No More Nancy Drew

I often look at my eight- and five-year-old daughters and wonder what their struggles will be balancing work and family as adult women.

I don't think they will have as hard a time as my peers and I, American women born in the 1960s, have had. Much has changed for the better in the past 40 years. The majority of today's mothers work and thus enjoy the choices that come with economic independence. There are fewer and fewer glass ceilings for women to bash through (although enough remain to keep my daughters occupied, if they so choose).

And this makes me oddly sad for my daughters. I'm sure they will have plenty of fascinating life challenges in other ways. However, as much as my inner mommy war drives me (and my family) nuts, belonging to this particular generation of American women has proven exhilarating, frustrating, and demanding -- and ultimately, extremely empowering. Now is a fascinating time to be a woman in America. Gender "rules" about how and when women (and men) combine careers and kids are being completely re-written. We're doing the rewriting.

One friend, who stayed home with her three young daughters for several years, recently returned to an 80+ hour per week job fundraising for Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. She recently raised more than $1 million in one day. Not bad for one stay-at-home mom shilling for a mother who put her husband's career first for 26 years.

Another mom with young children took a year off from a good government job and started a small business doing monogramming for friends, local soccer teams and neighborhood boutiques. She expressly wants her business to stay small so that she can do the work for herself, on her time; she has no desire to be the next Martha Stewart. But the work is fulfilling and financially rewarding. She's found work/life balance that works for her.

A childhood classmate with an MBA in finance stayed home for five years, got active in volunteer work at her son's school and parlayed her volunteer experience into a position running a large federally funded scholarship program for low-income families. A neighbor two blocks away quit her legal career when her second son was born and started a new career as a preschool teacher.

When I consider these women, it's hard to argue that our country has refused to accomodate women's work/family needs. Women have forced our society to change. The degree of non-linear career flexibility seen today is heady stuff. Of course, not every woman in America can blithely pivot into working mom, stay-at-home mom, teacher/lawyer/volunteer/political fundraiser roles. Many important milestones have not yet been reached in terms of women's choices, equality and work options.

I don't mean to put on rose-colored glasses. Just to step back and acknowledge that American mothers have a range of choices almost unimaginable 40 years ago. When my mother was my age, no American women were doing this high-level presto-chango. Now thousands, perhaps millions, of American mothers are. My hope is that my daughters will take for granted this near-effortless movement into and out of childrearing and paid work.

Ruth Marcus, a working mother who writes for The Washington Post, recently brought the same point to light in Mystery Of the Girl Sleuth. The Nancy Drew series inspired generations of American girls and sold more than 200 million books since 1930. But Marcus's daughters show no interest in Nancy. "For us, Nancy Drew was revolutionary," writes Marcus. "Today, she's the new normal."

The luck of my generation is that we got to be revolutionary. My girls get normal. I would hate for them to have to refight all my battles. But at the same time, I feel lucky to have been on the front lines.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 11, 2007; 7:15 AM ET  | Category:  You Go Girl!
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First

Posted by: El Primo | July 11, 2007 7:18 AM

Interesting piece today. I agree that expectations are shifting and non-linear careers are becoming more common, and that's a good thing for women (and men as well). However, I don't think this means the next generation won't still struggle with balance issues. I think it just raises a whole new set of issues.

Many of these portable careers pay less than their linear counterparts, although I think the flexibility is worth it in many cases. Personally, I'm grateful that my chosen career lends itself well to a work-at-home-part-time lifestyle, while still paying well.

But, when my daughter grows up, should I encourage her to consider these issues when selecting a field? Maybe so, maybe not, but this is an issue that won't go away as long as people keep having children and wanting both to spend time with them AND have satisfying work and the income it provides.

Posted by: VAMom | July 11, 2007 7:29 AM

I'd hope that the parents among us would be encouraging their children to do more than consider their own needs as they grow up and then go out and discover their places in the world! To think that one's own needs are all that matter is so insular. Where are the dreamers among us? I certainly hope that some of today's children - daughters and sons - will be tomorrow's inventors, explorers, artists, etc. The world be a very dreary place were it not for those who choose to live for others as well as for themselves.

Posted by: Murphy | July 11, 2007 7:43 AM

Third! Hoohaa!

Posted by: squinz | July 11, 2007 7:43 AM

"When my mother was my age, no American women were doing this high-level presto-chango."
- sandra day o'connor comes to mind

"Not bad for one stay-at-home mom shilling for a mother who put her husband's career first for 26 years." - Think of her what you will, she was the primary breadwinner for her family and a law firm partner... things you typically allow most women to count as career achievements of their own.

