask every fucking standup comedian in the history of the universe to weigh in on this one?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:24 PM
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If you're not careful, someone is going to cut off your balls, slol.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:26 PM
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I fucking quail in fear of what the women are like who are less intelligent than this weirdo. Again, apologies if someone has already made that joke on the monster thread.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:26 PM
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I was going to combine Kotsko's three requirements into one vicious and obscene yet sexy comment, but ogged says we are in polite company.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:31 PM
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Well, I guess that makes me not-male.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:31 PM
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And me male.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:33 PM
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8: I have to insist that you define exactly what you mean by "less intelligent."

"More poorly equipped to cut onions," for instance, would be a very, very high bar to clear.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:33 PM
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It can be your signature joke, dsquared. I'm pretty sure you can use it in almost every thread.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:33 PM
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10, 11. It's better to know than to not know.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:34 PM
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But seriously, the fact that some men don't have this trait and some women do doesn't seem like an objection--that's as one would expect (and this is the point of slol's distinction).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:35 PM
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11, see 3.

I've figured that I'm more or less culturally female for a while now.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:35 PM
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#6 gets it right.

Women be shop-pin'!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:37 PM
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18

Men people beat like this...


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:38 PM
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The male is characterized first and foremost by a constant background awareness of whether he can beat up the people around him, or, later in life, whether he can fuck them over more than they can fuck him over. Usually these considerations are made in tandem, and the one most favorable to the person doing the considering is emphasized.

This, of course, is nonsense. Men are primarily concerned with convincing other men that they can do the more relevant of these two things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:40 PM
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Have we really been evicted from the last thread for this nonsense? Because I only just got the ability to comment from my phone--imaginme what a drag it's been, sifting through the thread on a vaporetto in the rain near the grave of Ezra Pound, deceived into thinking myself silenced--and I wanted to point out to LB's fear of worrisome compliments, that a very good response is to say, "Thank you, that's a really nice thing to say."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:40 PM
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I've been one of the guys my whole life.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:40 PM
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Have we really been evicted from the last thread for this nonsense?

You try feeding the gaping maw, mister.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:42 PM
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23

Let me add that earlier this evening, I was becoming convinced that I hated English people, but then I realized it was just that I hated adolescents who happened to be English. I blame RyanAir. Does anyone know what the fuck kind drink is "Chino"? It tastes like a cat pissed grass clippings down my ass.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:43 PM
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Wrongshore's new phone is pretty foul-mouthed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:44 PM
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Does anyone know what the fuck kind drink is "Chino"?

I believe it is a type of pants. Try mixing them with cherry juice.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:45 PM
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Repels stains!


Posted by: Trevor | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:47 PM
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You try feeding the gaping maw

I'll stick with hiding the salami, thanks.

Sorry, I'm on the floor of an airport an it's past my bedtime, let alone flight time. I'm usually nicer. Also I poop huge and I can beat the stovetop out of you.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:47 PM
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I realized it was just that I hated adolescents who happened to be English

English students at American colleges are always the most annoying. E.g.: this one prick who kept on quibbling with the scenarios during the "Flirting, inappropriate behavior or sexual assault?" exercise, and was actually taken seriously because of the accent.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:49 PM
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28, now I'm imagining the girls in the class saying "Actually, that scenario would probably not be rape if it involved a man with an English accent. I hadn't considered that possibility before."


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:52 PM
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If you're not careful, someone is going to cut off your balls, slol.

Slol's the only one of the lot of you who's safe.

Anyway, even taken at face value, Ogged's definition of masculinity is stupid. Women do the same thing, it's just that we deal with knowing that most of the people out there with penises can beat us up.

Unless we terrify them into thinking we're going to castrate them before they get a chance.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:57 PM
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31

On the other hand, Ogged is right, and this is definitive proof that men and women are basically the same after all.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:58 PM
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Second...no, there is no second; that's what it means to be male.

How can that be true when half of the entire blog is about defining masculinity in some way or another?

This is still my reference for a post about defining masculinity without ever using the word.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 5:59 PM
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33

30, 31: Except that women are fickler.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:00 PM
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is the 'shit' of #3 literal, or the more common metaphorical usage for cars, toys, guns, etc.?

i mean--is the claim that guys look in the bowl and say
'wow, man, what a huge dump i just took'?

cause if so....well, wow.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:01 PM
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33: More honest.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:01 PM
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35: Same difference.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:03 PM
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33: More honest.

And less glad fool-sufferers.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:03 PM
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Bitzer's a dame today!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:04 PM
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34: Don't you sometimes think to yourself "man, that felt like one huge dump? I wonder how big it actually is..."? I know I do.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:06 PM
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While we're in the bowl together and I'm showing off my vacation slides, may I register my newfound fondness for the bidet? Though the drying on a towel is complicated. It's clean, but is it that clean?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:08 PM
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Another post on the page linked in 32 contains this remark by our host:

I had the same girlfriend all through college (stupid stupid me) but of the four women who I might have asked out given the chance....

Four women in (presumably) four years. I'm not sure what this is evidence of, except that "I know it when I see it" might be a perfectly good philosophy, but does not necessarily correlate with high volume.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:11 PM
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Women do the same thing, it's just that we deal with knowing that most of the people out there with penises can beat us up.

Unless we terrify them into thinking we're going to castrate them before they get a chance.

This seems to reduce gender relations to a Hobbesian war of all against all. I don't like it, the more so as I am not very confident of my ability to instill terror in the hearts of men.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:17 PM
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I suppose for me, the "can I take him?" self-exam is often followed by "even better: could I enjoy his company?" If the first question has already been posed, the second one is more likely, "Nah."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:21 PM
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44

Yooooooooooooooooooouuuk!


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:26 PM
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45

But seriously, the fact that some men don't have this trait and some women do doesn't seem like an objection

Well, in that case, the word you're looking for isn't "male", it's "complete fucking asshole".

Glad I could help.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:37 PM
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WTF, ogged? Maleness is determined by penis possession. Masculinity, which is what you're referencing, is determined by volume of body hair.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:46 PM
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34, 39: You don't send your friends cell phone pics of particularly good ones?


Posted by: ptm | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:48 PM
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48

I would describe masculinity as acting as though you suspect everyone believes your dick is tiny and that you're trying to prove them wrong without actually measuring.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:49 PM
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This song (warning: barbershop) pretty much sums up my personal orientation to this question. I understand if it's not an option available to many of you.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:51 PM
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You don't send your friends cell phone pics of particularly good ones?

My brother has done this.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:52 PM
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Actually, he didn't send a cell phone pic. He put a pic of it up on the family blog, which I'm pretty sure is worse.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 6:52 PM
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If woman is a 'misbegotten male" does that mean that man is distinguished relationally by his 'well-gotten ale" Certainly ale must come into this dicussion at some point.


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:12 PM
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Ale's the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think. We've just established at great length that we don't have any of those here.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:17 PM
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42: IA, just as LB is really dumb and not at all stuck up, so are you terrifying to me.

Women are so cute with their little insecurities. I do what I can to give them a meaningless sense of self-worth.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:23 PM
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Emerson is, as always, all heart. I think that means he's a wuss.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:25 PM
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Ale's the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think.

Don't rhyme your friends to death before their time.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:42 PM
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Wrongshore, you probably had a Chinotto, which is delicious.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 7:46 PM
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The male is characterized first and foremost by a desperate desire to make lists.

Or so Nick Hornby says.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:05 PM
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Wrongshore, you probably had a Chinotto, which is delicious.

Which I became addicted to in the Southern Hemisphere but which alas is not available here in Cowtown.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:09 PM
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The wandering eye

Might I relate that years ago, out for dinner with a grad school friend (was it a date, was it not a date? we wondered, why did it feel a bit like a date?), I said:

"I have to confess that I have a wandering eye."

Pause.
Pause.
He blinked at me.

Suddenly we both burst out laughing. (Smart enough? Yeah.)

Friends, I'm pretty sure the term is "roving eye." A wandering eye, in contrast, is one that that doesn't track, but strays off into left field. Sort of Marty Feldman style.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:14 PM
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"Lazy eye" is another name. Or maybe "walleye", which Sartre was accused of having.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:17 PM
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The male is characterized first and foremost by a constant background awareness of whether he can beat up the people around him,

I could've taken you, Ogged.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:20 PM
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I love it: Maleness(1): walleyed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:20 PM
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You know, it's this conception of "maleness" that makes me not get on all that well with a lot of guys. At a poker night (or similar), if there's more than one of these*, I just have to leave. Not only is this not my conception of maleness, it's not even my conception of humanity.

* At least the ones for whom this is detectible. If this is really the mindset of even 75% of guys, then clearly most of that group doesn't send out the vibe. Otherwise, maybe 35% of guys do this, and I don't like any of them.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:28 PM
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The very large turd is, of course, the male simulacrum of the child, but when you get down to it, it causes a hell of a lot less trouble during the course of its existence.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:33 PM
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I think 19 is on to something. Relatedly, I don't think any description of maleness is complete without mention of the male approach to discourse.


Posted by: zwichenzug | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:34 PM
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Fascination with the size of one's shit -- this was inspired by a recent episode of South Park

I've never seen that South Park. I remember a guy in high school who laid a turd that was so big it stuck out of the water. He didn't flush and tried to convince everyone in class to go check out his handiwork. It's probably relevant to mention this was an all male high school.

You know, similar to the case for all female high schools, I think that one advantage of male high schools is that while shit like this went on (and we did all think it was great fun), there were actually a pretty wide range of roles and types accepted for boys/men. Status just didn't seem to matter that much, and so the different subgroups were much less embattled than people from coed high schools often recall.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:39 PM
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Not only is this not my conception of maleness, it's not even my conception of humanity

Everyone has met them, but it's amazing how many claim to be them, even in jest. I appear to have lied on my naturalization application, since I obviously live on another planet.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:40 PM
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Women, of course, nurture their turds, whereas patriarchs callously flush them. Civilization was founded on the primal sacrifice (flushing) of Isaac.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:41 PM
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Men and women are, in fact, different, and yes, it goes back to the veldt.

I think of the sexes as basically the same people hopped up on different drugs. If we shot up all the women here with big doses of testosterone, and all the men with lots of estrogen, I think all the Unfogged pieties on this subject would vanish.

Of course, as you get older the hormones decline naturally.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:41 PM
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everyone in class to go check out his handiwork

Has the literal meaning of that word really passed so far towards "dying metaphor" as this?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:42 PM
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I really dislike the businessman version of masculinity. As enacted, for example, by those guys who speak into their cell phones at a very loud volume so that everyone on the airplane (or in the train car or etc) will know that they are getting to yes. Fucketty, I don't care about your aluminum siding deal. It sometimes occurs to me that these guys would look a lot less ridiculous if they were using that energy to go out and hunt moose or something.

I don't claim to have moved above and beyond every last vestige of gender essentialism. In fact, I am increasingly out of sympathy with American feminism's overemphasis on gender sameness as a requirement for gender equality. I think it tends to make masculinity the default setting.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:44 PM
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Women, of course, nurture their turds

How did you know?!? Is the smell really getting that bad?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:44 PM
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I think of the sexes as basically the same people hopped up on different drugs.

So, then, what happens if we shoot everyone up with ketamine?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:46 PM
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See, PK is a vital, ever-renewing turd source. Whereas male turds are sterile.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:47 PM
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75: First sentence is undoubtedly true. Second, try spreading it out back on the garden.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:49 PM
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Males are more likely to be really depressed about how the Indians are doing right now.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:49 PM
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I think of the sexes as basically the same people hopped up on different drugs.

I am going to use this as a principle from now on. I need to start making a list of well-phrased true statements like this.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:49 PM
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passed so far towards "dying metaphor"

I was kind of fond of the gross, and inappropriate, resonance of the term there. YMMV, I suppose.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:50 PM
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It sometimes occurs to me that these guys would look a lot less ridiculous if they were using that energy to go out and hunt moose or something.

this is the tragedy of modern masculinity.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:51 PM
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Sort of Marty Feldman style.

Walk this way.

I'm not certain that I could say what "maleness" is, exactly, but I do know that I've never had much use for it.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:54 PM
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I can't believe it's going to be up to me to defend maleness and masculinity. You people are in trouble.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:56 PM
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83

defend maleness and masculinity

Does it need defending?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:58 PM
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Apparently in this crowd.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 8:58 PM
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I can't believe it's going to be up to me to defend maleness and masculinity.

I can't believe it either. But I eagerly await your feminist apologetic.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:02 PM
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Without masculine men, there would be no one to fuck B's brains out. Q.E.D.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:02 PM
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I can't believe it's going to be up to me to defend maleness and masculinity.

Depends on whether you want me to admire it, perform it, or explain it.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:04 PM
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I can't believe it's going to be up to me to defend maleness and masculinity. You people are in trouble.

We've been cowed into a shame spiral of self-criticism.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:05 PM
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what happens if we shoot everyone up with ketamine?

Lots of K-holes, dude.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:07 PM
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I'm sure men and women are different, and vive la difference. But I have little or no idea what either would be like absent the particular culture that coopts and manipulates their natural differences.

One thing is that just about anything that's true of most men is true of at least a few women, and vice versa. All the differences are on average.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:09 PM
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I actually rather like men, and I think that a lot of the things we define as masculine--e.g., the ability to argue/compete without taking things personally, politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself, being willing to take one for the team, enjoying agonistic play, not caring overmuch about appearances--are admirable.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:11 PM
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92

88: Wusses.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:11 PM
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91 continued: Crap, how could I forget an appreciation and enjoyment of physical prowess? That's something I wish more women were more comfortable with, for sure.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:12 PM
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But I have little or no idea what either would be like absent the particular culture that coopts and manipulates their natural differences.

Ah, learned your lesson, eh?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:13 PM
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B is male-identified and I hereby cast her out of the feminist community.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:14 PM
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I actually rather like men, and I think that a lot of the things we define as masculine--e.g., the ability to argue/compete without taking things personally, politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself, being willing to take one for the team, enjoying agonistic play, not caring overmuch about appearances--are admirable.

I never thought the second of third of those were particularly associated with men. And what does "agonistic play" mean?

NOTE: this comment is not sniping or baiting, just a comment. I tend to think that what appears in pop culture nowadays as being representative of Guys Do This And Girls Don't is almost all various forms of douchebaggery.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:15 PM
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B is male-identified and I hereby cast her out of the feminist community.

Her and Je/ssi Se/ams.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:16 PM
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the ability to argue/compete without taking things personally . . . enjoying agonistic play

Aren't these two aspects of the same quality?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:16 PM
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Ned, there are rules. If it's not sniping, baiting, taunting, or trolling, we don't want it here. In responses to B, at least.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:17 PM
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91 & 93: Fine. What have these to do with the qualities described in the post?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:21 PM
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most of 91 is the dumbest parts of men

physical violnce and directness are the important parts

the jovial agonism i agree with tho


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:34 PM
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oh, 93 got part of that

indiffernce to appears is a us thing. its that the form is different: money/power, not beauty.

the team thing:

man-teams are larger than women-teams, which are more populous.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:37 PM
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One crucial economic problem for hygiene in pre-industrial Europe was that human waste had little or no market value

from page 105 of this book that I read on the way home from work today.


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:38 PM
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What does "agonistic play" mean?

a) A kind of Greek drama.
b) A sexual fetish involving thumbscrews.
c) An ongoing bad relationship.
d) A sign of too much time spent in an English department.
e) All of the above.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:46 PM
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I sent away mail-order for my MANDOM kit, but alas, it never arrives. So it's all turd nurturing for me.

How I long to sit on the pot, shitting indifferently with a a cold, steely stare.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:46 PM
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Agonistic play.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:49 PM
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Ouch.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 9:51 PM
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91:

the things we define as masculine--e.g., the ability to argue/compete without taking things personally, politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself, being willing to take one for the team, enjoying agonistic play, not caring overmuch about appearances

Oh. Here is the problem: I don't define those as masculine.

I don't see any point in defining them as masculine.

Major cognitive discontinuity. I must live on another planet.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:01 PM
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Parsimon, "we" there means the culture we live in and assumptions that we are brought up with, not every individual person on earth.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:03 PM
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The tedious follow up to 1 is that what's considered masculine and what's considered feminine aren't entirely fixed and vary according to time and situation and other factors, blah blah blah allowing for some obvious differences in biology like ability to have children, general range of strength, weight, height, blah blah blah.

(The blahs really bring out the tedium.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:06 PM
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I understand that, Ned. I still don't see the traits enumerated by B as masculine according to the culture as I know it.

Except, maybe, as some sort of caricature.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:08 PM
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I thought we were talking about in general, not just our little culture.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:11 PM
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Oh, we're never talking about anything in these discussions.

But yes, I think B was talking about our culture, whereas Ogged was talking about in general.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:13 PM
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Ogged was trying to get people out of that damn smartness thread. I think there's something to background thoughts of physical hierarchy, but obviously it would be pretty foolish to try to define "masculinity" as such.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:15 PM
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physical violnce and directness are the important parts

no, that's so cliche, action-movie type of stuff. There are lots of weird, subtle, differences in personality tendencies between men and women. Lots of sexuality differences too. With the on-average proviso, it's all percentages and shading.

Thing is, the within sex variance is so much greater than the across-sex variance, that it's hard to observe the generalities.

B is the only one who's stepped up to the plate and tried to outline some...still in cliche territory, but a lot less so than "likes to fight".


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:16 PM
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Is ogged at all concerned that he's begun to refer to himself in the third person. Or is this part of your therapy to once and for all exorcize the blog personality?

I kind of miss the days when it was a bit of a geek fraternity here.


Posted by: chas | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:20 PM
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Like, I think men are a little more relaxed and mellow than women, women a little more uptight. At the same time, men are a bit more prone to romantice extremes and pointless gestures, while women are a little more balanced and sensible.

Men and women definitely smell different. That's the only one I'm really sure about.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:21 PM
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Is ogged at all concerned that he's begun to refer to himself in the third person.

I do it as a joke when people start talking about me and my intentions as if I'm not right here. At least, I hope that's when I do it.

I kind of miss the days when it was a bit of a geek fraternity here.

Dude, Magik Johnson quit the site when he thought it had become too popular in late 2003.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:26 PM
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I still don't see the traits enumerated by B as masculine according to the culture as I know it.

So what traits are masculine according to the culture as you know it? I don't mean, obviously, what traits are really and actually possessed by every boy/man in the culture (much less what traits are not at all possessed by the girls and women in said culture), but what traits are generally coded as masculine in the social imaginary of the culture as you know it?

It won't do to say there are no such "masculine" traits (and by extension, and because gender is always relational, no such "feminine" traits either), because in that case we would be already living in the gender-free Utopia that we very obviously do not (or do not yet) inhabit.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:26 PM
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Dude, Magik Johnson quit the site when he thought it had become too popular in late 2003.

What's your point?


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:35 PM
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What's your point?

Just that there are as many tipping points for sending people into nostalgia as there are commenters and there's no way to satisfy everyone or go back. (Not that you were doing anything other than expressing a feeling....)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:39 PM
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Feh, what is this feeble defensiveness?


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:47 PM
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119:

It won't do to say there are no such "masculine" traits

I would never say that; it would be silly.

If I had to enumerate "masculine" traits, I suppose I'd go for things very basic: physical strength, suppression of emotion,

and actually I'm stalling out right there. Those two themselves seem to cover other things: a sort of callousness or callowness (men don't stop to smell the flowers), a shouldering of responsibility (taking care of the family, bucking up in the face of adversity) -- these seem to fall under the above two.

While I can, with a little attention, see how B's list could be subsumed under these two broad traits, what was odd to me about the list is that it included something like "politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself," which I actually think of as feminine. Women care for the children and the infirm, etc.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:49 PM
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I agree with 123.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:50 PM
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Feh, what is this feeble defensiveness?

I try to be nice to the more sensitive commenters.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:52 PM
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He also enjoys agonistic play.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:54 PM
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. . . laydeez.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:54 PM
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123 -- I read the emphasis in that sentence on politely rather than on deferring. Not sure I agree with it, but I get what it's saying.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:54 PM
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"politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself," which I actually think of as feminine. Women care for the children and the infirm, etc.

Women getting stuck with taking care of kids and old people isn't what I'd call polite deferrence.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:55 PM
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I know you are but what am I?


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:55 PM
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Women getting stuck with taking care of kids and old people isn't what I'd call polite deferrence.

It isn't if you add the phrase "getting stuck with", and then presume that that is incompatible with the word "polite".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:56 PM
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I know you are but what am I?

A Loy Boy?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:57 PM
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Gawd, I can't talk about the masculine traits I like without sounding like a total misogynist. I'm trying, and everything I think of sounds like "women are icky and I don't like them!"


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:57 PM
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gswift proves my point.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 10:58 PM
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I believe B is talking about things like men offering their seat on a train to a pregnant woman, which is nothing like women taking care of kids and old people.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:00 PM
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127 -- Obviously, referring to the sentence -- it -- as the subject of the communicative act is pretty bad form. It's late, and I'm a little tipsy. It's s/b she's.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:00 PM
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I can't talk about the masculine traits I like without sounding like a total misogynist.

It's okay, m.leblanc, you're among friends here.

Seriously, welcome to the club. The things coded as feminine (as the feminists say) are often pretty icky.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:01 PM
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135: It depends on what you mean by "deference". I thought that what you are now mentioning was the exact sort of thing she didn't like about the male role in society, because it reinforces male superiority by giving them the right to give little symbolic favors to those less powerful.

And now that I'm finally referring to men as "them", it's time to go.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:01 PM
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something like "politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself," which I actually think of as feminine.

Okay, yeah. The polite deference seems not so much "masculine" as "chivalrous," which is a sort of assumption/appropriation of certain "feminine" traits, but from a position of safely secure and safely superior masculinity, and in the interests of not having the menfolk run wild through the streets committing murder and rapine and otherwise wreaking havoc .

Or so David Hume might have said, who actually had a fair bit to say on this.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:02 PM
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a shouldering of responsibility (taking care of the family, bucking up in the face of adversity)

I'd agree that this is how the culture defines it, but research shows that once a family goes bankrupt, women are more likely to be the ones who deal with it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:02 PM
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137: "The things coded as feminine (as the feminists say) are often pretty icky."

96: "I tend to think that what appears in pop culture nowadays as being representative of Guys Do This And Girls Don't is almost all various forms of douchebaggery."

I wonder what would make us happy.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:02 PM
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A Loy Boy?

Hah! I had to look that up. I think I knew someone in college from there.

You got me profiled, but I'm from DC.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:02 PM
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The things coded as feminine (as the feminists say) are often pretty icky.

Meh, empathy, kindness, sociability, all good things. Plus sugar and spice.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:05 PM
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You got me profiled, but I'm from DC.

Damn. Was worth a shot.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:07 PM
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Well, you know, what it is, is that male friendships just seem to be a lot Less Complicated. I see friends who get into a fight, and then later there's a genuine apology, and the other guy says it's ok, and it really is ok. And That's It. Maybe that's not a masculine thing, I don't know. But a lot of the "feminine" way of having friendship is that everything is A Thing, and even a real apology is not a real apology, and the forgiveness is not a real forgiveness. Eventually it just goes away.

See? That was misogynist.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:11 PM
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because it reinforces male superiority by giving them the right to give little symbolic favors to those less powerful.

That's not the bestowal of favors, it's just being polite.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:13 PM
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You know what I like about masculinity? That it prizes competitiveness and thinks competition is fun.

The flip side of this is that masculinity involves caring so much about winning that you become a sore loser, which is even more annoying than hating to compete.

In sum, everyone should be like me, and like competing but not care too much about losing.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:14 PM
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empathy, kindness, sociability, all good things

Meh yourself, sir. I can't speak for m.leblanc, but the icky stuff would be the reverse of the things on the list of masculine traits: excessive emotionalism, lily-liveredness, frippery, a tendency to faint.

It's possible I'm exaggerating.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:20 PM
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See? That was misogynist.

No, just a bit idealistic about greeness of the grass over here.

You know, I found this an interesting meditation on men and friendship. I do think male friendship is much harder with modern migration and the demands of modern families. For me friendship emerges through doing things together repeatedly, over time, like the guys in this book who've hunted together for 40 years. A life that allows that continuity and shared activity over a lifetime is pretty rare these days.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:20 PM
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You know what I like about masculinity? That it prizes competitiveness and thinks competition is fun.

Funny, that's what I hate about it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:22 PM
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Among other things.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:22 PM
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150: I bet I hate it more than you do. Let's race!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:24 PM
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a sort of callousness or callowness (men don't stop to smell the flowers), a shouldering of responsibility (taking care of the family, bucking up in the face of adversity)

Do you think that men feel these exigent characteristics as something that they struggle to live up to in the same way that femininity makes women feel like no matter how they put their makeup on, it will never be "just right" it will only approximate the ideal at best? Or do you find that the expectations and expressions of "masculinity" are not as rigourous as all that?

Being in Women's Studies, I find it really refreshing that masculinity is finally being opened up to deconstruction. (it's been a long time coming)


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:25 PM
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sir

I like your attitude. Of course lots of feminine traits get coded as bad, but I just wanted to say that there's good stuff, too.

Is it in Unnatural Emotions where the society being studied considers men to be the subtle, communicative ones, and the women are blunt and taciturn? I think so. No idea if it's a reliable account.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:25 PM
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152: No thanks. How about some tea instead?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:26 PM
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The things coded as feminine (as the feminists say) are often pretty icky.

Icky insofar as they've now been reduced to mild Hallmark-greeting-card-sentimental protests against the dominant dog-eat-dog, winner-takes-all ethos of our age. Oh god, the shame, the cringe-inducing embarrassment. Am I that name? Must I call them my sisters? Am I expected to subscribe to Oprah magazine (you go, girl!). The women who still stubbornly adhere to the "ickiness" being just so many chumps or losers, to be either re-educated or else left behind when the revolution finally arrives, your mileage may vary.

But there is a potentially radical energy in a refusal to concede the "fact" of that "ickiness," I think. American feminism has gone wrong, has gone badly astray, I believe, in its implicit and explicit denigration of the feminine.

The fact that the vast majority of American women refuse to self-identify with the movement that claims to speak on their behalf is a real problem, and perhaps even (dare I say it?) a failure of said movement. And is not unrelated to the above.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:28 PM
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155: Okay, you win. And I'm okay with that. This is really good tea, by the by.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:30 PM
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Thanks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:32 PM
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I have to get up at 5, so I should probably go to bed. Good night, everyone.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:35 PM
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153:

Do you think that men feel these exigent characteristics as something that they struggle to live up to

We have to ask the men. I was about to say: I guess I'd be surprised if it's not roughly the same for men as for women, i.e., the pressure is there, and one chooses the extent to which one is willing (able) to resist.

But, no: there is a general sense that women undergo more pressure than men do.

Certainly if you frame it in the terms you did: "it will never be "just right" it will only approximate the ideal at best," then I have trouble seeing male and female pressures as commensurate.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:44 PM
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Do you think that men feel these exigent characteristics as something that they struggle to live up to

Eh, I suppose there are standards out there, and that I don't meet them. I find it easier to consider them unattainable and thus not worth bothering with, and relegate my failure to meet them to another background anxiety. This is the way I treat most standards though, so I may not be a typical case; it's a victory for society when I put my pants on to leave my apartment.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-18-07 11:55 PM
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If the masculine continues to be interpreted as the universal subject, thus easier to 'live up to' not only because it is simply sustaining the status quo, but also because the masculine is what it is simply because it is, then women's equality will always be something women have to ask for, ie: something granted by the subject to the "other". It will continue to reify woman as 'difference'.

I get really disheartened that every attempt I've seen to examine the masculine stops short of analysis and resorts to deconstruction of the feminine. We've deconstructed woman. We have dissected her, dressed her up and down like a plaything. Unless we can do the same to the masculine, I doubt there will be any substantive social change.


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:00 AM
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156:

But there is a potentially radical energy in a refusal to concede the "fact" of that "ickiness," I think. American feminism has gone wrong, has gone badly astray, I believe, in its implicit and explicit denigration of the feminine.

IA, forgive me, but this is all over the place.

156.1 sets up a picture of what some might mean by "ickiness." In a certain theatrical frame of mind, I might indeed find myself lamenting my sisterhood with the airbrushed paintings of kittens and puppie-dogs or the Oprah-esque absorption with .. whatever she's absorbed by.

But it's a strawman.

What's of more concern is the reference above to the "denigration of the feminine" in the absence of any eludication of what the feminine is meant to be here.

I understand the points made more than once lately on this blog about gender essentialism and the privileging of the masculine as default in the utopian gender-neutrality that American feminism purportedly seeks. Why is it American? For one thing. And what of the feminine is in danger?

We are probably not in substantial disagreement.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:03 AM
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163: the 'feminine' seems to have been in danger since the dawn of time, it seems. I wonder what makes the masculine so safe, so indelibly written in stone and thus so unassailable?


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:09 AM
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There's a fair amount of historical literature about a "crisis of masculinity" around the turn of the 20th century in the US, for what that's worth.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:12 AM
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Sorry if my questions have killed the thread, but the topic did manage to rile up discussion in my living room. Woot woot!


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:44 AM
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145 (and 153) are good

but fucking hell, the "callousness" thing is just fucking wrong. Its not about not showing emotions, that the dumb gloss. Its about showing the emotions of one who is on the top of the social stack. Which is why women can cry, and thats ok, but if men cry, its not, unless your kid died. crying is a loser's expression. Supressing emotions is just a single step up from expressing dissapointment and sadness, which don't get you anything, except yoru ass kickd. Same thing actually with fights. You go all out, and punch someone instead of just spreading rumours, but them you can't show that it affects you emotionally, because thats is the single MOST IMPORNATN indicator that the doee is higher on the social heirarchy than you are. So you make up and get over it, either actually, or just by pretending to.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:16 AM
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"But, no: there is a general sense that women undergo more pressure than men do."

like, how do you measure this.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:30 AM
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If anyone cries in this thread I'm going to give them noogies.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:30 AM
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169: your manliness makes me quiver


Posted by: Lucy | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:42 AM
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is 170 a cock joke?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:31 AM
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168: ironically, with a manometer.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:53 AM
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* Fascination with the size of one's shit -- this was inspired by a recent episode of South Park

Well apparently if women take an interest in the size of their shit in America, they get arrested.

I would never criticise the cultural conventions of a friendly nation.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:50 AM
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Is it in Unnatural Emotions where the society being studied considers men to be the subtle, communicative ones, and the women are blunt and taciturn?

In Chinese society women are considered to be determined, down-to-earth, and practical, whereas men are the mellow, relaxed, generous culture-bearers. For a long time (until 1911) the (male) road to power and wealth required an intense education in poetry and philosophy, and elite men also devoted their time to hobbies like collecting weird rocks, collecting antiques, and flower-arranging.

But now men all go into science and business, and the Chinese departments of the universities are full of women. My somewhat old-school Chinese teacher in Taiwan hated that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 5:02 AM
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In Chinese society women are considered to be determined, down-to-earth, and practical, whereas men are the mellow, relaxed, generous culture-bearers

Iran has some of this, too. Not quite so stark, but that's about right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:53 AM
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re: 175

To a certain extent isn't that true in lots of places? Scottish women would, stereotypically, be the tough, determined practical ones.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:57 AM
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30, 31: Obviously I agree.

Part of what makes these conversations interesting but annoying is that most people feel a whole lot of pressure to conform to gender norms, regardless of what they are. You could with very little effort sell an elementary school on the idea that apples were boy fruit and oranges were girl fruit, and after a week or two the kids would enforce it for themselves.

So claims that some perfectly ordinary common human experience, like frustration with a non-working machine, are characteristically masculine, come off as hostile and insulting. If I want to kick my computer when it doesn't work, suddenly I'm not a real woman: I've got a choice between changing my behavior to comply; abandoning my pretenses of being normally female; or arguing that your gender norms are about as fucked up and arbitrary as saying that boys just naturally don't like oranges. I tend to go for the third option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:57 AM
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To a certain extent isn't that true in lots of places?

I think so, but are Scottish men also the emotional ones who like to read poetry?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:00 AM
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re: 178

To a certain extent, yeah. Not poetry, as such, but a certain drunken maudlinness [in the manner of the Irish in Hollywood movies] isn't uncommon.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:02 AM
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But a lot of the "feminine" way of having friendship is that everything is A Thing, and even a real apology is not a real apology, and the forgiveness is not a real forgiveness. Eventually it just goes away.

See? That was misogynist.

I'm going to run a little further with the misogynist baton and say that I'm always surprised how often women are consistently friendly to each other's faces, over years-long periods, while talking with others about how they hate or scorn each other. I don't see men maintaining elaborate false friendships with people they would rather not spend one second of the day with. They may interact on a regular basis but they never try to be friendly.

If I had a male friend or acquaintance who secretly disdained me, I'd be surprised, but I can never be sure with a lot of women I know.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:03 AM
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What are people talking about when they talk about masculinity or femininity? How they observe men and women actually behaving, or some ideal? Because there's nothing like hanging around a law firm for seeing men being cordial to each other's faces and cutting each other down behind their backs. Would you call that feminine behavior, even when men do it, or are you honestly surprised that men do it at all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:07 AM
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a certain extent isn't that true in lots of places? Scottish women would, stereotypically, be the tough, determined practical ones.

I think so, but are Scottish men also the emotional ones who like to read poetry?

The redoubtable Mammy (Irish, Scottish or otherwise) holding the family together or, alternatively, the tough and spirited younger woman, pops up in all kinds of places, especially when the chief occupation of men is hanging around being a waster.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:09 AM
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182: Stereotypical low-income African American culture as well. I'd speculate that that pattern comes out of poverty and the assignment of primary responsibility for children's welfare to women; men can be goofily irresponsible, women are responsible for feeding children.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:12 AM
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169: your manliness makes me quiver

I bet.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:14 AM
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In China male irresponsibility isn't normally a factor. Men do have a temptation to waste family resources putting on a show in public life or helping out their extended family, whereas women are in charge of the interest of the nuclear family only.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:15 AM
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As for men not being concerned with physical appearance, I think, like someone else said, this is mostly an American thing. I'm always surprised when I travel to see men wearing tight, carefully-put-together outfits with some jewelry (as opposed to many American men wearing none at all), styling their hair just so, and generally just strutting about. Arab men particularly so.

The rest of the world has been metrosexual for ages.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:20 AM
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186: See "apples are a boy fruit, oranges are a girl fruit". The pressure is to comply with norms of masculinity or femininity, but what those norms are is pretty arbitrary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:26 AM
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There are echoes of both the responsible Chinese & Scottish women in broader American culture, too: it's not an uncommon arrangement among my parents' generation for the guy to be the breadwinner but for the wife to make all the day-to-day financial decisions. My parents still have this arrangement, which leads to weird conversations where my dad insists my mom spends all the money, and my mom points out that he doesn't actually know what things cost since she's done all the managing for the past 30 years.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:31 AM
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Oh, I agree, and I think (at least I hope) that no one is saying there's some kind of "essential" masculinity or femininity. There are, of course, country and region-specific norms.

