The Wives of Others

Read this excellent article (The Wives of Others) by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker yesterday. Strikes at an issue close to my heart – choices that women make regarding family, career, and home. It’s all a lot more real now that I’m a grownup. (For those who don’t know me well – my mom made the choice when my brother was born to leave her job, and she homeschooled us both; me through graduation, and my brother through 10th grade when my father was diagnosed with leukemia and she had to go back to work.)

The book under question is “The Feminist Mistake” by Leslie Bennetts.

I’m just going to excerpt pieces of it:

She barely considers the possibility that a woman might clear-sightedly find the rearing of her children the most rewarding work she can do, not out of a sense of self-sacrifice but out of a sense of personal fulfillment . . . Nor does she consider whether the flight from the workplace might be a justified rejection of a culture that assumes that parenting can be dealt with in the margins of one’s work life . . . Nor is the defensive crouch that Bennetts recommends likely to enhance a marriage, marriage itself being the epitome of a good-faith enterprise. Bennetts does women a service by pointing out the dangers of financial dependency in marriage, but emotional dependency is at the core of the marital relationship . . . The briskness of her mandate (get a job) and the alarmism of her monition (you never know, he might leave you) hardly do justice to the complexity of married life, which encompasses vulnerability in the present and includes the hovering prospect of loss.

You should read the article to get the full picture (it’s short by New Yorker standards – only two pages), but I’m liking where this discussion is headed; that if you want to have a career that fulfills you and be a mother and you can do it, by all means, then do it – nothing inherently wrong with that. But if you want to stay home and raise your children, then do it, and don’t let anyone judge that decision.

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