Posted by: quibbles | July 11, 2007 7:51 AM

I second VAMom's post. I am grateful for all the options, but at the same time, I think it can be overwhelming for some people. Having too much choice isn't a good thing for a certain percentage of the population. Also, I think there's this idea that you can earn more by doing less, which most of the time is just a fantasy. (Look at the book published recently about working a 4-hour week, for example.)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 11, 2007 7:56 AM

This is interesting to me that all of the examples reflect women who left their jobs in order to achieve balance, instead of finding ways to balance in their current job while also raising their families. Is this the message-that women must leave their current role to achieve balance? I personnaly would like to see more family friendly policies in my current workplace so that I can maintain the career I have been working on for 15 years, however, I too have chosen to transfer to a job that is closer to home, less demanding and yes, less pay. This was a choice on my part that I am happy to make, but I would like to see more flexible workplaces so that parents have more options if they want to maintain their pre-children career.

Posted by: MDmom | July 11, 2007 8:11 AM

Yes, options are great, but I regret having spent such a huge chunk of money on my education -- given that at the moment I prefer to work part-time. I can't really justify the exorbitant expense given that I don't currently earn that much.

When you think about your daughters and their futures, do you think about this piece of the puzzle? I understand that currently private college tuition, room and board can be around 40,000/year and my kids aren't even going for another ten years. I'm just wondering about the logic of spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on education -- I don't want my daughters to feel like they HAVE to work full-time forever, because we spent so much money on their education.

Leslie's remarks about choices are nice, but what about the financial realities?
I know I'm not the only one who thinks about this . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | July 11, 2007 8:11 AM

"I understand that currently private college tuition, room and board can be around 40,000/year and my kids aren't even going for another ten years."

This may be OT, Armchair, but there is no reason or need on God's green earth to pay that much for college. Ergo, your kids shouldn't have to think about that aspect when choosing a career.

Posted by: Just wonderin' | July 11, 2007 8:18 AM

do you have any sons? are your concerns about educational spending / pressure similar? (I realize the article was only about daughters)

Posted by: to Armchair mom | July 11, 2007 8:19 AM

Armchair Mom

"I'm just wondering about the logic of spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on education -- I don't want my daughters to feel like they HAVE to work full-time forever, because we spent so much money on their education. "

And your sons?

It's weird that you predict your daughters will live their lives according to YOUR standard and that MONEY YOU SPENT is the bar!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:21 AM

It's true that more flexibility exists for women with advanced business degrees, but what about the rest of us? And if everyone leaves their job rather than fight management inflexibility, when will the workplace change?

Posted by: cubedweller | July 11, 2007 8:24 AM

To MDmom, Maybe they didn't want to work in their old career post-child. I have been in my career for 11 years and now that we are thinking of having a child, I want to work, but not like this. It has been a great run and I am grateful for the experience. I just want to concentrate on me for a while.

And to Armchair, I totally understand your concern. It is a lot of money for something you don't know if your daughter will use in full. But, maybe she will. I went to a private college and am sure that for a good portion of my working adult life that I will not be sprinting to the top. But, my education helped me to sprint over the past 11 years and as such, I've done well and saved a lot. Now, my husband and I can dream of takign a summer off and renting a beach house with our child. The career may only span a decade and a half, but it may be able to open up new dreams and possibilities.

Posted by: Thought | July 11, 2007 8:26 AM

"And if everyone leaves their job rather than fight management inflexibility, when will the workplace change?"

No, it won't. That's what everyone fights about when those women decide to stay home after having a baby.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:27 AM

"I'm just wondering about the logic of spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on education -- I don't want my daughters to feel like they HAVE to work full-time forever, because we spent so much money on their education"

The way I see it, that money buys choices and open doors. Without a college degree, a person is confined for a lifetime to a certain subset of careers that don't require one. With a degree, more doors are open. Even is someone stays home for several years, I think that degree is still important. After all, the kids will be in school or out of the house eventually, and then even the most hardcore SAHP would probably want some kind of job.

On another note, I loved Nancy Drew when I was a kid (in the '80s), though I was a bigger fan of Trixie Belden. Neither seemed revolutionary to me in any way except that they were female heroines in a sea of books about boys. Frankly, I'm surprised to hear that "kids these days" aren't interested in Nancy. Maybe it's just those particular kids?