I like the places where there are fewer of these norms, and they are less strictly enforced. For example, now, unlike in high school, no one ever asks me "how come you never wear dresses?" I feel often like we've made a lot of progress in that so many people are wiling to defy gender norms. The progress that's still to be made is that those same people often feel weird/guilty/ashamed of their defiance. But hey, better than everyone conforming.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:33 AM
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188. This was a standard arrangement in Britain among the prosperous working class (who could afford to live on a single income) until the present generation. A man would come home with his week's pay in an envelope on Friday and hand it to his wife unopened. She would give him his beer money.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:36 AM
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189: Well, the misogyny thread of the above argument was heading toward an assumption that there is "some kind of "essential" masculinity or femininity" -- that the rejection of Hallmark card 'femininity' was misogynist. And that's an argument that can go in a couple of ways: rejection of Hallmark card 'femininity' as icky and lame, while continuing to strongly assert and believe that it's innate in and proper for women generally, is certainly misogynist. Rejection of Hallmark card femininity as icky and lame because Precious Moments portrayals of giant-eyed toddlers doing something disturbing are icky and lame, but rejecting the notion that there's any necessary or innate association between women and Precious Moments figurines doesn't seem to me to be misogynist at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:39 AM
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One thing I've noticed is that older women in the academy (in particular) tend to equate feminism with a much more robust anti-femininity than do women my age. I suspect, knowing some of their stories about the men of their generation thinking the point of women in the academy was so they'd have someone to date, that this is mostly a reaction to the prejudices of the time. They were either serious or ornamental, and sometimes even when they were serious they were taken for ornamental, so they tend to be rather hostile to what ogged would call the 'good' list of stereotypically feminine virtues.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:40 AM
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American feminism has gone wrong, has gone badly astray, I believe, in its implicit and explicit denigration of the feminine.

American feminism was IMO almost completely co-opted by the ideological progression of capitalism. It ended up as a mechanism to mobilize women into the labor force, indoctrinate them into competitive individualism, and loosen their ties to the family. The part of feminism that challenged competitive individualism and wanted greater social supports for ways of communal living that weren't necessarily supported by the capitalist labor market really got sidelined in popular culture. (Although it still lives in occasional political calls for things like family leave, etc.)

Part of this is that a family emphasis got all tangled up with traditional patriarchal religion, so there was a culture war between left-wing and right-wing notions of non-capitalist community.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:41 AM
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193 gets it right. The part of feminism that corporations benefited from succeeded completely.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:42 AM
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Yeah. I'd take that as a general problem with the rejection of 'dirty fucking hippies' generally, rather than something really specific to feminism; the parts of feminism that were about the family, equalization of housework, childrearing without strong imposition of gender norms, attention to child-care issues, and so forth, were all the sorts of things that get attacked as hippie ideas, and got rejected on that basis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:45 AM
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In Chinese society women are considered to be determined, down-to-earth, and practical, whereas men are the mellow, relaxed, generous culture-bearers

Iran has some of this, too. Not quite so stark, but that's about right.

This explains so, so much. Thanks again, Unfogged!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:48 AM
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I see it as a problem more specific to feminism, or maybe a problem specific to needing to wait for the old guard to die off. Older academic women had an absolute hell of a time. Those that succeeded in an environment where Oxford dons would refuse to speak to them tended to be tough nails, because being stereotypically feminine would have ended up with them being ignored.

To the extent that feminism has succeeded, it isn't necessary to be quite so stereotypically masculine to succeed. Female professors have children and don't hide it, and here, at least, no one takes that as they're not being serious about their work. But trying to convince the older generation of women that childcare or something is necessary is very hard. They managed, after all.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:53 AM
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A man would come home with his week's pay in an envelope on Friday and hand it to his wife unopened. She would give him his beer money.

This was my great-grandparent's arrangement, according to my grandmother--she'd sit in her kitchen chair smoking her pipe and her husband and sons would line up to hand over the envelopes and get their 'baccy money. But grandmother married a dude (in the old meaning of the term) who'd pawn his watch to pay for his monogrammed silk shirts (I think she liked him for the shirts). Later he gave up rum-running and got a job at Ford, and consoled himself with electronic gadgets.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:54 AM
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191: Oh. Well I, for one, don't think there's any essential anything, but I am trying to think about which of the elements of the masculine and feminine American Codes I like and dislike.

Anyway, I think IA gets it wrong when saying that American feminism denigrates the feminine. I think what it puts down is not the feminine, but the very notion is something essential or immutable that is "feminine."


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:54 AM
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Because there's nothing like hanging around a law firm for seeing men being cordial to each other's faces and cutting each other down behind their backs.

Or spend some time in the U.S. South, where people are very nice to people they don't like.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:55 AM
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199 - the very notion is s/b the very notion that there is


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:56 AM
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197: But that's a particular strain of older feminists (who I think you've described accurately), not all second-wave feminism. There's plenty of second-wave feminism that was about family and emotional issues, that's gotten kind of erased because it's dirty-fucking-hippie associated: think Free To Be You And Me and that sort of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:57 AM
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Damn. I killed the thread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:26 AM
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200: I think everybody here is just wonderful.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:29 AM
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I can never keep these things straight. Which World War and which wave of feminism are we on now?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:37 AM
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Feminism: First wave, women's suffrage and such. Second wave, the 70's 'Women's Movement'. Third wave, now. I'm not competent to define on any finer level -- I get lost in the distinctions instantly.

World Wars, you'd have to ask a neocon, wouldn't you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:40 AM
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202: I don't think it's all second-wave feminism, certainly. But I don't think it's been erased due to dirty-fucking-hippieism, but partially due to the reasons marcus cites (easy to get everyone happy about a bigger workforce) and partially due to a resistance to changing what group of issues 'feminism' means.

I do tend to think of this in terms of generations of academics (I'm not so good with keep the waves straight), but the first group's motto was 'I can do anything a man can do (in the same way that he can.)' The women that followed them seem to have the motto 'I can do anything a man can do, but god, who wants to have that crappy lifestyle, can we get some childcare over here, because there are issues specific to us?' And I see the resistance as between people whose idea of feminism is the first group's motto and those whose idea is the second group's motto.

So you get the male director of graduate studies who figures that the department does well in terms of equality based on the numbers of women and the younger chair who worries about equality based on where the women end up with jobs and the new senior female hire who wonders why all the male graduate students are married and (until recently) all the female graduate students were single. And now you put them into a room and ask them what they can do to improve equality in the department. Then you light a fire from the flying sparks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:45 AM
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Since 1914 there have been two World Wars (1914-18, for most participants; 1937-45 for the Chinese and Japanese with others joining in from time to time) , one World Exercise in Seriously Risky Diplomacy (1948-89) and one World Police Action in Danger of Getting Out Of Hand (2001-?). Accept no substitutes.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:48 AM
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I do tend to think of this in terms of generations of academics (I'm not so good with keep the waves straight), but the first group's motto was 'I can do anything a man can do (in the same way that he can.)'

I may be stereotyping unfairly here, but I tend to think of women in that category as largely feminists only in retrospect, if at all -- back in the '70s women who were successful in 'men's' fields often had a kind of hostile attitude toward feminism -- "I can survive in a man's world by being as good as a man; the women's movement is for the weak." Someone like that might get called a feminist as a pejorative, but would often not have been a self-identified feminist: think Margaret Thatcher.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:56 AM
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Aren't a lot of people reluctant to admit that there are differences between men and women, because they worry that those differences will be used to justify poor treatment of women? It's easy to see how the dynamic that comes from that fear leads to the denial or de-emphasis of the feminine.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:57 AM
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reluctant to admit that there are differences between men and women

Begging the question, aren't we?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:58 AM
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210: That's part of it, but for me the real problem is that once we admit the existence of those differences, then the conversation turns to identifying those differences.

I have zero confidence in my ability - or anyone else's ability - to have an informed opinion on the subject. I'm much better positioned to understand innate masculinity than innate femininity, and yet I find myself in continual disagreement with other born experts on masculinity.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:02 AM
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You say begging the question, I say stating the obvious. Now let's arm-wrestle.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:03 AM
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Would a real man buy this fragrance for his woman?
http://www.smellmeand.com (NSFW)


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:03 AM
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Yeah. There are different social pressures on men than on women; there are statistically different behavioral patterns for men than women in any given society; there are some commonalities between those different social pressures from society to society, probably resulting from the gross physical differences between the average man and the average woman.

Once you start talking about how "there are differences between men and women", though, on a level beyond the gross physical level, you're imposing those social pressures yourself, and being hostile toward anyone who you're identifying as gender-deviant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:06 AM
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I do think, and I've tried without much success to joke about it, that LB for one believes that all gender differences must be first and foremost attributed to culture, and changeable culture at that. And that the expression of a feeling, which both men and women tend to do around here from time to time, that there may more to it than that, is not merely "not proven" but somehow threatening and offensive, and calling for immediate repudiation, What do you mean? questioning, and squelching.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:08 AM
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213: My last crossed with this, but if you're just talking about the average gross physical differences (average height, average strength, fat distribution, urogenital anatomy, and so on), are you really claiming that anyone's denying those? Because that would be silly. I figured you were talking about social/emotional/intellectual differences.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:09 AM
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Sure, that's true, but I think IA's point is that there are, right now, traits marked as masculine or feminine, and that the goals of equality and valuing those things marked feminine are in tension.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:09 AM
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216: Yes, that's about right. I'm sorry if I've made you feel squelched.

Having it vaguely implied that I'm some kind of deviant freak from the feminine norm comes off as fairly hostile from this side of the discussion as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:11 AM
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209, 210: The women I have in mind would have come of age in the 40s and 50s, compared to their younger 80s counterparts. If the university gave no family leave, the older woman would delay having a family or leave the university to do so. The younger woman would bring the baby to office hours and dare the chair to call her on it. (It helps when the chair goes gaga over babies.)

And I think 210 gets the worry right: to the older woman, admitting that she might need help if she were to have children and a career was tantamount to admitting that she couldn't do it.

211: In terms of 'might need time off for pregnancy and childbirth' not in terms of 'less natural aptitude for this discipline.' The worry seems to be that admitting the former is conceding the latter.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:11 AM
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218: The deal is that we can't simultaneously value those traits and consider them vaguely unseemly and repugnant for half the human race. Valuing empathy, for example, and saying that empathy is 'feminine' -- proper for women and deviant for men -- is contradictory. If we value empathy, we should value it for itself, not value women for how they comply with a feminine ideal including empathy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:14 AM
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216: LB for one believes that all gender differences must be first and foremost attributed to culture, and changeable culture at that.

Not sure what you think unchangeable culture might look like, and LB can speak for herself, but I think this isn't accurate.

I think LB's point (or mine, anyway, if not hers) is that there is a long history of bias in favor of discounting cultural factors in gender differences. Who knows what "immutable" gender differences exist now that will turn out to be changeable after all, as so many such differences have turned out to be in the past.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:18 AM
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Part of what surprises me is the hostility to deviance. In other contexts—superiority to the pathetic delusions of religious believers, for instance—deviance seems a comfortable fit for a lot of people here.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:20 AM
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I think 221 might take us into a perfect-enemy-of-the-good situation where you'll be right in principle, but I'll be right on earth.

Arm-wrestle?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:20 AM
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221: What if it we thought of it like this: ideally in the future where we have silver clothing, flying cars, and gender equality, traits like empathy won't be coded by gender. But they are now, and choosing to value something like traditional feminine conversational styles in women now might do more for equality than only valuing them if we also value them in men.

More realistic example: child care is still largely considered the domain of women. It shouldn't be. It should be such that the man sacrifices his career and stays home part of the time and that everyone recognizes that. In the meantime, not having access to day care is a huge barrier for women, so let's start by having day care access.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:21 AM
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222: That's a more measured way of putting what I generally think. I don't like unexamined pressure to comply with gender roles, and I don't like vague gestures at how everyone kind of generally knows that men and women are different. If you think there's a particular difference, whether innate or socially constructed, that it's a good thing to exert social pressure to comply with, I'd like to talk about it with specifics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:21 AM
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223: Unfogged is a bastion of politically correct orthodoxy. Just look at the reception that James B. Shearer gets every time he shows up.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:22 AM
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188: In Chinese mom n pops in Taiwan, the husband was the front man and boss, and the wife was the bookkeeper behind the scenes. They were unquestionably real partnerships, and sometimes the wife seemed to be dominant.

There's a special word for "boss's wife" ("laoban-niang"), and women (or anyone) who worked for companies normally lived in dread of the laoban-niang. Student's were surprised that we didn't have a special word for "boss's wife", but the boss's wife is seldom important in the US.

Some very successful businessmen had several laoban-niangs, some of them former employees, so there were real complxities there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:23 AM
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Maleness.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:23 AM
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Katherine that is awesome.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:25 AM
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226: And that's perfectly reasonable. It's wrong and misogynistic to denigrate a valuable quality like empathy, or a necessary task like caring for children, because it's coded as feminine. There's nothing good about hostility to 'the feminine' per se.

But there's a huge difference between genuinely valuing something, and valuing it for women only.

Remember the "How do we properly mock feminine men given that we can't call them gay anymore" thread? If you take a quality, and say "For you, it's commendable and proper and I value it highly. Myself, I'd be humiliated and ashamed if I acted like that," that's not valuing the quality.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:26 AM
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Having it vaguely implied that I'm some kind of deviant freak from the feminine norm comes off as fairly hostile from this side of the discussion as well.

Does it help if we say that's why we non-creepy crush on you?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:29 AM
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"For you, it's commendable and proper and I value it highly. Myself, I'd be humiliated and ashamed if I acted like that," that's not valuing the quality.

I'm not sure that's true. Genuinely not sure. If you assume that not everyone can have every good quality and that some good qualities are in tension with each other, it could make sense to divide who has what among various people and value each person for the good qualities they have. Ideally, they wouldn't be divided by gender, which is a bad way to make the division, but they are now.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:31 AM
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233: I think I agree with ogged completely. Saying that it's important that there be X% of a society that's empathetic isn't quite the same as saying that it's important that (a) everyone be empathetic, or (b) everyone be X% empathetic. (May be misrepping ogged; my fault.) That it's divided by gender is unfortunate but often true.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:36 AM
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hostility to deviance.

Tyranny of the minority, perhaps. If you believe something unusual, you can't afford to be generous to the more numerous orthodox. A hard habit to break, once established; at worst, you may find yourself saying "you people" sometimes.

Are there Chinese writers who are funny and perceptive about men+women in China the way say Maupassant or Thurber or Dawn Powell are for bignose culture? If that's vague, what's the most readable translation of Dream of the Red Chamber?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:37 AM
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191: I wish IA were here.

What I think that she was saying was that the attack on the imposed roles has often gone so far as to attack the traits themselves (e.g. empathy or helpfulness) whenever the person exhibiting them is a woman. And as far as that goes, scorning individual women as people if they are playing a stereotypically feminine role, unless they present themselves as victims.

This has been an issue in my family, especially with one of the sisters-in-law (a hard-core actual feminist).

It's one thing to say that women should be able to have careers and not be forced to be housewives, and even in the pre-feminist generation (my parrents')that was a painful issue. But women who end up as housewives with non-career job jobs shouldn't have to apologize. And this is not a straw man.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:40 AM
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Ugh. I hate reading the gender politics threads here, if only because I'm constantly reminded by what a weird bunch of aging, old-world prudes much of the male commenters are.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:46 AM
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231: There's no necessary connection between valuing something as appropriately feminine and thinking of it as less valuable overall. Historically, that's often been true, and I'd ascribe that to most of the anti-feminists who praise traditional feminine values (praise the woman for making the home because everyone knows we really don't consider that important.) But when I've read ogged charitably, he's arguing that both are to be equally valued but considered as appropriate to a specific sex, and that that might not be bad. (The 'there might be sparkles at the gym and wahh i can't call it gay' thing was hard to read charitably.)

I think that's probably overly optimistic, but I'm not sure that it's more optimistic than the utopia where no traits are coded as gender-specific.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:46 AM
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Ideally, they wouldn't be divided by gender, which is a bad way to make the division, but they are now.

That it's divided by gender is unfortunate but often true.

Okay, here I'm appealing to an irrational, but I think extremely common, and probably as 'innate' as anything mental is, human characteristic. Being called a gender deviant is unpleasant, and embarrassing, and humiliating, and people will do a lot to avoid it. What I said above about how you could talk an elementary school into gender-segregating by fruit-preference? I really think that's true; it would be very very easy to get large scale compliance enforced by social pressure from the other kids.

Being deviant on other issues doesn't feel like nearly as big a deal to most people as deviance from gender norms; that's why gendered insults are where people naturally go. If you want to hurt a man, he's 'not a real man' and all the other feminized insults -- while those are partially about misogyny, they're also about gender deviance. The pressure, internal and external, on women to be acceptably feminine is just as strong.

The consequence of that, for me, is that thoughtless acceptance of current gender norms as 'that's just how men and women are' is a big deal, socially, that puts a lot of pressure on individual men and women to comply. Insisting that these associations are often arbitrary and meanings, IMO does an awful lot of important work to make it likelier that people will feel free to act as seems good to them, rather than shoehorning themselves into gender roles that aren't necessarily a good thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:49 AM
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237--

"what a weird bunch of aging, old-world prudes much of the male commenters are."

heh! some of us resent that!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:52 AM
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I agree with all that. All I'm saying is that it's worth acknowledging that the goal of decreasing the pressure for conformity on individuals can be in tension with valuing those things traditionally coded feminine. I don't think there's an easy answer here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:53 AM
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But when I've read ogged charitably, he's arguing that both are to be equally valued but considered as appropriate to a specific sex, and that that might not be bad.

That charitable reading: there is a men's sphere, and a women's sphere, and matters of equal importance, but different, are assigned to each, each is equally valuable but complementary, is a possible world-view, and not an innately misogynistic one. It's still not one that I like, because (a) splitting things up so the two spheres are really of equal importance seems unlikely, and (b) even with that hurdle behind us, it still seems hard on people whose interests and desires lie in the other sphere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:53 AM
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Having read not much past 215, but fuckit, this is still worth saying.

Re: waves of feminism. I can work fruitfully with LB's explication of first, second and third wave feminism as laid out in 202 and 206.

Cala's distinction between two types at 207 (the chief difference between them being the the relative importance of childcare) seems to mash together 2nd and 3rd wave feminism. Which leaves me wondering what 3rd wave feminism, currently in play, is supposed to be.

My understanding was that it shares many of the same desiderata as 2nd wave (childcare), minus the bra-burning and the hairy legs, plus a re-embrace of a whole slew of traditionally feminine behaviors that the third-wavers feel allow them to be more, well, feminine again. Backlash in response to a perception that 2nd wave feminism was making us girls *ugly* with the insistence on no makeup, sensible shoes, and so on.

To the extent that one thinks that feminism is guilty of vilifying the feminine, then, 3rd wave feminism would be attempting to address at least some of that by valorizing once again makeup and pretty clothes and general softness.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:54 AM
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230--
also awesome:
the commenter on that site who says, with audible huff,
"that happens to be the strike zone".

yeah, i'm not looking at his, um, well, i'm not!
i'm looking at his strike zone!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:55 AM
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Oh god, we're back to the mean ol' feminazis again. Because traditional society always had so much respect for women who stayed home and raised children. They got to vote and everything.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:58 AM
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Oh god, we're back to the mean ol' feminazis again.

Are you responding to anything in this thread, or in your daily life, or what?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:59 AM
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246: Emerson's 236, I should expect, Ned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:01 AM
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247: that's right, sorry I forgot the number.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:02 AM
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242: I also should probably say that I don't find the 'but there's nothing innately misogynist' line particularly compelling, mostly because what parts someone has seems like a bad way to decide what they must be.

243: My experiences are just intradepartmental politics, and we seem to be missing representatives from the 60s and 70s. I will say that the female grad students, as opposed to the faculty, tend to be much less sensible dressers and much more about looking stylish, but that seems to be true of the grad students vs. faculty regardless of gender.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:02 AM
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249.2--
that's just back to what a weird bunch of aging, old-world prudes much of the faculty are.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:07 AM
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All I'm saying is that it's worth acknowledging that the goal of decreasing the pressure for conformity on individuals can be in tension with valuing those things traditionally coded feminine.

I'm really not seeing this tension as inevitable, except insofar as there are things traditionally coded as feminine not worth valuing outside of their role as a signal of gender conformity. I mean, if the 'Eeek, a bug, someone else kill it' reaction is currently coded as feminine, which I think it is to some extent, less pressure to comply with gender roles is probably going to lead to less of that behavior. But I can't see that as a bad thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:07 AM
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261: But there's a huge difference between genuinely valuing something, and valuing it for women only.

If you don't concede the necessity of division of specific types of work between genders. If empathy is "women's work" and aggression "men's work," it's perfectly sensible to value empathy for women only; the complications come in when you live in an age where the myth of more-or-less neatly separable gender roles have been repeatedly exploded and/or shown to be fairly consistently pernicious*.

(* I have to admit I get a little impatient with people who bitch about how the mean feminists are always "squelching" discussion of all the supposedly innate differences between men and women; it's like complaining about how black folk get all testy when people just want to have a nice conversation about their natural gift for rhythm. Sins of overzealous feminisms aside, we're well past the point where the reaction should be any sort of mystery.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:11 AM
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The pressure, internal and external, on women to be acceptably feminine is just as strong.

Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that this varies a lot by sub-community. There isn't one set of norms being reinforced, and the relative strength is going to vary with the makeup of the community. So, for example, I really do know relatively few women who wore makeup outside of "dress up" occasions (this seems to be changing a little with age). The set of norms I see enforced (and perhaps--if there's a mechanism, I don't know it--enforce myself) are different from the ones you're describing. So "acceptably feminine" isn't stable from community to community. Which, I guess, is really the issue being described.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:11 AM
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252 to 231. Ahem.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:13 AM
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The feminazi in my family was quite unpleasant to two of her sisters-in-law. She was not implicit to my mother, but we wondered why. Perhaps because my mother was a victim, or out of deference to age.

(This confuses the issue, of course, but her grandfather was a real, unrepentant German Nazi, and one uncle is a sort of neo-Nazi. She herself is a Berkeley-style yuppie leftist.)

So anyway, not a straw woman. And from time to time I hear contemptuous remarks made by career women about non-career women (and men, too, of course). So the class thing is part of it. And often enough I hear stay-at-home moms cringe when they have to explain that they're just stay-at-home moms.

My crucial experiences in this area were around 1975, and while things have changed since I don't think that the problem has disappeared.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:13 AM
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255: I do think there's an important distinction between "I knew a feminist who was contempuous and mean" and "The fact that feminism leads to contempt is a problem that must be addressed." People, generally, suck, and I know all sorts of rotten people with all sorts of political and social views. The fact that someone's a feminist isn't going to make them nice, if they weren't nice to start with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:18 AM
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253: Well, yeah. Gender norms are probably as flexible and unrestrictive now as they've ever been, and they vary a lot social group to social group. But any appeal to how 'men are' or 'women are' is still a big stick emotionally and socially.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:20 AM
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But women who end up as housewives with non-career job jobs shouldn't have to apologize. And this is not a straw man.

The real problem with feminists is that they hate men.

John, you may not be promoting a complete straw man, but the straw content seems pretty high. It is tough for feminists to distinguish in every circumstance the difference between a cultural norm requiring nonpaid work and an individual choice for nonpaid work. But that ain't the fault of feminism as a movement, which has always been attentive to this distinction.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:23 AM
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We prefer "vagithug" to "feminazi". (Actually, Emerson's right. See: Linda Hirshman. She's not typical but I do wish the feminist movement had made maternity leave, etc. more of a priority).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:25 AM
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John, you may not be promoting a complete straw man, but the straw content seems pretty high.

One word: lindahirshman


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:25 AM
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The fact that someone's a feminist isn't going to make them nice, if they weren't nice to start with.

Is it wrong to say that there are issues about the direction of causation in any case?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:26 AM
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We prefer "vagithug" to "feminazi".

I thought the preferred term was "Vagigoth."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:27 AM
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It's more than one actual case. And when I say "unpleasant" I don't mean "generally rude". She's specifically contemptuous of stay-at-home moms and non-career women (and men). And I've encountered other similar cases.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:30 AM
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259, 260: I wouldn't have been the one to rip the scab off by bringing Hirshmann up, but while she's a misanthrope, including misogyny in that, and kind of a jerk, I don't remember her opposing or denigrating the importance of, e.g., day-care. In the essay we spent so long going over she was talking about how to live her ideal of the fulfilled feminist life to the extent you can do so unilaterally, without waiting for society to change and provide subsidized creches.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:30 AM
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263: Are you pairing off your mental image of mean career women with contempt for housewives with career men with contempt for housewives, or is it only a problem when it's the feminists doing it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:31 AM
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One of my sisters actually ran a day care rather than sending her kids to one. Non-career job. It gained her no respect.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:31 AM
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LB, are you really denying that there's one not unprominent strand of feminism that devalues stay at home moms?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:34 AM
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It's part of a general contempt of career people for non-career people, and of course I include men who devalue women's work. That was IA's main point. Career women with a contempt for non-career (housewife) women are much like career men.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:34 AM
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266: What do you want? People you're talking to now not to disrespect women working non-career jobs, including working not for pay? I think that's right and decent, disrespect like that is wrong. An acknowledgment that the low social status of such worklives is the fault of feminists and feminism generally? I can't follow you there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:34 AM
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264: she absolutely was denigrating attempts to make family leave an issue.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:36 AM
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of course I include men who devalue women's work.

Nice to hear.

LB, are you really denying that there's one not unprominent strand of feminism that devalues stay at home moms?

Again, this strikes me as begging the question. I think the benefits of stay at home motherhood are largely overvalued in our society, and thus that many families in which the mother chooses not to work for pay have weighed the costs and benefits of their various options poorly, and made a decision that may not have been in the best interests of themselves and their families. (If we're going to talk about it's being patronizing of me to have an opinion about how anyone else leads their lives, I'll note that that's never stopped us in any other context.) I'd say that there are certainly many feminists who agree with me in that regard. Is that what you meant by 'devaluing'?



Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:40 AM
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I hate speaking for IA, but she was saying that some traditional female tasks are intrinsically very valuable, and that women who perform those tasks should be respected, and that some forms of liberation don't.

Do women who work in daycares have daycares to send their kids to? No, daycares would be too expensive if they were paid enough to do that.

This is the same thing as trying to attain equality through education. Education can help individuals, maybe many individuals, rise on the ladder, but since education is screening, it can't bring equality. If the ladder has a bottom, some people will not be rescued by education.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:41 AM
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241:

All I'm saying is that it's worth acknowledging that the goal of decreasing the pressure for conformity on individuals can be in tension with valuing those things traditionally coded feminine.

Acknowledged. Along with the formulation at 218: there are, right now, traits marked as masculine or feminine, and that the goals of equality and valuing those things marked feminine are in tension.

But 233:

it could make sense to divide who has what among various people and value each person for the good qualities they have. Ideally, they wouldn't be divided by gender, which is a bad way to make the division, but they are now.

This emphasis on the way things are now (repeated a couple of times) is what's odd.

Wouldn't we wish that any renewed feminist agenda that doesn't make the mistake of vilifying feminine-coded traits should proclaim those traits admirable not as feminine traits but just generally?

I don't understand the point of insisting that empathy et al. are feminine. As as historical point, sure, they're traditionally feminine. But that's about it.

I take the larger, more interesting (to me) point about all this to be that we've turned into a dog-eat-dog world, that traditionally feminine values might be used to counter the juggernaut, and that to the extent that feminism has instead joined it, it has failed in this larger project.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:41 AM
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Looks like we've found today's thousand-comment thread.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:45 AM
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271: LB, I'm in the position of speaking for IA, who is travelling at the moment. Do you think that she doesn't realize that men devalue women's work?

She and I have talked at length about these things. She recommended the following books, of which I have read the first two:

Nancy Folbre, The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values

Folbre, Family Time: The Social Organization of Care,

Joan Williams, Unbending Gender: Why Work and Family Conflict and What to Do About It

Shirley P. Burggraf, The Feminine Economy and Economic Man


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:46 AM
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271: would you really not get annoyed if people started talking about how women who choose to work for corporate law firms had probably made poor decisions for themselves & their families?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:47 AM
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260: Ogged, I think Linda Hirschman makes a lot of interesting feminist points, but she ain't synonymous with feminism, nor does she represent the dominant strain of feminism in any wave. We might as well be talking about feminist man-haters and citing Andrea Dworkin, who also had a lot of interesting ideas but (at the risk of oversimplifying) didn't much like men.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:49 AM
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None of the women in my family except my mother were stay at home moms, but two of them had non-career, traditionally female jobs. This was the best choice for them at the time they made it; in one case, it was survival pure and simple after her divorce (she now has a career job, though not one that people here would respect much).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:50 AM
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I will repeat from before, the really sexist and destructive thing about work-family issues is acting like it's an individual woman's problem and her individual choices are the problem, rather than recognizing that it's a problem for her husband & for workplaces losing out on potential talent & for society in general. Anyone who does this in any direction--Linda Hirshman, Caitlin Flanigan, JE's sister-in-law, Larry Summers, people who talk about how working mothers must not care about their children--is a tool of the patriarchy, as far as I'm concerned.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:51 AM
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273: Exactly.

272: Anyone who thinks, e.g., childcare is worthless and the people who work in it, whether for pay or within the family, should be disrespected is wrong. To the extent I'm arguing about Hirshman, I'm arguing that that's not what she meant, not saying that it would be okay if she meant that. (I may be being overly charitable to her because I agree with her about other stuff despite her misanthropy. But if I'm wrong, I'm wrong about what she's saying, not endorsing contempt for people outside of career jobs.)

But I'm really not getting how the low social status of day-care workers is the fault of feminism, or if you're not saying that it is, what you are saying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:51 AM
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(well, I guess Larry Summers wasn't being a tool of the patriarchy so much as a member. But you know what I mean.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:52 AM
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One of my sisters actually ran a day care rather than sending her kids to one. Non-career job. It gained her no respect.

If I'm understanding you correctly, she must have gotten all kinds of respect from the non-feminists, right?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:52 AM
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Oops, never mind 282. Already answered.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:53 AM
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276: People say that sort of thing all the time, and I argue about it. Sure, it's annoying being questioned, and if the assumptions underlying the question are things you disagree with, it can be very irritating indeed. But if it were out of line to question people's choices generally, then there'd be no way to talk about society at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:54 AM
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LB is taking a beating here for no good reason.

Her 269 seems right on:

What do you want? ... An acknowledgment that the low social status of such worklives is the fault of feminists and feminism generally? I can't follow you there.

That is what IA seemed to be claiming last night, and while of course it's true -- not quite trivially, but just rather obviously true -- that certain waves of feminism came to valorize traditionally masculine traits over feminine ones, well, so what? Third-wave feminism is attempting to address some of that, as I mentioned.

Most of the problems women still face cannot even remotely be placed at the feet of feminism. Acknowledge that it has been a problem, and move on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:55 AM
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279: I can mostly agree with this, except that I think that there also has to be some recognition of the social pressures that lead people into what look like 'free choices' but are in fact constrained in many ways.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:57 AM
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280: I can't imagine a situations in which $100,000 lawyers left their kids in daycare centers staffed by $100,000 daycare workers. Do the math.

282: My sister got respect from the family, except for the one sister in law, and within her circle of lower-middle-class and working-class friends. Most career women would presumably have regarded her either as a convenience or with pity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:57 AM
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281: Larry Summers: Tool? Member? Or just a prick?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:03 PM
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286: Oh, sure. But "if you take off a few years off while your children are very young, you've made a choice that shows you're not serious about your career" or "if you're not willing to work 65 hours a week, you're not serious about your career" is as much a social pressure & social constraint as "well, obviously, if someone stays home, it should be the woman" and "hiring a nanny/putting them in daycare denies your children the nurturing they need".


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:04 PM
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287.1: You know, if you do, in fact, do the math, spending all your takehome on daycare can make very good economic sense, in terms of promotion during the few years that all day/day care is necessary, lack of career interruption, and so forth. So, not so absurd.

287.2: Most career women would presumably have regarded her either as a convenience or with pity.

Okay, the 'presumably' is doing a lot of work here, isn't it? Further, what do you want? I get my suits drycleaned, and the guy who does the drycleaning is a convenience to me in so far as I think about him at all -- are we just talking about the fact that people in high paying jobs exploit and oppress those around them generally?

Now, I had a lot more respect for and relationship with our nanny than I did with the drycleaning guy. But I'm not seeing the fact that she made less money than I did as a flaw in feminism -- for one thing, she made less money than Buck did too. For another, why is it it feminism's fault, particularly, that different professions are paid at different rates?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:04 PM
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Neither IA nor I is joining forces with Dobson. She was trying to raise a specific issue about the kind of feminism for which careers for women is the primary farm of liberation, and I generally agree with her. Neither one of us thinks that all women should be stay at home moms or that no women should have careers. Her own career is on hiatus but she gave it a good shot.

If one woman has a career and another woman takes care of her kids, by this standard you're liberating the one woman while leaving the other in a traditional role, and iy just doesn't seem possible to pay daycare workers lawyers' pay.

And most people, men or women, don't have careers. They have jobs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:07 PM
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290: Sure, and the existence of those pressures is a large part of what makes it so hard to lead a balanced life. If I'm fighting for anything in this sort of conversation, though, it's that the social pressures we end up with should be ones that are workable on a non-gendered basis. If you're neglectful for working long hours and not seeing much of your kids, then all the male partners around here should be ashamed of and sad about their parenting, and pressuring the firm to let them get home more. If hiring childcare is unobjectionable, it should be unobjectionable for women as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:08 PM
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If one woman has a career and another woman takes care of her kids, by this standard you're liberating the one woman while leaving the other in a traditional role, and iy just doesn't seem possible to pay daycare workers lawyers' pay.

So hire a man to do the day care, if you're worried about how working in day care oppresses women. Look, until we reach socialist utopia, and even after, there will be some jobs that give more money and power to the people who have them than other jobs do. I bitterly resent conversations that raise this fact as an intolerably oppressive contradiction only when the person in the position of power is a woman.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:11 PM
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spending all your takehome on daycare can make very good economic sense

Currently, Roberta's entire takehome pay is going to daycare (or close enough to it to round up, anyhow). But aside from the future pay/seniority issue, it would cost more out-of-pocket to have the kids on my insurance policy than it does on her employer's policy, and her employer is generous with the 401(k) matching. So while it's frustrating to essentially sign over one of our paychecks, there are other factors to consider.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:12 PM
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LB, if people characteristically were willing to pay a whole paycheck for daycare while establishing their career, or pay high taxes for state-supported daycare providing good jobs, that would be a good thing. I'm not sure that happens even in Sweden. In practice, one group of women remains bound by femininity while another group is liberated.

And then there's a middle group of non-career moms.

I don't disapprove in any way of what you're doing with your life. I'm talking about what I've here and there the last 30-40 years. I'm saying that I have seen feminists denigrating the traditional female role to the point that it slops over onto all women taking that role for any reason, except if they think of themselvs as victims. I don't say that you or anyone else here does that. I do say that it's not a straw man; I've met a fair number of razor-sharp, cold-blooded, upper-middle-class feminists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:14 PM
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Currently, Roberta's entire takehome pay is going to daycare

Or, looked at another way, you probably get to keep at least some of your takehome, and her salary is free and clear!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:14 PM
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What I'm not getting here is that somehow feminism is being blamed for the low opinion that society has for unpaid housework, or other low-paid jobs. I really don't remember the Golden Age Of Respect For Women's Work.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:16 PM
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I do say that it's not a straw man; I've met a fair number of razor-sharp, cold-blooded, upper-middle-class feminists.

And I ask again what your point is. I've met nasty horrible people of all political views, and I'm sure you have too. What's the goal of talking about rotten feminists you've met?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:16 PM
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I do wish the feminist movement had made maternity leave, etc. more of a priority

Feminism has been such a wild success that the fact that daycare isn't universally available must be because feminists don't value day care. Is that what's being suggested here? And now, because feminism has so thoroughly permeated every aspect of society, it's time to start attacking feminism because John Emerson had a mean sister in law, plus Linda Hirshman.

Most career women would presumably have regarded her either as a convenience or with pity.
Jesus fucking christ almighty! I hope the mean mean feminists on your planet don't come and shoot you with their rayguns, John.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:17 PM
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Well, feminism was originally proposed as a way of liberating women. And it did liberate the ones it liberated. On other issues than this one, it liberated all women.

To my knowledge IA never said a word against career women, but was saying that she though that some forms of feminism had the same contempt for traditional women than traditional men do. A lot of this other tuff is somewhat peripheral.

