In a post last Friday in which I suggested that Caitlin Flanagan, the off-stereotype feminist writer once vilified by the rad-feminist establishment, seems to have sold out to those very rad-fems in a July 7 article (sorry–it can’t be linked) for the ever-politically correct New Yorker complaining about the dullness of maternal life compared to the fulfillment of holding down a full-time job. (See my Et Tu, Caitlin Flanagan!, July 2.) Pointing out that many mothers find trying to raise kids while working full-time exhausting rather than exhilarating, I wrote:
“Not a single woman with small children (not teen-agers) of my acquaintance–and that includes some pretty smart gals–holds a full-time job outside her home, except for the ones who, because of the vagaries of fortune, lack husbands.”
But InkWell reader “Anonymous” offers what I think is a thoughtful and well-founded critique of my reasoning:
“One of the things that bothered me most about Ms. Flanagan’s How Serfdom Saved the Women’s Movement [her cover story for the March 2004 issue of the Atlantic Monthly] was her assumption that all professional women with professional husbands who work and hire nannies do so for reasons other than that their households need their income. Your echo her statement by writing that no married mother of small children that you know holds a full time job outside the home.
“I envy you and Ms. Flanagan your wealth and privileged circles! Where can I get a lifestyle like this? I have an impressive job title and quite reasonable salary, as does my husband. But we need both of those salaries and I certainly could not afford to stay home with children. Many women in my neighborhood also work, for the same reason. (Yes, I live near New York City, where the cost of living is high; perhaps in other areas it’s more feasible, but we can’t all live in lower-cost cities….) It is frustrating to read such elitist remarks, and I wouldn’t have expected to see them here.”
My profound apologies. I certainly don’t want to be elitist, Anonymous, and if it’s any comfort, I assure you that I’m not rich, either. I indeed overlooked the fact that many married moms with small children like you work full-time outside the household because the family needs the money. Perhaps I do move in lucky (although not wealthy) circles, because the vast majority of the husbands of the non-working (or part-time-working) mothers of little ones I know make comfortable but hardly enormous salaries as magazine editors, government staff lawyers, and so forth. And you certainly can live cheaper in Washington and its suburbs than in New York and its suburbs. So believe me, I’m not criticizing you, Anonymous, and all the wives like you who have got to hold down a full-time job to get the mortgage paid or the kids enrolled in decent schools. You’ve got my sympathies. What I’m saying is that many women prefer to spend more time at home while the kids are growing. They’re voting with their feet that the frissons of office life aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Reader W.E.W. sends this e-mail commenting on The Other Charlotte’s post on the riveting but politically befuddled late Marlon Brando, whom TOC called a “mixed-up guy” but “a great actor” (See Marlon Brando: “Virility in Transition,” July 5). W.E.W.’s e-mail is brief but critical of the praise TOC heaped on Marlon’s talents:
“Marlon Brando portrayed a screaming rapist and defended a smirking rapist.”
I can’t recall any flick in which Marlon defended a rapist, smirking or otherwise (perhaps other Inky readers can jog my memory). But he certainly screamed (“Stell-ahhhhh!”) and raped memorably in his undershirt-attired role as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. And we at the IWF don’t approve of rape. But don’t you think he made up for it, W.E.W., when he ordered the avenging of a rape in The Godfather?