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 11, 2007 8:27 AM

"And to Armchair, I totally understand your concern. It is a lot of money for something you don't know if your daughter will use in full"

There is no guarantee a son would use the expensive education in full! Sexism is alive and well!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:30 AM

I think a lot of us have done some version of that calculus that Armchair Mom mentioned: does the money we earn justify what we (or our parents) spent on our education? I did it the first few years I got out of college (and I really thought about it the years I was a SAHM). I guess my dad the accountant really drove that mentality of doing a cost-benefit analysis of every decision into our brains.

The good news is that you don't have to spend $40K a year on a college; not all state universities are CSS, and there are plenty of private colleges with tuition and room/board rates in the $25K range (still high, but much less intimidating), mostly in the South.

And IMHO, we should also be making this calculation when we help our sons choose the college where they will spend four years of time and a boatload of our money.

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 8:35 AM

I LOVED Trixie Belden. To me it was definitely a better series than Nancy Drew.

Posted by: Thought | July 11, 2007 8:36 AM

educmom

"I think a lot of us have done some version of that calculus that Armchair Mom mentioned: does the money we earn justify what we (or our parents) spent on our education? "

Not when you grew up dirt poor, and were the first in the family to graduate from high school, much less college! Breaking the cycle of poverty and ignorance is worth the price!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:40 AM

Maybe Armchair Mom has no son(s) to worry about.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:43 AM

I loved the bobbsey twins.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 8:44 AM

I loved Trixie Belden books too! i recall several times being in stressful situations and thinking "what would Trixie do?" and then coming up with some off the wall comment that would make everyone laugh. Trixie just had more moxie than Nancy (say that five times fast!)

i wasn't into Nancy Drew that much because the writing just didn't do it for me. I guess kids these days are really into Harry Potter instead-- and that is something that boys and girls can get into and I think the writing is WAYY better than the Nancy books (so formulaic . . . ) I think it's great that the HArry books are a love that both boys and girls share-- not a boys club/girls club deal. the main character is a boy, but the author is a woman and the girls in the book are great characters.

I don't understand the comment about people fighting "when those women decide to stay home after havign a baby." Who is fighting what are they saying? Sorry, but I guess I need to get it spelled out.

On a related note, I'm feeling like my intellectual abilities are really slipping-- someone mentioned suffering from "placenta brain" during the late stage of pregnancy and now I'm wondering if there is any truth to it-- I forget things, say stupid things, etc.-- or maybe I'm just being extra critical of myself and hyper alert for any sign of weakness and vulnerability right now? could I hear some feedback that pregos are just as, if not even MORE sharp as the non pregos? Thanks!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 8:45 AM

I read Nancy Drew growing up, from my mother's old collection with the blue cloth covers with the little Nancy silhouette in the corner.

I think one explanation for her dropping popularity is related to the changes the publishers have made -- she doesn't zip around in a roadster, she talks in something closer to Valleyspeak, and I get the impression that she relies more on nerdy old Ned than she did in the old books.

The old Nancy is still revolutionary. We talk a lot about strong female characters, but in fact many of these so-called strong characters still look to others (sometimes friends, but often boys) for affirmation. Nancy was self-affirming and inner-directed, and had self-esteem (derived from her own actions) before self-esteem was a buzzword.

So I say Bring Back Nancy Drew!!

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 8:45 AM

"The way I see it, that money buys choices and open doors. Without a college degree, a person is confined for a lifetime to a certain subset of careers that don't require one."

What is wrong with that? There are many hardworking people in this country supporting themselves and their families without a college degree.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:50 AM

Jen S:

When were the Nancy books published that you read? They were updated in the 1980s and again a few years back. I think the quality suffered when they were updated.

It's no surprise that Harry Potter has done well. They are good stories, well told, with a boy as the central character. Research has shown that while girls are happy to read books with male main characters, boys will not read books with female main characters, and the past decade or so has seen an explosion of books with affirmational female lead characters. It's suspected as at least one of the reasons that reading time (and subsequent reading achievement) has dropped among boys.

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 8:52 AM

"What is wrong with that? There are many hardworking people in this country supporting themselves and their families without a college degree"

Cuz for me, there is more to life than earning money...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 8:53 AM

Interesting the parallel between what girls read in a generation and what they strive for. I shudder to think what awaits my daughter's generation since the 'Clique Books' and Traveling Pants series seem to be the order of the day for my tween. I encourage reading but I have a hard time finding value in those books and wonder at the subliminal (and obvious) messages they send to our daughters.

I was raised reading English books --Enid Blyton-- and, as described by my father, "class ridden little Noddy books" but apart from sexist and classist subtexts these stories emphasized honesty, service to others and courage (post war children's lit). I think those messages resonated with me and helped me set my personal goals. At least Harry Potter has some of these same values and he almost competes with the Clique.

