March 13, 2005

Sanctimoniuous Motherhood

Caitlin Flanagan writing for The New Yorker? I might just have to start reading it again. There are plenty of women (read: über feminists) who don't like Caitlin Flanagan. Maybe her admonition for a woman to actually consider her husband a human being, keep house not just clean it, and to rear her own children rather than outsourcing it to someone whom they pay less attention and money than the family veterinarian, irritates them. No one tells today's woman how to live her life, especially a man, and especially not a woman who doesn't completely agree with the feminist manifesto (read: liberal democrats). I love it that an intelligent and gifted female writer has drawn the sword of wit to challenge the claim that a woman is obligated to no one but herself.

The first encounter I had with Flanagan's writing was "The Wifely Duty" in the January/February 2003 The Atlantic. I read the article between gasps of hysterical laughter and hearty shouts of "Amen!" R particularly enjoyed and agreed with the advice of marital therapist Michele Weiner Davis (author of The Sex-Starved Marriage) : "'that although you might not have been thinking sexual thoughts or feeling particularly sexy, if you push yourself to 'get started' when your spouse approaches you, it feels good, and you find yourself getting into it?'" Flanagan says, " Many of her (Davis') clients have received this counsel with enthusiasm. 'I really wasn't in the mood for sex at all,' reports one of her advisees after just such a night, 'but once we got started, it was fun. I really enjoyed it.'"

Can you believe that Flanagan was purporting that a woman have sex because her husband wants to? I mean the audacity to imply that a woman is bound to be considerate of anyone else save herself. However, let us recall that a man is a selfish dog if not at his wife's beck-and-call.

The submission her liberal colleagues felt to be the most inflammatory and the most irritating was "How Serfdom Saved the Women’s Movement " published in The Atlantic, March 2004. That particular article generated quite a few letters to the editor and further cemented the growing rage against Caitlin Flanagan as both a traitor to the advancement to her gender and to her profession. She was accused of hyprocrisy (she is a writer, is that not a profession?) and as being a walking dichotomy of moral and political values, eschewing the "popular" politics demanded of women by the Feminist Union. An interesting back-and-forth discussion occurs on Slate via "e-mails" between Sara Mosle, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Caitlin Flanagan concerning the points Flanagan makes in her article. Ironically, Mosle accuses Flanagan of a bait-and-switch, when she does the very thing in redirecting the argument toward corporate mistreatment of workers, rather than admit her associates capable of commiting such evil atrocities toward their servants. Professional women just don't do such things. Zoe Baird ring a bell?

In googling and following a labyrinth of blog links, I have found Caitlin Flanagan to have been called a "dumb c_ _ t," a veritable vacuum of ignorance, "moronic, smug and offensive, a " Clarence Thomas," and a journalistic bully in Ms. Magazine, "beating up on professional working moms." Ouch! Amazing the tolerance, the openness, the acceptance of those who have differing opinions. Maud Newton quoting a GMB, basically claims that Caitlin Flanagan isn't a real writer because a) she can't possibly be a mother and a wife and like it or she wouldn't be writing about it (now let's apply that to a woman who has children but chooses her work over her family: she must not really like her children or she wouldn't be seeking to be away from them for 40-60 hours a week. Mmmm, doesn't quite work, does it?), and b) because Flanagan is such a hypocrite she simply can't be recognized as the real deal.

I don't justify to anyone why I choose rear my own children. I don't need to. The reasons, the benefits, the challenges are obvious. It amazes me that I am thought less educated, less intelligent or a stumbling block to the progression of my gender because I choose to sacrifice 10 years of my career in order to rear my own children, or choose something that accommodates child-rearing rather than sacrificing my children for 10 years of career or forcing my infants and pre-schoolers to adjust to the mother's goals and self-seeking. There are certainly exceptions that dictate a woman, or a man seek childcare outside of the home, but this is not what drives the feminist drivel. These exceptions are claimed as the standard to justify selfhood.

While walking through The Grove in Los Angeles with one of the female producers of The Larry Elder Show, she told me that she felt compelled to continue her career when she has children because "so many women sacrificed and paved the way" for her to do so. "No," I reminded her. "They paved the way for you to have a choice and not to be indebted without thought and consideration for what is ultimately best."

Posted by Rae at March 13, 2005 03:39 PM

Hi! I really appreciated your article. Amen all the way. There is a post by Dr. Barbara Lehr on feminism that you might find interesting.

Posted by: Rebecca at March 15, 2005 01:52 PM

Therein lies all of my guilt. Guilt because I went back to work (even though I was pushed to do so), guilt because I went full-time and guilt because I've had to work so much recently (although that should slow down very soon). I feel the most guilt because I really, really like working. I was a stay-at-home mom for seven years and I never thought I wanted to do anything else. It was really shocking to find out that I really like to work. Now if I could get past the guilt that I'm losing two hours a day with my children. Does it help that they're getting a happier, more confident mother in the mix?

I'm just rambling.. Sorry, Rae. :)

Posted by: Natalie at March 15, 2005 10:13 PM


I think your situation far different than the one that is being described above. Staying home seven years with the kids is far more time, when added all together, than many children get by the time they get to high school.

Natalie, come ramble anytime. I like your ramblings :D

Posted by: Rae at March 16, 2005 07:32 AM
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