I haven’t read Leslie Bennett’s new book, The Feminine Mistake, though I suspect IWF will do a brown bag or some sort of event to address it. But what struck me about the review in yesterday’s Washington Post (which finds the book “important but flawed”) was the anger:
“A pregnant friend once asked me why all the mothers she knew seemed so angry. ‘Lack of sleep and time,’ I shrugged. But that’s not the reason, or not entirely. New mothers, or at least some, are angry because for the first time they’ve come up hard against the fundamental inequity between men and women. The biological differences — excruciating childbirth, endless late-night nursing — are stark enough, but the societal expectation that child care is a ‘women’s issue’ feels worse. After all these years of supposed equal rights, it seems men still have more important things to do than watch their children, a message relentlessly hammered home by the insufficient day care, inflexible employers and pressure to take ‘mommy-tracked’ jobs that burden so many mothers’ working lives.”
The review ends with some policy ideas:
“But Bennetts does make clear that if mothers continue to leave their jobs, instead of forcing employers and policymakers to address the real needs of real families, no solution will be found. Thanks to Bennetts’s ferocious analysis of the economic realities that mothers face, the precariousness of their children’s lives should be all the more difficult to ignore.”
The last thing we need is more meddling in the workplace by “policymakers.” Mothers who are assets on the job will probably be able for make arrangements (which is better than “forcing employers and policymakers”) to work at home or return to work. Those who are not assets may not be able to do so. But this is a workplace decision, better left to bosses.