Posted by: relativelynewtoblog | July 11, 2007 8:54 AM

Glad to hear from all the other Trixie Belden fans! Now there's a good blog topic - who are the strong fictional female characters who've impressed us over the years? As an adult, I was blown away by Sena Jeter Naslund's Ahab's Wife. Come to think of it, I'd have enjoyed Moby Dick a lot more the first time around if it had been told from the woman's point of view!

Posted by: Murphy | July 11, 2007 8:59 AM

Well...Emma Woodhouse was a good negative example; who wanted to be like her?! I thought Jane Eyre was kind of an idiot for simpering over Rochester. Like many, many women, I admired Elizabeth Bennett. Even though she had to marry to support herself (her character is a product of the time), she was another strong, smart and self-motivated character.

Favorite character after the invention of the internal combustion engine is Dr. Kay Scarpetta -- although, as the series goes on, I've noticed that she gets stuck in 'women-in-jeopardy' situations a little too often. And I loved the book Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman.

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 9:09 AM

I'm pretty sure the Nancy Drew books I read were the originals-- they seemed very much set in the fifties! they all had those hairdos, your know?

I recall the fancy boat her attorney father used on the lake (Chiss-Craft?) See, I can't even now relate to her uper-middle class life . . . and I certainly couldn't back then! But I certainly enjoyed Trixie and also the Chronicles of NArnia and the Lord of the Rings.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 9:11 AM

To:Murphy

I loved Ahab's Wife. By the way, Sena Jeter Naslund is going to be one of the authors at the DC National Book Festival on September 29.

When I was a kid I loved Little Women by Louisa Alcott. This was about 4 girls with their mother while their father was at war. Jo and Amy, two of the girls, wanted to be a writer and an artist. I loved it that they wanted to be more than housewives even in the 1800s.

Another book I liked with a strong female character was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. In the early 1900s a tribe of indians was removed from the Channel islands of California and taken to the mainland to live. One young woman was left behind. The book is a fictionalized account about how she survivied the next 20 years. It is paticularly interesting that her tribe had strong tabus about male vs female jobs and she had to overcome these to survive.

It seems like there were a lot of books for children with strong female characters. Another I always liked was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engele.

Posted by: dai | July 11, 2007 9:13 AM

Hi Quibbles -- Sandra Day O'Connor was a standout exception of her generation, which is why you thought of her so quickly. She is a particularly remarkable woman with many unusual gifts. It is women like her -- true feminist pioneers -- who have made financial independence and career flexibility possible for many other more average women like me.

And yes, Hillary Clinton was an important financial contributor to her family. My point was that she put her husband's career first for a long time, first by moving to Arkansas after graduating from Yale Law School, and then by being a tremendously supportive and forgiving spouse. It is good to see her taking the lead for a change. There are very few women who could put a spouse's career first for DECADES and then resume their own work at such a high level. Go Hillary!

VA Mom -- I think it is a tough call on how much to advise our children, esp. daughters, to consider work/family balance issues in terms of which field to study and career to prepare for. Pragmatism is good -- but too much can be deadly. (People who argue that women shouldn't go to grad school b/c they are just going to have babies come to mind.) Dreaming is good too!

Which brings me to Murphy's comments. I actually think women are TOO prone to thinking of others and dreaming of how to change the world. A little selfishness and practicality would do most women a lot of good. But I also have to point out that even if you are dedicated to a life serving others, as a woman you cannot fulfill THAT dream without some practical support, such as birth control, a flexible employer, and a supportive government.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 9:17 AM

I didn't read the Trixie Belden books. I liked mysteries, so I started reading Agatha Christie books when I was about 10 or 11 -- my mom was a huge fan, and they were all over the house. I liked the Lord of the Rings books also -- I actually wrote my high school senior term paper on them, since I had read them already.
I know what you mean about the hair, and the boat, and the lifestyle! It was certainly different, but I don't think I ever really picked up on it at the time.

