Where real moms tell it like it is.

Monday, December 05, 2005

June Cleaver Redux

Salon writer Rebecca Traister flips through the new magazine Total 180! – a publication for professional women who have "opted out" of their careers to be stay-at-home moms – and comes away shaken:

Whatever studies tell us about whether privileged women are or aren't opting out, this magazine, produced by women who have, suggests that some stay-at-home moms are in a dark, dark place.. I was left petrified by Total 180! and its vivid depiction of the inequities of domestic life that I -- apparently naively -- had assumed were a thing of the past in a post-feminist world.

Her disquietude was nothing compared with the shocks she would endure interviewing one of the magazine's three co-founders, Debbie Klett. Here's a choice bit of dialogue:

Klett: Look what's happened by not putting the family first.
Traister: What's happened?
Klett: It seems like there's a lot more weird stuff going on in society than there used to be.
T: Are you blaming the weird stuff on the feminist movement?
K: No, not really. But you've got a lot of moms who tried to have it all and you're seeing the results of that in that children were not getting as much dedicated attention as they were before when you had June Cleavers. I heard on TV recently that kids in grade school were giving oral sex to people for a dollar. I don't know if that went on in the 1950s but I sure didn't hear about it. I wasn't around in the '50s but you know what I mean. Why is that happening now?

Zowie! Klett presents a disjointed, uncomfortable blend: one minute idealizing an era that was oppressive as hell for women, and the next minute advocating for flextime and on-site daycare. "I think that somewhere between the 1950s and now, that's the happy medium we're trying to get to now. If we could have the liberation but still put family first."

To me, feminism, boiled down to its essence, is about self-determination. You want to stay at home? You want to work? You want both? Do what suits you. It's about saying YES to what you want, and just as importantly, saying NO to what you don't want. What I don't get is this new wave of women who revert to being slaves, martyrs, and doormats. You can surely "put family first" without pulling this thankless retro act. Equality–even when your roles have become specialized with one parent working outside the home–is still possible.


At Tuesday, December 06, 2005 7:18:00 PM, Blogger Elisa said...

You go! I just heard from a friend and fellow stay-at-home mom who was offended by "Total 180!" What bothers me about the feminist backlash in our country is no one is holding fathers responsible. How about selling stay-at-home fatherhood to men? How about laying even SOME blame on men for societal ills rather than always chastizing women?


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