I do remember this from the founding era of Wave 2: Conventionally male traits were good if women had them, but neutral or bad if men had them. Conventionally female traits are good if men have them, but neutral or bad if women have them. I actually went along with that for awhile, or tried to.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:19 PM
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297:

What I'm not getting here is that somehow feminism is being blamed for the low opinion that society has for unpaid housework, or other low-paid jobs.

Feminists (which ones, or which wave, is unclear) are being accused of internalized misogyny, PF.

It's a tough accusation to beat. It's almost, you might say, a set-up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:21 PM
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straw, straw, straw. No, there's a lot that feminists want & don't get, but I don't think it's been a real priority.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:22 PM
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300: We live in an economically unequal society, in which only a small percentage of the society has jobs that give them money and prestige. One of the goals of feminism, toward which a fair amount of progress has been made, has been to distribute those high paying-prestigous jobs equally between men and women. You seem to be characterizing it as a failure of feminism that prestigous careers aren't open to all women, and I don't understand your thinking at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:23 PM
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Well, feminism was originally proposed as a way of liberating women. And it did liberate the ones it liberated. On other issues than this one, it liberated all women.

So, just to be clear, class matters, even within feminism. This is a pretty standard criticism, isn't it?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:23 PM
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Feminism has been such a wild success that the fact that daycare isn't universally available must be because feminists don't value day care.

At the risk of introducing another potentially contentious topic, people do this with Democrats, too - blame them for things they failed to keep from happening.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:24 PM
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Yeah, it is similar, and the Democrats really don't prioritize those issues, either.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:26 PM
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Is everyone saying that this never happens and is never a problem? IA and I were talking about one specific thing, not trying to destroy feminism. She and I were saying we saw something happening, giving examples in my case, and we've been told that they're just anecdotes. The specific question is the attitude toward actual stay at home moms and to women whose family life prevent them from having careers.

LB, you and B are so wired into your upper middle class lives that your egalitarianism looks a bit shabby at times. Are you usually so sarcastic about "socialist utopia"? There's only one person in my whole family who's risen to the career heights that the average Unfoggeder has, and maybe we have a different, non-career perspective. Recently McManus and Frowner tried to raise these class kinds of questions, and while no one actually disagrees, I don't think that the lessons took.

One reason I wish IA were here is that I doubt that anyone would have the nerve to say to her what LB said to me in 271: "Nice to hear".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:28 PM
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302: It's not that I can prove you're wrong, but there's no way I could possibly prove you're wrong. I could link webpages from feminist organizations, but putting up a webpage isn't much of a committment. Without some kind of standard of what 'enough' political effort toward raising the availability and social status of child care would be, and a complete history of feminist efforts along those lines, there's nothing to be said, except that at the very least feminist organizations pay lip service to these issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:29 PM
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How about "an effort comparable to the effort on making & keeping abortion legal"?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:30 PM
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Where is there one goddamn time that I or IA said that feminism is no good, or that LB should stay home and be a mom? We've been trying to say something pretty specific, and we've been met by shotgun blasts aimed at Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:30 PM
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Yeah, it is similar, and the Democrats really don't prioritize those issues, either.

Attacking the Democrats and feminists for the failures of Republicans and misogynists has always been a bad idea, both tactically and morally.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:32 PM
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Are you usually so sarcastic about "socialist utopia"?

I'm all for socialist utopia, really I am. I'm very hostile to efforts to blame feminism for the fact that it isn't here yet. A society no better than the one we have now, but where the sexes are treated equally, is better than one where they are treated unequally. Condemning efforts to achieve such a society because they don't eliminate all inequality and injustice seems very wrong to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:32 PM
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Is anyone going to argue that it's been an equal priority? Because I think that's manifestly false. Tell me the one about the Democrats' commitment to civil liberties & human rights while you're at it. I don't think it's been mere lip service, & I sure think they have an orders of magnitude better record on these issues than the allegedly "pro family values" lobby. But I don't think it's been a high priority, no.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:32 PM
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Yeah, what you've been specifically trying to say is that feminists don't respect women who stay at home or have traditionally feminine careers. I'm specifically saying that you are high.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:32 PM
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LB, many feminists value gender equality much more than they value social equality, which many don't value at all (the Packwood feminists). I hadn't thought you were one of them. This has always been my beef with feminism.

Again, I've been trying to make one specific point. I'm not anti-feminist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:33 PM
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311: this is not the week to start with me on how the Democrats bear no responsibility on torture/rule of law/civil liberties issues as long as the Republicans are worse.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:34 PM
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I think that the phenomenon IA and I spoke of is real and not imaginary. Others disagree.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:36 PM
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Condemning efforts to achieve such a society because they don't eliminate all inequality and injustice seems very wrong to me.

I think the claim is that the weight of the feminist movement comes from the sheer number of women at the bottom, and that part of the way that women at the top were able to get those numbers was by means of promises to help the women at the bottom (see HRC), but that attention hasn't been sufficiently paid. (And, personally, I don't think will: class, it turns out, matters.) It's not so different than the "the religious are being tricked" argument on the GOP side.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:37 PM
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307: While I can see that upper middle-class leftists deserve to get kicked around from time to time by working class folk so as to help remind them that they have privileges that they don't actually believe they deserve .... what I don't get is, John, why do you just pick on the women?
Do you expect them to have more empathy?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:37 PM
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Do I just pick on the women? This is one thread on one topic.

Feminists are not leftists. They're completely mainstream, to the point that NARAL supported Chafee even after he double-crossed them


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:41 PM
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I have said a thing or two about Hollywood leftists, who are mostly guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:41 PM
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It's not so different than the "the religious are being tricked" argument on the GOP side.

It's also like the argument that black people are dupes of the Democrats - that is to say, it's a dumb argument, and condescending to boot.

The particular sort of religious folks you are talking about, in fact, get a lot of what they want out of the GOP, and feminism has been a good thing for lower-income women. Low-income women and fundamentalists are not at all dupes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:44 PM
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312: socialist utopia is a feminist issue!

No, seriously: negotiating an exploitative wage for your childcare provider or the home health aide who takes care of your ill parent is inconsistent with calling yourself a feminist. It's not just failing to act on an important but unrelated issue.

Of course, inconsistency/hypocrisy is not the ultimate problem here, and attacking only women with high powered careers for failing to pay a decent wage is a bit like only objecting to politicians building giant houses if they say they care about poverty, or only objecting to greenhouse gas consumption by environmentalists.

(I'm not arguing that a "decent wage" means "what a corporate lawyer makes" or anything.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:44 PM
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LB, many feminists value gender equality much more than they value social equality, which many don't value at all (the Packwood feminists). I hadn't thought you were one of them.

I'm not seeing them as a tradeoff. I'm in favor of social equality. As a privileged, affluent, upper middle class professional I'm almost certainly not doing enough to achieve it, and any time anyone wants to beat me up about it I'll probably agree with them.

I'm also a feminist. Feminism alone isn't going to achieve a completely egalitarian society, but I think it's very wrong to blame it for that failure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:45 PM
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Some people do not respect women in traditionally feminine jobs, or women who stay at home. Some of these people may call themselves feminists, but insofar as they have this quality, I believe that they cannot be said to embody feminist values, as such. Possibly their outlook is distorted by class considerations. In some cases, personal issues may influence their perspective. Others my have internalized patriarchal values to some degree. Some might think it useful to blame feminism for the attitudes these people display. Others feel this is a mistake.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:46 PM
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How about "an effort comparable to the effort on making & keeping abortion legal"?

Doesn't this ignore the huge practical difference between the two issues? "Keeping abortion legal" is free -- the only money involved is that involved in shaping public opinion and pressuring politicians. Making day care respectably paid and available to all who need it will take a hell of a lot of money. Asking why feminists have been effective doing one thing and not another, without noting the wild disparity in degree of difficulty, seems to overstate the impact of their relative committment to the issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:51 PM
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326: I meant a comparable priority only on the "pressuring politicians & shaping public opinion front." You think it has been? Really?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:53 PM
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Yay mcmc!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:53 PM
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320: Oh piffle, "feminists are not leftists". Which feminists are we talking about? There isn't just one big meeting every Friday down at the YWCA, you know.

And all of this that's being said about class could be said three times over about race.

It's difficult.

We're limited by our class positions (which was what I was trying to get at yesterday). Someone who is very well-off will often not feel the urgency of things like wage increases, unionization, daycare, etc, even if he or she understands those things--simply because his or her need for them isn't personally pressing. This is an ongoing, geuine problem in activism, particulary because those people are often the most likely to have free time, money and connections.

Similarly with race--the best-intentioned white feminist is still very unlikely to have the sense of immediacy that a feminist of color will have about race. (Of course, there are plenty of damn poorly-intentioned white feminists out there.)

How do you solve this? To my mind, only by doing your best to get people to represent themselves. So I guess I wouldn't think much of a feminism that didn't make inclusion on class and race lines a big priority. Not the only priority, maybe, but a constant.

Talking about "blaming feminism" is silly, though--which feminism? When was it hegemonic?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:54 PM
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It's also like the argument that black people are dupes of the Democrats - that is to say, it's a dumb argument, and condescending to boot.

Blow me. If you don't think any African-American leaders have ever sincerely thought that the DLC Dems have been bad for the African-Americans, you need to read more. It may or may not be true, but it's not like no political coalition has ever been held together by promises that are never meant to be kept (Iraq). I'd love to know if, for example, correcting for race and income effects, women are more likely to vote for Republicans or Democrats. (I don't know if that sort of correction is possible.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:54 PM
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325: Some of these people may call themselves feminists, but insofar as they have this quality, I believe that they cannot be said to embody feminist values, as such.

Well, they would say differently, right? There are multiple feminist values, as such, not a single set thereof.

I honestly don't see why JE and IA are being accused of "blaming feminism" for these attitudes or calling "feminists" inegalitarian. You don't have to call "feminists" inegalitarian to identify this attitude among some feminists as problematic, and you don't have to blame feminism for all society's ills in order to say that maybe this sort of problem within feminism is worth addressing. JE for one has been pretty fucking explicit about this and roundly ignored, and I don't see why.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:54 PM
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328: Likewise, and thanks for your comments upthread as well.

327: Pressuring politicians to do what? Spend incredible shitloads of money on childcare? Because that's really hard, and it's not surprising that effort gets directed at easier rather than harder tasks. There's also a focus issue: keeping abortion legal is a clearly definable task. What exactly do we want politicians to do about child-care? (I mean, I want heavily subsidized creches available to all, staffed by well paid, well trained, childcare workers, but there are other possible solutions out there. With abortion, there aren't a lot of policy choices to be made once you know what side you're on.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 12:58 PM
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331: The deal is that I can't figure out Emerson's point beyond 'some career-woman feminists are mean and have contempt for women they perceive as vocationally beneath them'. Which, yeah, I'm 100% sure he's right. I'm just not seeing it as a useful criticism of 'feminists' as opposed to 'people with careers, feminist or not'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:01 PM
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329: This, I can endorse completely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:02 PM
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I think you're just totally & uncharacteristically dodging on thisk, & it's pretty ridiculous. Every other country in the western world has better policies on these issues than us. We're a rich enough country to afford them. Mandating periods of paid maternity leave & longer unpaid leave & paid vacations is perfectly possible. So is budgeting for daycare. Legislation that involves economic regulation or spending is not instrinsically a tougher issue or harder to imagine or work on than legislation that doesn't. You are going to have rich corporations lobbying against you, so yes, that's a powerful force your opposing, but there's also a political cost to people opposing abortion deciding that the Democrats are baby murderers. (Worth it! And possibly a net political benefit, too. But,it's not like there weren't powerful obstacles).

The claim that is has been an equal priority is a joke. The claim that it's not possible to make it an equal priority is an excuse.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:06 PM
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I've been away on a project call. As the person who started all this, or helped to, let me say that this has been one of the best discussions of this stuff we've ever had, with no trolling at all that I can see. I'm sorry about IA's absence too, but she has her reasons as I do.

I take the larger, more interesting (to me) point about all this to be that we've turned into a dog-eat-dog world, that traditionally feminine values might be used to counter the juggernaut, and that to the extent that feminism has instead joined it, it has failed in this larger project

Bartleby and Dickens thought they were already in a dog-eat-dog world in the law firms of 150 years ago, and they probably were. I know I believe in some unproveable things; one of them is that the division of labor, and the alienation of people from work, which puts careers and jobs in a realm divorced and separated from home life, is a pernicious thing, however inevitable. It has huge costs often not accounted for.

We seem to me to be tending towards two people making money in inscrutable jobs away from the home, often for long hours, and coming home to consume and entertain with one another and their children. The care of that household more-and-more tends toward the buying of services to perform tasks previously usually done for oneself.

I agree that women and feminists are no more to blame for this, or more than incidently exacerbating it, than anybody else. If my way of raising my incoherent issues has suggested this and offended anyone, I'm sorry.

The structure of work, and the family's place in it, are my real issues.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:08 PM
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You don't have to call "feminists" inegalitarian to identify this attitude among some feminists as problematic, and you don't have to blame feminism for all society's ills in order to say that maybe this sort of problem within feminism is worth addressing

DS, this formulation is a reasonable one. But Emerson has indeed repeatedly been generalizing to "feminism" overall. I'm not going to cite comments because they're all over the place up there. And IA's original formulation last night read:


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:09 PM
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this is not the week to start with me on how the Democrats bear no responsibility.

Then I will refrain from doing so. What I will say is this: The only respectable attacks on Democrats and feminists are from people with a Democratic or feminist perspective. See mcmc in 325. Working from memory, I think your criticism of Democrats also fits within this framework.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:10 PM
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oops, sorry. IA's formulation at 72.

And I'm out the door now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:10 PM
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333: Maybe one way to think of it is by reference to She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Feminism, broadly, seeks to address all manner of questions. Arguably, it has been most successful at the top of the income scale. It, perhaps, smarts a bit if you're a woman closer to the other end of the income scale to be told that the way to move the ball forward is to behave in ways you would not otherwise want as part of program that will most obviously be beneficial to women at the top end of the scale.

That is, there's a limited amount of effort and attention and political capital, and it might seem (admittedly, like most of the rest of life) that you're being encouraged to spend it disproportionately on the Haves.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:12 PM
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335: Every other country in the western world has socialized medicine, too, and we don't. It sucks, but getting widespread social benefits passed in the US is incredibly, incredibly hard. I'm not committed to saying that 'feminists' have put as much energy into pushing for subsidised government childcare as they have into protecting abortion rights, just that an assessment of the first as achievable, and therefore worth an intense effort, and the latter as out of reach isn't unrealistic at all.

Blaming feminism for not having accomplished something insanely difficult seems like setting the bar awfully high.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:12 PM
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OK, for the millionth time, I'm not trying to destroy feminism.

Frowner, feminism is mainstream in the way that no leftist ideas are. Not every feminist idea, but lots of them.

Let me start over. For one branch of feminism, getting women in traditionally male careers has been the main goal. There's been considerable success, and that's good. I hope there's more.

On the other hand, career people, including some career women and some feminist career women, have a definite tendency to be nasty, condescending, and contemptuous toward non-career people (most people). This is a structural part of American life.

Stay-home mothers are by definition not career women. So are women in traditional women's jobs like waitressing and daycare. Lots of guys are not career men either.

Within the quite considerable branch of feminism for who opening careers for women is the most important thing, the problems I have mentioned are real. In some cases, the people involve might be only rather nominally feminist, but they might be strong feminists.

Stay-home moms have to deal with this, and many of them feel looked down upon. By career men, by career women, and of course by sexist men of all classes.

Some feminist discourse, and not an insignificant amount of it, seems to contribute to this condescension. Hirschman is only an extreme case. There's no special reason to demand that career women respect moms more than career men do, but feminists can't do that. I don't know how to prove that this isn't a straw man, but I don't believe that it is.

One piece of evidence: when you meet a woman and ask what she does, in some circles if she says that she stays home it means that her husband is doing well and she's happy. (My schoolteacher sisterinlaw would rather have been a stayhome mom). But in hip, educated, upper-middle-class, liberal, feminist circles i find stay-home moms cringing when they tell people that that's what they are.

I doubt that I've convinced anyone.

I do resent the continued insinuations that by saying the specific things IA and I have, we're joining the Christian coalition.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:13 PM
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LB, I'm saying that one significant part of feminism has bought too much into careerism and upper-middle-class upward mobility. Apparently that can't be said.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:15 PM
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There's no special reason to demand that career women respect moms more than career men do, but feminists can't do that.

I don't understand this sentence, and it seems to me to be key (although I really hate the career women/mom dichotomy. The difference between me and someone who doesn't work for pay outside the home isn't that I'm not a mother).

One piece of evidence: when you meet a woman and ask what she does, in some circles if she says that she stays home it means that her husband is doing well and she's happy. (My schoolteacher sisterinlaw would rather have been a stayhome mom). But in hip, educated, upper-middle-class, liberal, feminist circles i find stay-home moms cringing when they tell people that that's what they are.

Is this evidence that feminists are mean to them, or evidence that they're internally ambivalent about the choices they've made? I'm not sure which way this cuts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:18 PM
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343: What's your alternative image of a better feminism? One in which people were more respectful across class/vocational lines? Because I really am all for that; I'm not arguing that 'feminism' as it is is a perfect thing that shouldn't be changed. But if there's more that you want, I'm really not understanding you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:20 PM
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I don't see how anyone could disagree with anything except 342.

I count zero times in this thread in which Emerson can be said in any way to be generalizing about feminism instead of clearly talking about his sister and her LindaHirschmanesque ilk. Possible exception is the generalization about "most career women" in 287, which he has explained would also apply to "most career men".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:21 PM
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I don't see how anyone could disagree with anything in 342.

I count zero times in this thread in which Emerson can be said in any way to be generalizing about feminism instead of clearly talking about his sister and her LindaHirschmanesque ilk. Possible exception is the generalization about "most career women" in 287, which he has explained would also apply to "most career men".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:21 PM
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347 trumps 346, of course. Sorry about that.

Is this evidence that feminists are mean to them, or evidence that they're internally ambivalent about the choices they've made? I'm not sure which way this cuts.

It's both. As feminists, they are occasionally mean to themselves for choosing a superficially non-feminist life.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:23 PM
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341: I think it's easier than the healthcare issue. And Democratic candidates do routinely have health care plans, whereas I couldn't even begin to compare the candidates on these issues, because I don't remember any coverage of their positions on them or pressure on them to have a position. I'm not blaming them for not having succeeded; I don't think it's been a priority, on level of effort alone.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:23 PM
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But Emerson has indeed repeatedly been generalizing to "feminism" overall.

Could not be falser. I have been repeatedly denying that I'm attacking feminism overall. I have said, giving examples, that I think that some feminiats, and one specific branch of feminists, have tacitly bought into the careerist's (M or F) typical contempt for housewives and non-career woman.

I clicked through my links and I never generalized.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:24 PM
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Every other country in the western world has better policies on these issues than us.

I think that to blame feminists for the failures of social democracy in the U.S. is the same as saying feminists were primarily responsible for social democratic policy elsewhere. This seems ahistorical.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:25 PM
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Clinton actually just came out with something in the last week or so; let me go find it for you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:25 PM
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350: I'm still not getting answers to my question in 345, and earlier in the thread. What's the end result, beyond 'some feminists are imperfect'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:26 PM
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353: I think 340 addresses 345.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:27 PM
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Here's Clinton's issue page on childcare and such. It's vague, but it's there, and I think it's largely on her radar because she's running as the feminist candidate. You can say that feminists aren't doing enough, but I think they're at least doing more than anyone else on this issue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:30 PM
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Emerson, you know it hurts me to disagree with a fellow Minnesotan, but

Frowner, feminism is mainstream in the way that no leftist ideas are. Not every feminist idea, but lots of them

doesn't make sense. Are we saying that "left" ideas ipso facto cannot be mainstream? Such that we will never have a society run on "left wing" lines even if it's meticulously anarcho-syndicalist? And such that the eight-hour day is no longer a left-wing value?

And again, marxist feminist is not capitalist feminism is not separatist feminism is not...etc, etc. One of the major problems in this thread, to my mind, is that we aren't talking specifically enough about "feminism" that any sense can be made.

It might make sense, I guess, to say that NOW is mainstream feminism, and to say that responsible feminists everywhere should get NOW to lobby for daycare.

Jeez, feminism isn't even like the Communist Party--if I wanted to meet communists, I could go to a CP meeting right here in Minneapolis, but if I wanted to meet feminists, I couldn't just up and go to a "feminist" meeting. So while it's easy to imagine wanting the CP to do a specific thing, it's difficult to imagine wanting "feminists" to act on a specific policy initiative.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:32 PM
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Yes, feminists are doing more on these issue than non-feminists. Most of the people who are doing a good job on these issues would probably describe themselves as feminist. That's one of several reasons I consider myself a feminist. I am still unimpressed with the overall record.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:32 PM
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I'm not sure I understand why anyone isn't getting Emerson and Katherine here. There's obvioulsy a difference between the constituencies for de jure equality and de facto equality. Some overlap, to be sure, but ime the constituency for the latter is much smaller than for the former. And the reason is obvious enough: many more oxen get gored by a requirement that paid maternity leave be provided than by a requirement that undue restrictions on abortion are invalid.

For obvious reasons, there's a substantial male constituency for abortion rights. Maybe less for promoting women in the workplace. less still for affirmatively subsidizing women who opt out of the workplace for periods of time.

The same dynamic is readily apparent with regard to race. Ending Jim Crow, as difficult as it was, had a broader base of white support than affirmative action. It's always a mistake for people who want the latter (ie both things) to confuse themselves about the white people who only want the former. They're not necessarily insincere about wanting to end Jim Crow -- and thus calling them "racist" isn't completely correct -- but they're not willing to take a step that impinges on their core privilege: the privilege on non-disability.

I can see why plenty of women would feel comfortable with a de jure liberation agenda. It's hard for anyone to switch over from the self-perception of oppressed to oppressor, as we see from examples in history too numerous to mention (Founders vis a vis natives & Slaves, frex).

It's not feminism's fault anymore than slavery was Washington's fault. Nonetheless, Washington et al. do get an asterisk, if you will, for the failure to live 'all men are created equal.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:33 PM
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And to Katherine's point, it's perfectly permissible, imo, to say that ending slavery wasn't a very high priority for George Washington. Yeah, and? He was kinf of busy, and couldn't have got it done, and maybe would've had to give up some other things to try and probably still not gotten it done, blah, blah, blah.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:35 PM
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353: Enough feminists are imperfect on this issue, and it's systematic enough institutionally, that I think that it's a real problem. Perhaps we disagree about facts. I don't think that it's an insoluble problem, though after this thread, maybe I'm wrong about that.

One solution: feminists should work through general political movements which are feminist more than in strictly feminist movements. Or they should work in feminist organizations which do not define their work in an upper-middle-class way.

Maybe it would just be a solution for obnoxious career women to quit calling themselves feminists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:36 PM
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if I wanted to meet feminists, I couldn't just up and go to a "feminist" meeting

There's FEMA.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:40 PM
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Are we saying that "left" ideas ipso facto cannot be mainstream?

Well, there aren't any Republican leftists, but before Bush went crazy, there were a lot of Republican feminists. The mainstream moves, and maybe sometime leftist ideas will be mainstream, but not now. The 40-hour week is mainstream, and it was leftist a century ago, which is an example of mainstream shift. Since 1968 the mainstream has been moving right.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:40 PM
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One solution: feminists should work through general political movements which are feminist more than in strictly feminist movements. Or they should work in feminist organizations which do not define their work in an upper-middle-class way.

I'm really not seeing how this addresses the problems you describe. I would guess that the vast majority of the women whose attitudes you complain of don't do any work through any strictly feminist organizations; to the extent they self-describe as feminists, they're not likely to be feminist activists.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:44 PM
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Well, there aren't any Republican leftists, but before Bush went crazy, there were a lot of Republican feminists.

There are a lot of gay Republicans, too. From the perspective of gay rights and feminism, though, these people are not representative of the movements.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:46 PM
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This is all getting very confused. Wasn't this, initially, really about the tensions between two groups of feminists, one that might be closer to the equality feminists and one that might be closer to difference feminists? We need baa's incisiveness!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:48 PM
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I never framed this institutionally, and I don't think that IA did. I (and probably she) were just saying that there is a general cultural problem of attitude, and that to a significant degree feminist rhetoric and some individual feminists contribute to that. I don't know of any organization or spokesman (except Hirschman) who has explicitly expressed the attitude. It's a pretty ground-level thing.

You might find some stay-home moms and non-career moms and ask if they've noticed a problem. If you don't feel like doing that, OK, but I'm not able to present a statistical report.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:51 PM
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"Feminist" is the new "middle class". Broad enough to be meaningless, and expanding and contracting depending on the point one is trying to make.

Also: "The world isn't fair; viable courses of action include a) deal, b) do what you need to take care of yourself, c) change the world" : coded masculine!


Posted by: jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:53 PM
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There's the Hirshman's of the world, but there's also a larger subset of people whose response to childcare/work & family issues is to argue that: (1) well, having kids is a choice with consequences & you shouldn't expect subsidies; and/or (2) caretaking should fall equally on both sexes.

(1) is true, but it's also a personal choice that people should fundamentally be able to make even if they aren't independently wealthy +/or they still want a career. And it's pretty much essential for a lot of people to make in order for the species to survive & society to flourish. People choose to go to college, but it's a good thing they do; the fact that it's a choice doesn't make it unreasonable to support federal grants or Stafford loans.

As to (2): in my utopia, men & women would generally share childcare responsibilities (though there are some things--pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding--which fall on women for physical reasons. But even with an infant, well, if the women does the late feedings, then the man can change the diapers). But the fact is, they don't. If, in practice, these burdens & responsibilities fall disproportionately on women, & the effect of forcing people to choose between a family and having a fulfilling career fall disproportionately on women, and the crappy treatment of childcare workers & home health aides falls disproportionately on women, & is driven partly by sexism, an effective feminist movement ought to take account of that fact. This isn't some worthy-but-unrelated cause--it's not like I'm criticizing NOW for their inattention to global warming or their lack of a clear stance on the Military Commissions Act.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:55 PM
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Broad enough to be meaningless

Careful. I said this once and sparked 400-odd comments worth of denunciation.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 1:59 PM
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368: I guess the problem I'm having is your assertion that feminists are inattentive to these issues. The views you seem to favor are feminist views. What are we arguing about?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:00 PM
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(Which is not to say that this thread isn't driving the point home. Yet again.)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:00 PM
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a larger subset of people

The thing is, I absolutely agree with this. I'd just say that in my experience, the people who say this sort of thing are less, rather than more, likely to self-describe as feminists. I'm not saying there's no such problem, I'm just not seeing why feminists are the problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:01 PM
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364: My point was only that feminism is totally mainstream. During the last 27 years feminist politics and gender-identity politics have done much better than social-equality politics, anti-war politics, or civil-liberties politics. Partly because there have been a fair number of feminist gay-friendly Republicans.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:02 PM
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I never framed this institutionally, and I don't think that IA did. I (and probably she) were just saying that there is a general cultural problem of attitude, and that to a significant degree feminist rhetoric and some individual feminists contribute to that. I don't know of any organization or spokesman (except Hirschman) who has explicitly expressed the attitude. It's a pretty ground-level thing.

The thing is, if it's not an institutional thing, there's nothing to be done about it except exhortation of those exhibiting the deprecated behavior. Which is not a bad thing to do -- I just want it directed more specifically than at 'some feminists'. I agree that what you're talking about is bad, all that I've been arguing about is whether it's strongly feminist associated bad behavior, rather than a general problem of misogyny in our culture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:05 PM
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What a truly bizarre discussion. No one is blaming feminism as such for anything. The claim is that there is a strain of feminism that devalues (in the sense that you describe in 271, LB) stay-at-home-motherhood. Given that you, LB, and Linda Hirshman are real existing feminists who explicitly do this (you can argue with "devalue," but that's actually irrelevant right now), it's only by way of misunderstanding Emerson that you can even make a counterclaim.

There's a further claim that could be up for debate that this devaluing is part of a broader rejection of "the feminine." We haven't talked about that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:06 PM
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During the last 27 years feminist politics and gender-identity politics have done much better than social-equality politics, anti-war politics, or civil-liberties politics

Surely partly for reasons LB identified already, that if legal prohibitions are the problem, removing them is fairly easy in this country. Funding structural change isn't.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:07 PM
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Drat, that was unclear. I don't have any objection to criticizing institutions where they are the problem. With regard to this problem, I really don't think feminist institutions are a cause; individual feminists may be behaving badly, but not in a way that seems to be to be determined by their feminism. Given that, I've been cross about allusions to 'a strain of feminism' as if there were feminist institutions devoted to hostility to childcare workers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:08 PM
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The childfree movement is quite a different thing than feminism, usually.

I've never said more than that there's a significant proportion of feminists, and a wing of the movement, who are so committed to careerism that they have a hard time accepting non-career people, and that staying home and taking care of kids has at times been treated so much as a hellish fate that women who end up doing it feel demeaned. I still think that that's true. But I'm not trying to destroy feminism.

I can't agree with LB on this thread:
http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2006/06/hirshman-cont.html


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:09 PM
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A stay-at-home mom is no more a traitor to the movement than a childless woman who works hours that would be impossible for a woman with a family.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:11 PM
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(you can argue with "devalue," but that's actually irrelevant right now)

No, it's not. If it were irrelevant, than when I posted 271, Emerson or someone else would have addressed and agreed or disagreed with my definition of 'devaluing' therein. What's been under discussion is misogynist hostility to women in low-status jobs, including unpaid labor in the home. I don't think my 271 fits that definition, and I'd really like a shot at convincing anyone who disagrees with me that they're wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:11 PM
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368 -- I'm not sure how much of the crappy treatment of childcare workers and home health aides is driven by sexism. It's not like women are being held in these menial jobs, and unfairly prevented from experiencing the glories of yardwork, gutter cleaning, or other menial "male" activities. In this case, imo class overwhelms gender.

It may be more common to find men who take time out of a career than women in Europe. That's not my experience, but maybe the data show an uptick. This is a big cultural step to take, though, and while I suppose we'll see more and more of it, as in most cultrual things, I'd expect to see the government trailing rather than leading.

No one says it's unreasonable to support Stafford loans. That doesn't mean that you should expect the same level of support for 'free tuition for all.'

Washington et al. were criticized for their unwillingness to make ending slavery a priority at the time of the revolution, both internally and externally. It wasn't unrelated at all. An effective human liberation movement would have done both. Except it would likely have failed on both goals.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:12 PM
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378: Ohmygod, did that blogger really call Hirschman a cont?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:13 PM
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I really don't think feminist institutions are a cause; individual feminists may be behaving badly, but not in a way that seems to be to be determined by their feminism.

I think the claim is that you can identify a subset of feminists who are more likely to behave this way without reference to the bad behavior--that is, the set Emerson has called the "careerist feminists." I think there's also a silent claim that careerist feminists advance their own interests at the expense--if only by means of expending political capital, though I think Emerson is saying there's more--of non-careerist feminists, and they do so in the name of feminism.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:14 PM
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The effect that staying home for say, two years, to care for a child has on your career is absolutely driven by sexism.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:15 PM
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Since SCMT mocked my pain, I'll comment.
The point by Frowner in 329 -- which feminism? -- gets to the nub. Here are two (feminist) goals:

1. Ensuring that women have equal access to top law and business schools and become powerful people
2. Ensuring that poor woman get more money and respect

Isn't it transparently obvious that these are different goals, and that people might weigh them differently? Also, while they surely need not conflict, it's not obvious that they will always reinforce each other. They could do so, but it could also be true that you could do a lot of work on #1 and not improve #2 (and vice versa). And it might be that if you focused a lot on #1 -- because you think it's important that women gain political power to effect change -- you could begin to think that women who ignore #1 are letting the side down. Emerson thinks this happens a lot. LB thinks this doesn't happen much. And we probably don't have any great way of assessing how often it happens beyond our own experience.

My own observations certainly support what Emerson depicted towards the end of 342, particularly the 'cringing' in upper-middle class circles. That cringing, however, has an important source in the culture of achievement in the upper-middle class -- the idea that a "career" is self-evidently the right thing to structure your life and identity around. Certainly no one would want to blame feminism exclusively for that...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:15 PM
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LB, that's what IA said in the beginning, that some feminist rhetoric participates in and reinforces the misogyny of our culture. that was her main point as far as I know. I have added that feminist careerists sometimes display the characteristic careerist contempt for non-career men and women, including mothers. And it's "some feminists" in the sense of "quite a few women who think of themselves as feminists", not in either the sense of "one feminist I saw once" or "spokespersons and leaders of important feminist organizations".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:16 PM
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Did I mention that I'm anti-career. Seriously. Everything I've ever done of any real value has been on my own time. I'm a job guy, not a career guy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:19 PM
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Anti-career. Anti-relationship. Any other big parts the average American's conception of well being that you are opposed to?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:23 PM
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We just had a fire drill in the middle of my lunch. Guess who I blame.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:25 PM
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387: Me too!

But I can't say I'd actually recommend this to anyone else.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:25 PM
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Guess who I blame

Rex Grossman?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:25 PM
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Rex Grossman?

You know me, sir.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:26 PM
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I haven't yet caught up on this thread (and may not be able to do so), but.

"politely deferring to those weaker or lower in status than yourself," which I actually think of as feminine. Women care for the children and the infirm, etc.

Gswift caught my meaning; women's caretaking isn't seen as *deference*, which implies a voluntary giving up of power/superior position. This is, for now, mostly a masculine trait, and I'm willing to say that I think given the strength/not bearing children thing, it's "more" of a male trait than a female one, and I for one find it quite attractive. It's not just giving up seats to pregnant women and other "good manners" things (though those are nice, and important, I thinnk); it's stuff like holding back while playing with kids, mentoring, even the very traditional and tragic role of fighting during wartime to protect kids and women, and the equally traditional and tragic acceptance of the role of second fiddle as far as said kids are concerned.

Re "feminism hasn't fought enough for maternity leave"--what? Feminists are the only ones who have. And I think that, in defense of the supposedly capitalist-identified feminists, there is an implicit and very correct belief that only when we stop taking women's domestic labor for granted will there be enough pressure on men--who after all, do love their kids--to also demand maternity leave and flex time and the rest of it, which is the only way that stuff is going to really be able to effect major changes in how we define work hours.

I think that the "why are women so catty about people who they're nice to in public" thing is the flip side of a rather admirable feminine characteristic, which is the absolute importance of community and cooperation.

As to "agonistic," I assume you guys all own dictionaries.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:28 PM
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I'm beginning to think that losing my career may end up saving my life. Even at huge financial and personal cost, I will live the last half of my life differently from the way my dad did.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:30 PM
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I've never said more than that there's a significant proportion of feminists, and a wing of the movement, who are so committed to careerism that they have a hard time accepting non-career people, and that staying home and taking care of kids has at times been treated so much as a hellish fate that women who end up doing it feel demeaned.

There's a real issue here that's not being addressed, of the low status of feminine labor due to patriarchy, not due to feminism. I'd argue that of the women happily staying home and taking care of kids you're arguing are being demeaned by feminists, largely would expect their husbands to be ashamed and humiliated by doing the same work. In the non-feminist portions of our society, full time unpaid domestic labor is happy fun time for women, shameful and humiliating for men. (I really don't think this is controversial.)

Now, a feminism that says that the same standards should apply to both sexes is necessarily going to piss people off. Either it's going to be telling women "Under the men's standard, the work you spend all day doing is shameful and humiliating. Given that we apply the same standards to both sexes, you're dirt." or it's going to tell men "Unpaid work within the home isn't shameful and humiliating, you should be sharing it equally with your spouse."

