BECAUSE THEY’RE BEING GOOD PROVIDERS? Male Executives Don’t Feel Guilt, See Work-Life Balance as a Women’s Problem. Actually, reading the article, I think this shows that people’s actions in their own lives are often more traditional/conservative than their beliefs in the public sphere. Harvard Business School students of both sexes may be horrified at these findings, but watch the choices they make themselves over the coming decade or two.
Related: How Serfdom Saved The Women’s Movement. “I have never once argued with my husband about which of us was going to change the sheets of the marriage bed, but then—to my certain knowledge —neither one of us ever has changed the sheets. Or scrubbed the bathtubs, or dusted the cobwebs off the top of the living-room bookcase, or used the special mop and the special noncorrosive cleanser on the hardwood floors. Two years ago our little boys got stomach flu, one right after the other, and there were ever so many loads of wash to do, but we did not do them. The nanny did. . . . Betty Friedan had a crack cleaning woman on staff when she was busy writing about the oppression of domestic work).” This offers insight into the immigration-reform debate, too. . . .
The professional-class working mother—grateful inheritor of Betty Friedan’s realizations about domestic imprisonment and the happiness and autonomy offered by work—is oppressed by guilt about her decision to keep working, by a society that often questions her commitment to and even her love for her children, by the labor-intensive type of parenting currently in vogue, by children’s stalwart habit of falling deeply and unwaveringly in love with the person who provides their physical care, and by her uneasy knowledge that at-home mothers are giving their children much more time and personal attention than she is giving hers. She feels more than oppressed—she feels outraged! she wants something done about this!—by a corporate culture that refuses to let a working mother postpone an important meeting if it happens to coincide with the fourth-grade Spring Sing.
On the other hand, the nonprofessional-class working mother—unhappy inheritor of changes in the American economy that have thrust her unenthusiastically into the labor market—is oppressed by very different forces. She is oppressed by the fact that her work is oftentimes physically exhausting, ill-paid, and devoid of benefits such as health insurance and paid sick leave. She is oppressed by the fact that it is impossible to put a small child in licensed day care if you make minimum wage, and she is oppressed by the harrowing child-care options that are available on an unlicensed, inexpensive basis. She is oppressed by the fact that she has no safety net: if she falls out of work and her child needs a visit to the doctor and antibiotics, she may not be able to afford those things and will have to treat her sick child with over-the-counter medications, which themselves are far from cheap. She is oppressed by the fact that—another feminist gain—single motherhood has been so championed in our culture, along with the sexual liberation of women and the notion that a woman doesn’t really need a man. In this climate she is often left shouldering the immense burden of parenthood alone.
Fish, meet bicycle. But, then, while “you can know chapter and verse about the psychology of oppressed peoples and still not get a man to turn out a nice meal,” if he should somehow happen to do so, women in the pages of The Atlantic will call him a “kitchen bitch.” So maybe staying at the office late doesn’t look half-bad.