June 24 2012
Response to Elizabeth Wurtzel's Piece in The Atlantic
Carrie Lukas and others have offered important commentary on Ms. Elizabeth Wurtzel’s recent piece in The Atlantic. Presumably Ms. Wurtzel wanted to get people talking, and sure enough I couldn’t get her polemic against wives and mothers out of my head. I think women everywhere should express their thoughts about it.
In her article titled, “1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible,” she calls for an absolute and meaningful equality between men and women. This equality, she argues, is measured by one’s salary, pure and simple.
The thing about Wurtzel’s piece is that I find myself agreeing with it, in part.
I too, support female financial independence. I’m not even terribly troubled by Wurtzel’s unfairly broad castigation of female “1%ers” who don’t really “do the work” of being a mom because the ones she knows apparently don’t. But then Wurtzel does something else. She insults a host of women who decide to be wives and mothers regardless of whether they're in the so called 1% or not.
According Wurtzel, not only should women strive to earn their own money, but they should also never stoop to financial support from a man. Wurtzel is proud to have never dated a wealthy man because she claims to know that he would lord is economic superiority over her. And that’s just it. Wurtzel’s feminism is about numbers, and about fearing men who earn higher numbers. She says herself that feminism shouldn’t actually be about feelings or real relationships with men – in the end it isn’t even about relationships at all - and then she takes a big step further by belittling all committed relationships.
This is where Ms. Wurtzel parts ways with most women, because she makes pits “independence and integrity” against the value brought by relationships and love.
Wurtzel says you’re only working if you’re getting paid for it (preferably as much if not more than a man) and in the meantime, stay-at-home moms, you’re just filling up space. You’re doing something that’s a mere “a part of life” Wurtzel says, rather than bringing real value to society or even yourself. Being a real, able bodied feminist for Wurtzel means being a self-supporting, unattached, thing.
Wurtzel dismisses the value of building relationships and family as an easy “part of life,” but that’s only because she 's not building them. It takes strength for any man or woman to depend on someone else in life, no matter who earns the bigger paycheck. Moreover, it takes commitment and communication to deal with the complicated subject of finances with someone else. Most women are not Wurtzel feminists. We may earn our own decent salaries (or not) but we know that life's real value is found in much more than moneymaking and a staunch pledge to singleness.