Obviously, the latter is a humane solution, the former is inhumane and awful and what Emerson's complaining about. But if you treat women's issues as applying to women only -- feminism is something that applies only to career women and those who suffer from them -- you can only get to the first solution. Earlier, I said that if the problem with the low status of childcare workers was that women were being oppressed by low status and low pay, the solution was to hire men for the jobs. That got ignored as if I were just kidding, but it's a real issue -- we can't treat feminism as a fight between different groups of women for what's left over if we don't change anything for men.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:31 PM
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"Re "feminism hasn't fought enough for maternity leave"--what? Feminists are the only ones who have. "

So? The only politicians opposing telecom immunity for companies that violated FISA are Democrats, but Chris Dodd & Russ Feingold don't erase the Democratic party's collective failure on civil liberties issues. The fact that basically all the no votes on the Iraq war came from Democratic politicians doesn't mean that Democrats fought strenuously enough against the Iraq war. Why is this difficult to understand?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:31 PM
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396: When you talk about Democrats in those terms, no one thinks you're suggesting voting Republican -- the goal of improving the Democratic party is clear. (How we get there drives one to despair, but the goal is clear.)

The conversation about feminism, on the other hand, doesn't have nearly as clear a goal, and related arguments are often made by people who, rather than wanting to improve feminism, want to return to more traditional gender roles. I don't think either you or Emerson feels this way, but that's why I engage the argument in the way I do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:35 PM
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By the way, baa's 385 was unobjectionable. I figured I should note that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:37 PM
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388: TV, cars, and movies. Teeth.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:37 PM
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Home-ownership.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:37 PM
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How do you solve this? To my mind, only by doing your best to get people to represent themselves.

Yes.

One solution: feminists should work through general political movements which are feminist more than in strictly feminist movements.

You may have forgotten that it was the complete indifference of leftist organizations to women's issues that gave impetus to the 2nd wave feminism of the seventies. And pretty much every viable political organization that is not specifically feminist still seems ready to sell women out on, for example, abortion, at the drop of a hat.

If, in practice, these burdens & responsibilities fall disproportionately on women, & the effect of forcing people to choose between a family and having a fulfilling career fall disproportionately on women, and the crappy treatment of childcare workers & home health aides falls disproportionately on women, & is driven partly by sexism, an effective feminist movement ought to take account of that fact.

Yes, an effective feminist movement would be composed of the people on whom these burdens and responsibilities fall.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:37 PM
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Also, I am impatient with the whole "feminism used to value traditionally masculine traits over feminine ones." Well, yeah. Duh. Because a lot of masculine traits are about having power, and a lot of feminine ones are about not, and figuring out how to manipulate people so that you can survive anyway.

Also, in re. feminists devaluing stay home moms, again, duh. Because we live in a world where you need money to survive. And staying home with the kids leaves you in a really vulnerable financial position. It isn't about devaluing the *women* who do it; it's about devaluing the arguments that well, it "needs" to be done, and therefore women "have" to do it, and that it's perfectly okay if women "choose" it. Because, well, it isn't: those women are much likelier to be poor as a result of that choice, and the "well, if women choose it it's okay" thing pretty much ends the argument so that that fact doesn't get acknowledged or dealt with.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:37 PM
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402: God, I love you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:39 PM
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"there is an implicit and very correct belief that only when we stop taking women's domestic labor for granted will there be enough pressure on men--who after all, do love their kids--to also demand maternity leave and flex time and the rest of it"

Right, but as long as it's impossible for both partners to have the career they want & a family, there's going to be pressure on one of them to make their career a lower priority. In practice, more often than not, for a variety of cultural & biological reasons, that's going to be the woman much more often than not. If you stay at home, you're enabling your husband not to pressure his employer, but if you work 80 hours/week as an associate & agree that women who stay home for two years aren't making their careers a real priority & aren't serious about them, you're not pressuring your employer.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:40 PM
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related arguments are often made by people who, rather than wanting to improve feminism, want to return to more traditional gender roles. I don't think either you or Emerson feels this way, but that's why I engage the argument in the way I do

OK, do you think, without naming names, anybody here "wants to return to more traditional gender roles?" Or is this another argument that takes the shape it does here not because of what anyone says here but because of what is generally said?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:40 PM
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399: I'd be fine with giving up those first three, but, gosh, I really would like to keep my teeth.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:42 PM
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You damn well ought to, but I didn't leave comment 402.


Posted by: God | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:43 PM
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some feminist rhetoric participates in and reinforces the misogyny of our culture

Well, no kidding. Feminists are also part of our society, and have been socialized accordingly.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:44 PM
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LB, based on what I've read here and at LGM, any woman you know who stays home with the kids should expect you either to pity her as a victim, or condemn her as a traitor. Those who do not feel that way about themselves will not feel good about you. So while I say that only one streak of feminism is the problem here, you really do seem to be part of it. Probably they aren't doing much for the cause of gender equality, but they're living their lives and perhaps they have prioritized their commitments differently than you do. I'm really baffled by now, because you've made it clear that you don't get much satisfaction from your career at this point -- in fact, that it drives you nuts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:44 PM
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Incorporate by reference and reiterate 344.1, but I haven't read much of the read earlier than the 330s, so I'm missing things.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:44 PM
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Baa has said things along those lines (really not trying to tar you as the antifeminist devil, baa, it was very inoffensive, I'm just remembering a conversation in which you suggested that a world in which people's career choices were unconstrained might break down along more traditional gender lines). I don't know IA well enough to know her positions along these lines. Anything more from the archives I'm really not inclined to dredge up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:44 PM
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Also, any feminist who characterizes a woman staying home for 2 years to care for an infant as permanently "dropping out" is endorsing & validating employers' sexism and doing active harm.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:45 PM
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Feminists are also part of our society, and have been socialized accordingly.

Ignore the feminists to subvert the patriarchy!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:47 PM
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412: I agree. Has someone here said something like that?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:48 PM
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401: MCMC: Absolute bullshit. the Democrats sold out every constituency they had before they sold out feminists on abortion. Labor, peace, civil-liberties, consumer activism. As soon as there were some noises by Kos and others that maybe they were flexible, there were screams of rage, but nothing ever happened. And these same feminist groups (NARAL) had been selling out the Democrats continuously for decades.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:48 PM
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406: Keep 'em if they're good. If they're bad like mine were, get rid of 'em before you spend $5000 on them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:50 PM
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396: So you're saying feminism hasn't been 100% successful? Yeah, that's correct. But blaming feminists for failing, in the face of the kind of resistance feminism gets, seems bass-ackwards. (Note: I haven't read the thread closely enough to know if this is, in fact, what K. is doing, but that's how 396 sounded to me.)

403: I love you too, LB.

based on what I've read here and at LGM, any woman you know who stays home with the kids should expect you either to pity her as a victim, or condemn her as a traitor.

Well, women who stay home with the kids (which includes me, hello?) *are* victimized by a culture where full-time jobs are incompatible with having young children in the house.

That said, I think that people who reduce comments about the *structural* problems with women "choosing" to stay home to "you're passing judgment on other women, and that's shitty" are just wrong. If we can't criticize--in the sense of think critically about--the "choices" people make in compromise with the realities of a society that undervalues women, we're not going to get anywhere. It isn't personal, and it isn't the first responsibility of feministm to make sure no one gets their feelings hurt, especially if they're going out of their way to do so.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:51 PM
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Absolute bullshit. the Democrats sold out every constituency they had before they sold out feminists on abortion. Labor, peace, civil-liberties, consumer activism

There are more women than there are union members, peaceniks, African-Americans, etc. That's a pretty old story, I think, and one that is a pretty pragmatic one as well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:51 PM
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417: I am blaming it for not trying very hard.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:52 PM
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It isn't personal, and it isn't the first responsibility of feministm to make sure no one gets their feelings hurt, especially if they're going out of their way to do so.

Which I think is reversible, as well, so that people criticizing the "careerist feminists" are allowed to get their licks in, too. And probably extendable to pretty much any form of criticism, I think.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:54 PM
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It isn't about devaluing the *women* who do it; it's about devaluing the arguments that well, it "needs" to be done, and therefore women "have" to do it, and that it's perfectly okay if women "choose" it.

What I've been trying to say all along is that, in the flesh, it's often perceived by the women who do it as devaluing them, and I think not unreasonably, since careerists have a tendency to devalue and condescend to others, and we're talkingg about careerists here (not jobholders).

408: So are you agreeing with me and IA?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:55 PM
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but if you work 80 hours/week as an associate & agree that women who stay home for two years aren't making their careers a real priority & aren't serious about them, you're not pressuring your employer.

This is true, but there's a decent shot you're pressuring your husband's employer, which is better than nothing.

LB, based on what I've read here and at LGM, any woman you know who stays home with the kids should expect you either to pity her as a victim, or condemn her as a traitor.

While not adopting your language, any woman who stays home with the kids under circumstances where there isn't an equal chance that if things were different, her husband would have stayed home with the kids (and this covers most, but not all, of women who stay home with children in the present day US), is buying into the patriarchial ideal that domestic work is good and fitting for women, shameful and humiliating for men. I don't like that ideal -- I think it devalues domestic work, places women in a socially inferior position, and systematically deprives women of access to money and power -- and I wish people wouldn't support it. Once I see a substantial number of men putting their careers on hold, or cutting back at work, so they can care for their children, I'm not going to worry about the perpetuation of that ideal because it will be dead. In the society we live in now, I continue to be concerned.

I'm really baffled by now, because you've made it clear that you don't get much satisfaction from your career at this point -- in fact, that it drives you nuts.

You know, John, grownups have to do things they don't like sometimes. Because I have a job that drives me nuts, Buck can run a business from home and spend more time with our kids. I'm not a particularly driven person -- I'd be perfectly happy reading novels all day, and playing euchre with the kids when they got home from school (I realize many women who don't work for pay are much more productive than this. I'm awfully lazy, though, and this is about where I'd probably come out). But the people I care for would be less happy. You make tradeoffs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:55 PM
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412: No doubt. But we should still ask why it's women's responsibility to be the one that stays home with the kid for two years, thereby impeding her career and lifetime earnings. And why it's necessary to stay home for two years in the first place. Is there any freaking reason we can't bring kids to work, a lot of us, or have different kinds of formal and informal daycare/child creches where women can drop their kids off for a few hours to play with other children while they have meetings or do jobs that aren't safe with kids around? Why do we have a society in which people so often live far away from their extended families? Why do we have to quit our jobs to take time off when a child is born? Why is education so underfunded that moms do an enormous amount of volunteer work to raise money for schools, help teachers in the classroom? Etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:55 PM
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Goddammit, B., I'm saying that in the flesh, the judging happens, and that women who suffer it quite rightly resent it, especially when they actually like what they're doing, but also when it's just the best they could do.

But yes, I guess one point is just that staying home with the kids is a legitimate choice for women. So is voluntarily going on the mommy-job track instead of the career track. And for men, too, even of fewer men do it than women.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 2:58 PM
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I am blaming it for not trying very hard

I think that's ridiculous and unfair. Feminism has done a hell of a lot in forty years. No, we haven't yet perfected society, but in order to deal with the workplace issues we first had to get to the point where it was pretty much expected that women would have careers. Now that we're there, those issues are starting to be talked about quite a lot, actually.

it's often perceived by the women who do it as devaluing them, and I think not unreasonably, since careerists have a tendency to devalue and condescend to others

It's not unreasaonble, no; but it is one of those situations where the disenfranchised group is fighting among itself for the crumbs. And yeah, a lot of career focused women devalue unpaid labor; given the pressure on women to *do* unpaid labor, that kind of overcompensation is probably a necessary part of resisting the idea that they should be less ambitious because then things would be easier.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:00 PM
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Fine, LB. You really don't accept people making a different tradeoff.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:00 PM
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Though actually, when I look at NOW's website, it's pretty good on these issues. I may be reacting more to individual people I know who self-identify as feminists than a deep knowledge of feminist organizations.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:00 PM
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Anyway. Once again a thread about masculinity has turned into "what's wrong with feminism." Hmmm.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:01 PM
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B, you're not victimized by society. You have a nice array of choices, and you chose one of them. That argument isn't true in every case, but it is in yours.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:02 PM
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" buying into the patriarchial ideal that domestic work is good and fitting for women, shameful and humiliating for men."

No more so than you are buying into the patriarchal ideal that people who refuse to work crazy hours because of their families aren't serious about their careers.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:03 PM
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It isn't the first responsibility of feminism to make sure no one gets their feelings hurt, especially if they're going out of their way to do so.

Noted without comment.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:03 PM
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in the flesh, the judging happens, and that women who suffer it quite rightly resent it

They should be directing their resentment at the individuals in the flesh who give them a hard time, not at "feminism" or "feminists," thankyouverymuch.

Here is an important, and influential! feminist who has been working for quite some time to try to get social security payments for caregivers passed. Let's talk about how "feminism" is doing that, instead of talking about what the NYT Style section tells us about feminism.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:04 PM
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I hate to comment and run, but hopefully I'll be able to check on this later:

Suppose we are all on board with LB that baa's 385 was unobjectionable. (I know I am.) Doesn't it immediately become obvious that goal number 2, working for poor women, becomes the much higher priority? I can think of two reasons right off the bat:

1. Given scarce resources, priority should be given to helping those who are worst off. (I think of this as Rawlsian, but it really isn't.)

2. Whenever a new group of people is allowed into the ruling elite without changing anything else about the structure of society, the new rulers start acting exactly like the old ones. Women entering the corridors of power will be no different.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:05 PM
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429: I'm in a society where it's difficult for parents who want to spend time with their kids to have two full-time professional jobs. Yeah, I made a choice (and in fact, I do quite a lot of unpaid work). But it would be naive to say that just because I'm relatively privileged and well-off, that that choice wasn't shaped in part by social forces that are still rather hostile to women people with kids.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:06 PM
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426: People do the best they can do, and succumb to the pressures they succumb to. Someone who's staying home with the kids because that's how it all worked out, but they understand the argument I made in 422 and generally agree with it, I'm not going to judge. I don't live my politics particularly well, these sorts of decisions are terribly constrained by contingent live events and earlier decisions, you do the best you can.

Someone who understands the argument I made in 422 and disagrees with it, I think is wrong. That's what it means to disagree with someone on a political issue.

Someone who hasn't thought about it on that level, would, I think, be better off if they did. But the same could be said about almost any life decision.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:06 PM
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They do resent the individuals who gave them a hard time, but a lot of those people are feminists who speak feminist language. Katherine noted much the same. I've never said a word against non-Republican feminist organizations. It's a cultural tendency.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:06 PM
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Given scarce resources, priority should be given to helping those who are worst off.

And again, there are a hell of a lot of feminists who do that work. Of course, easily accepting the idea that there are "scarce resources" for women's issues is itself kind of problematic.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:07 PM
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428: Well, everyone agreed that men suck (because you weren't there to defend us!),and so we moved on to more controversial topics.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:07 PM
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No more so than you are buying into the patriarchal ideal that people who refuse to work crazy hours because of their families aren't serious about their careers.

Well, I'm not going to make partner because I don't put in the hours, if that helps. I don't think this has any effect on the system, because women generally don't make partner in my firm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:08 PM
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All that said, I am now going to go clean my house so that it's not a sty; my dad's arriving tonight, and tomorrow we're having people over for PK's birthday party.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:09 PM
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The hostility to people with kids is very central to what IA is talking about, I can confidently say.

As for the problems with two people having professional jobs and raising kids too, cry me a river. I just don't fucking care about that problem.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:09 PM
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B, LB, you, personally are among the feminists being accused here. Your position is that sahmotherhood is problematic because it perpetuates patriarchal norms and systems. Insofar as someone has a choice about working or staying at home, you're condemning the choice to stay home. You want to then say that your condemnation is happening in the context of patriarchal systems that make the choice problematic and that you personally don't want to devalue "women's work" as such. What follows is basically a strategic/empirical disagreement about whether it's better to support women in traditionally feminine roles, or better to encourage those women to do things they would personally rather not do, in order to further broader feminist goals.

Can we at least admit that there's a real difference of opinion here, and that it's not a mystery why some women would take umbrage at your position?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:09 PM
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441: Okay, so you're not so much worried about hostility to people with kids generally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:10 PM
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Can we at least admit that there's a real difference of opinion here, and that it's not a mystery why some women would take umbrage at your position?

Of course there is. As I said in my 435.2, I disagree with those women.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:11 PM
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442: B, LB, you, personally are among the feminists being accused here.

Yeah, this bit has been clear.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:12 PM
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439: right, and I'd guess that women who do make partner don't do much to change the system either. I wasn't really saying that you've sold out to the patriarchy either--I'm saying that they're BOTH contigent, individual choices that: (1) accept rather changing the system, but (2) might make the most sense for an individual woman & her family, & doesn't make her not a feminist or not a good feminist.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:12 PM
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I'm not worried about people who are doing wonderfully, amazingly well because they wish they could do even more wonderfully. No. You, B, nobody.

By now this is about careers. Two career families who cannot handle childraising either should become one-career families or not have kids. Being able to pay for shit is what careers are all about. It's actually OK for a human being not to have a career.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:13 PM
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445: I didn't start out expecting that, but at a certain point I realized what was going on. So, yes.

And so you "disagree" with women who make a different imperfect choice than you did and resent your air of superiority about your own imperfect choice?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:16 PM
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446: The thing is, I think I'm doing slightly more work than that. For one, to the extent I'm seen as competent but I'm still out of the question for promotion because I don't put in the hours, I'm part of a drumbeat of lost women that my firm, and firms like mine, are at least superficially concerned about. More importantly, there's a whole bunch of neighborhood kids, most importantly mine, who don't think of childcare and housework as necessarily feminine, low status work. I'm not trying to inflate myself into the feminist Statue of Liberty here, but I don't think this sort of thing is unimportant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:17 PM
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This comment -> most of this entire thread.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:18 PM
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I think 442 is right up until "What follows is basically a strategic/empirical disagreement about whether it's better to support women in traditionally feminine roles, or better to encourage those women to do things they would personally rather not do, in order to further broader feminist goals." While on the ground it may frequently turn out that it's difficult to say (that is, difficult for a person to sincerely maintain and communicate the attitude that) a better society would result if women were unwilling to embrace the concept of a gender division of labor and simultaneously to provide emotional support for individual women who have taken on traditional gender roles, in theory it should be doable.

Of course, easily accepting the idea that there are "scarce resources" for women's issues is itself kind of problematic.

B, Rob only said what you paraphrase him as saying to the extent that it's a necessary implication of the fact that there is not an infinite amount of any resource, including human attention. He was talking about the existence of scarcity in general.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:19 PM
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203 sure looks optimistic now.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:19 PM
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447: it's okay not to have a career, but it's not unreasonable to want kids & a career. There's nothing inherently impossible or unreasonable about it, & wanting a career isn't necessarily just a desire for money & status. What's wrong with me wanting to have kids and be a do gooder public interest lawyer?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:19 PM
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448: And so you "disagree" with women who make a different imperfect choice than you did and resent your air of superiority about your own imperfect choice?

No, that would fall under my reaction to the women described in 435.1 -- who basically agree with me about the issues, but have ended up staying at home anyway. The wording I used is "I'm not going to judge.... you do the best you can."

I disagree with people who disagree with me about the underlying issues. I really don't think I have another option here -- no matter what I think, I'm going to disagree with someone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:20 PM
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in theory it should be doable

This is why way upthread, when I was younger and wiser, I said that LB would turn out to be right in principle and I would be right on earth.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:21 PM
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Career women are contemptuous of stay-at-home moms. Also, people who oppose the war in Iraq don't support the troops.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:21 PM
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455: "Who aimeth at the sky, shoots higher much than he who means a tree."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:23 PM
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It would be a nice thing if two-career couples could have kids. Reducing everyone's work hours would be the best way to make it happen. This is a pretty basic problem with American life, though.

"Career" has a specific meaning, and the majority of people will mostly just have jobs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:24 PM
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Career = job around which a large part of one's conception of self is formed?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:25 PM
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458: "This is a pretty basic problem with American life, though."

Well, exactly. So why did you just say you didn't care about it?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:27 PM
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Of course two career families have kids. It's hard, but life is hard. And yes, a reduction in work hours all around would be a marvelous thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:27 PM
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Anyway. Once again a thread about masculinity has turned into "what's wrong with feminism." Hmmm.

I would love to engage B in a discussion about masculinity, but sadly I need to first do some comparatively pointless technical work so that I can pay the bills, then need go get drunk with my coworkers and attempt to hit on the hot lawyer, then need to change the air filter and check the valve clearances on my dirt bike so that I can go riding tomorrow morning and be back in time to watch football.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:30 PM
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A lot of stay-at-home moms feel that a significant number of people, including feminists do not respect them. Some think that this is true, and that careerist feminists have actually bought into both a kind of misogyny and upper-middle-class bias. Others think that either this doesn't happen often, and if it does it has nothing at all to do with feminism, and that anybody who says that it happens and that it has something to do with feminism is a tool of patriarchy.

And also that upper-middle-class people are oppressed if they can't have two careers and a family too.

And that a really shitty career is better than being a loser stay-at-home mom, who's horribly oppressed even if she doesn't think so.


I'm going to quit. I never really expected things to get as bad as they did, but anyway.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:31 PM
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463: I'm sorry it got as bad as it did. I have to say that I don't have the impression you were engaging with my responses on any level beyond perceiving them as accusations of antifeminism. I don't know what you thought of my 395, or if you read it, but I was trying to substantively address the issues you're talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:34 PM
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and be back in time to watch football.

By which you mean "look at college boys' crotches."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:36 PM
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What's wrong with me wanting to have kids and be a do gooder public interest lawyer?

Nothing is wrong with this. But it's not clear that the difficulty of achieving this goal is indicative of a broader problem with society that should be remedied, or perhaps that can feasibly be remedied.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:41 PM
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466: It's not the same class of problem for men, which suggests that it's not insoluble. We can either (1) assume that childcare is ineradicably women's problem, and say 'suck it up'; (2) work on availablity of childcare and on expectations of hours worked so that parents generally are able to pursue careers without being unduly hampered by parenthood; (3) to the extent that some careers have unchangable expectations for hours, socially support women in choosing to share parenting duties with men who don't have careers requiring exorbitant hours, and who can therefore shoulder more than half the load.

Your comment sounded as though you favored the first of those options. I strongly prefer the second, with some of the third where necessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:47 PM
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466: that's funny, because the entire EU & Canada seem to be coming closer to this than we are. Check out this article on paid maternity leave:

"To put it another way, out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study last year, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland."

But apparently I'm some kind of crazy utopian fantasist or whiny yuppy pretending to be oppressed for thinking maybe Congress should do something about this.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:47 PM
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Sorry, was working briefly.

1. Inoffensive is a big step up for me!
2. I think Rob's the new rulers start acting exactly like the old ones is a key point. Representation in the corridors of power is an instrumental good. The reason most people (or at least I) want some number of ethnic and regional diversity in our "power elite" is because a) while it might be nice if everyone treated everyone else just as a person, there's a reality to these kith and kin groupings b) any group not at the table is likely to get screwed.

Now, a feminism that says that the same standards should apply to both sexes is necessarily going to piss people off. Either it's going to be telling women "Under the men's standard, the work you spend all day doing is shameful and humiliating.

I think LB is stealing a base here. *If* we concede that task X is, in fact, shameful and humiliating, it is unjust to assign it exclusively to one sex, or pretend that it's fun. But we should not concede that being a stay at home parent is shameful. There are lots of things we don't hold in contempt that we simply want to do. Unfortunately, we have a culture where if a man does a stereotypically female thing, he's often held in contempt (and vice versa, of course) This is a horrible mistake. We multiply that mistake if we take that contempt as evidence that the stereotypically male or stereotypically female thing is inherently contemptible.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:48 PM
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468: To the extent that the last sentence was aimed my way, I'm very strongly in favor of Congress doing something about it; any impression I gave to the contrary upthread was unintentional.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:49 PM
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469: Did you miss the latter part of the comment where I described that analysis as inhumane? The point is, though, that if you apply one standard to both sexes, but don't change the male standard that doing anything feminine is contemptible, you end up with across the board contempt for women doing 'feminine' work. Which is why a vital part of the feminist project is dealing with that male standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:51 PM
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468: I didn't mean you; I don't think we're especially far apart substantively.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:53 PM
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God knows what I meant by 'the feminist project'. That should probably be 'something I think is important'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:53 PM
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Given that stay-at-home fathers tend to come in for a lot more negative judgemental stuff than stay-at-home mothers do, can we agree that this is less about women and feminism per se than about the career/family balance in the society as a whole? What's happening with women is that they are simply being judged somewhat by the "maximize your lifetime earnings as a measure of your personal worth" standard that a relentlessly market based culture will naturally produce.

As I and others said above, you can fault feminism for being massively co-opted by this culture, but not for creating it.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:54 PM
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"Do-gooder public lawyer" is one of those careers that has a huge mismatch between the number of people who want it and the number of people willing to pay for the work. Compensation is shitty and competition is high. Men who get these kinds of jobs do so by marrying someone willing to do the domestic work, being independently wealthy, or living the broke bachelor lifestyle.

I don't see how providing free maternity leave isn't just going to push the problem of getting do-gooder public interest lawyer jobs around.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:54 PM
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Way, way OT: Paging w-lfs-n. Does anyone know of a good modern translation of Horace's Ode 3.2 with some background notes, preferably one that I could find online?

The prisoner that I mentor is going to be reading Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" for his English class, and I wanted to send him a copy of the Horatian Ode to which Owen is referring. The guy wants to study Latin eventually anyway.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:54 PM
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472: Yeah, I don't think anyone in the thread is that far apart substantively. Emerson and I are clashing gears, but I don't know how much real distance there is there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:55 PM
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But apparently I'm some kind of crazy utopian fantasist or whiny yuppy pretending to be oppressed for thinking maybe Congress should do something about this.

Seems to me that any effort to deal with this devalues stay-at-home momism, relatively speaking. After all, it subsidizes workplace mothers but does nothing for stay-at-home moms.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:55 PM
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Given that stay-at-home fathers tend to come in for a lot more negative judgemental stuff than stay-at-home mothers do

Is this really true? I think that the most pernicious form of negative judgemental stuff against stay-at-home mothers is due to what I want to call heresy vs. apostasy but don't think that's correct. Being a traitor vs. just on the other side.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:58 PM
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Given that stay-at-home fathers tend to come in for a lot more negative judgemental stuff than stay-at-home mothers do

Whoa, I don't know that I'd take that as a given. Judgmental stuff from whom?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:59 PM
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subsidizes workplace mothers two income families.

Men really do exist, and father children. It's possible to think of childcare in terms other than one group of women competing with another group of women.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:59 PM
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because a) while it might be nice if everyone treated everyone else just as a person, there's a reality to these kith and kin groupings b) any group not at the table is likely to get screwed.

The willingness to see this is part of what makes you better than your party. Come to the Dark Side! We're now a fully paid member of Big Healthcare and Big Insurance!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 3:59 PM
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475: which is a really fucking stupid way to work things. Skill at being a public interest lawyer doesn't correlate with male gender or desire for childlessness. I don't expect some broke public interest organization to pay me a salary not to work for them for an extended period, but it's not a sign that I'm either un-committed or unable to do human rights work or an even defensible reason for me not to be able to work in this field. And it's not like the attitude that if you have kids, you're not serious about this career is restricted to public interest law. It's pervasive, and sexist.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:00 PM
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Did you miss the latter part of the comment

I did.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:01 PM
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Judgmental stuff from whom?

From people with traditional gender expectations who think they should be supporting their families? My mother is generally simmering with low level hostility toward Buck partially because he earns less than I do and therefore is the cause of my working as hard as I do. She's nuts, but she has societal support for her nutsness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:02 PM
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484: baa! Remaining both incisive and inoffensive!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:03 PM
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The judgment about sahfathers stuff is tricky because among the groups most likely to do it, they actually get a lot of positive reinforcement, but for society more generally, it's a pussy move.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:06 PM
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traditional gender expectations

I tend to think of these expectations much the the "traditional" costumes of the natives on old postcards. Quaint, but also weird.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:06 PM
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482 We're now a fully paid member of Big Healthcare and Big Insurance

Sure, you say that now. But then you'll come after my carried interest...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:07 PM
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479, 480: you really haven't seen or experienced this? I've regularly heard guys who aren't working put down as not pulling their weight. Often by women too. Not to their face, though. More in the nature of gossip and so forth.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:08 PM
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487 explains my confusion. I can't imagine anyone I know judging me negatively if I decided to stay home if we have kids. Being surprised, sure, but not judgmental. I guess I just roll with a pussified crowd.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:08 PM
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both incisive and inoffensive!

In a David Broder kind of way...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:08 PM
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Actually, public interest law is better than firms about hours, leave, etc., and probably has a higher share of high ranking women than firms...the reason I brought up "public interest" is that Emerson seemed to be arguing career = wealth & status, but there are sorts of work that you just can't do at all without professional credentials, etc.

A lot of people want kids. Caring for very young kids is not compatible with the hours demanded by a number of jobs, & for a variety of reasons, it usually falls on a woman. It is reasonable that not working full time for a couple of years places your career on "pause" or causes you to advance more slowly while only working part time. It is not at all reasonable for it to place you permanently on a different track. The reason that this happens so often persists is because women bear a hugely disproportionate amount of the costs. A guy who says that this is an individual woman's choice, & that's just inevitably the way society works, & there's nothing that could or should be done about it, is being sexist. It is the form of sexism I think may be most pervasive among young men who consider themselves liberal (I couldn't read the comments on most liberal blogs about the Larry Summers thing without wanting to punch someone.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:10 PM
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I guess I just roll with a pussified crowd.

You post at Unfogged.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:12 PM
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491: You'd probably run into it from other parents more than anything else. It's surprising how unhomogenous on these issues a neighborhood is once you're associating with people for your kids rather than for yourself. I thought my "keep the gender role pressures off the kids as much as possible" childrearing ideals were a lot more conventional than they've turned out to be (not that I get hostility for them -- I am still in NY -- but that my practices are a lot more hardline in this regard than most people's seem to be. And I'm not even banning Barbie -- hell, I've handsewn dresses for her.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:13 PM
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Caring for very young kids is not compatible with the hours demanded by a number of jobs

comments on most liberal blogs about the Larry Summers thing

Leaping, as I always do, to the defense of a former Clinton appointee, I just have to point out that Summers made exactly this first point, and he also ranked it #1 as his 'best guess' of factors that were leading to gender disparities in hiring.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:14 PM
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There's a nice bit of ethnography I came across on this involved dad/sahfather stuff: Dad at the playground on the weekend with kid? Fantastic! Lots of good feedback from all the moms + kids there, what a great guy, wish my husband etc etc. Dad at the playground on a weekday with kid? Warning sign! No job! Slacker! Probably letting his wife work while he swans around, why doesn't he take some responsibility like a man, etc.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:16 PM
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Sweet, let's rerun the Larry Summers discussion now.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:16 PM
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496: He still put innate differences ahead of discrimination, and while he did make the first point, I don't remember him addressing it as a problem to be solved, rather than an explanation for where all the girls went.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:16 PM
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It is not at all reasonable for it to place you permanently on a different track. The reason that this happens so often persists is because women bear a hugely disproportionate amount of the costs.

See, I think that when you get to a high enough level in a desireable enough job, this is actually at most just a little unreasonable. At least people have control over their willingness to work crazy hours and dump childrearing on their significant other, in a way that they don't over their social connections or net wealth or what have you.

As always, alpha female lawyers looking for financially stable yet laid back and willing to putz around house taking care of stuff should click on link below.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:18 PM
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497: I love my neighborhood so much. I can't actually come up with a lot of SAHD, but there are a whole lot of men who are either part-time, or self-employed like Buck, or on some kind of weird schedule. Pickup from school isn't 50-50, but there are a significant number of men, enough that it looks ordinary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:18 PM
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comments on most liberal blogs about the Larry Summers thing

You know why Summers got fired? He got fired because the stupid comments on gender stuff provided an opportunity for his many, many enemies at Harvard to condense around an issue, and because in the subsequent grilling he was completely obtuse about some other internal Harvard shit, in particular continuing to stand by Andrei Schleifer despite the latter being convicted as a felon and costing the university $26 million dollars in a legal settlement with the government.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:19 PM
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Exbeforelast's husband is a sahfather (and an ex-Navy guy) and you can see that it kills him when he has to answer the "so what do you do?" question, even though they're happy and it's been great for their daughter.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:19 PM
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want some number of ethnic and regional diversity in our "power elite" is because

Unmentioned is the role model/ "oh, that's a reasonable aspiration for me to have" effect, which I believe in the existence and importance of.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:19 PM
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dump childrearing on their significant other

This is why it's so important to talk about this stuff as if it weren't just a conflict between rich women and poor women. There's no way to get any justice into the situation without changing lives and expectations for men too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:20 PM
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and you can see that it kills him when he has to answer the "so what do you do?" question

So you ask him this in mixed company as often as possible, right?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:21 PM
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It's incompatible for a teeny percentage of the 40-45 years between someone finishing school and retiring. This short period happens to occur EXACTLY when you're supposed to be working your ass off for tenure, but there is absolutely no requirement that things have to work this way. In most academic fields, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to press "pause" on the tenure clock.

500: well, I think that's pretty fucking easy for you to say, because it just happens to be highly correlated with the other gender. My husband could be the world's best feminist & I still don't see how it would be physically possible to get pregnant & keep my current job.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:23 PM
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So you ask him this in mixed company as often as possible, right?

Only in my inimitably subtle way. "Boy, work has been kicking my ass lately. But ebl'shubby doesn't have to worry about that, do you, ebl'shubby?" "I just like to get things done, you know? I think I would work even if I weren't being paid. But I know ebl'shubby disagrees."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:25 PM
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507: Yeah, the idea, say, that going to grad school/law school a couple years late isn't an issue at all -- no one cares if you're 28 or 32 when you get your PhD -- but taking a six month maternity leave is proof of unseriousness is just straight sexism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:25 PM
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508: *snort.* "My job pays an outrageous amount of money, but really people like ebl'shubby do the most important work of all, and they don't get a dime. I really admire that."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:28 PM
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It is not at all reasonable for it to place you permanently on a different track.

You know, I saw a reference to paper--and maybe someone (G?) with actual knowledge can tell me whether it sucked or not--that suggested that scientists in the 50s and 60s saw the quality of their work go down substantially more or less at the point of having children. And today I certainly know a number of people with not young kids who hate, hate, hate being at the office late (and a few who just won't do it, boss be damned). I wonder if there is some sort of slightly more complicated story going on in the above. That's not in any way to suggest that gender isn't implicated, things shouldn't be changed, old norms aren't--in bad ways--determinative, etc.

This is why it's so important to talk about this stuff as if it weren't just a conflict between rich women and poor women. There's no way to get any justice into the situation without changing lives and expectations for men too.

IMLE, the above gets not entirely unreasonably read as "let's focus on the other problem that doesn't cost me."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:29 PM
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507: Yeah, the idea, say, that going to grad school/law school a couple years late isn't an issue at all -- no one cares if you're 28 or 32 when you get your PhD -- but taking a six month maternity leave is proof of unseriousness is just straight sexism.

Ah, the ideal worker norm. Btw, best general-interest book on this stuff is Joan Williams, Unbending Gender.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:30 PM
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Given the presence of the words 'just' and 'too', I would argue that that would be an unreasonable reading.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:31 PM
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Sweet. "Sure, I work, if you can call going to Aspen to meet with venture capitalists work, but it's people like ebl'shubby who spend their days changing diapers and wiping spit-up off the furniture who are doing the real work in our society."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:32 PM
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You know, I saw a reference to paper--and maybe someone (G?) with actual knowledge can tell me whether it sucked or not--that suggested that scientists in the 50s and 60s saw the quality of their work go down substantially more or less at the point of having children. And today I certainly know a number of people with not young kids who hate, hate, hate being at the office late (and a few who just won't do it, boss be damned). I wonder if there is some sort of slightly more complicated story going on in the above.

This problem will not be solved as long as the workplace is far from the home. B pointed this out above.

