Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Bits and Pieces


Just a brief post from me. We are all cold-ridden over here and we were up until the wee hours in the E.R. with our 6 month old (he's fine). But I thought that a couple of things that happened this week were worth mention:

Judith Warner wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece in the New York Times on the work started by Betty Friedan. It's nice to see some conversation about mothering and feminism in the mainstream press.

Darla Shine (yes, I have finished my review and it will be posted soon) has revamped her website to make it more exclusionary. If you are a full-time working mother, she does not want you to sign up, or to buy her t-shirts, or to book passage on her Happy Housewives cruise. I know I'll have more to say about this, but I'm still slightly in shock.

And speaking of vacuuming, I read in Self Magazine (I know, I know) that the more time a woman under the age of 50 spends doing housework, the lower her income. The underlying study provides food for thought with respect to mothering and the second shift.

Jen Lawrence is an MBA and former banker who left the world of finance for the world of sippy cups and goldfish crackers. She writes about her experiences on her blog MUBAR (Mothered Up Beyond All Recognition). She is an Editorial Assistant for Literary Mama’s Reviews section and also contributes to the Literary Mama blog. Her work has appeared in The Philosophical Mother. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two children.

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Thanks, Jen, for alterting us to the Warner piece in the New York Times. I was thrilled to read it, and pleased with Warner's reflections on the similiarities between Friedan's experiences and the experience of many mothers today. I've been a fan of Friedan's work with NOW, and I am fully aware that I am one of the daughters of her generation who benefited greatly from her vision. I know that my generation stands on the shoulders of women like Friedan because the freedoms in education and the work place that we take for granted were won by them. The mainstream white feminism movement that grew out of Freidan's work has not failed in its original goals of more equality in the work place and in educational access for women. It's been a huge success. But I also agree with Warner that we still have much work to do in the area of work/life balance and in issues surrounding child care and domestic labor. Personally, I think looking to other cultures, such as traditional American Indian communities, where what we define as traditional women's nurturing work--raising children, making a home, caring for the sick or old, providing and preparing food--was valued as equally important to traditional male warrior/hunting work. Mainstream US culture needs a simlar vision that values nuturing work, whether it is done in the home or not. I know this calls for a radical reshaping of our current way of thinking that places more value on the lone rebel hero warrior (male or female)--in business, education, sports, films, and the home--over the community based nurturer (male or female). It means valuing raising children as equal to earning a high level income. It means putting money and resouces behind those who do nuturing work. It means making nurturing a central part of our educational, corporate, and political systems. Ultimately, we need to develop a system-wide ethic of care. It is what needs to come next. And if we don't do it, our daughters and sons will be having these same conversations as they become parents. Some people who have been attacking feminism on this site may be surprised at the inclusiveness of my statements, but my brand of feminism is not only about change for bettering the lives of women but about change to better the society at large. For all mothers, fathers, and children, regardless of the work/life balance they have chosen. So, before you attack feminism, you might want to ask, "What kind of feminism?" There are as many different inflections of feminism as there are people who claim to be feminist. Reacting to stereoptypes isn't looking closely at what is in front of you.
Well, the obnoxious "feminazi's stay out" (sic) is now gone. Whomever thought *that* was a good idea (and I must assume Darla herself had some final approval) ought to be ashamed of themselves.
My mind is boggled by that move from Shine. Mostly because -- um, hello? -- isn't she technically a "work-from-home" mother? I mean, if you want to get specific about it. She has a job. So she's not a "stay-at-home" motherm at least not the way she seems to be defining that term on her site and in her handbook. I personally think all of those titles are divisive and irrelevant, unless your point is to judge, alienate, and undermine other women.
Wait a minute, why am I not making a million dollars a year then? I do no housework at all. Shouldn't I be insanely wealthy? I'm looking forward to your book review.
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