While King George Snoops

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Oh, by the
way, a little snooping's just fine. As everyone knows, I have NOTHING
to hide! And you as well, right? So, what’s the problem?

And really,
who cares that the Department of Homeland Security not only is planning
to track us with the REAL ID in 2008 — something that the American
people rallied against only ten years ago, but now accept without
protest — but is also planning to track our movements via vehicle.
And you thought 1984,
Brave
New World
,
and all those other utopian sci-fi novels were mere
fiction
?

Well, whatever,
anyway we obviously have MUCH bigger fish to fry here in the U.S.
If you saw Good Morning America recently (and I am thankful
that I have better things to do in the morning — taking my basal
body temperature, for instance), you know that the big story was
the “Mommy Wars”! Really, I’d rather worry about some elitist female
propagandist telling me that my children will be better off AWAY
from me all day, in the care of some institution, than to worry
about losing my freedom and privacy. Oh, and by the way, I’m wasting
my talents and education by doing something so banal as raising
my children. My brain is withering as I write!

I am curious,
though. Why is it that people assume that taking care of children
isn’t fun and fulfilling? By the way, what does it mean when one's
life is fulfilled? Does a fulfilling life only include being a corporate
drone for 40 or more hours each week?

As a mom who
is mainly at home, I can tell my children about Shakespeare as easily
as I used to tell my first-year college students. Or I can teach
my children the alphabet. Or numbers. And guess what? Unlike my
former students, my children know where I live. And,
my children will know where I am years from now; I will know where
they are. You get my drift — there's some permanence in teaching
my children that I never had teaching strangers, wonderful as some
of those students were. And yet, people like Linda Hirshman are
just sure that what my little educated self is doing is a) bad for
me b) bad for society, and c) bad for my children.

In case you
can’t stomach the
article
, I’ll give you one of my favorite lines: Hirshman thinks
that those of us who have degrees and yet, choose to raise our own
children are part of “a trend that is a tragedy not only for the
mothers, but ultimately their children and women as a whole.”

See? It's not
King George and his posse who are providing us harm, it's me. Oh,
and the other moms who choose not to hand our children over to others
all day. Before you read Hirshman, you may indeed have a different
view of things. Here's my thinking prior to Hirshman's admonishment
of me: Our Constitutional rights out the window? A tragedy! Our
president’s spying on us? A tragedy! Mothers who raise our own children
. . . A tragedy?!? B.F. Skinner must be cackling in his grave over
Hirshman's words. Imagine! A nation full of mothers who want
nothing more than to fulfill themselves by turning their children
over to an institution, as close to birth as possible.

I can only
say that this kind of blather would have never made network television
prior to the so-called feminist movement of the 60s and 70s. I’ll
remember the first time I questioned that movement. My now five-year-old
was a mere three months old at the time and I was having lunch with
a friend of mine who had a daughter a few months older than my son.
I was supposed to return to work from maternity leave the next day
and I wasn’t too happy about it. I said something about the feminists
and she said that she had never really been one. Suddenly, all the
socialist feminist propaganda that I’d gleaned from way too many
years in school cracked. I was ecstatic to find an intelligent woman
who didn't consider herself a feminist!

Since then,
I've found a few more. I realized with my friend that day that I
didn’t have to love the feminists. Thanks to her eye-opening comment,
I began to realize that anything I did was because I did it, not
because some supposed bra-burning women’s libber had paved some
metaphorical road for me. I could be a woman and not believe all
the feminist crap — how liberating!

I could tell
Ms. Hirshman, of course, how I've met few women who were happy and
fulfilled by leaving their child in daycare or with a nanny all
day. Most of the women I know who have to work outside the home
would be much happier spending time with their children, if they
could afford it. I know it's hard for someone like Hirshman to believe,
but there are some of us who actually like being around our children.

That's not
enough, of course. Loving to be with our children and to teach them
is bad news for those of us who are educated; and evidently, we
are way too stupid or conditioned or something to make our own choices:
"Prying women out of their traditional roles is not going to
be easy," Hirshman says. Then why bother? Really, what
business is it of Hirshman's what I do with my education? Maybe
we are choosing traditional roles because, well, they're traditional.
Perhaps the fact that they seem to have worked well for thousands
of years makes them attractive to many of us. Maybe some of us see
women and men as contributors to our family, but not as equals per
se. Therefore, if men rule the corporate world, maybe, just
maybe, that's okay with some of us. Some of us are quite happy to
have the privilege of raising and teaching our offspring.

But it's not
okay with Hirshman. In fact, taking care of the children that we've
created makes us traitors to our class, unless, of course, we are
in the "lowest caste." According to her words in The
American Prospect
, it is better to pay someone else to do
the dirty work with our progeny:

" . .
. these daughters of the upper class will be bearing most of the
burden of the work always associated with the lowest caste: sweeping
and cleaning bodily waste. Not two weeks after the Yalie
flap
, the Times ran a story of moms who were toilet training
in infancy by vigilantly watching their babies for signs of excretion
24-7. They have voluntarily become untouchables."

Even though
I can hardly be called a daughter of the upper class, the elite
to which Hirshman refers supposedly affects me greatly, as part
of what she calls the "regime effect," or what I like
to call trickle-down choices. In other words, when those who've
gone to Yale start staying at home with their children, all the
rest of us — too dumb, of course, to make our own choices — will
follow, wreaking supposed havoc on humanity.

I can't help
but wonder if Hirshman realizes how demeaning her comment is to
the women who actually do the childraising while the moms that Hirshman
so admires are off fulfilling themselves. Oh, never mind, you
go off to your office and let Helena take care of your children
all day. After all, she only has an associate's degree in some childhood
education program. But you, you, my darling, have a master's! As
a result, you must never ever touch poop. Instead, you must go and
teach socialism, I mean, sociology all day. If you weren't there
to teach those little darlings, then they might be taught by — horrors!
— a MAN! And if that were the case, then you wouldn't be able to
tell them how victimized we women are! If you weren't there to tell
them how to think, then they may just learn to think for themselves!
We can't let that happen! You MUST give your child to the woman
with less education and go tell the masses what to think!

As with so
many modern-day women, many of whom took women’s studies classes
as part of their degree, Linda Hirshman is frittering away her own
talents and skills by becoming a professional feminist. Instead
of doing something really useful for the world, Hirshman is busy
telling women that being a mom and raising your own child is simply
bad business. It's her privilege to say what she wants, of course,
but how much better might her talents and skills be used in, say,
keeping the government out of all our lives, no matter our gender.

 

 
photo
by John Thomas

 
 

It's been a
while since the world had a Margaret Sanger running around, supposedly
helping women by telling them to stop reproducing so much. But I
do believe that Hirshman is a valid contender for a Sanger award
of some sort. It's sad, indeed, that Hirshman was able to have so
much airtime on national television, especially when our freedoms
are dwindling, zooming away from us faster than King George's defenses
of his unconstitutional searches fly from his mouth. The real tragedy
of Hirshman's desire to tell educated mommies that what we do for
our children is a huge waste of our talents and skills is that anyone
bothers to listen.

March
7, 2006

Tricia
Shore [send her mail],
a North Carolina State University graduate, is happy with her momly
life. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Tricia misses the sweet
tea, grits, and barbeque of the South. You can read more of her
thoughts and comment on her article here.

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