Why can't children be with us at work? Our ancestors before the industrial revolution, by which I also mean people in poor countries today, had kids running around as they did their blacksmithing and wheelwrighting and hunting and gathering. Now we have to keep aspects of our lives unnaturally separated from each other in order to make things easier for our employers.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:34 PM
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This could be correct, but seems too blasé about any possible productivity tradeoffs.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:38 PM
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the above gets not entirely unreasonably read as "let's focus on the other problem that doesn't cost me."

I think that's a key problem with the entire thread. As it applies to me, I'm just not sufficiently willing to credit the suffering inflicted upon stay-at-home moms by careerist feminists. (Though I am willing to acknowledge that such a thing exists).

Frankly I regard the persecution - especially the political persecution - of careerist women by stay-at-home moms and their husbands as being a more important social problem.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:38 PM
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The thing is, I think I'm doing slightly more work than that. For one, to the extent I'm seen as competent but I'm still out of the question for promotion because I don't put in the hours, I'm part of a drumbeat of lost women that my firm, and firms like mine, are at least superficially concerned about.

Way late, but anecdata: In my old firm, I sat in interminable discussions about how to retain young lawyers, particularly women, and I've seen relatively weak women candidates for partnership get promoted precisely because there was strong support in a segment of the partnership, mostly but not entirely women, for recognizing the challenges women associates face and adjusting partnership standards accordingly. That was a locally prominent firm rather than a nationally prominent one, but it's something.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:39 PM
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Now we have to keep aspects of our lives unnaturally separated from each other in order to make things easier for our employers.

That's really all it is -- externalizing the costs. I was hanging around A Great Private School a while ago and one of the things that made me extremely envious was the presence of a good daycare center in the building that housed my friend's department. Awesome.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:40 PM
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518: Curious -- could you expand on 'weak'? Low hours, insufficiently advanced experience, percieved as doing poor work?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:42 PM
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make things easier for our employers.

Do you really think that the people who count keystrokes are going to allow you to have a fifteen minute hug break when junior starts squawking? As if. Work out of your home office if you want your kids around.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:42 PM
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516 to 515?

What does "productivity" mean? It's a ratio, of the amount of economically valuable goods/services produced per worker or per worker-hour, right?

I don't see how "productivity" being high necessarily benefits workers. I can more easily imagine it being the opposite. It benefits the employer, and it benefits the "economy". Unless you assume that something benefitting the employer will benefit the people who work there, which is definitely not true in a corporation.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:44 PM
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Frankly I regard the persecution - especially the political persecution - of careerist women by stay-at-home moms and their husbands as being a more important social problem.

Just how big of a problem is this anymore? Even here in uber Mormon Utah, cost of living realities mean a hell of a lot of working moms.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:44 PM
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523: Yeah, I was thinking. I don't particularly feel persecuted by anyone for working, particularly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:46 PM
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Do you really think that the people who count keystrokes are going to allow you to have a fifteen minute hug break when junior starts squawking?

Yes, if I get the work done that they want me to do.

As if.

This is the free-market economist style of thinking.

Work out of your home office if you want your kids around.

If my employers don't want me working in an office that has a kid in it, why would my employers be any happier with me working in the even more child-infested environment of my house?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:46 PM
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Further to 524: Did I say particularly?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:48 PM
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520: Some of each, but it's a firm that will forgive a lot for a lawyer who's seen as highly competent technically, and these were people who were more in the "competent worker bee on routine stuff" category while also having low-ish hours.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:48 PM
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Interview with Joan Williams (mentioned by G in #512) that appears to touch on most of what has been discussed, including the following:

Q: It seems that many women of today leave the work force as a form of resistance to a work culture that makes it difficult to raise their children as they think best. What role did feminism play in the development of this type of work culture?
A: Mainstream feminism asked women to perform like men. It did not start from where women are-caring for their children with a strong value system that dictates that desire. The movement for equality devalued mothers and the ideal of caregiving in our society. But it is also true that the push for work/family balance has come from within feminism. One of the things I do is critique full-commodification feminism, which is the sense that women's equality lies in performing as ideal workers along with men, and delegating childcare to outsiders.
Q: There are also many mothers who leave work gladly, not wanting or feeling able to balance the demands of career and family. Do you think that we, as mothers, have limited expectations for ourselves or that we circumscribe our professional goals once we become mothers? And is this because of maternal instinct or because of the prevailing workplace environment?
A: Most people, when assessing their choices, choose the choices they have, not what they should have. They can be away from home and see their children before they fall asleep, or they can work part-time or reduced hours in a very punitive atmosphere or they can drop out of the workforce. The choices that mothers make with these three options might be different if they had a real choice, not a "false choice." If they had a choice to cut back their hours or reduce them without marginalization, they might. Many women who are at home might add paid work to their lives, if they had a real choice. Many mothers who are committed to being ideal workers might cut back if they had the option to do so.
A despicable attempt to treat both sides seriously and arrive at comity, it looks like.
Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:53 PM
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why would my employers be any happier with me working in the even more child-infested environment of my house?
I think this is the very reason we don't see more telecommuting. And productivity is at the heart of it. Which is why Wally from Dilbert is my hero.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:53 PM
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All this work-family talk ... the other day I set up this cool app which -- for all you sensible mac users out there -- allows you to subcribe to, share and edit iCal calendars on computers across a local network without a server. The purpose, obviously, was to integrate my and my wife's schedules to avoid "I thought you were minding the kids that day / going to handle that appointment / weren't going to be out of the country that week" issues. At present the full, merged calendar view looks nightmarishly full, and I am realizing I have also given my wife the power to edit events in my calendar. Oh dear.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:55 PM
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Which is why Wally from Dilbert is my hero.

Taped to the bottom of my monitor:

Woman: "Your engineers think my project plan won't work."
PHB: "I'll assign Wally to your project. He's a perfect fit."
Woman: "Because he's a problem solver?"
PHB: "Because he won't work either."


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:56 PM
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I have also given my wife the power to edit events in my calendar.

One hopes that the opposite is also true.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:59 PM
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Yes, 516 to 515, and my point is just that I take it that workers are massively more productive now than they were when it was more common to simultaneously be a worker and be supervising/hanging out with your kids, that something approaching all living human beings have benefited (some more and some less) from this productivity increase, and that going back to an older model could have massive productivity costs. Noting that particular changes in practice which would increase productivity may only benefit top level management of some corporation, and may not be worthwhile, is not on point.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 4:59 PM
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528 is excellent.

What's been totally bizarre at various points in this thread is that YES, we know that mainstream feminism has gone through a phase of enjoining women to behave like men, and it's not over, and YES this is problematic but had strategic value at the time, and YES more work needs to be done, and the feminist platform, if you will, should indeed be subject to internal critique, and there should be more legislative work done than currently is, because the fact of the matter is that non-white, non-career women have been marginalized in the feminist movement, so their priorities have taken second place. And YES inclusivity is a problem for mainstream feminism.

None of this is really news.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 5:35 PM
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None of this is really news.

This sounds eminently reasonable, but if it's really the case, what's totally bizarre is that mention of these various things occasioned several hundred comments' worth of argument and multiple attempts to imply that certain commenters were being anti-feminist by bringing it up.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 5:45 PM
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297

"What I'm not getting here is that somehow feminism is being blamed for the low opinion that society has for unpaid housework, or other low-paid jobs. I really don't remember the Golden Age Of Respect For Women's Work."

Feminism is to blame in that before feminism if a woman was a housewife it was because she was a woman and that was a woman's place. Now (post feminism) if a woman is a housewife it is because (at least in some eyes) she is too lazy or stupid to do better. Is it so hard to see why some current housewives might prefer the old ways?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 5:46 PM
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It's not news, but trying to do the internal critique, or even decide its parameters, is going to be contentious.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 5:54 PM
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312

"I'm all for socialist utopia, really I am. I'm very hostile to efforts to blame feminism for the fact that it isn't here yet. A society no better than the one we have now, but where the sexes are treated equally, is better than one where they are treated unequally. Condemning efforts to achieve such a society because they don't eliminate all inequality and injustice seems very wrong to me."

Treating the sexes equally may decrease inequality overall but it increases inequality among women. Personally I don't care much about about inequality but it seems like this should concern people who do.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 5:55 PM
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535: Certain commenters did not raise these points in a plain-spoken, stating-the-obvious sort of way. It took hundreds of comments before these points were clarified in a non-theatrical, non-accusatory, non-aggrieved way.

End of story, really.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:01 PM
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532--
oh, sure.
but events in his calendar have always had the power to edit his wife.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:01 PM
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538: I'm really good with the 'decreasing inequality overall' bit, honest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:09 PM
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541: So does that make you sexist or classist? I can't keep up.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:26 PM
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537: Indeed. It took 500 comments here before people were willing to back off *external* critique. Imagine what it's like inside the movement.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:32 PM
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Imagine what it's like inside the movement.

You'd totally need threaded comments.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:41 PM
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Even here in uber Mormon Utah, cost of living realities mean a hell of a lot of working moms.

What's the child-care situation like in Utah?



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 6:43 PM
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539: Certain commenters did not raise these points in a plain-spoken, stating-the-obvious sort of way.

Nor did certain others, perhaps, trouble to read as carefully as they might. More effort from both and we'd be healing the world and making it a better place, just like St. Michael told us.

Any-hoo, I cordially suggest less meta and more Fabulon.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:00 PM
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Now (post feminism) if a woman is a housewife it is because (at least in some eyes) she is too lazy or stupid to do better. Is it so hard to see why some current housewives might prefer the old ways?

I think your hypothetical housewife attributes a view to feminists that is pretty unusual among feminists, but even so, I agree that some women - given their values - are disadvantaged by feminism.

But there are all kinds of people who were advantaged by various "old ways" that we've managed to outgrow as a society. Your hypothetical housewife provides political and social cover for anti-feminists, and that's bad. I'm sorry that social change makes people uncomfortable or disadvantages them, but nowhere near sorry enough to give up social change.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:00 PM
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What's the child-care situation like in Utah?

Pretty similar to everywhere else I imagine. Lot of big families here, so maybe a higher proportion of people getting help on the child care front from immediate family. Otherwise it's day care, try and find a job with a night shift, etc.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:12 PM
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I'm really confused. What does any of this have to do with 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:20 PM
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528: A despicable attempt to treat both sides seriously and arrive at comity, it looks like.

A wishy-washy attempt to have it both ways and arrive at pseudo-truth by splitting the difference. Look:

Mainstream feminism asked women to perform like men.

Well actually no, this didn't happen. Mainstream feminism asked for all kinds of things, including the opportunity for women to perform like men. Mainstream feminists got that, more or less. But mainstream feminism also sought, say, child care. For reasons described at length, mainstream feminism wasn't able to cut a deal on that issue.

Most people, when assessing their choices, choose the choices they have, not what they should have.

Which, of course, is exactly what the feminist movement did. And the result? The movement is criticized here for choosing the choices it had.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:26 PM
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Okay, not feminism, "feminists who think Linda Hirshman has a point & isn't doing far more harm than good."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 7:54 PM
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Hundreds of comments later...just a couple of (scattered and probably disjointed) observations.

First, I don't blame mainstream feminism for ongoing inequities and barriers and inequalities. But I do think that as a full-fledged and no longer fledgling movement or programme or whatever (I'm not convinced that it's even a movement anymore, but anyway), mainstream feminism should be held responsible, or held to account, for its strategies and priorities. If you claim to speak for and represent a certain group or constituency, the goals and aspirations and opinions of said group or constituency should actually matter, and should matter a great deal, really. Otherwise, for whom do you really speak?

It's not always, and not necessarily, antifeminist to criticize feminism. I identify with a number of "isms," and I like to think that my support for same said does not entail an uncritical endorsement of every last facet of those "isms."

And YES inclusivity is a problem for mainstream feminism.

None of this is really news.

True enough. It's not news. But it's an ongoing problem, and I'm not aware of any serious recent attempts to address it.

For example, I don't think mainstream American feminism has ever made a serious attempt to fight for paid maternity leave (which women in Canada and Europe now take for granted, thanks to hard-fought battles by feminists in those countries, who really did have to fight for it). Granted, there are some peculiarities in the American case (more emphasis on individualism, much less of a collectivist tradition, fear of socialism and etc) which probably make the achievement of this goal more difficult. What gets me is that it is not even a goal of American feminism to work toward the achievement of this goal. It's not even a goal, is what I suspect. Most American women I talk to don't even know that just north of the border, a mother (or a father, but generally it's the mother who takes the leave) is entitled to 12 months paid maternity leave. It's not even on their radar screens. Why hasn't American feminism at least gone so far as to put it on women's radar screens?

I think it's a real problem that the majority of American women (for and about whom American feminism claims to speak) refuse to identify as feminist. I used to adhere to the position that many of those women "really" were feminist if you scratched beneath the surface. I'm increasingly sceptical of this line. I'm not aware (but I could be ignorant, so feel free to otherwise inform me) of any other movement (from British Chartism to the American civil rights movement) where the majority of the intended beneficiaries actually and explicitly disavowed membership in or at least identification with the movement that claimed to represent them. I realize that some of this has to do with the stubbornly sturdy and long-lived shelf life of all kinds of gender-difference nonsense, but after 30-some years of the second wave (followed by... well, which wave are now riding?) I have to suspect there's something else going on...


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:24 PM
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550

""Most people, when assessing their choices, choose the choices they have, not what they should have."

Which, of course, is exactly what the feminist movement did. And the result? The movement is criticized here for choosing the choices it had."

And it is purely a coincidence that these choices disproportionately benefited talented upper class women and that feminism's leaders were mostly talented uppper class women?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:33 PM
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12 months paid? Jesus, I didn't know that.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:38 PM
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12 months paid?

Paid, but IIRC it's not full wages. 50 or 60 percent .


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:48 PM
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For example, I don't think mainstream American feminism has ever made a serious attempt to fight for paid maternity leave

I'm a little unclear on what you want here. Mcmanus is always crystal clear on this stuff - he wants us to pick up guns and use them. Is that what you're advocating here? What kind of activity would you characterize as a "fight for paid maternity leave" beyond mere advocacy.

And to what do you attribute the increase in paid maternity leave in this country? Do you honestly believe that paid maternity leave has become more common because of the efforts of stay-at-home moms? The anti-feminist argument here doesn't strike me as incorrect or misguided. It strikes me as delusional.

I think it's a real problem that the majority of American women (for and about whom American feminism claims to speak) refuse to identify as feminist.

Well yes, but the answer is for those women to identify as feminists, not for feminists to abandon feminist principles - or for feminists to blame themselves for their inability to remake society.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:55 PM
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Family leave throughout the world.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:57 PM
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Exactly, PF. IA wants you to kill people. You're very cogent.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:58 PM
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I'm a little unclear on what you want here. Mcmanus is always crystal clear on this stuff - he wants us to pick up guns and use them. Is that what you're advocating here? What kind of activity would you characterize as a "fight for paid maternity leave" beyond mere advocacy.

I think what she's looking for is advocacy, as opposed to the absence of advocacy.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:59 PM
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Which has me back where I started: either it's a pretty low priority for the U.S. feminist movement, or they really, really suck at advocacy.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 8:59 PM
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554: 12 months at 60 percent regular pay, and they are legally required to hold your job for you.

I just got back from Toronto last weekend, where two of my sisters have new babies and are enjoying their paid leave...They're not all stressed out and frazzled and hassled with a double shift, they are taking a "timeout" from the workplace while focusing on the work of the care and feeding of the new babies. They're not Stepford wives or Utah Mormons, and they're not slackers either. They will return to the workforce in due course. The money they receive while on matleave is a material and concrete (as opposed to just a vapid and empty Hallmark-greeting-card-sentimental) acknowledgment of the value of childcare, and of course it also helps pay the bills. This is a serious quality of life issue ... and the further down we go in the socioeconomic scale, the more this stuff really and truly does matter. The quality of life for women, children, families is just demonstrably better when money is put to mouth, and why aren't American feminists fighting for this, which affects some 80 percent of American women?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:00 PM
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557: So, it's the US, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. I'll try to remember that.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:02 PM
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I don't mean "they"--I DO self-identify as a feminist, I've tremendously benefited from the feminist movement, etc.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:04 PM
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Actually, except in your fevered brain, there was no one here demanding that feminists abandon feminist principles.

Your hypothetical housewife provides political and social cover for anti-feminists, and that's bad.

The fucking loser bitch.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:04 PM
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564 is incoherent.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:05 PM
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What kind of activity would you characterize as a "fight for paid maternity leave" beyond mere advocacy.

I rather think the point is that the advocacy isn't happening.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:05 PM
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The FMLA does exist and covers most people, right?


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:06 PM
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I think what she's looking for is advocacy,

Had she been looking for advocacy, she would have found it. It's not hard to find.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:07 PM
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The only respectable attacks on Democrats and feminists are from people with a Democratic or feminist perspective.

Roughly true, but neither IA or I is anti-feminist. We were making a certain point.

564 -->556, 547.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:08 PM
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Yes, if you work for a large organization, the FMLA entitles you to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without losing your job.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:08 PM
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The FMLA does exist and covers most people, right?

12 weeks unpaid, according to what Katherine linked. (And with restrictions.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:08 PM
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John, I'm not sure why you're taking politicalfootball seriously.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:09 PM
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Maternity leave is on the laundry list, but it's not a priority.

Most of the mainstream feminist movements (NOW, NARAL) committed themselves to the middle of the road long ago, but a lot of things can't be accomplished from the middle of the road.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:10 PM
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Had she been looking for advocacy, she would have found it. It's not hard to find.

Oh, OK. Since we've tried advocacy and failed, then I guess the answer is revolutionary violence, as you mentioned earlier.

Or possibly, what's relevant is priorities. This issue does not seem to be a priority of the organizations who are theoretically or actually advocating for it.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:10 PM
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As far as I can tell the advocacy is happening but it's not a very high priority compared to say, abortion rights...Good for Hillary on her plan, btw.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:11 PM
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Whups on the FMLA. Should have actually read it, I guess.

576 makes sense no matter what order the names are in.

And now - I leave the office!


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:14 PM
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Yeah, the FMLA is highly feeble, though better than nothing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:18 PM
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Last I knew, in Germany, paid maternity leave created an exploited subclass: the temps who replace people out on maternity leave. When the leave-taker comes back, the temp is gone, and that's that. I don't personally have a problem with subsidizing maternity leave, although I'd be happy to means test it, and the subsidy isn't going to be full pay, sky's the limit. Obviously, though, if it's just going to be comforting the comfortable, I'm not sure the state needs to get involved.

As for being taken seriously at a career, I'm sorry to hear that people face this at their places of employ. I have spent a lot of time assessing the associates at my firm, and I can't say that this issue has come up at all. It's not the leave, or the part-time. It's the work ethic and attitude, and ime (5 years of assessment of the entire complement) unseriousness is not gender related. Really. A lot of our women associates take half year leaves, come back at 70% and if they really bring it, they are accepted.

Of course we lose senior women just like everyone else. The bigger factor in that, though, is after the second child. The cost of care is high enough, the amount of energy that being a working parent takes -- even if one works 70% -- is close enough to capacity for a tolerable life, and people put pencil to paper and figure out that they can actually live on the husband's salary (although some high earning women marry lower earning men, that's more the exception than the rule).

We'd go 50% for someone whose quality of work justifies it. And we take people back after quite a bit of time out, if we have need and reason to believe in their skills.

That's in the firm as a whole. When I'm filling a specific position -- I have an opening right now for a mid-level (who will have to work for me, among others), for example -- I'm pretty focused on getting someone who's going to be able to actually fill the need. It's a full time position, by which I mean someone who can find out Friday at 5 that we're going to be filing a TRO on Tuesday, and be willing and able to get the job done. And then spend 2 weeks out of town on trial in 3 months. It's hard to fit this in for someone who just wants a job, and one that's not going to be a pretty high priority.

Believe it or not, prospective employees, it's not really about you. I have an opening because I have a need. We're a service company, and there's a demand from the customers that the service be performed. Now obviously, we have this company because we want to make money. What kind of life you want, dear prospect, comes in third after that, and if that's a problem, well, I get 25 well qualified applicants for every opening (3-400 altogether), and fortunately for me, I can choose the person best able to fill the customer's and my needs.

I'm not sure how society changes to makes this work, in a small outfit. As noted above, in a bigger practice unit, it's easier to have part-time people, and or absent people.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:19 PM
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560: And which brings me back to where I started. The reason other countries have these advantages is not because their feminists are more effective, it's because their social democrats are more effective. Your insistence, and that of Emerson and IA, on blaming feminists for the failures of the social democrats is a big part of the problem.

Unlike Emerson vs. the feminists, however, I don't blame the impotence of U.S. social democrats on bad faith or lack of commitment. The failure of the Emerson-style social democrats, like the failure of the feminists, is the result of fighting the good fight and losing. No shame in that.

I hope the U.S. social democrats keep fighting the good fight, and I hope they stop sabotaging their feminist allies.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:22 PM
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Mcmanus is always crystal clear on this stuff - he wants us to pick up guns and use them. Is that what you're advocating here? What kind of activity would you characterize as a "fight for paid maternity leave" beyond mere advocacy.

Oh, fer fuck's sake, PF. The battle for paid maternity leave in Canada was not an armed struggle, and was in fact marked by a complete absence of physical violence. I have it on very good authority that most of the Canuckistani feminists didn't even own guns (or, if they did, they had failed to register them).

I guess "mere advocacy" would be a start, as Cryptic Ned points out above. You seem to think I haven't looked hard enough for said advocacy. Please do point me in the right direction.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:23 PM
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552:

I think it's a real problem that the majority of American women (for and about whom American feminism claims to speak) refuse to identify as feminist.

It is indeed. We'd need some data in order to begin to talk about why they refuse to identify as feminist.

We'd want to account for a couple of things arguably unique to American culture at this time, like the fact that feminism here has been strongly associated with abortion rights, and given the astonishing percentage of the populace that self-identifies as fundamentalist Christian, that's a problem for the Christian women.

Another, but related, consideration would be the reframing of feminism on the part of the conservative movement in the last several decades as the province of the dirty fucking hippies.

That's not to suggest that these things explain away American women's disavowal of whatever they consider feminism to be. If nothing else, the mainstream feminist movement (for lack of a better term) has lost the public relations battle in last dozens of years.

None of this dismisses serious questions about the emphases the mainstream movement has chosen and the extent to which those have marginalized (some) women.

Sad to say, but an attempt to push for 12 months' paid maternity leave in this country would be laughed out of the room, in much the same way as is anything that smacks of socialized medicine.

What gets me is that it is not even a goal of American feminism to work toward the achievement of this goal. It's not even a goal, is what I suspect.

We'd need to check the internal discussions among feminist organizations to know whether it's an eventual goal.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:25 PM
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We're not sabotaging feminists. We just tried to say one little thing on one blog.

It's be happy to poke a stick in your own personal bicycle spokes, though, PF. Sometimes sabotage is fun.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:25 PM
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be happy to poke a stick in your own personal bicycle spokes

IYKWIMAITYD.

(Just wanted to make that explicit.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:28 PM
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579

"... like the failure of the feminists, ..."

Feminists have only failed if you take seriously the claim that they represent all women. If you see them as representing the interests of elite women they are doing fine.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:30 PM
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The wiki entry says that Canada has paid maternity leave for 50 weeks. It's 55% pay, up to $400 per week.

This is not really meaningful in a workplace where professional women are making $3,000 or more per week. Obviously, though, in society at large, it's an important step, and I'd be plenty happy to see us adopt something like this.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:35 PM
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Sometimes sabotage is fun.

But there's no fun in a substantive response, eh? You figure ogged is right that I'm not raising serious points that deserve substantive answers?



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:45 PM
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Basically -- by now, no.

I took you seriously up to a point, but your shit about social democrats sabotaging feminists was toxically imbecile and nasty.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:50 PM
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The Wikipedia entry has a table, which is stunning. The duration of the leave varies a lot, but fully paid leave is very common.

Apparently this is one way Iraq is better than the US....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 9:53 PM
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580: You seem to think I haven't looked hard enough for said advocacy. Please do point me in the right direction.

Specifically on the subject of maternity, specifically in the last week, with 15 minutes of searching, we have NOW and Hillary Clinton:

http://www.now.org/press/10-07/10-16.html

Do I need to do another 15 minutes of googling or does this make my point?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:03 PM
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Political football's point in 579 makes sense to me. Although I don't know what "social democrats" means.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:05 PM
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But whoever the "social democrats" might happen to be, they should stop sabotaging feminism?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:06 PM
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It occurs to me -- not trying to poke anyone here -- that a success in legally mandating paid maternity leave in this country would not benefit the waitress at a truck stop in Texas, or a self-employed hairdesser, or quite a few other women who might still see such an advance as chiefly benefiting the already-privileged.

One of the problems with labor in this country is the increased shuffling of personnel to temporary positions without benefits. Paid maternity leave? Dude, you have a position with *benefits* in the first place?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:07 PM
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social democrats sabotaging feminists was toxically imbecile and nasty

Fair enough. Perhaps I wasn't clear. Feminists and social democrats are obvious allies - so close in fact, that a big problem on this thread is the inability of people to understand that feminist success in other countries really isn't the result of feminist movements, but the result of social democratic movements.

Your particular brand of social democracy, with your particular critique of feminism, is what I am against.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:13 PM
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This is not really meaningful in a workplace where professional women are making $3,000 or more per week.

The nice bit, though, is that it's not just limited to professional women, and that there's at least some money for bill paying and some time off. I believe that the year can be split between the parents, too. So if dad wants to stay home the first couple of months to help with the transition, or both parents want to take half a year, or dad wants to stay home, the couple can do that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:13 PM
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579 does not make sense. Having established that it's not cricket to blame everything on teh feminists (which I don't see that anyone disagrees with), it's not particularly interesting to then turn around and blame everything on the "social democrats."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:16 PM
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592: But there are still plenty of women who work for large employers in factories and the like who would benefit from such a policy.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:17 PM
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Posted before I saw 593, which doesn't make any more sense.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:17 PM
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594 -- Sure. I think it would be a good idea here.

We have 12 weeks fully paid and 12 unpaid at my place of employ, and men can take it. (Not that many take more than a couple of weeks). I suppose this is pretty common for professionals these days, and so I wonder how much of a role this plays in reluctance of a certain segment of people to go to the barricades. (Or, more realistically, insist to the organizations/candidates to which they donate that this issue be placed at the top of the agenda).

I drew a lot of flack defending HRC93 the other day, but imo the single most potent force against health care reform then was the fear among people who had coverage that it'd get worse. HRC and everyone paying attention went around saying that the status quo wasn't going to be maintained, and the preference for keeping what one had back then was a delusion. We were right, but no one cares. Because Hillary is arrogant, Al Gore sighs, and Obama went to a madrassa . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:21 PM
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Posted before I saw 593, which doesn't make any more sense.

I'm obviously struggling to communicate, but I thought I got it right in 593. I realize that it's often hard to articulate why something nonsensical is nonsensical, but can you give me any help here? Or is 593 such gibberish that it's resistant to cogent critique?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:22 PM
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Wewll, wait a minute. In Germany certainly, and other European countries, a big part of the success in getting maternity leave belongs to darker forces. It's part of the incentive to have children, and stem declining birthrates.

Because otherwise, they'd have to admit brown people not only to work, but to citizenship (so they can support older, paler retirees).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:25 PM
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See here.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:27 PM
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We'd need some data in order to begin to talk about why they refuse to identify as feminist.

I was thinking about this earlier as I was out (uh, buying eyeliner), and I don't think we should discount the very large religious/rightwing smear campaign that equates identifying oneself as 'feminist' with hating men, never wanting children, and trying to destroy the family.

And while I don't think feminists or feminism have generally been against stay-at-home moms (for fun, I'll even concede that she-who-must-not-be-named thought 'low caste' was nice, punchy language), there's a sense in which they are, just by denying that the ideal for a woman is to stay at home.

I think it's important to think of staying at home as an aspiration or an ideal. Even back on the 1950s veldt, women worked outside the home. Many had to just to make ends meet. But it was a good thing, so the story goes, if the man could provide and she could quit. It meant she had married well, and that he was a good provider, and that they'd achieved a little piece of the American dream. It seemed to be important to women my grandmother's age that if they worked, it was just for their own spending money. They weren't contributing, no, no.

Now feminism comes along. Women can do anything. In fact, we should aspire to other things. And here's the kicker: women can do those things and reproduce, too. And their kids don't die. So now, not only has feminism augmented or replaced the ideal, it hasn't even had the decency to be an either/or situation.

I don't think you have to feminists actively hating stay-at-home moms to generate resentment and maybe even a little bit of jealousy.

So now what's the point of being a stay-at-home mom? How do you get your respect back? It's a profession, too, maybe even a sacred vocation. Or now, maybe it was before the feminists ruined it, you think. We'd all sit there and nuzzle our sweet-smelling babies. Until they pooped.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:28 PM
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593

"... Feminists and social democrats are obvious allies ..."

Why are feminists and social democrats obvious allies? If you see feminists as the elite women lobby (as I do) they aren't obvious allies at all.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:30 PM
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592: I don't the details of how Canada works it, but shivbunny's cousin managed to get leave even though his job is managing a liquor store and his wife works for her father making sure his inventory doesn't vanish. Neither are high-falutin' professions, at least.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:31 PM
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596: Definitely. The thought was more that somewhere upthread it was suggested that mainstream feminism had failed a significant number of women by opening up opportunities that still weren't available to these women.

The same criticism could be made of a successful paid maternity leave policy.

In other words, striving for paid maternity leave doesn't address the problem indicated, that mainstream feminism, even as amended, doesn't do much to help economically disadvantaged women.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:32 PM
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590: Ned, when I'm talking about social democrats, I'm talking more-or-less about the thing that wikipedia describes here.

(Though, technically speaking, I'm not entirely satisfied with this wikipedia entry.)



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:34 PM
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OK, I'm off to engage in manly activities (ie washing the dishes). Auf Wiederlesen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:42 PM
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Given existing per capita compensation and per capita productivity, increased female participation in the labor market, feminist-enabled or otherwise, seems to have been a good deal for single women, the capital-rich, and bored housepersons. Aside from those folks, we all got screwed, though we benefit from the trickledown.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:43 PM
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If you see feminists as the elite women lobby (as I do) they aren't obvious allies at all.

Next Shearer can regale us with, "As I see it, Democrats are the real racists, so why do black people vote for them?"


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:44 PM
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I'm not necessarily supporting full-on Scandanavia policies, but the current system is ridiculous. And the fact that it serves the interest of an individual employer who bills hourly to expect their employees to work the max. # of possible hours without harming profits (through increased turnover or decreased productivity per hour that becomes visible to clients) & not really care that much if it has a disproportionate effect on women's chances to make partner or it makes their employees unhappy is not exactly surprising to me or responsive to arguments for gov't intervention. ). The fact that it's in an individual firms interests for the associate's spouses to be the one responsible for child care doesn't mean it's in society's interests for a professional couple with young kids to work 70 & 0 hours/week instead of 40 & 30 (or 60 & 0 vs. 40 & 20, or 60 & 0 v. 30 & 30, etc.) Though, they should probably start with a health care plan, mandating paid sick days for everyone, & maybe 3 mos of paid parental leave rather than skipping straight to Sweden-style family policies.

Also, litigation is particularly ill-suited to having a family, because of: (1) hourly billing (2) court deadlines.

pf, you seem to argue that pushing for those policies is "social democrats'" obligation & failure is their failure, & the whole thing isn't really feminists' problem. Which is exactly what I'm complaining about.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:46 PM
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599: What's not making sense is the a priori partitioning of the question into "social democrat movements" as distinct from "feminist movements." Even if we buy this, though, if feminist movements in other countries were more successful in integrating their aims with broader social justice movements, or vice versa, it's unclear why one or the other party should get all the credit/blame for this. Similarly, if social democrats more broadly have failed to work as effectively with feminists in the US (and vice versa) it's unclear why one or the other party should be singled out as being solely responsible.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:46 PM
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It's part of the incentive to have children, and stem declining birthrates.

Not necessarily part of the darker forces, what with everyone wanting to retire at 65 but live to be 90. There's no getting around the necessity of intergenerational wealth transfer. The adults look after the little ones, and today's young will someday, in turn, look after those adults in their inevitable dotage and decline. You want to have large numbers of the populace living in reasonable comfort into their old age? Well, I do! But if so, you'd damn well better come up with some younger people to work to fund those lengthy retirements.

The production/reproduction of people is not just a "lifestyle option," much less a self-indulgent luxury. It's the mostly unacknowledged basis of the entire economy/polity/society. Adam Smith saw this, so why can't we?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 10:47 PM
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609

"Next Shearer can regale us with, "As I see it, Democrats are the real racists, so why do black people vote for them?""

Well black leaders are sometimes accused of selling out the black masses in favor of policies that largely benefit elite blacks. However I think the charge has less merit in this case.

As for why blacks vote Democratic this is no mystery any more than it is a mystery why racists vote Republican.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:02 PM
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612: Whatever happened to savings? Let other people play with your money when you are labor-rich, and they will return more when you are labor-poor. In a social dem dociety where the state is expected to pay maintenance, the same operation may be performed in aggregate.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:06 PM
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This is a good article, although for some reason it keeps using "upper-middle-class" to mean "upper-class".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:11 PM
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"Clinton shows femininity"? Oh my God.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:14 PM
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What's not making sense is the a priori partitioning of the question into "social democrat movements" as distinct from "feminist movements."

I think these are clearly two different movements with different sets of priorities. Emerson and I understand this in roughly the same fashion. Note Emerson's 315, and to quote his 320:

Feminists are not leftists.

Or note his 363:

One solution: feminists should work through general political movements which are feminist more than in strictly feminist movements.

Really, it seems like a very ordinary observation that feminism and other liberal movements have important differences in emphasis and strategy. (I do not agree with Emerson that feminists aren't leftists, but I do grant that feminists occupy a different leftist space.)

Is that so hard to understand?

So then we get to the question of how other countries arrived at relatively generous social welfare policies for women. I credit this to social democratic movements rather than feminist movements. As evidence, I would point to the relatively generous social welfare policies for men in those countries.

This may be wrong - you may attribute the success of social democratic policies to feminists in foreign countries - but it doesn't seem incoherent.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:26 PM
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On the "most women don't identify as feminists, which just goes to show you" thing--dude, most women have *never* identified as feminists. At least these days women say "I'm not a feminist *but*," as opposed to "god no, I'm not a feminist."

B, LB, you, personally are among the feminists being accused here. Your position is that sahmotherhood is problematic because it perpetuates patriarchal norms and systems.

No; my position is that making the "work or stay home" question all about women (see LB's 481) sidesteps the real problem, which is that men don't have to make this choice. SAHMotherhood is problematic because it *impoverishes women*. That's not a theoretical abstraction like "perpetuating patriarchal norms." It's a material fact, and it fucking sucks. If we want women--and maybe men? do you think?--to really be making a genuine "choice," we need to figure out how to make staying home with kids commensurate with financial security, including a comfortable retirement.

Insofar as someone has a choice about working or staying at home, you're condemning the choice to stay home.

No. The "choice" to stay home is a compromise that women make with reality, just like wearing heels or makeup, toning down our aggression, not walking around alone late at night, etc. I don't condemn women for doing those things; I condemn the situation that forces these false "choices."

You want to then say that your condemnation is happening in the context of patriarchal systems that make the choice problematic and that you personally don't want to devalue "women's work" as such.

I think childcare is astonishingly important. Isn't that completely clear?

What follows is basically a strategic/empirical disagreement about whether it's better to support women in traditionally feminine roles, or better to encourage those women to do things they would personally rather not do, in order to further broader feminist goals.

No, that's a false dichotomy that again sidesteps what I'm saying. The disagreement is about whether we should argue over supporting/encouraging individual women to do X or Y, or whether we should talk about--and address--the larger issues that push women, but not men, into having only X and Y to choose from.

I don't think mainstream American feminism has ever made a serious attempt to fight for paid maternity leave

Well, you're mistaken. See what Ms. magazine, NOW, (also here), 9 to 5 have to say on this. Moms Rising is a grassroots (feminist!) organization that's lobbying heavily on this issue. Shit, NOW put paid maternity leave in their women's bill of rights in fucking 1968.

No, we don't have a system as good as the one in Canada or Europe. The fact that we have *any* maternity leave at all is due to feminists pushing for it for almost 40 years. You think we got FMLA because men just decided to hand it to us?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:27 PM
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Moreover, women who stay home, ime, do a hell of a lot of work. It's just mostly unpaid.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:35 PM
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pf, you seem to argue that pushing for those policies is "social democrats'" obligation & failure is their failure, & the whole thing isn't really feminists' problem. Which is exactly what I'm complaining about.

DS (I think) is offering a similar critique, but since I don't hold the beliefs you attribute to me, I must be failing to communicate.

Let's try this with bullets:

-I think feminism, properly understood, has a great deal of overlap with social democracy.
-Feminists ought to feel compelled to support social democracy, especially as it regards issues that have a special impact on women, such as maternity.
-Happily, feminists actually do support social democracy in this fashion.
-Social democracy has succeeded and failed, as has feminism. The failures, however, are not for lack of effort but because there are other powerful forces that have contrary objectives.

Is that clearer? I'm not sure I can do better.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:37 PM
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And I don't mean housework; I mean stuff like working in the schools, organizing kids sports teams, forming informal babysitting coops or agreements, support tasks for their partners' careers, political or social services organizing, and so forth. The kind of stuff that pays real money to people who happen to be able to do it 9-5 in an office, instead of on and off throughout the week.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:38 PM
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I'm not worried about people who are doing wonderfully, amazingly well because they wish they could do even more wonderfully. No. You, B, nobody.

Wait, you think that I'm a feminist because I wish *I* could do even better? No; feminism isn't about being whiny and dissatisfied. It's about social justice. I happen to be a lot more attuned to feminism because I'm a woman and I can see how *even though I'm relatively well off* I'm still disadvantaged in some ways relative to my male peers; doubtless if I were (say) a disabled man, or an American Indian, I'd be more attuned to disability or native issues.

By now this is about careers. Two career families who cannot handle childraising either should become one-career families or not have kids. Being able to pay for shit is what careers are all about. It's actually OK for a human being not to have a career.

Indeed it is. But it is not okay if human beings who want, and pursue, careers are systematically put in positions where they have to put their careers on hold or sideline them or just give them up completely in order to reproduce (a fairly basic human function). It is especially not okay if this "choice" is one that just happens to fall primarily, almost exclusively, on one class of human beings, i.e., women.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:53 PM
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621 recaps what I was trying to say in 608: what non-working(wage-earning) people do is not without value. In fact, quite a lot of people leech off of the shifts the unwaged put in for their children.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-19-07 11:58 PM
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it is not okay if human beings who want, and pursue, careers are systematically put in positions where they have to put their careers on hold or sideline them or just give them up completely in order to reproduce

I agree. But mandatory maternity leave doesn't do anything but nominally balance the issue between the sexes. Both mother and father are commercially incapacitated by the birth, and the market will reflect that, one way or another. Is this an appropriate outcome? Should one or the other of the parents quit thei jobs to raise the kid? Why?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 12:11 AM
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610 -- I don't think you and I are in much disagreement on this. It's no skin off my nose if the government mandates that employers provide the benefits we're already providing, whether it be paid maternity leave or health insurance. Obviously, though, plenty of employers are going to feel differently about it, and it's going to be a long tough haul to get there.

It would be easier if we had a scary population drain staring us in the face, like the Europeans. Our demographic problem isn't so severe. Our racism isn't any less, though, and just as I think that racism plays a major role in our lack of other social benefits, I think it probably plays a major role here as well.

The FMLA may not be much, but it was a lot worse before it was passed. It's a pretty reasonable first step, not a desired endpoint, and ought to be viewed as a victory by the coalition including feminism and social democracy.

The bigger question that Katherine and LB raise, though, is about whether we should restrict the working hours of fathers -- that is, whether the government ought to intervene to force fathers to bear a greater share of the patenting load. I'm not sure I see exactly what's on offer here. Obviously, you wouldn't want to just cap hours or pay. One could surtax earnings beyond 40 hours, I suppose. (Or maybe 50). Or maybe rather than government intervention on this side, we just look to the continuing evolution of social standards: I'm certainly much more involved in the day to day aspects of my kids' lives than my father was in ours, and he was likely more involved than his father (and then uncle -- my hather was orphaned young).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:39 AM
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605: In other words, striving for paid maternity leave doesn't address the problem indicated, that mainstream feminism, even as amended, doesn't do much to help economically disadvantaged women.

Feminism does lots and lots of good things for most women. But most people, male and female, don't have careers, they just have jobs (and/or raise children), so to them the workplace vs. home choice is different than feminism says it is. But it's not just "economically disadvantaged women"; it's most women.

617: Up until Bush went crazy, a fair proportion of feminists were Republicans, nonpartisan, or bipartisan. There are no leftist Republicans (and only a few leftist Democrats). So feminism per se is not leftist, though leftists should be feminists. The feminist choice (forced or not) to be non-partisan or centrist put severe limits on what they could have accomplished.

619, 621: I believe that that's what IA and I have been trying to say.

I take back the harsh things I said about very-well-off couples. I was annoyed by something said earlier and shouldn't have said that.

Back to the career question: we're now at a position where serious careers are so all-consuming that an ambitious careerist has little time or energy for anything else whatsoever (family, citizenship, neighborhood involvement, even entertainment). IMO that's a damaging way to live (regardless of gender issues), but in any case can't be and shouldn't be the norm for more than a small slice of the population.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:40 AM
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"Parenting load." Geez, it's not late, and I'm not drunk. Best get the kid on out to hockey practice, and leave the social change to the childless for a while.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:42 AM
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Sorry, saved too soon.

Anyway, steps to make it possible for both members of a couple to have high-powered careers is a pretty low-priority for me. Hiring a support person or persons seems the most reasonable, if the careers are high-powered enough.

Second, though, outside the high-powered career track the job vs. stay-at-home choice looks different. Working in retail, daycare, hospital work, factory work, inventory, data entry, call center, etc. really is not a strong attractor. In that world, being able to stay at home seems like a more attractive option.

And last, as B said, stay at home moms can be active in the community the way career people can't. Speaking of that choice in terms of repression or failure to reach your potential, etc. is the kind of thing IA are trying to say.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:51 AM
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Working in retail, daycare, hospital work, factory work, inventory, data entry, call center, etc. really is not a strong attractor. In that world, being able to stay at home seems like a more attractive option.

Except, as B. has said a couple of times, that it's impoverishing. Being someone with no history, or a short, interrupted, history, of working for pay is a dangerous, risky position to be in. The SAHM deal is "I'll do the unpaid family and community work, you keep me economically safe." And it's a risky, unenforceable deal, although I can certainly see the attraction upfront. I don't mind people putting themselves in unsafe positions if they're going in with their eyes open, but I really don't like the gender role ideology that sweeps the risk under the rug and makes it natural and fitting for one sex to put themselves in that position, while the other sex wouldn't dream of it.

On the broader "why don't we have better maternity leave policies"? We should. This isn't a social democratic country, and it's hard to pass social democratic policies. Feminists should be fighting harder for that sort of thing. Substantively I agree with everyone who's all for legislative change in that direction (although Charley? Where'd you get the idea that I was looking for a legislative cap on men's hours?).

All I was arguing about above is that the American feminist movement is American, and shares our national flaws, which include not being as leftist or ready to go for the social democratic solution as we should be -- those flaws aren't flaws as feminists. If you're going to say "American feminists don't care as much about women of color, poor women, and unpowerful women as they should" I'll agree with you. But when you say, as I understood Emerson above to be implying (and of course Shearer comes right out and says, which is cute), that "Feminists care less about women of color, poor women, and unpowerful women than non-feminists; 'feminist' gains are at the expense of other women." then I'm going to argue. (Note: Emerson -- I really don't think you mean to endorse what I just said; I don't think you believe that. But it did really sound like what you were saying.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:14 AM
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Working in retail, daycare, hospital work, factory work, inventory, data entry, call center, etc. really is not a strong attractor. In that world, being able to stay at home seems like a more attractive option.

The weird bit is that women in that world are often the ones that can't afford daycare and are working to support the family. Kids stay with grandma or a friend or the parents work opposite shifts. And then there's the income range at which staying home makes more sense than working, which is larger than you might think. A friend quit her job, partly out of a deep desire to stay home, but partly because the inexpensive day care where they didn't clean the toilets cost $8000 a year, and the one where you'd be happy to have your child was nearly $20,000 a year. Once you factor in taxes, commuting time, business expenses and the rest, to keep themselves at the standard of living they wanted she'd need to be pulling close to $70,000 a year and she'd still never get to see her daughter.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:57 AM
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'feminist' gains are at the expense of other women."

I understood Emerson to be saying something similar, and--with gigantic caveats--I think there's a colorable argument there. Moreover, this is an argument that was hashed out with regard to an early Hirshman piece, and I seem to recall (perhaps wrongly) that you acknowledged that there was a colorable argument there, but that you just didn't think the argument was true (as opposed to there being good evidence in one direction or another).

Being someone with no history, or a short, interrupted, history, of working for pay is a dangerous, risky position to be in.

Emerson can speak for himself, but I took him to be saying that this is true for a relatively small subset of women. Career history matters most to people who have careers. Job history, with any interruptions, will matter much less to a woman who cleans houses, waitresses, is a shop clerk, etc. If the majority of women find themselves in that situation--whether by choice or by chance--then capital spent on improving the lot of those with careers is capital wasted or at least misspent. It is particularly misspent if it ends up making careerism more important when the majority of women--again, for one reason or another--want not a career but a job that pays the bills and allows them to do whatever it is that they consider more important, including, potentially, child-rearing. (IIRC) Salam and Douthat have, for example, proposed that there should be govt. tax breaks or maybe subsidies directly tied to children so that a parent could better afford to stay home and raise the kids. If you are--for one reason or another--a woman who finds child rearing preferable, I could see that sort of a program being appealing, and more beneficial to satisfying your desires than programs that make careerism less difficult.

I tend to be on your side of this, LB, but I'm pretty sure that is, in my case, a function of class and the social conditioning of my small group. It's not clear to me that someone very differently situated might not think very differently.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:14 AM
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A friend quit her job, partly out of a deep desire to stay home, but partly because the inexpensive day care where they didn't clean the toilets cost $8000 a year, and the one where you'd be happy to have your child was nearly $20,000 a year.

Yeah, that's the sort of thing where I get cranky about the gender roles. There's a real problem there, but the possible solutions are circumscribed by the assumption that day care is something that only working women pay for (Roberta's salary goes straight to day care. Apo's has nothing to do with day care; child care isn't his affair.) and that the normal expectation is that women, rather than men, will cut back or quit to solve childcare problems. And that makes women 'unserious' employees, not worth paying as much.

One important facet of fixing this stuff is all the subsidized child-care, maternity/paternity leave, and the rest of the social democratic solutions. But another facet that I think is equally important is coming around to an understanding that men have children too, and need to be an equal part of the problems of caring for them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:21 AM
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631: I think Emerson is oversimplifying. There's a whole long range of jobs where seniority and work history make a big difference to how you get paid that still aren't 'careers' by his definition. Talking about people in that middle range isn't focusing only on high-powered lawyers and such.

I understood Emerson to be saying something similar, and--with gigantic caveats--I think there's a colorable argument there.

See, I can't argue with this unless you or someone else actually makes said colorable argument. I'd like to argue, but I'm not seeing more than requests that I acknowledge that not everyone agrees with me. Which, sure, lots of people don't.

(IIRC) Salam and Douthat have, for example, proposed that there should be govt. tax breaks or maybe subsidies directly tied to children so that a parent could better afford to stay home and raise the kids. If you are--for one reason or another--a woman who finds child rearing preferable, I could see that sort of a program being appealing, and more beneficial to satisfying your desires than programs that make careerism less difficult.

See, to the extent people envision and support these programs being used only or primarily by women, I disagree with them that that aspect of it is a good thing. I don't want the domestic sphere to be primarily feminine. I know there are people who disagree with me about that -- more people than not, probably. I'd be delighted by a society where programs of that sort were used by parents, rather than primarily or exclusively by mothers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:30 AM
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Part of what I've been saying is that whether or not it was the best choice possible at the time, the choice to be mainstream Americans (non-socialists) limited what it was possible for the movement to attain. But beyond that, one reason that this choice was made is that a lot of feminists really are mainstream American non-socialists for whom the choice is not a difficult one. And one outcome of that is that feminism has worked much better for career women, and seems much less attractive to women with jobs and wives of jobholders.

And again, if feminists are right to accept that this country is not social democratic and work from there, shouldn't they also accept that in America women have most of the childraising responsibility and work from there? I'm not really saying that they need to, but accepting the limits of the possible is involved in both cases.

Women's work (off-market, unpaid work) has never been fully valued, and recently the traditional protections for housewives and mothers have been effectively weakened. (E.G., no fault divorce, the disappearance of alimony, individual freedom as an ideal, and the weakening of conventional social enforcement of male obligation). The old system wasn't ideal or wonderful, but in certain respects it's gotten worse, and traditional stay-home mothers really are battered from sides.

As to whether feminism played some part in the devaluation of motherhood, my personal experience over 35 years says yes. The existential choice to go in the career direction often seemed to require denigrating the other choice.

To me this is all part of the story of the economy's taking over all of life at the expense of non-economic forms of organization such as families, neighborhoods, churches, volunteer organizations, etc., something which I think has had very mixed results.

And I also am dubious about careers, but later for that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:42 AM
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See, to the extent people envision and support these programs being used only or primarily by women, I disagree with them that that aspect of it is a good thing. I don't want the domestic sphere to be primarily feminine. I know there are people who disagree with me about that -- more people than not, probably.

If (and I don't know if it's true) the majority of women were people who disagreed with you about that--that is, minimally, that such women were happy to trade a further rooting of gender roles for the benefit--and the majority of public feminist leaders fell into your camp, then I think that's your colorable argument, isn't it?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:42 AM
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635: No, not at all. Why on earth should feminism mean 'what most women think is a good idea' (or, what you vaguely guess most women might think is a good idea)? That's not a colorable argument for anything, that's the identification of an area of disagreement.

634: You know, I get a lot of what you're talking about on the "story of the economy's taking over all of life at the expense of non-economic forms of organization such as families, neighborhoods, churches, volunteer organizations" front, and really do agree with you. I'm not seeing how feminism or feminists have made life concretely worse for the women you're concerned about, other than interpersonal meanness, which I strongly disapprove of and think that people should not engage in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:49 AM
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We should all live in communes. Everyone would share income collectively and do the work they're good at. Some people will stay with the kids, others will go out and be lawyers and put their money into the collective pot. People will shift roles over the life course. People who like to garden (I don't) will grow fresh vegetables and herbs. Free sex with no jealousy will be optional. I haven't yet decided how often attendance at the communal dining will be required, I think it will be somewhere between two and four times per week.

There will be no government mandate or support, this will occur as a spontaneous spiritual reaction to our overly individualist society. It will be analogous to the early Christians, the kibbutzim, or the 60s, depending on your ideological background.

Emerson will take care of the kids. He will be permitted to tell them stories about the Mongols, but will not be allowed to tell them their parents should not have a relationship.

This will be difficult to make work, but how much more difficult than our current arrangements? And for greater rewards. Anyone who's in, sign up on this thread.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:50 AM
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Liz, I wasn't suggesting that I thought you were looking for a legislative cap on men's hours. You locate a substantial problem, correctly in my view, in society's expectation that if one parent is going to take the hit, it's going to be the woman. This isn't because such leave policies as exist aren't gender neutral. It isn't the result of any government policy. It's not the result of some failure of social democracy, or of feminism, to obtain some kind of benefit from the government, or from employers.

It's a question of social expectation. You want more men to play a bigger role, so the expectation that women will do it decreases. A fine goal. How on earth can you we get there? Nagging men? Getting employers to think that men who take time off are nonetheless just as serious as men who don't take time off? Getting society at large to agree the family is more important than money, above a certain level, and thus also agree that working parents with a combined income greater than $150k are selfish? (And yet somehow not think that only the mom is selfish). This is very difficult stuff, and remaking society at this kind of level is, I think, virtually impossible. As an intentional matter.

We're going where we're going. If you want to use the power of the state to move things along, I'm on board with that, or at least not automatically ruling it out. Title VII is a big damn deal, and I think we're all much better for its existence. Title IX is a fine thing for a small subset of people, and I'd supprt efforts to defend it. But these are small steps compared to what you're talking about.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:51 AM
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We're going where we're going.

Gahhh. Utter conservative fatalism.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:54 AM
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632: In their case, he's training to be a doctor. Her degree is in computer science. Part of what makes this so bizarre is that the gender roles are so strong that a woman with a dual degree in compsci and psychology is not automatically the breadwinner. What's more bizarre is that she makes far more money than he would as a resident, and that it's still not in their financial interest not to have a stay-at-home parent unless she lands a very, very good job or he quits his medical career.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:54 AM
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Marcus, my agreement not to attack you was not unconditional.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:55 AM
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No, not at all. Why on earth should feminism mean 'what most women think is a good idea' (or, what you vaguely guess most women might think is a good idea)? That's not a colorable argument for anything, that's the identification of an area of disagreement.

I don't understand what you mean by "colorable argument," then. Or maybe by "feminism." Either you're denying that what most women (as I said above, who knows?) want should be an important factor in deciding the goals of feminism, or you don't think a disagreement about which of two legitimate goals to pursue (and/or strategies related to such, etc.) yields a colorable argument.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:57 AM
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I think it would be good, Emerson. Multi-generational community is the veldt-approved form of human existence. You would still be allowed to lecture the adults and generally be as curmudgeonly as you like, but when no one was looking you could indulge a hidden sentimental side with the kids.

Besides, in accordance with the egalitarian and open-minded nature of the commune nothing would be required. You'd simply find yourself hanging around the communal creche more and more often, and before long the innocent play of the children would melt your stony heart. It would all be spontaneous. I've seen this happen in various movies, and am eager to see it play out in real life.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:01 AM
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I think that as long as the success ladder is structured the way it is, two-career families will be impossible for any couple which can't afford at least one full-time servants. We're talking 60-80 hour weeks. Reportedly Silicone Valley nerds are so workaholic that they can't even swing childfree coupling.

To me, making that particular career world gender-neutral might be in some way an intrinsically good thing, but I can't prioritize it very highly. It's very family-unfriendly, and has only ever worked if wives were willing to take total responsibility for family life while at the same time consenting to very limited personal relationships with their husbands.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:03 AM
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639 -- I think we're progressing slowly. Too slowly. I'd be interested to hear a practical suggestion that would head towards solving the problem LB identifies, which, as Emerson has made clear, requires that domestic work be valued, not denigrated. (Obviously: unless it's valued, anyone with an option, eg men, will chose the other track).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:04 AM
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638: It's a genuinely huge social change, and I'm not sure how to make it. I've done what I can in my own life (I gripe about work, but any problems I have at work are due to my own personal flaws, rather than because I shoulder a disproportionate share of the domestic load.)

Framing it as nagging men sounds pathetic, annoying, and useless, doesn't it? But there's a certain amount of work women can do in terms of identifying the disproportionate economic and social burdens they bear by assuming default responsibility for childcare, and refusing to assume those burdens as a default. I jumped on Apo above when he talked about how it was hardly worth it for Roberta to work, because her whole salary went to childcare -- it's a perfectly conventional thing to say, but it's worth noting that it's nonsense. He's related to the kids, no?

Getting employers to think that men who take time off are nonetheless just as serious as men who don't take time off?

With enough intra-family pressure, employers wouldn't have much of a choice but to come around. When your smartest male associates are sneaking out of the office at six to make dinner, you're going to stop thinking that makes them unserious, no?

I'm not saying this is an easy thing to win, or that I'm expecting to win in. But it is how I'd like things to come out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:05 AM
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I do like kids, Marcus, but not necessarily adults, for example, you at the moment.

There are many possibilities intermediate between the hippie commune and the world we live in.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:05 AM
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Also, Emerson, after this week I am starting to come round to your view on the Democrats. But I am professionally obliged not to give up.

making that particular career world gender-neutral might be in some way an intrinsically good thing, but I can't prioritize it very highly.

Agreed. That's an elite agenda. But a combination of more progressive taxation and broad, guaranteed family benefits (more vacation, family leave) would tend to lower the rewards to hyper-careerism and encourage a more family-friendly and laid back lifestyle.

But the real solution is mass voluntary withdrawal into communes.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:07 AM
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Marcus, there are utopian cults you can join. Surrender your will to the alpha of the pack. You know you want to.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:08 AM
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642: Do you think a poll of women in 1960 would have revealed overwhelming support for feminist goals? No, most people are conservative and don't want things to change. I think societal changes will bring us to a more just society that will make people overall happier. The fact that everyone affected doesn't already agree with me isn't any sort of argument that I'm wrong. (It does mean that I've got a lot of work to do to convince people so that I can bring those changes about, but it's not an argument that I'm wrong.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:09 AM
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Charley upthread said that when he hires, someone who can get the job done is what he wants, and that he has 10-20 applications for every position. High-powered organizations want total dedication, and they hire and fire until they get it. I can't see individual protests accomplishing anything other than progressive discipline followe by termination.

As far as I know, ambition is all-consuming. At every point, careerists are faced with the choice of whether to keep advancing or stay where they are, and the top people in every field (with a few genius exceptions) seem to be people for whom work is everything. For example, most of the MD-PhDs I've known have accepted that they're generic MD-PhDs and won't rise much higher, and some of the top MDs seem to have accepted that their best years are behind them, and only a few seemed to be still driving ahead with the 80-hour-weeks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:11 AM
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Hey, let's talk about why non-careerist working women are waitresses and retail clerks instead of carpenters and electricians.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:14 AM
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LB, one thing implicit in what's being said is that feminism has stalled. There was big progress starting about 1970, but at some point things stopped happening.

In my experience feminism really exploded about 1972, and was partly reactive against the sexism of the left political movements of the time.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:15 AM
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640: You know, I think that in the specific situation you describe, she's probably making a poor decision from a purely economic point of view (poor from her family's point of view, very poor from her personal point of view).

All-day day care doesn't last many years, and when you come out the other end you're in a very different position if you've been working than if you haven't. It is a lousy situation -- being a resident means her husband probably doesn't have any flex at all. Other than in terms of his salary, she's a single mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:15 AM
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647: emerson, you're annoyingly fussy and hypersensitive, not to mention staid and unimaginative in this case. I'm not mocking communes, although I'm having fun with imagining them. What I'm seriously suggesting that the left's near-complete abandonment of genuine lifestyle experimentation after the early 70s to focus on stuff like legislation and careerism was a mistake. 60s questioning of the way private lives were structured all too quickly collapsed into a weird combination of equal opportunity careerism combined with designer tea and yoga. We're a massively wealthy society, we have enough resources in the private sector to experiment with more genuinely alternatively ways of organizing life. There's nothing crazy about trying to come up with alternatives to the isolated nuclear family. It can range all the way from a committment to live down the street from your relatives rather than moving across the country for a job to the kind of intentional community I was alluding to. The major people experimenting with genuine alternative lifestyles now seem to be on the far religious right.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:16 AM
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653: feminism has stalled

You say this as if it's a fact of nature. I'm a feminist, and I'm still pushing the damn truck. If we're talking about history, certainly, we're not at all where it looked from 1970 as if we should have gotten to by now. What impact does this have on what to do next?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:18 AM
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I took 637 to be satire.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:18 AM
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646 -- Apo's remark is a figure of speech. I noted just the other day that my wife's entire check goes to pay taxes. This doesn't mean that only she is responsible for the operation of our government, but reflects the numbers.

OK, I'm not saying that his remark wasn't informed by our culture. But there are benign explanations as well.

I don't have experience with the lack of seriousness problem you are worried about. My office is pretty much empty at 7 pm, and the associates in my firm have never averaged above 1900. When I was a summer associate, I had to leave every day to pick up my daughter at day care, and no one batted an eye. They didn't have to measure my seriousness by whether I was in the office at some arbitrary time. Especially now, with technology, no one cares if someone is in the office at 6 pm, unless there's something big going on.

When I see lack of seriousness in our complement, it's never about parenting. It's about whether they are trying to meet deadlines to win the case, or instead are spending their time of something as frivolous as commenting on Unfogged. On watching youtube.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:19 AM
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652: True fact. There are a whole bunch of 'non-career' jobs for men that are still very closed to women. That's not going to change without talking about gender roles.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:19 AM
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654: She's been quite miserable at times. It's lonely being married to a doctor.

But I don't think she's making a poor decision. When she returns to work or graduate school in five years, she'll be all of 33 years old. She'll be further behind, income-wise, than she would be had she worked straight through, but probably not financially worse off than, say, me.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:21 AM
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I think societal changes will bring us to a more just society that will make people overall happier. The fact that everyone affected doesn't already agree with me isn't any sort of argument that I'm wrong.

As defined, I think it's impossible to show that you're wrong. But that's equally true for the other side. This might be a terminology issue: I had assumed that "disagreement" was narrower than "colorable argument," but I now gather that you mean the reverse. I don't really know how one would go about sorting such a disagreement. We're describing the case where both sides might "know" that they're right while acknowledging that it's hard to offer overwhelming evidence in for their position. Thinking of it that way, maybe there's nothing to "argue" about as such (and so no colorable argument, etc.) (Note that I don't mean that such means that change isn't possible, or that people might not change their minds.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:23 AM
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OK, I'm not saying that his remark wasn't informed by our culture. But there are benign explanations as well.

He's absolutely a good guy, and perfectly reasonably feminist by my standards. But of course his remark was informed by our culture.

Emerson's crack above about the opposition between career women and moms was too. Again, I'm sure if he'd consciously thought through what he was saying (what, women with careers aren't mothers?) he wouldn't have said it -- it's not something he consciously endorses. But it's the same thought process -- a mother is someone with the primary/sole responsibility for childcare; a woman who isn't taking primary responsibility isn't a mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:23 AM
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"Hey, let's talk about why non-careerist working women are waitresses and retail clerks instead of carpenters and electricians."

shivbunny: There's a physical component to the jobs which is a large part of it. If a woman is in a trade, she's probably an electrician because it doesn't require as much heavy lifting. But mostly it's because the men don't think the women can do it and a woman would have a hard time being taken seriously.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:25 AM
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660: She's been quite miserable at times. It's lonely being married to a doctor.

Way high divorce rate in residency. Which affects the economic calculus.

But all I meant was that on a straight running-the-numbers basis, she probably breaks even at least during the day care years, and then starts showing a big profit once the kids are in school. This is not to say that she has to make her decisions based on the money -- there are all sorts of other values to be considered. But that she should have her thinking clear enough to realize that she is trading off money and security for those other values.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:28 AM
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663: That's not nothing, but I think it gets way overstated. There are a lot of physical jobs that are socially still pretty closed to women where the duties aren't mostly in the strength area where it's easy to find men who are strong enough but hard to find women who are strong enough.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:31 AM
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"why would my employers be any happier with me working in the even more child-infested environment of my house?
I think this is the very reason we don't see more telecommuting. And productivity is at the heart of it."

Simply not true. I am not an expert on feminist views, so I have learned quite a bit. However, I do know a little about telecommuting and it can work extremely well.

Instead of outsourcing its customer service, JetBlue hires mostly Utah stay-at-home mothers (where the company is based, I think). Their activity is monitored by software, so they have the same kind of standard rules (breaks and such) as with a call center. To JetBlue, customer service is much higher than with an overseas call center.

In my own experience, my company encourages workers to work from home one or two days a week if it will help their productivity. Personally, all I ask is that communication be as transparent as in the office. Keep me connected to what you're working on, teleconference on meetings and be somewhat flexible with which days you're working from home.

The critical part is a policy that is available to all. Married, not married. Kids, no kids. We don't ask for an explanation of why a work home plan is needed; instead we ask how your plan will make you more productive. Employee satisfaction by all is phenomenal.

The sad part, of course, is that this may be much less viable for working-class positions.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:33 AM
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Well, as it is now, it's cheaper for an employer to pay one person to work 50-60 hours than two to work 25-30 at half the salary, right? I assume that's because of: (1) the cost of health benefits (2) payroll taxes maxing out, (3) the perception that someone who only works 30 hours/week isn't as efficient per hour worked (I'm not sure I buy this last one, actually). So if you wanted to attack that directly, you would: (1) move away from employer-provided health care, (2) uncap payroll taxes (& maybe actually make them progressively higher), (3) reduce the # of people who are exempt from overtime laws. I'm not sure that any of those things is nuts, or unfair, in the abstract; they're just incredibly politically difficult, #3 especially so. And in the case of overtime laws, I think they'd be quite hard to enforce.

My father-in-law actually hoped to try to get law associates to join a union at one point. I told him I couldn't think of a group of people who'd be less receptive.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:34 AM
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To follow up on my 663: shivbunny's family are almost all entirely some sort of skilled labor or farmer. What's weird is most of his old sexist uncles wouldn't take a woman seriously were she trying to do their job, but that it doesn't seem to color the rest of their views about women and working. Their daughters can go to college, or manage offices or get master's degrees. But fieldwork? Carpentry? That's a man's job.

Which means if I leave my hypothetical future children alone with my father-in-law, they're likely to come away with the opinion that men lift heavy things while women are doctors and accountants and professors.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:35 AM
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High-powered organizations want total dedication, and they hire and fire until they get it.

If you were paying our rates, you'd expect us to be totally dedicated to winning your case. And not to be charging you for time spent on either our Unfogged habits, or our wish to attend each performance of the middle school play.

As noted above, 'total dedication' is within reason -- I'm not looking for people without social skills, or who are miserable. But I'm not going to compromise on dedication to winning Emerson's lawsuit. If you can't come the the office every day thinking about how you're going to do that as you first priority, but are instead going to be thinking about how you're going to change society's gender expectations, or how you're going to get the employment committee to expand benefits, well, I'd just as soon you went somewhere else.

It's not devotion to me that I'm looking for. But to the work. And I can imagine that in academic hiring, someone who's totally devoted to advancing the field through research and publishing is going to look pretty good compared to someone who wants to be a do gooder and have a reasonable life. I guess, then, I'm reversing field on 'seriousness' a little bit here, but speaking in relative, not objective terms. Are you serious about winning Emerson's case? Then why are you talking about what you want to cook for dinner . . .

That said, even the drummer doesn't have fun on a galley.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:36 AM
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Marcus, there are utopian cults you can join. Surrender your will to the alpha of the pack. You know you want to.

I know this was a joke, but it's actually rather telling that the CharleyCarp unconscious (which is responsible for joke-making) has collapsed the alternatives to the current individualist status quo or total loss of individual autonomy as the slave of a cult leader. (Cults are to communities as wife-beating is to the family). I really do think that the lack of people seriously trying to make egalitarian communal alternatives work on the micro level has impoverished our collective imagination.

I also think a problem is that although the left talks a good communal game, the left culturally is seen as dominated by single, rootless, careerist types (this would more or less describe me, I'm not knocking it). The popular right base is more dominated by people who are more likely to be married, to be engaged in communal insitutitions like churches, etc. Communal institutions right down to the family are threatened or at least not supported by hyper-capitalism, but when the left makes this point it is not trusted because culturally liberals are not seen as personally committed to recognizable forms of community.

Of course, everything is massively complicated because traditional forms of community were tangled up with various exclusionary and sexist practices, and also were more recently propagandized into a virulent militarist form of nationalism. The legacy of the 60s was that the left got associated with using the state to uproot those forms of community.

I took 637 to be satire.

It's again telling that one would leap to that conclusion. Of course, I was playing off my knowledge that alternative communal arrangements are only ever mentioned in mainstream society in the context of satire. Despite the fact that many are certainly no more impractical than trying frantically to have a kid at 37 while both parents work 50+ hour weeks at distant jobs. Lots of the problems with 60s communes came from the fact that they were run by kids, not adults. And of course cults are toxic too.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:36 AM
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667: Yeah, I think those are all excellent ideas, and ones that would help gender equality a great deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:36 AM
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665: I wasn't putting it all down to strength differences, as the last sentence I hope made clear. It's mostly just sexism. But it's sexism that's doesn't look as sexist when one of the job requirements is running up a ladder with 100lb of material on your back.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:37 AM
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670: And this is all good stuff too. I'm not sure where it effectively leads us, but it points to a lot of stuff that's really underlying these problems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:38 AM
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672: True fact. Dr. Oops did a summer's work as a laborer for a contractor once, and while she's way out on one end of the bell curve strengthwise, it was a stretch for her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:40 AM
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I'm not sure where it effectively leads us

To the Unfogged commune! In Fargo, ND, where real estate is cheap! Emerson, however, is no longer invited.

Seriously, I'm not quite sure either. Especially in the short run.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:46 AM
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I also think a problem is that although the left talks a good communal game, the left culturally is seen as dominated by single, rootless, careerist types (this would more or less describe me, I'm not knocking it). The popular right base is more dominated by people who are more likely to be married, to be engaged in communal insitutitions like churches, etc. Communal institutions right down to the family are threatened or at least not supported by hyper-capitalism, but when the left makes this point it is not trusted because culturally liberals are not seen as personally committed to recognizable forms of community.

Heh. I was just thinking that Emerson's about two ticks from what I understand to be the "Sam's Club Republican" position.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:48 AM
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Good one, Tim. If the Sam's Club thing wasn't Republican, and therefore tied to crazy foreign policy, gay-bashing, etc. I might sign on. It got to be better than Whole Foods liberalism. (Though I have to admit the food's a lot better at Whole Foods. But farmers markets are better than either).


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:52 AM
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And just to finish the thought on Emerson's case, if, God forbid, we were to lose the case, and if Emerson could point to some thing that we might have done,but didn't do, that would have made the difference, neither he nor the jurors are going to be much interested in hearing about the interesting and important parenting work we were doing instead.

Marcus, some jokes are conscious. I've been around communes some, and around cults some too. People have tried the commune route off and on for a long time, and sometimes it even works. For some of the people, for a period of time. I'd be willing to see more people experiment with it.

There's a herd/pack problem, though, that really has to be overcome. Can you imagine wolves having a commune? Dogs? Cats? Elephants? These animals have social forms. We do too. I've no doubt that a community of like minded adults can form a viable commune, working consciously to overcome the social form. I'm not sure I'd ever expect their children to want to live in one.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:52 AM
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678: What is the "natural" human social form? Hunter-gatherer societies look closer to what we would today call communes than they do to isolated nuclear families.

The U.S. is way out to one extreme of forms of living -- in how many societies do kids move hundreds or thousands of miles away from their parents at 18 and then visit maybe two or three times a year afterwards? That's perhaps not the majority in the U.S., but it's still pretty routine and not remarked upon.

Of course, our social form has taken the shape it has for lots of valid reasons. You do have to work within it and respect those reasons. But I think regarding the way we live as natural and inevitable is off, to say the least.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:00 AM
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Marcus, the communes I've known of have been pretty disastrous. We do have Hutterites in the general area, but their communal style has only limited appeal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:02 AM
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669, 678: You know, I'm going to react here to what you're saying, rather than what I think you probably mean. But this is nonsense. No one's focused one hundred percent on work, and as an employer it's none of your business what else they think about, whether their children or their stamp collection. Judge your employees on the quality and quantity of their work product, not on what you think is distracting them.

I'd like to put pressure on employers generally (maybe not you, your firm sounds fairly humane) to expect less in the way of quantity and hours, but I'm not asking for any concessions in terms of the quality of work you expect.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:02 AM
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Crap. My one blog on this monster thread and it's satan's number. There goes my day.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:03 AM
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"I can imagine that in academic hiring, someone who's totally devoted to advancing the field through research and publishing is going to look pretty good compared to someone who wants to be a do gooder and have a reasonable life."

Academia asks for total devotion precisely during the time when most people have young children, & then STOPS. Lots of people in my husband's dep't just plain don't do research.

This isn't insurmountable, but the status quo works just dandy for some people, so why should they change it?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:06 AM
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If the Sam's Club thing wasn't Republican, and therefore tied to crazy foreign policy, gay-bashing, etc. I might sign on.

Here I'm in what I think of as a parallel position to LB. I'm a rootless cosmopolitan, and much prefer the broad outlines of today's society to what I think would likely be the deal for Sam's Club Republicans. But I can see the appeal. And, to be fair, so can a lot of others, which is why I think so many Dems thought of Huckabee as the most dangerous Republican candidate.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:09 AM
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The Flop House is one form of commune. If the participants had kids and decided to keep living in some form of joint partnership, it would become more complicated. Maybe they'd have to expand into a house next door, but I don't see that it would inevitably be a disaster.

One reason why communes are disasters is that we reserve the term for failed experiments in communal living. Successful forms just fade into the woodwork.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:09 AM
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I'm a rootless cosmopolitan

Me too. I'm just hypocritical.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:13 AM
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(I am probably exagerrating the likelihood I drop out completely, btw. When I have kids plan A is to see if I can work "I am a walking, breathing encyclopedia of all information about the Bush administration's detainee policies & don't need you to provide my health care" into some hourly arrangement; plan B is to learn Spanish & do what I need to do to break into immigration practice.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:42 AM
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687:

One reason why communes are disasters is that we reserve the term for failed experiments in communal living. Successful forms just fade into the woodwork.

True, this.

Marcus, I'm a little unclear on this from your 670:

Of course, everything is massively complicated because traditional forms of community were tangled up with various exclusionary and sexist practices, and also were more recently propagandized into a virulent militarist form of nationalism. The legacy of the 60s was that the left got associated with using the state to uproot those forms of community.

Which are these traditional forms of community? Churches? If so, interesting insofar as I'd never encountered that particular take on the legacy of the 60s. (Interesting, useful way to understand the current revival of strong church-based communities).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:42 AM
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688: That 687 should be 685.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:47 AM
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Jesus. And 689 was me.

Charley will be happy to know that I'm so serious about my work that I comment on Unfogged badly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:50 AM
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620: Clarified. Thanks.

Far as communal living goes, it's somewhat suggestive that most of the successful long-term experiments therein (among non hunter-gatherers) have been monasteries. Though what exactly it suggests I'm not totally sure.

And is having a bunch of roommates really "one form of commune" in any meaningful way?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:13 AM
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176: that sounds like the 'ethic of caring' feminist ethics as constrasted to abstract male-ethics


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:50 AM
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Two massive threads, and finally time to comment.

Just want to say that LB and B have been speaking my mind for me. This goes way back up the thread, but I've been startled by the repeated idea that there is a "branch" of Feminism (or a "strand" or whatever) that denigrates looking after children. This is news to me, and I really do try to keep up with the reading. My mother in the '70's took great comfort in Feminism, both as a SAHM and later as a single mother. She also got a lot of social put-downs in both roles, first by (and I have clear memories of this) male and female academics, and later by bankers, employers, family members...if I had to group all these people together under a label, it wouldn't be Feminsts, it would probably be "assholes", and I think that's where Emerson's sister in law fits in.

That I have been rather an asshole myself in not being aware of what's involved in looking after a kid, (and my imagining that people who do it have a lot of leisure time), I attribute not to my Feminism but to my inexperience, and my anti-feminist error of buying into the idea that traditionally male work = good, traditionally female work =not worth as much.

Kid's crying, gotta go!


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:56 AM
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Ok, back just quickly to say that the part that does suck is the economic vulnerability, which is why we need the social safety net. That we have one at all here (Can)is due in large part to feminists, some of whom were also socialists, sorry to not back this up further right now


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 12:15 PM
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That I have been rather an asshole myself in not being aware of what's involved in looking after a kid, (and my imagining that people who do it have a lot of leisure time), I attribute not to my Feminism but to my inexperience, and my anti-feminist error of buying into the idea that traditionally male work = good, traditionally female work =not worth as much.

My sister in law calls herself a feminist and uses feminist language. I have encountered this kind of thing many times. Nice to know that you've changed your own mind, at least. Not everyone has,

I've only been saying, as has IA, that the anti-feminist error has been made by a significant number of feminists, actively and passively. When I started commenting on this topic I did not think that I was making an anti-feminist statement. I thought that I was making a pretty narrowly targeted criticism of one specific, correctable thing. The vehemence of the reaction leads me to suspect that the problem is worse and more pervasive than I had thought.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 12:25 PM
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When I started commenting on this topic I did not think that I was making an anti-feminist statement. I thought that I was making a pretty narrowly targeted criticism of one specific, correctable thing. The vehemence of the reaction leads me to suspect that the problem is worse and more pervasive than I had thought.

Oh, bite me, John. When you say something along the lines of "there's a strain of feminism that's hostile to childcare givers" or whatever you're talking about, the fact that you get a hostile reaction doesn't mean that "OMG, it's a much bigger problem than I thought." It means that that's being perceived as an unfair criticism of feminism. No one's been defending hostility and disrespect directed at caregivers.

I don't know what you're talking about beyond 'feminists I've met who are assholes' to pick up Penny's very apt terminology. I'm sure there are plenty of them. But when you're talking about the 'resistance' you're getting to fixing one 'specific, correctable thing' what do you want? Feminists not to be assholes? I'm trying not to be an asshole -- I don't always succeed, and if you notice me being an asshole feel free to point it out. I'm also happy to exhort other feminists not to be assholes. What 'specific' actions do you want me and other feminists to take to 'correct' the problem you see that I am 'resisting'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 12:35 PM
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679 -- I wouldn't say that the way we live is natural and inevitable. I do think that the difficulties of communal living that arise from our natural hierarchical behavior shouldn't just be waved away. They can be overcome by a real act of will. And constant effort.

680 -- I didn't say 100%. And if I think someone is distracted it does matter to me whether it's their dying parent, or their stamp collection. It's maybe not as much a humane outfit as a human one. But that runs both ways: you want to be thought of as a human, you're going to have to think of the rest of us as humans too. Someone who wants a job where they punch in, clock their hours, and punch out may be able to find a role to play, but it's not the ideal.

693 -- The SAHP role changes pretty significantly over time, as kids become more independent, and then more occupied. Someone with a toddler might find having a middle schooler impossibly distant, but it's not that far away, in lifetime terms. And the SAHP of a middle schooler is going to have some real time to put into various pursuits.


Speaking of which, my middle schooler is now gone for the evening. Gone Baby Gone, or Michael Clayton?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 12:53 PM
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Well, if we can't say that there is a trend in feminism to think this way, just a bunch of individual feminists who think that way, how can we say that there are any feminists are all, and just a bunch of individual women with their own opinions?

IA's original point was that, given a pretty pervasive prejudice against traditional woman's woman's work including unpaid work at home, she thought that the career-promotion branch of upper middle class feminism slips into that too much. Not in formal organizational statements, except inadvertently, but often enough face to face.

I've suggested that the slow growth of feminism past a certain point had something to do with the perception among certain moms that this was happening. Telling them that it was just "individual feminists who are assholes" is not very effective, especially because you're talking to me and not them.

Two responses to such moms here:

Politicalfootball:

Your hypothetical housewife provides political and social cover for anti-feminists, and that's bad. I'm sorry that social change makes people uncomfortable or disadvantages them, but nowhere near sorry enough to give up social change. [I did not ask him to give up on social change. PF is a sliming idiot].

B:

It isn't the first responsibility of feminism to make sure no one gets their feelings hurt, especially if they're going out of their way to do so.

This fucking sounds like Lenin talking about the kulaks.

OK, what should feminists do? Perhaps they should encourage people like Penny to wise up before they have kids, rather than afterwards.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 12:57 PM
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"how can we say that there are any feminists at all, rather than just a bunch of individual women with their own opinions?"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:00 PM
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687 -- You might start thinking about how you're going to get a gig in the HRC Administration. She's going to need a conscience . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:00 PM
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Some of this seems to reduce to "people with different interests are going to pursue different agendas." If the split Emerson's talking about exists, it may be a backhanded testament to the success of feminism, in that the achievements have allowed women to flourish such that subsets have been able to grow different interests, if only in emphasis. I think this is a pretty standard story told about many rising populations. Indeed, I think I recently saw a reference to a story about this as regards the African-American community.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:06 PM
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Two responses to such moms here:

No, John. Those are two responses to you. Not to stay-at-home-mothers, nor to IA. But to you, in a thread where you've been talking broadly and indefinitely about feminists who behave like shits toward non-career women. The fact that you have pissed people off enough to make them speak intemperately to you does not rip the lid off the seething hostility to caregivers that underlies feminism.

Now, I've got some beliefs that would probably piss off a hypothetical stay at home mother who's comfortable in and accepting of traditional gender roles. I think there's no particular reason to think her kids would be worse off if she switched roles with her husband, in terms of caregiving, and I also think there's no particular reason to think that her children would be worse off if she and her husband both worked reasonable hours and found childcare outside the nuclear family for the remainder. If those beliefs make me an asshole, so be it, I'm not walking away from them unless somone shows me a convincing argument. But short of that, what do you want?

OK, what should feminists do? Perhaps they should encourage people like Penny to wise up before they have kids, rather than afterwards.

Penny doesn't have kids yet. So everything's good?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:06 PM
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Emerson quotes me thus, with his parenthetical comment included:

Your hypothetical housewife provides political and social cover for anti-feminists, and that's bad. I'm sorry that social change makes people uncomfortable or disadvantages them, but nowhere near sorry enough to give up social change. [I did not ask him to give up on social change. PF is a sliming idiot].

I may have been a bit unkind at times, but I did resist the temptation (and it was very tempting) to tie you to Shearer's noxious comments. Are you explicitly adopting the view of Shearer and his hypothetical housewife here?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:08 PM
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Theres a difference between saying (wo)men SHOULD act a certain way, or always act certain ways, and saying they DO act certain ways. so i agree w/210, in that respect. partially because i tend not to favor restricting arguments in case bad people will 'misuse' them. I still am amazed; i thought people here would think masculinity was entirely a social construction and something to be gotten rid of.

My guess is that women get more excited by pregnancy than men do, because of the obvious, so they're more likely to be interested in teh childcare. So the utopia has as a prerequesite man-uterii. Because even a small difference makes things get gender-coded, which then has ripple effects that magnify. And childcare is low-productivity/value/too common/ whatever work, so it will never be well paid.

578 really gets to it. A lot of what employers do is provide opportunity to make workers more productive by teh type of work they give. so any small initial difference is magnified. Including the sorts of biases that males will be more likely to put in hours in the future. I agree with teh solution being socialism, end of employer-health-care, overtime, associate unions, etc.

the british "bring the missus the check and get your beer money" thing i find endlessly amusing.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:21 PM
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Speaking of which, my middle schooler is now gone for the evening. Gone Baby Gone, or Michael Clayton?

They are both very good. I give a slight edge to Gone Baby Gone.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:23 PM
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That I have been rather an asshole myself in not being aware of what's involved in looking after a kid, (and my imagining that people who do it have a lot of leisure time), I attribute not to my Feminism but to my inexperience,

I hear ya, Penny. I had been instructed by smug parents that having kids would shift my political perspective to the right, but in fact it's merely informed my liberalism - especially my pro-feminist liberalism.

But boy howdy, those smug parents sure were right when they told me that without actually having a kid, I could have no idea what it was like.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:24 PM
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693: I should think it unremarkable to state that feminism runs the gamut from the aggressively childfree to the veneration of "womban-hood" and all points between. That "mainstream feminism" often pitches itself toward career women and away from stay-at-home moms is arguable, depending on how you define "mainstream feminism." In terms of feminist activist movements this may not be the case, but there have long been cultural artefacts of feminism beyond activist movements, cf. Ms. Magazine or (perhaps more influentially) Cosmo in its post-Helen Gurley Brown incarnation. For one useful indicator of where the "mainstream" lie, it may be useful to look at whom these kinds of outlets generally target.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:24 PM
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(Basically, I think it seems a bit disingenuous to state that there isn't a substantial amount of discomfort in various forms of Rootless Cosmopolitan culture around the issue of having kids, and that this includes feminists, and that in general we should figure out a better response. I don't understand how Emerson and LB are still managing to have an argument since AFAICT everyone basically agrees about this.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:31 PM
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703: Don't resist, PF. Let it all hang out. Express yourself, like a pimple. I said what I said, not what Shearer said. Why not make yourself a nice omelette now?

702: LB, Penny reported a kid in the background in 693.

PF's and B's Leninist comments are about stay-home moms, though indeed they were addressed to me. PF insinuates that these moms were imaginary or hypothetical, but he's full of shit.

I was a relaying a perception that particular stay-home moms have, saying that what I thought that what they perceived was not imaginary and that it impeded the growth of feminism. As I understand, I am being told that there's no problem and that these moms are imaginging things. OK.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:33 PM
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As I understand, I am being told that there's no problem and that these moms are imaginging things. OK.

Emerson, either you suck at arguing, or you're more interested in being "clever" than responding to LB's questions... but then, I repeat myself.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:35 PM
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I never thought that this would become so heated. DS says that there's nothing to argue about, but LB absolutely disagrees. No useable information in mrh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:37 PM
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Although he is right about 693, which I misread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:39 PM
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yow--
if you can't stand the heat, you might consider coming over to the kitchen.
a much tastier thread, and fewer things simmering, boiling, or seething.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:42 PM
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John, LB asked in 696 and 702 for specifics: what are you asking her to do? You responded with passive-aggressive nonsense.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what the argument is about, and there's a reason I didn't say anything for 709 comments. I'll fuck off now.

(But dammit it all if I'm not chock-full of usable information.)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:43 PM
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MRH, I cited evidence from Penny, B, and PF that there is an actual problem in the ttitude of feminists to single moms. Perhaps LB accepted that part of the argument and was asking for an action plan, but I didn't read it that way. I thought that she was still saying that there was no real problem and that, if there was, nothing could be done about it.

Outreach to stay at home moms and the tailoring of programs and proposals to their perceived needs would be a good thing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:47 PM
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711: Well, I never told you that 'the moms' you speak for were imagining anything.

Seriously, while you're saying this is a "specific correctable thing", that implies that you've got an idea of what to correct. If what you want corrected is for more feminists to be supportive of people doing domestic labor, I'm right with you. I think plenty of feminists are already there, and that your odds of finding someone who's understanding of and interested in issues around domestic labor is higher if you look among feminists than among the rest of the population. But that doesn't mean that there's not still more work to be done. If doing that work is all you want, I'm not sure I could identify anyone who's disagreed with you.

If you want something else, I don't know what it is. You seem to think people are disagreeing with you vehemently. I don't think I am about goals going forward, unless you've got some goals I don't understand.

All I'm disagreeing with you about is your identification of the denigration of domestic labor as something that's primarily, or importantly, or whatever you're arguing, due to feminism or feminists. I think that's wrong as a matter of fact, and it annoys the hell out of me because I think feminists get blamed for enough things we didn't do and don't believe in on a regular basis, but I don't think that disagreement has any particular consequences going forward unless you can explain to me what they are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:49 PM
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Don't resist, PF. Let it all hang out. Express yourself, like a pimple. I said what I said, not what Shearer said.

Right, which is why I refrained from making the connection between you and Shearer. You seemed to be wanting to differentiate yourself from Shearer back then, but now I'm wondering.

John, I really think you're still not clear about this, so I'll ask again. You quoted me referring to "your hypothetical housewife" as though the pronoun referred to you. It did not. In its original context, there was no ambiguity that the "your" referred to Shearer. In the comment you quote (547) I quoted Shearer's 536 directly.

So I'll ask again: By disputing my 547 - indeed, by calling me a "sliming idiot" for saying it - you seem to be endorsing 536 as written by Shearer - the victim of my "sliming." Is that your intent?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:54 PM
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MRH, I cited evidence from Penny, B, and PF that there is an actual problem in the ttitude of feminists to single moms.

Oh, bullshit. (I'm figuring you're talking about stay at home, rather than single, mothers, given that this is the first mention of single mother in the thread.) B is a stay at home mother this year, and an outspoken feminist who devotes probably more of her writing to issues around parenting and domestic labor than to any other single topic. The fact that she said she's not going to worry about hurting the feelings of the hypothetical stay at home mothers for whom you speak doesn't mean that she's nurturing contempt and hostility for herself.

Penny said that before she had kids, she didn't realize the magnitude of the labor involved, and held it in low esteem as feminine-identified. She also described that as a problem of patriarchy, not of feminism. Unless you have some reason to think that she would have held domestic labor in higher esteem if she'd been less feminist, that's not a failing you can put at feminism's door.

And god alone knows what you and pf are on about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:57 PM
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Actually, I just looked back, and PF has explained (damn, I lost PF's gender) PF's self quite clearly. And is clearly not expressing hostility to anyone except Shearer's hypothetical housewife who believes career women hold her in contempt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 1:59 PM
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All I'm disagreeing with you about is your identification of the denigration of domestic labor as something that's primarily, or importantly, [or in any way at all] or whatever you're arguing, due to feminism or feminists [about whom nothing bad can ever be said in any way by anybody.]

Katherine, IA, and Cala see some sense in what I've said. IA even may agree with me. You, PF, mrh, and probably B and Penny don't. I think that there's much more to say by now; the battle lines have hardened. I originally thought discussion was possible, but I guess i'm just a concern troll. So be it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:00 PM
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Fine LB. Some feminists hold to a patriarchal form of feminism. That was the original point, I think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:01 PM
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OK, fine, PF. I shouldn't have responded to you. I have mentioned such housewives several times, and do not regard them as hypothetical.

LB: Yes, "single" was a mistype.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:05 PM
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"I don't think that there's much more to say by now."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:06 PM
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Some feminists hold to a patriarchal form of feminism.

Or, some feminists haven't entirely shaken off the patriarchical culture we live in. Put like that, I'd say probably almost no feminists, and likewise no people, have. I'm just not seeing feminism as the source of the problem, rather than what has been, as yet, an imperfect and incomplete solution.

Outreach to stay at home moms and the tailoring of programs and proposals to their perceived needs would be a good thing.

I'll make a note to start working on this.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:07 PM
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And John?

Katherine, IA, and Cala see some sense in what I've said. IA even may agree with me.

I'm not arguing with anyone except on the basis of their own words. I've had a very productive conversation with both Katherine and Cala above, while IA hasn't said much.

My argument with you has been with you, not with whoever you consider yourself to be speaking for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:10 PM
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(damn, I lost PF's gender)

Here it is ! I found it !

Shouldn't be any gender confusion about me, though. After all, I assembled my pseud from two male enterprises, right?

Biographical trivia: My mother and wife are both stay-at-home moms. I have two sisters married to stay-at-home husbands. I've seen a lot of variations of this stuff up close.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:14 PM
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I have had productive conversations with Cala and Katherine here too, but not with you. IA hasn't said much because she's been traveling, but I'm confident that you and she are not at all on the same page. The only conclusion I can come to is that no one can say anything bad about feminism or any group of feminists. Especially not me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:15 PM
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Yes, that does appear to be the only conclusion you can come to.

Pity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:16 PM
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I'll bow out again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:17 PM
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I have to say, for all of the frustration in this thread, I've been reading it closely and appreciating the entire discussion.

John -- I'm confused about why this thread has bothered you so much, except for the personal arguments. It seems like generally everyone has conceded that it would be desirable to have more policies benefiting parents and particularly SAH parents and that mainstream feminist organizations support this goal but not as strongly as they could/should.

It also seems like there's general agreement about the fact that there are many social preassures on people to prioritize career ahead of child care and that this is both problematic as a society, and rude on an individual level.

What major areas of contention do you see still under debate? There are obviously differences of emphasis, but do you think there are findamental arguments still under dispute, or are you just frustrated that a debate over priorities and emphasis has been so heated? As an observer, I'm genuinely unclear at this point.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:39 PM
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LB, who I've thought of as a friend, is adamantly and angrily opposed to my saying that feminism has had something to do with this, and I think that it has.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:42 PM
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Were I Emerson, there are some persistent strawpersons that would have irritated me. "Why are you blaming everything primarily on feminism?" was an understandable misreading at comment 270; by comment 700+ that particular trope ought to have been retired.

I think we ought to take aggressive measures to prevent any further outbreaks of tedious meta-debate.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:46 PM
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You know, DS, when you're talking about strawpersons, putting a sentence in quotes as if someone had said it before you is kind of annoying. I may have missed something searching the thread, but I don't think you're quoting anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:55 PM
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No, I'm paraphrasing, 716.4 most recently.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 2:59 PM
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731: "Something to do with this" is awfully vague. What I said above is that I don't see how feminism or feminists have made life worse for stay-at-home-mothers (whether feminists themselves or not) beyond occurrences of interpersonal meanness, which I disapprove of. If you've got something along those lines, I'd be interested, but you haven't been specific.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:00 PM
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So, DS, this:

All I'm disagreeing with you about is your identification of the denigration of domestic labor as something that's primarily, or importantly, or whatever you're arguing, due to feminism or feminists. I think that's wrong as a matter of fact, and it annoys the hell out of me because I think feminists get blamed for enough things we didn't do and don't believe in on a regular basis, but I don't think that disagreement has any particular consequences going forward unless you can explain to me what they are.

Is the strawperson you're paraphrasing? Boy, it looks to me like a request for clarification.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:02 PM
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LB, who I've thought of as a friend, is adamantly and angrily opposed to my saying that feminism has had something to do with this, and I think that it has.

Yes, that's been obvious from reading the thread. What's been confusing, from reading the thread, is why the two of you have managed to get so angry with each other.

From the outside it looks like the heat comes, in part, from the fact that you are both, partially, making theoretical arguments and partially defending your own choices or the choices of people you care about and feel like you're defending against personal attacks.

John, the reason I'm quoting you here, is that I think LB's been more open about they way that she's defending personal choices as much as abstract commitments, but that's just my reading.

I did finally read that LGM thread to which you linked and I can both see what you object to, and feel like I agreed with almost all of LB's comments except for her first. To me her comments in the LGM thread say, one of the forces that has to be in place to create pro-family social change is women deciding that they won't be the ones to take up all of the slack required to balance work and family. I think that's completely true. LB's first comment in that thread says, explicitly, that women who don't make that choice are, necessarily doing less to advance social change.

I would personally disagree with that, I think there are many ways for people to live their lives in way that attempts to embody their politics, but I have no objection to LB making the case for why her decisions are congruent with her feminist goals.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:07 PM
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736: Does it really? Despite the fact that attributes a view to your opponent which they've explicitly disowned several times?

Whatever. The trouble with gazing into a ridiculous meta-debate is that the ridiculous meta-debate also gazes into you. I shall henceforth spam only with monkeys.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:08 PM
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Apologies if I'm mindreading either John or LB, I'm am just trying both to understand the frustration and bitterness and explain why it seems like their should be grounds for agreement or, at least, agreement to disagree.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:10 PM
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Can we distinguish two different concepts?: whether stay-at-home moms have felt denigrated since the rise of feminism, and whether that is the fault of feminism. I am inclined to say yes to the former; even my friend who's married to the doctor has felt at times like she has to defend her decision or be seen as somehow not as smart as her single female college cohort.

But the latter is a little harder to tease out. What do we mean by fault? A correlation? Sure. My mom has referred to herself apologetically as 'just a housewife' in a way I never heard my grandmother do.

But I don't know how much of that can be blamed on feminists, as if it were an explict project, or if it's just that we're now recognizing that we never did value housework and child-rearing all that much. It's just that now when women can have a career and a family it's harder to believe that it was such a sacred calling or the most important job ever. That's easy to *blame* on feminism, but it feels a little like blaming Title IX for the demise of men's gymnastics. True only if you're ignoring lots of details.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:22 PM
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I don't see how feminism or feminists have made life worse for stay-at-home-mothers

I still don't understand how you can say this. You, personally, have explicitly said several times in this thread and others that you think women who have a choice and choose to be stay at home moms aren't doing as much for feminism as they might. How is that not QED for Emerson's argument?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:23 PM
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I don't see how you're missing it either LB. My mom was a SAH. In her day, it was a high status occupation. Her prep school and college classmates were SAHMs, her friends were SAHMs (her mother had been a SAHM, and all her mother's friends were SAHMs). There were always women for whom this wasn't an option; who didn't have the good fortune to have a husband to provide. It was the default respectable status.

This is not the case today. The discussion above isn't about those poor women forced by circumstance to have to work outside the home, but how society can be rearranged to allow even more women to avoid the SAHM trap.

Lower relative status. Do you disagree with this?

I happen to think this change has been a good thing, but it's not my ox getting gored here. Nor yours either. Neither of us ought to pretend that the harm experienced by those whose is isn't real.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:33 PM
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740 -- No Cala, I think the line is much more direct than that. Whether it's an unintended consequence of creating choices, or a necessary step in showing the need for choices, SAHM got knocked off the pedestal by feminism. (And economics, of course, which accounts for a substantial part of male support for equality feminism, I'd guess.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:37 PM
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I can't say I've stayed current in the thread, but I thought that LB basically conceded ogged's 375, and all the discussion is about a matter of *degree.* Clearly, there's a strain in feminism that devalues stay-at-home mothers (Hirshman, Friedan's "comfortable concentration camp language, etc.) What it seems people do not agree on -- or have any way of measuring -- is how much that strain of feminism vs. other trends (achievement culture) have contributed to devaluing stay-at-home mothers. And all this is different from saying that "feminism" net-net has been bad for stay-at-home mothers. As everyone has said above, there's not one thing called "feminism."


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:41 PM
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a necessary step in showing the need for choices

What I mean by this is that I suspect that early on the most common use of the words 'just a SAHM' can as part of this sentence: I don't want to be just a SAHM.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:43 PM
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As everyone has said above, there's not one thing called "feminism."

Ah, but if there were, it would have been bad for the women for whom it was bad.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:45 PM
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Lower relative status. Do you disagree with this?

If this is what we're talking about, all y'all can go fuck yourselves. (And by all y'all, I mean all y'all men making the argument -- Ogged, Charley, Emerson, and so forth. Until a living breathing SAHM makes the same argument at me, I'm not going to say fuck her.)

The argument made here appears to be that back in the day, women didn't have a lot of high status options other than SAHM -- SAHM was the peak of the status ladder for women. Men had other, higher status options (say, being a lawyer), but that wasn't an emotional problem for SAHM, because those options were closed off to them; they were automatically subordinate to all men, and at the top rank among women, so everything was okay.

Now, since feminism has opened the high social status positions, like, say, lawyer, to women, suddenly SAHM aren't the highest status women around. And that's an injury to them, which feminists should address.

Again, fuck that noise. If we as a society think that childcare should be a higher status profession than it is, that is no more my problem, for being in a profession that was of higher social status than childcare when there were only men in it, than it is Charley's -- no less, but no more. I'll accept that childcare and domestic labor should be valued more than they are, absolutely, and I'll work for that. If you tell me, though, that the presence of women in high status jobs is in itself an injury to women in traditional gender roles, you can all go fuck yourselves and each other hard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:56 PM
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I should note, in my intemperate reaction above, that I fully expect that I've misread and misunderstood the comments I'm reacting to. To the extent that I have -- that you read what I wrote and think "that's not what I meant at all!" I do apologize for my misunderstanding.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 3:59 PM
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That's not my argument, LB. I think only Charley has made it explicitly, and love him though we do, Charley is, in this thread, playing the role of The Man.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:00 PM
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LB, you don't seem to be disagreeing on the fact of lower relative status among women. You say it's not your fault: I agree with you. This ship sailed before you were out of elementary school. It's not really the fault of anyone.

I've agreed with you that it's a net positive for society. Obviously, though, it's not a positive for every single person. Why do you resist this so?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:05 PM
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The argument made here appears to be that back in the day, women didn't have a lot of high status options other than SAHM -- SAHM was the peak of the status ladder for women.

I take Charley's argument to be a little more subtle than that. I would rephrase it as: A culture in which the normal middle-class economic/family structure is a one-salary family is a culture which values childcare more than a culture in which a single-earner middle class family is seen as unusual and exceptional.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:07 PM
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And LB, I am close to plenty of SAHMs, and can speak to this issue as well as anyone. I don't say that every SAHM feels injury. I think 'you're not a SAHM, and so no opinion you might have counts for shit' is a pretty cheap rhetorical device.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:08 PM
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Note that 751 takes no position on the role of feminism in that shift, I take that as part of the argument that's going on. I'm just arguing that we aren't just talking about lower relative status it's also lower absolute status from the POV of cultural allocation of resources.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:10 PM
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No, that was simply self-protection against having been accused of being mean to SAHMs. I'm not angry at SAHMs, I'm angry at you, for expecting me to recognize the fact that I went to law school as an obvious injury to them, while the fact that you went to law school never did them a lick of harm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:11 PM
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754 to 752.

749: As per usual, Ogged, I have no idea what point that's so obvious that you can't imagine why I'm not conceding it you're alluding to rather than making.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:12 PM
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I went back and reread some of the Hirshman threads, and this one closely parallels a couple of them. The threads do suggest that Emerson's not inventing things out of whole cloth, however poorly described the possibly existing problem is. But didn't get resolved then, won't get resolved now.

(Also, those threads require me to say this: LB, think about how pissed you'd have been if all the accused men (which might--I can't tell--include me) had made the same claims while calling themselves feminists. Dum dum dum.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:14 PM
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Boy, Tim, that added a lot of specifics to the conversation, didn't it. Thanks for clearing the air!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:16 PM
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I'm not going to get drawn into this thread, but I agree with LB. You can't blame the low status of stay-at-home-parents entirely or even mostly on women. If men did full-time childcare more often it would become a higher status field. The fact that men don't do so very often is not the fault of feminists or feminism or women. SAHP was just as low status before feminism as it is now, in fact it might have been lower status then compared to now because now you occasionally have men choosing to be SAHDs.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:22 PM
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749: As per usual, Ogged, I have no idea what point that's so obvious that you can't imagine why I'm not conceding it you're alluding to rather than making.

You know, it doesn't even matter.

Anyway, what I find interesting about this thread is how various people prioritize what needs to be done for women, and, relatedly, what they consider more or less changeable. LB, if I'm understanding you correctly, you think that gender roles are ultimately mutable to a great extent, and you want to erase gendered division of labor; at the same time, you basically accept (not in the sense of approve of, but in the sense that you don't make it a priority, perhaps because you think it's more intractable) the American economic and political system. So it makes sense that you think women who have a choice, and choose to stay at home, aren't advancing feminism properly. Whereas others, maybe John, probably me, think that gender roles are much less changeable, and would rather focus on political change. Obviously, there are going to be broad areas of agreement on goals and methods, but then, in specific instances, apparently sharp divergence.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:30 PM
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758: If men did full-time childcare more often it would become a higher status field.

I actually doubt this is true. Men, after all, do do full-time childcare more often now than they used to -- albeit nowhere near as much as women -- and its status hasn't perceptibly gained as a result.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:31 PM
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759: So, what's your plan for getting us to socialist utopia? I really am all for it -- tell me where to start!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:34 PM
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Even if men do it more often it's still strongly gendered, and hence lower status. Name a female dominated career that is not low status. Or think about subcareers. Which resteraunts have male waitstaff and which ones have female waitstaff? I can't think of a good example off the top of my head, but I vaguely remember that there were some good examples of jobs becoming lower status when they changed from majority male to majority female (perhaps someone else here does remember)?

Though certainly it's plausible that child care could become male majority and still not become high status. Garbage collection is male majority and very low status, for example. So I'm not saying that more men would definitely fix the problem, however it's more likely to fix the problem than more women going back to that field.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:39 PM
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And if you don't have such a plan, then I'm wondering why you're telling me that you see change on those fronts as more tractable than change in gender roles. I really do think that class issues are largely (insofar as they're independent) more important issues of justice than gender issues, but I'm not seeing what points of leverage you mean that I'm ignoring.

I'm, obviously, not doing enough to bring about an egalitarian society. I vote Democratic, I support social democratic policies, I give money to causes, but none of that is particularly significant in the broader scheme of things. But I'm not getting what the route to a just society is that I'm ignoring in favor of my laserlike focus on gender issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:43 PM
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757: I probably shouldn't have been jokey and elliptical about this. Sorry about that. I probably shouldn't have brought up the Hirshman threads, either. So, sorry again.

I do think it's true that some set of women feel that other women hold them in contempt (or something like it), and believe that the other women justify the contempt by reference to feminist positions. The first set of women might well be wrong in their perceptions of that contempt or what is used to justify the contempt, of course. And I am, as general rule, more likely to ally with the second set of women; I know more of them, and I'm more comfortable with them. But I have some some sympathy for the first set, and don't think that their perceptions are self-evidently crazy.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:47 PM
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I'm not saying you're ignoring something, or even that you should be doing anything differently; it just seemed notable that some people think gender roles are where we should focus our energy for change, and some people thought political solutions are the way to go. And like I said, there's broad agreement on most stuff, so to a certain extent, no one will disagree with you about gender roles, and you won't disagree about the need for political change. Yadda yadda. I, personally, have given up hope, and merely observe the decline of the American republic, so don't look at me for any plans.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:50 PM
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I do think it's true that some set of women feel that other women hold them in contempt (or something like it), and believe that the other women justify the contempt by reference to feminist positions.

Traditional-minded women often think the word "feminist" signifies someone who looks down on them. A little of this is the result of real-life straw men like Linda Hirshman, but much more significant is that this is what Dr. Laura spends all her time saying. Dr. Laura and other figures in the "family-friendly" parallel media universe.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:50 PM
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764: Yeah, I snapped at you because I'm furious, but no personal animus was meant.
(That is, sorry about that, chief.)

I do think it's true that some set of women feel that other women hold them in contempt (or something like it), and believe that the other women justify the contempt by reference to feminist positions. The first set of women might well be wrong in their perceptions of that contempt or what is used to justify the contempt, of course.

None of this is self-evidently false. (Given how small 'some set' can be, it's actually pretty clearly true.) You know what it's reminding me, of, though? Remember that conversation about Kerry, way back when, where Apo was talking about how Southerners weren't going to vote for Kerry because he was condescending toward the South? And I couldn't figure out what Kerry had actually said or done that was condescending? And it turned out that what he meant is that Southerners generally think guys like Kerry are assholes.

I can't worry about an injury, unless someone can explain to me how I, or someone else, can fix it, and the fix is something I can tolerate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:55 PM
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766: True thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:56 PM
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You could try not telling stay at home moms that they're hurting feminism.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:57 PM
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629

"... But when you say, as I understood Emerson above to be implying (and of course Shearer comes right out and says, which is cute), that "Feminists care less about women of color, poor women, and unpowerful women than non-feminists; 'feminist' gains are at the expense of other women." ..."

Where did I say feminists care less? I don't think feminists care a lot but neither does anybody else.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:58 PM
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LB, do you agree with ogged in 375 that a) there's a strain of feminism that devalues SaHMs, and b) Hirshman is an example?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 4:58 PM
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Whoa, I am looking forward to the comment responding to 769, 770 and 771.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:00 PM
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Maybe I'm just one of those asshole feminists everyone has been talking about, but I think the SAHM's are responding to some contempt from feminists. HOWEVER, the contempt is not for SAHM's, it's for the notion that being a SAHM is the best and One True Occupation for women, and that women who have children and are not SAHM's are somehow failing them and are Bad Mothers.

I got no problem with SAHMs or SAHM-dom. Some people really enjoy it, and some kids really enjoy having a stay-at-home parent and think it contribute to the quality of their life. Rock on with your bad selves. It's the notion that it's a higher calling, or better than having a career, or sacred or whatever, that I think is bullshit.

Obviously, for SAHM's who do believe it's a higher calling or the only way to be a really good parent or whatever, instead of just a thing you do during the day instead of going to work in an office, thinking that they're wrong about the nature of their work is going to feel like an insult to them.

But it isn't an insult to their chosen occupation, just to the notion that their chosen occupation is a superior Womanly Occupation.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:00 PM
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769: A woman who stays at home because she believes that unpaid domestic labor is more properly her purview than her husband's, or does so influenced by such beliefs without examining them, isn't doing feminism any favors. I'm not sure why this should be unspeakable.

And no one's interested, James.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:01 PM
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772: Sorry to disappoint. I haven't read baa's yet, though, maybe it'll be inspiring.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:02 PM
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A woman who stays at home because she believes that unpaid domestic labor is more properly her purview than her husband's, or does so influenced by such beliefs without examining them, isn't doing feminism any favors. I'm not sure why this should be unspeakable.

Thesis: Today's SAHMs, unlike those of 40 years ago, are disproportionately women who believe that being an SAHM is the proper role for women as established in the Good Book.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:04 PM
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771: Too many undefined terms to agree or disagree with -- 'devalue', particularly. I totally agree with 773: to the extent that there exists a SAHM such that she believes that it's a sacred calling, or the only way to be a good parent, I believe that she (and only she, the SAHM with the defined beliefs, rather than SAHM generally) has an overinflated sense of the importance of her vocational choice, and should get over herself.

If that's 'devaluing', then, sure, me and every other feminist who thinks that it's not an injury to children that mothers work outside the home 'devalues' SAHM. But that sort of thing I'm not going to feel bad about at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:07 PM
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SAHM = GOOD


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:08 PM
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Duh. Being a SAHM leaves you financially vulnerable and has a bunch of other downsides that people will argue incessantly about. If other options exist (which they do much more these days than in the past), most of the people who SAHM will be those who see it as important because it's Womanly Work or What God Wants or even "Someone Has To Do It So It Might As Well Be Me."


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:08 PM
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I agree with 742.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:09 PM
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LB, your response is basically the same as "I can't help it that your feelings are hurt that I called you an idiot; you are an idiot." Look, maybe your conception of correct feminist choices is right, but it should be obvious to you of all people why some women feel attacked by your brand of feminism.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:10 PM
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780: See my advice in 747.

781: And I'm perfectly willing to argue with them about it. I'm not willing to accept that the fact that there exist women with whom I disagree about stuff constitutes my injuring those women.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:12 PM
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I didn't say you were injuring them. And this is why I keep saying that it's irrelevant if you're right: the starting point for any discussion is your condemnation of them, and their anger and defensiveness in response. Those are the facts.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:13 PM
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Oh my god. If someone believes "what I do is the most important thing a woman can do" and I say "no it's not," that's a condemnation?

Also, I love LB and want to have her lizardy little babies.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:16 PM
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644

"... We're talking 60-80 hour weeks ..."

You can have a career without working 60-80 weeks. It is a myth that this is required, a convenient myth for people who wish to avoid family responsibilities.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:46 PM
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Still, no one cares, James.

And this is why I keep saying that it's irrelevant if you're right: the starting point for any discussion is your condemnation of them, and their anger and defensiveness in response. Those are the facts.

The 'facts', the non-optional 'starting point', of any discussion about domestic work, is that by not thinking that SAHM is properly the province of women, and not thinking that it's a sacred duty or the most important job in the world, I'm 'condemning' SAHMs? (A) I don't see why I have to play anyone's game of 'let's you and her fight', and (B) again, see my suggestion in 747.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:01 PM
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"If men did full-time childcare more often it would become a higher status field."

Um, no. Men who do 'housework'-ish things outside the home aren't high-status jobs: janitor or drycleaner. Childcare is basically low-skill and anyone can do it, so it will be low status.

Also i think you have the causality reversed. I'd think men are much more likely to put the status of their potential career into consideration when deciding where to work than women are.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:13 PM
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Way late as usual, but somehow I misrepresented myself. I didn't mean that I went merrily along denigrating SAMS until I had a kid myself and had some kind of epiphany.

What I meant was more that before I had a kid, my reaction to one of my colleagues getting pregnant would have been to think very briefly "ouch, no more high-status vocation for you then", and then about 1/18 of a second later some feminist analysis would have kicked in and said "the only reason you're considering childcare is considered low-status is that women do it and we live in a patriarchy that says anything female is by definition low status, and you've been to a misogynist school that falsely seperates "real artists" from "women with kids" and don't you go buying into that crap."

It's that first thought that I find shameful, and that thought doesn't come from feminism.

Outreach to stay at home moms and the tailoring of programs and proposals to their perceived needs would be a good thing.

I've been benefitting from these constantly, I'm sure they exist in the US too. Either that or US feminists are sitting on their butts in that area, which I doubt.

A woman who stays at home because she believes that unpaid domestic labor is more properly her purview than her husband's, or does so influenced by such beliefs without examining them, isn't doing feminism any favors. I'm not sure why this should be unspeakable.

I don't see why this is controversial, much less offensive. Not everybody's out to do feminism big favours, that's all. A lot of people are upset by feminism. They like that voting bit, and that owning property bit, but the other changes are hard.

I can understand what Charley Carp is saying about "this job was high status, now it's not, that's hurtful", but it's more complicated than that. In order to enjoy the high status job you'd have had to ignore that if your man got sick or died or left or beat you, your status could end right there. I don't know how respectable women customarily dealt with that knowledge, and I'd be interested to know.



Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:41 PM
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SAMS s/b SAHMs, of course.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:42 PM
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I can understand what Charley Carp is saying about "this job was high status, now it's not, that's hurtful", but it's more complicated than that. In order to enjoy the high status job you'd have had to ignore that if your man got sick or died or left or beat you, your status could end right there. I don't know how respectable women customarily dealt with that knowledge, and I'd be interested to know.

Probably alimony, life insurance, and a lot of hoping it didn't happen.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:53 PM
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742: Charley, in light of 780, I think it's been scientifically established that at least some element of your 742 is stone bullshit. There's a lot to choose from, but I nominate this bit:

My mom was a SAH. In her day, it was a high status occupation.

How many men in your mom's day toiled to achieve a position in this high-status occupation?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:54 PM
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It irritates me when people assume that the mother should have the children if the parents get divorced.

It irritates me when people assume that the mother should stay at home and not the father.

It irritates me me that people assume that mothers naturally know how to parent children, but that fathers have to learn.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:57 PM
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792: Sing it, brother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:00 PM
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Re Ogged's 759, recapped at 765 as:

it just seemed notable that some people think gender roles are where we should focus our energy for change, and some people thought political solutions are the way to go.

It's worth noting.

The longer formulation in 759 is a really admirable/impressive first attempt to tie together the very early, middle, and later themes that have emerged in this thread, but I'm honestly not convinced that introducing 'the mutability of gender roles' is either necessary or helpful.

It may be enough to speak just in terms of the perceived tractability of the problems and their prioritization: should we work principally in the women's movement (to address women's rights, equal opportunity, gender discrimination and so on), or principally in, say, labor (to address economic inequality, class issues, etc.)?

Fruitful conversations can be had there without introducing the mutability of gender roles to explain why people prioritize the way they do. Whatever the latter are supposed to be (a function of childbearing?), it's not just a can of worms in the context of this thread and blog; discussion of essentialism in any form, 'gender' or otherwise, isn't a conversation to have without laying a lot of groundwork first.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:03 PM
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Since apparently B doesn't count as a real stay-at-home mom because, you know, like, she's all feminist and stuff, I thought I'd ask an SAHM that I know.

My first question to the Missus: Are you a feminist?
A: Yes (said in a tone that suggested it was a stupid question because, really, who isn't?)
Q: Are you ever offended by the attitude of feminist career women toward you.
A: No (She elaborates by parotting some of LB's discussion of risks and choices. Are the feminist chicks all quoting from the same handbook?)

I go on to offer a summary of the discussion here. The Missus suggests (as some others here have) that there is a generational issue. Younger women who are housewives (yes, she uses that word) are responding to choice, where older women, and I quote "are all, like, what the fuck?" when confronted with women who actually have choices.

And to show that unfogged can aid intellectual intimacy in a marriage, I will share that I learned something new about my wife, who I met when she was in college. I never knew that she minored in Women's Studies.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:09 PM
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792: It irritates me too will, and irritates my partner more, he having been a SAHD to his kids half the year for 20 years. Personally, I think he's naturally cut out for the job. It bugs him to no end hearing stuff like "a mother knows". It also bugs him when divorcing dads complain they'll only see their kids on weekends - he gets on their case to try to get a shared equal custody arrangement, not to settle for less if that's what they really want. But I've seen the looks on a few guys faces when they realize what that would actually mean - what kind of a hit their careers would take. So far he's the only guy I know who's done it.

I love that his kids would kind of not get the jokes Ogged etc. were making upthread (ironically, I know). They wouldn't be offended, they just wouldn't get them. I think they'd sound the way jokes from the '20s sound to me.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:17 PM
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795, 796: Yay, pf's Missus, and pf, and Penny's ex (I think), and Penny! All for reassuring me that I'm not insane, as well as being fine upstanding people in their own right!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:20 PM
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Thanks LB, just to clarify, my partner has 3 kids who are grown up, and now we have a baby too. I'm getting to see what this parent thing is like firsthand, although I've been a stepparent for years and years. I knew nothing about infants, and yoyo,

Childcare is basically low-skill and anyone can do it, so it will be low status.

I'm wishing one upon you now.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:27 PM
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Got you. You know, the second baby's much easier, because you know most of the stuff. Not to encourage additional babies, but they are fetching, aren't they?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:28 PM
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I won't be having any more (just not feasible economically, I'm afraid) and that is bugging me, such a lot of learning, to be applied all toward the care of just one person, who outgrows each stage so quickly. (I certainly don't mean he's not worth it, of course.) And fetching, they sure are.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:38 PM
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I've long noticed that with people who eat meat, when they get in a room with someone they know is a vegetarian, they often get really weird and uncomfortable. The reason often is that they have a mental image in their heads of judgmental vegetarians who are silently rebuking them -- as if every vegetarian has become, for them, a walking MEAT IS MURDER! sign or PETA demonstration. This can often lead them to be condescending, nasty and defensive without any particular prompting, and probably without being aware of what they're doing.

To play jousting anecdotes with politicalfootball for a moment, a longtime friend of mine -- a poet who lives with her husband and kids on the West Coast, who has forgotten more about feminism than I will probably ever know, and who made the decision to be a SAHM -- once pointed out that once she'd had kids, she sometimes noticed a similar weirded-out, condescending vibe from otherwise well-meaning feminist friends. (I actually pooh-poohed this the first few times she mentioned it, "WTF are you talking about, I don't notice anything," but I eventually came to see what she meant.)

I'm sure all the reassurances about not denigrating housewives, just rejecting the image of the Hallowed Housewife as Feminine Ideal, are sincerely meant. But things do tend to bleed through, sometimes.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:39 PM
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Yeah, and when they get big enough, you can talk them into going running and playing cards with you. (Newt, my six year old, is heading toward a serious career of sharkdom. He's going to be the kind of guy with the name of a city incorporated in his nickname.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:41 PM
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801: But what do your vegetarian friends expect meat eaters to do? Are they angry and hostile about the awkwardness, or is it pretty harmless? I'd guess it's fairly harmless, and if that sort of thing is all we're talking about, then where's all the energy coming from?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:44 PM
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Oh I can relate to this already - I read into that weirded out condescending vibe a lot of perfectly reasonable fear, fear that their life might become messy and out of control and on the surface, very restricted. I get this vibe most from my friends who are considering kids in their future.

I tried to tell a girlfriend that before I had an infant, I heard women saying that just being able to have a shower was a big deal, and I would think "they must not be very organized". But I found out, you can have a shower. You just can't have a shower and eat. You can't eat and sleep. You can't do any of these and clean up. You have to choose what's important to you that day.

Well nobody's going to be thrilled to hear that.

Sometimes I hear running under the vibe you're talking about, a lot of questioning, like " If I do that, will I find a way to do it better, more like something that resembles the way I live now? Will I find a way to live that's acceptable to me?" That seems like a reasonable question.

(I'm not suggesting your friend shouldn't have felt hurt or anything, if she was. It is kind of weird to have someone look at your personal life that way.)


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:00 PM
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803: Well, I don't know how other people approach it. My approach is usually to try to be patient about it day-to-day and demystify The Vegetarian in a "No, dude, I'm not going to wig out if my rice touched a piece of beef" sort of way. Helps to de-escalate things a little bit.

Of course I don't pretend my choice of diet is on nearly the same level of fraught as the decision to have a kid and stay home to raise them. I can't point the way to Socialist Utopia, but I'd guess that it's the kind of quotidian dynamic that backs up some of IA's intuitions all the way back in 156, and that probably it's to the good if there's less defensiveness and/or denial about it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:00 PM
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801:

DS, since we're allowing analogies now, er, I mean, anecdotes about things that remind us of other things, this occurred to me earlier this afternoon:

Having grown up in a military family, when I actually grew up and became, well, the flaming hippie leftwing peacenik commie pinko fag communal, vegetarian garden-growing, crystal-sucking ..

Where was I?

Right, my dad had a "Peace through Strength" plaque of some sort on the wall. We had words.

When the sea of opinion changes, the values of those attached to older ways are in question; they are devalued. Sometimes that's defensible. Sometimes it's not. It's extremely important to be sensitive to it.

In this case, there's a misdirection in our midst (only one?): recently upthread there's been a suggestion that SAHMs choose to be such because they think it's a sacred mission, the highest calling of womanhood?

What about: they want to raise their children personally, full-time, because it's the coolest thing in the world, to nurture another being to fullness? It's arguably the dismissal of that viewpoint that gives rise to the suggestion that "the feminine" is being devalued.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:00 PM
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804.4 is an angle on it I hadn't considered, but makes sense.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:01 PM
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802: I miss playing cards with my stepkids! I'm glad someone can be a shark when he's 6.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:04 PM
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And I completely agree with parsimon's concluding paragraph in 806.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:05 PM
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In this case, there's a misdirection in our midst (only one?): recently upthread there's been a suggestion that SAHMs choose to be such because they think it's a sacred mission, the highest calling of womanhood?

What about: they want to raise their children personally, full-time, because it's the coolest thing in the world, to nurture another being to fullness? It's arguably the dismissal of that viewpoint that gives rise to the suggestion that "the feminine" is being devalued.

There's a difference between looking at it as a really great thing to do, and looking at it as a really great thing that women were made to do and men were not.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:09 PM
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806: Well this is something that has changed about my feminism recently; before having a kid I would have thought fully subsidized daycare for everybody would have solved everyone's problems, now I wish there was a way that any parent could stay at home for the first few years if he or she wanted to. We're so far down the scale that it doesn't affect us, I wouldn't make more than a daycare worker if I did get a job, but I sure feel lucky about my unemployment. I wouldn't want to outsource this just yet. Not that it's for everybody, obviously, but I'm surprised that's it's for me.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:16 PM
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parsimon, the Missus isn't one of your 806.7-type moms, but as it happens, I know one - my brother's wife, who I've known for something close to 30 years. Her last steady paid employment was probably 25 years ago.

She self-identifies as a feminist and I've never heard her express any unhappiness about her treatment by fellow feminists.

At the same time, though, she is occasionally a bit condescending - sympathetic, she would say - regarding her successful, single, childless career-woman sister. They are very close, and I don't think the sister resents it at all.

The key is that both sisters are happy with their lives and their choices. You don't really have to freak out about other peoples' opinions if you are content with what you are doing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:50 PM
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If we wanted to get into a discussion about why raising your children yourself (whether you're father or mother, by the way, which is why this is not about "the feminine" unless that means caretaking in general, applicable to men as well as women) is not considered in our societies to be the greatest and most obvious thing,* to be fought for if it's under threat,

then we'd be talking radical change in our economic structure. To put it mildly. Free-market capitalism is not your friend.

(The very idea that 'raising your child yourself', as I put it above, is becoming an increasingly alien experience, speaks to just how fucked we are.)

* Raising children isn't a breeze, not "great" in that sense: rather, in a multigenerational community environment, it's a major facet of what life is all about.

And this thread is crashing my browser.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:52 PM
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Oh no! You guys are still talking about what's wrong with feminism?!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:05 PM
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I don't know how respectable women customarily dealt with that knowledge, and I'd be interested to know.

Denial, is my guess.

791.2 -- PF, this is non-responsive and you know it. 791.1 is pretty persuasive, I have to admit.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:24 PM
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791.2 -- PF, this is non-responsive and you know it.

Seriously, I don't know it. Your mom was in a high-status profession only if you ignore the professions of men. Why do you think it's valid to do so? Honest: I don't get it.

At the risk of offering an indelicate analogy: The status of some House Negroes was certainly lowered by Emancipation, relative to other former slaves. Why should anybody contend that this fact reflects in any important sense on Emancipation?

If we are merely saying that the unhappiness of pre-feminist women with feminism is understandable, well, sure it is. Of course. If we are saying that this reflects a problem with feminism, I have to disagree.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:35 PM
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Coming back to this late (because: J.D. Drew, baby!). let me give another try with 771. Let say a person devalues X if he says either "X is not a useful human life" or "a person who lives life X is probably wasting their talents," or "life X is stultifying and boring," or "if a talented person chooses life X, he is making a mistake, and defaulting on moral responsibilities both to himself and to others."

With that definition, LB, do you think there is a strain of feminism/substantial group of feminists that devalues SaHM? Do you think Linda Hirshman is one such person? I thought from before that your answer to this was essentially "yes, but insofar as SAHMs have been devalued, feminism has played a minor role." Now I think your more saying: "no, there has not been a strain of feminism like this." Are either of these your position?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:00 PM
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Why do you think it's valid to do so?

Because it's how people worked at the time. I'm not saying it's how people should work. (Or should have worked). I've said over and over that I think the way it works now -- status measurment being generally desegregated -- is for the better. Not everyone agrees with me that the current social view on this is better than the past view. What, you think I can just tell people that their feelings about how the world has changed are invalid? Think that'll work?

I don't agree with the people who think that the fact that gay and lesbian people can be out more comfortably now than 40 years ago is a bad thing. Saying that I understand that there are people who do think it's a bad thing doesn't mean that I think it's a bad thing. Is there a long way to go? Absolutely. Do I hope we go that long way? The faster the better. Are the feelings of the people who are alienated by the progress made to date relevant to how far and how fast this is going to move in the future? Hell yes, and one who confronts this fact with 'well, fuck them' and/or a refusal to acknowledge their existence is headed for disappointment.

Some people have been disoriented by the pace of social change over the last 40 years.* One can acknowledge this, and try to find ways to mitigate. One can, alternatively, stick one's fingers in one's ears and say la la la la la la la. Think that'll work?

* I'm not one of them. I'm disappointed to the point of near despondency by the lack of progress over the last 30 years on many fronts.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:29 PM
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742 and 767 speak the truth.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 5:26 AM
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818: You know, my anger at your 742 was sparked by the fact that it was offered as the end of a long thread discussing how feminists and feminism have injured women who perform unpaid domestic labor, as a problem that needs to be addressed and solved. To the extent that it's completely irrelevant to that conversation, and is merely a statement about how the changes brought about by feminism bother those who don't think it was generally a good thing, that's perfectly harmless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 5:48 AM
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817: Your question doesn't make any sense to me stripped from a gender framework. I'd say there's a strain of feminism to which I belong that says that a woman's choice to eschew work outside the home in favor of childcare and other unpaid domestic labor should be valued exactly as much as a man's choice to do the same thing. I also think that depending on the individual circumstances, it will often look like a questionable decision for either sex.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 6:06 AM
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Whoops I meant 747 and 767.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 6:09 AM
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802: Newt is 6? Didn't he used to be 7?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 6:21 AM
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Not lately, no. Sally used to be seven, but she's more eightish these days.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 6:57 AM
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Charley, 820 also answers 818 for me. I thought I covered a big part of 818 in 816.3, too.

What, you think I can just tell people that their feelings about how the world has changed are invalid? Think that'll work?

I do not, but I'm not sure what you're proposing in the alternative. If it's sympathy, I'm okay with that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 7:34 AM
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I'd say there's a strain of feminism to which I belong that says that a woman's choice to eschew work outside the home in favor of childcare and other unpaid domestic labor should be valued exactly as much as a man's choice to do the same thing.

Got it. One last question. I take a part of Linda Hirshman's argument to be that if a talented woman drops out of a career track she injures two parties. First, she injures herself because (in LH's view) being a SAHM will not lead to full human flourishing. Second, she injures other talented women because she reinforces the stereotype that talented women drop out. There may even be a third injury (I don't really recall LH saying this but I have seen it elsewhere) if by dropping out she reinforces the lack of social and political power that women have as a class (e.g., she could become a wealthy and powerful person, and has chosen not to pursue that power).

It doesn't seem to me that a man who 'drops out' will be accused of either the 2nd or 3rd injury. If so, under the standard of 821, a woman should be likewise be off the hook. The only question will be if staying at home is the best life for them to realize herself as a person. Have I got you right, and you think injuries #2 and #3 are ones a SAHM has no need to think about.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:08 AM
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825 -- Acknowledgement, validation, and sympathy. I'd drop the term 'false consciousness' from the lexicon. I'm not suggesting the need for changes to the core of the feminist project. (I don't know that Emerson was either, btw).

820 -- I really appreciate comment 820 as well-crafted lawyerly rhetoric. I'm not fooled, but I think it's very finely done. And I appreciate the spirit that motivates it. Really.

There are some negative associations with the feminism brand. Some are fair (but were necessary: in this connection, I'm a lot less interested in reaction to my comment 742 than in reaction to my comment 745) and some are not. It doesn't matter either way, because any negative associations with the brand have negative consequences on the speed with which the goals of the feminist project can be realized.

What to do? See my response to 825 above. I don't think there's much else.

I think responding to there are some negative associations with the feminism brand with 'no there aren't, and you're (a) deluded; (b) uninformed; and/or (c) a tool of The Patriarchy for even thinking of suggesting such a thing' isn't particularly effective. Maybe even self-defeating.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:32 AM
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My 'contribution' to this thread is at an end.

I do want to note though, since I'm not going to comment on the political thread either, what I think is kind of an interesting contrast. Were I to comment on that thread, my comments would be very predictable, and quite consistent with my comments here. No surprise there, which is why I'm saving the pixels. (That and I have to get to the office shortly). I don't know whether Emerson has commented on the other thread, but I'm not sure that his position there would be as obviously boringly consistent with his position here. 'Consistent' is the wrong word, since it's apples and oranges. And I don't think he'd be acting in bad faith to take the more aggressive position in the other thread. I just think an explication of the distinction -- if I'm right that it would exist -- would be worth reading/thinking about.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:40 AM
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I am a real live stay at home mom who doesn't actually want to get involved in this clusterfuck and I am about to go to bed with my perpetually sick children but I just had to say that LIZARDBREATH IS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING AND THE REST OF YOU ARE ALL BANNED. if LB were to say to me personally that choosing to take my ABD self and stay home is not advancing the cause of feminism as much as fighting the good fight out there as a tenure-track prof with kids, then I would say "whoah, LB is totally right about something. when the fuck did that ever happen? Oh, I know, EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME EVER." and I wouldn't have hurt feelings either. thanks for letting me share in this productive, frank sharing of views.
PS I still love you John Emerson.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:53 AM
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826: Have I got you right

No. Insert the words "all other things being equal" into the comment to which you're responding wherever they seem to fit, if you're confused by the above.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 11:35 AM
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LIZARDBREATH IS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING AND THE REST OF YOU ARE ALL BANNED

This hardly seems necessary, as most of the women who dislike the brand of feminism on offer here just avoid these threads (or this blog) anyway. As for the guys, well, you'd miss us eventually.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 11:50 AM
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829: Thanks, and I'm on board with the PS as well.

831: After this conversation, I'm starting to doubt it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 11:53 AM
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Seems to me this conversation was pretty tame as these things go. Albeit annoying and repetitive.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:24 PM
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Not from where I'm standing. This one's been distinctly high-stress.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:26 PM
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Well, everyone's still speaking to each other and nobody's confessed to a major felony. That's pretty good, I think.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:28 PM
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If that's an accurate reading of the thread, I'm happy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:31 PM
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High stress for me too.

The really savage debate are not painful, because they're debates between enemies. But this one wasn't.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:37 PM
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I don't understand 830. Hirshman has an argument: I take it that it's a form of the "three injuries" argument I gave. At this point there are a number of choices, which include: a) deny that's LH's argument, b) agree it's LH's argument and endorse it, c) agree it's LH's argument but not identify it as your own.

If you're sick of this discussion, that's fine, but I really don't know at this point which of these you would choose. Surely we can agree that the '3 injuries' argument would, all things being equal, constitute a severe criticism of the choice to be a SAHM, right?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:37 PM
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For the 3-injuries argument to be a severe criticism assumes that one wants to advance the cause of women everywhere, particularly those who want to be "high-powered" vs. just dealing with life and those close to you.

This assumption is clearly false for a wide range of people, and justifiably so. However, I think that confusing broad and narrow definitions of feminism makes the whole situation a lot murkier and makes it much easier to take things personally.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:48 PM
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My mother is a primarily SAHM who considers herself a feminist, but also feels somewhat alienated from the feminist movement. She was in many ways harder core than me: going to a consciousness-raising group, making my dad read the Second Sex before they could get engaged, etc. At one point planned never to had kids. But instead, she had 4, stayed at home, went back to school when I and my youngest sister were in elementary school & got her masters. And we all turned out great, if I do say so for myself, by any metric I can think of; we're also very close to each other. But for a variety of reasons--the years away from the work force are one, but actually far from the primary one--my mother's own career has been a completely different story, w/ a lot of jobs that end badly & bouts of unemployment. So while she's a brilliant success as a mother, as a career woman, not so much, & the option of being both lowered her status somewhat. Then again, her 4 lovely daughters wouldn't have had nearly the opportunities they have w/o feminism.

So she still considers herself a feminist but feels a bit alienated from the movement. The stuff I've said on this thread about the relative emphasis of reproductive choice vs. reforms that would specifically improve things for mothers, goes double for her (partly because she was raised Catholic & has more issues w/ abortion than I do).

But this really doesn't have much at all to do with individual feminists being mean to her or judging her. It's just a set of mixed personal consequences.

The main reason that women are somewhat expected to work outside the home these days is economic: (1) we're more likely to need two incomes to support a family; (2) because of birth control, cost of living, & as both a cause and effect of more women working, families are smaller. Raising 6 or 8 children is a lot more work than raising 1 or 2.

No individual feminist decided to create those economic pressures & resulting social attitudes, but to some extent they're consequences of feminism's success. And they're not all good. And I think the feminist movement, in order to truly benefit as many American women as much as possible, should be concentrating more energy on working on these sorts of issues--should be best buddies with the SEIU. But that has nothing to do with buying into the idea that a majority of feminists don't respect mothers or children.

I put less stock than IA does into surveys about how many women identify themselves as "feminists"; to a great extent it's just a word with a branding problem created by conservative backlash, like "liberal." The surveys about whether the women's movement has benefited or harmed you are much more positive. But like every major social change, it had some unintended consequences. It was worth it, but I think there should be more acknowledgment of & focus on how to deal with those unintended consequences. If a stay at home mother bears some responsibility for the unintended consequences of her decision re: economic security & economic power for other women, than so do feminists who don't want to have children.

The fact that families are smaller, that families are more geographically dispersed, that parents probably average less time with their children--look, I went to fancy schools that didn't used to admit women, I live far away from my family, I've lived far away from my husband at times, I travel a lot, I'll probably just have two kids, I'll probably spend a bit less time with them than my mother did with us. I chose all this, and would choose it again, but I still find it somewhat regrettable. And frankly, I've seen more of the upside of feminism than a lot of women do.

Of course, a lot of these problems are as much or more a result of capitalism & U.S. economic policies than feminism. But they're not unrelated to feminism, and I don't think we should shrug our shoulders & say: "well, it's not our fault the U.S. isn't a social Democracy; at least men and women are on more equal terms." I think the women's movement should become best buddies with the labor movement. I know that resources are finite, etc., but if more women identified more with the feminist movement it would have a lot more resources.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:51 PM
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838: This isn't really a point in the thread where I'm fascinated by explaining things for you -- I'll probably keep answering questions as long as you ask them, but I'm not going to guarantee I'm going to keep my temper.

This, from your 826: It doesn't seem to me that a man who 'drops out' will be accused of either the 2nd or 3rd injury. If so, under the standard of 821, a woman should be likewise be off the hook.

Is nonsensical. A man who drops out won't be accused of either the second or the third injury (that is, reinforcing stereotypes about women; reducing the aggregate social power exercised by women) because his dropping out won't have any tendency to bring about either the second or the third injury, or a parallel injury to men as a class. You're responsible for the effects your actions have in the world, but not for the effects that your actions don't have.

If my doing something causes harm, and your doing something does not cause that same harm, than, all other things being equal, I have a reason for not doing it that you do not have. This is not holding us to different standards, it's holding us to the same standard, of bearing responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Do you understand 830 now, or do you remain puzzled?

(Note: I have not here characterized your 'second and third injuries' as the only factors that any woman should consider in making her vocational choices, nor as necessarily an overriding factor.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:45 PM
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No individual feminist decided to create those economic pressures & resulting social attitudes, but to some extent they're consequences of feminism's success. And they're not all good. And I think the feminist movement, in order to truly benefit as many American women as much as possible, should be concentrating more energy on working on these sorts of issues--should be best buddies with the SEIU. But that has nothing to do with buying into the idea that a majority of feminists don't respect mothers or children.

This is solid, and stuff I can agree with wholeheartedly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:46 PM
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A question: has anyone but me ever cringed at I Saw Your Nanny? I sort of want to sic Emerson on them.

I don't think it's a sign of problems w/ feminism, though; more a sign of problems w/ entitled white rich people.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:54 PM
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Ick, that is foul. I knew there were sites like that, but never read them. Wildly racist.

I do love my neighborhood.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:07 PM
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Thanks for the response. I totally get that there might be a different factual basis for making the 2nd and 3rd injury claim. I was in fact thinking that one often does hear the 2nd and 3rd injury claims being made in the context of previously marginalized minorities. (and one would not make these claims for privileged majorities)

It seems that in these cases (depending on the facts) you would support the 2nd 3rd injury claim -- it's possible that we would criticize a talented person from marginalized group X for failing to pursue a position of influence and power. I think I erred by interpreting too literally when you wrote:

I'd say there's a strain of feminism to which I belong that says that a woman's choice to eschew work outside the home in favor of childcare and other unpaid domestic labor should be valued exactly as much as a man's choice to do the same thing.

What it seems this means (and if I've got you wrong, please believe that it's an honest mistake) is "in an ideal world where relevant equality has already been achieved, a woman's choice to work outside the home should be valued equally as a man's choice, but in the unjust world we have now it is in fact more valuable." Likewise, in an ideal world, it would be jut as good for a woman to stay home as a man, but in the world we have, it's worse for a woman to do so because she thereby inflicts injuries 2 and 3 to other women.

I find this highly plausible -- or at least, I think injury 2 is highly plausible (injury 3 is a lot harder to define, I think, but let's pass on that for now). I also think that once we have a theory that acknowledges injury 1, 2, or 3, we basically have a theory that is, all things being equal, critical of the decision to be a SAHM. Insofar as some strains of feminism have suggested these injuries exists, these strains of feminism have devalued the choice of being a SAHM. For example, Linda Hirshman pretty suggests that, ceteris paribus, a talented woman who chooses to stay home is making a moral mistake. How frequent that criticism has been, how strong it has been, and how consequential it has been? Has it been basically inconsequential, or has it had a significant impact? I think these aren't questions anyone has a good answer for.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:25 PM
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840 and Charley's previous (like 818), and my previous, and others too, no doubt:

So are we agreed that

(a) when social change occurs, and values shift, not everybody's needs are met, people whose worldview rested on what's being questioned or overthrown are alienated, possibly quite deeply, and this is no laughing matter, no shit -- and we need to make awareness and sensitivity to that part of the transition plan, as it were, in an *active* way.

And

(b) that if we consider the old ways that are threatened as really and truly a significant loss to our societies, we need to think in broader terms, in terms of what free-market capitalism and -- yes -- masculine values, the 'fuck him before he can fuck you' doctrine has done to us. The women's movement should be in close alliance with the labor movement, of course. Neither of those movements needs Unfogged to tell them that.

I'd love to see agreement on these points, so people don't have to keep restating them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:26 PM
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Actually, I think they do need someone to tell them that, because I think they focus insufficiently on these issues, which are every bit as important as abortion & get 1/4 the attention at best. And I really don't see what the fucking problem is with me saying so.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:30 PM
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845: It fascinates me that as often as I try to bring them up, that it's incredibly difficult to focus anyone on the fact that men have moral choices and responsibilities in this regard. The problems of domestic labor and family responsibilities are not something to be squabbled over between various groups of women while men tut-tut over which women are oppressing which other women.

Can we also say that men who do not do unpaid domestic labor injure men who do, by reinforcing stereotypes about the inappropriateness and incapacity of men in that role? I thought we could. And that a man choosing to do unpaid domestic labor is more valuable in that regard for the value of the work itself and for the work of undoing the stereotype? Also good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:35 PM
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846, 847: There's a lot of history keeping the women's movement separate from other left organizations like unions; the explicit sexism of the 60s left is what got the second wave kickstarted.

This isn't an excuse for failures to work together from any party, but there are historical explanations. We just need to get past that history.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:40 PM
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LB: yeah...I'm getting seriously annoyed at the: "of course feminism recognizes [followed by concessions of my points]; but where do YOU get off saying so" posts, of which there have now been several.

Getting a critical mass of women into the workplace on equal terms at all, before increasing focus on labor & family issues, actually makes a lot of good tactical sense. But it's time for Phase II (well, more like Phase VI, really).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:45 PM
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The problems of domestic labor and family responsibilities are not something to be squabbled over between various groups of women while men tut-tut over which women are oppressing which other women.

Hear, hear.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:48 PM
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It fascinates me that as often as I try to bring them up, that it's incredibly difficult to focus anyone on the fact that men have moral choices and responsibilities in this regard.

Remember, only women have work-family dilemmas. In place of these dilemmas, men have wives.

When someone asks my wife "Do you think it's possible to have a career and a family?" she generally says, "I don't know -- how did your father manage it?"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:48 PM
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it's incredibly difficult to focus anyone on the fact that men have moral choices and responsibilities in this regard.

I agree that men have these choices and responsibilities.

Can we also say that men who do not do unpaid domestic labor injure men who do, by reinforcing stereotypes about the inappropriateness and incapacity of men in that role?

Is this even a question? If you buy into what I've been calling "injury 2," then obviously it will have application to men. Sauce for the goose, etc. Likewise, someone who makes the "injury 1 argument" -- staying at home does not represent a path of human flourishing for a talent person -- is devaluing the choices of stay-at-home fathers just as much as those of stay-at-home mothers.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 4:24 PM
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Likewise, someone who makes the "injury 1 argument" -- staying at home does not represent a path of human flourishing for a talent person -- is devaluing the choices of stay-at-home fathers just as much as those of stay-at-home mothers.

Sure. That argument as applied to men is beyond conventional, to the point where it doesn't need to be stated. That argument is why people who buy into traditional gender roles view the unpaid domestic labor that's appropriate and fitting for women as shameful and humiliating for men. That argument is why Ogged could (I assume he doesn't actually) twist the knife in his ex's SAHD husband by just lightly alluding to the difference in their vocational choices in public.

If you want to walk away from that belief, and raise the status of unpaid domestic/family work, you have to treat unpaid domestic/family work as desirable, high status work for men as much as women.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 4:38 PM
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