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 9:18 AM

Anybody read about Lily Bart in Edith Wharton's House of Mirth? A great profile of early 20th century New York society and a woman trapped in it.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 9:21 AM

"When I consider these women, it's hard to argue that our country has refused to accomodate women's work/family needs. Women have forced our society to change."
Posted by Leslie

Yeah -- at the élite, New York Times Sunday Styles bride, Ivy League educated level, women have forced our society to change. But for the vast majority of working class families, the capitalist bosses are laughing their heads off because they get two workers for the price of one. The husband has a job, not a career. The wife has a job, also not a career. And it takes both their incomes -- or rather, what's left of their incomes after the taxes they have to pay to support the war machine and social programs for the lazy, shiftless, non-working drones -- to support their family, whereas in the Fifties, while Joe McCarthy was conducting his witch hunts and Lynchings were still going on in the Southland, the rich paid 90% marginal income tax while a union member driving a delivery truck for a Pittsburgh newspaper could earn enough to support his wife and children decently. And this hasn't just happened here in North America. Nearly ten years ago, Anne Manne wrote an article for Australia's "Quadrant" magazine saying the same thing, namely, that it is the bosses who have reaped the most from the two-earner revolution, while so many of the workers' gains of 1890-1940 that the Unions struggled for have been rolled back. So yes, women with a number after their names (as in, "Leslie Steiner '87") have benefited from the change they wrought. But what about all the women without that number?

"The luck of my generation is that we got to be revolutionary. My girls get normal. I would hate for them to have to refight all my battles. But at the same time, I feel lucky to have been on the front lines." (Leslie)

Watch out! Your daughters may yet share your "luck." Just as the capitalist forces of economic reaction, beginning in the late 1960's, rolled back the workers' achievements of 1890-1950 by union-busting, offshoring and outsourcing, so the forces of social reaction are starting to roll back the Movement's achievements of 1960-2000. Back pay for years of sexist wage discrimination -- gone, thanks to the Roberts Supreme Court! Basic reproductive freedoms like third-trimester Intact Dilatation and Evacuation -- gone! And that's just our home-grown social reactionaries. Wait till you see what the Sharia-thumping Mullahs have in store for North American girls and ladies if they should ever come to power: Burka City. It'll take all of President H. Clinton's strength just to keep antifeminism at bay, let alone bring about such advances as free, universal, taxpayer-funded Child Care and six months' paid parental leave.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 9:23 AM

I like this post because Leslie is pointing out that the lives women want are theirs to claim NOW - not someday when the perfect work/family policies are enacted at every business or by our government. Yes, we have to continue the good fight for those too, but if we're willing to make the needed sacrifices we can create balanced and rewarding lives right now. Men too!

I think that our children will be handed the task of achieving true gender equality. We still have a long way to go to sweep away society's expectations of men as primary breadwinners and women as primary caretakers. This can be our children's legacy to complete. We can help them get started....

Posted by: equal | July 11, 2007 9:25 AM

I'm only 29, so I think I see things differently than the older generations of working moms.

Sure, all recent generations grew up being told that we can do anything, but I think my peers grew up KNOWING that we can do anything. To the point where all of the choices can be a little...much. I'm not complaining about it at all, but I think we've seen a larger number of young moms becoming SAHMs because of the stress of said high-powered "I can do anything" type of careers.

Because being ABLE to do it all is not the same as being able to HAVE it all.

Those shattered glass ceilings have brought about many career opportunities and I will be forever grateful that I can walk into an interview without fear of being shut down because I'm a woman, or that I can give a presentation knowing that all in attendance are taking me seriously.

But those ceilings have simply created other barriers in our lives. We now get questioned when we leave that career to take care of our kids, we get whispers behind our backs when we leave when our child is puking in the nurse's office at school.
It's still very difficult.
I can get a number of great, high-profile jobs, but what does that all matter if it places me in a straight jacket type of life?

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 11, 2007 9:27 AM

Matt in Aberdeen

Did you forget to take your meds today?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 9:28 AM

I think I partially agree with Matt.

I also think it's typical self-centered baby boomer (or older Xers) generation to assume that they were so revolutionary and that the world is some better, more magically equal place as a result. Well I don't know about that. Sure a lot of things got better for MOST people. But sexism and racism are still alive and well, just no longer accepted on TV, in major national newspapers, or in the public eye. Boomers had a lot of great ideals most of which never came to pass. They fought against the institution for only so long before they became they institution and adopted many of the same greedy, class-war attitudes.

My generation (Milennial), and perhaps the one that will follow, is much more cynical. Sure we see where society has gone wrong and we know what we would change if it were an ideal world. But we recognize money and power in this country will always be in the hands of a few, and that change happens slowly. Crediting boomers for being completely responsible for women's equality and reducing racism gives no credit to the GIs in WWII who served with other religions and other races and whose wives and girlfriends were at home working and supporting the war machine. Each generation has to do its part for slow change to happen someday and mine and the one that follows will still have plenty of revolution to make.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 9:31 AM

Edith Wharton and people trapped? Check out Ethan Frome!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 9:37 AM

Miles

"My generation (Milennial"

Huh?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 9:40 AM

Thanks, Equal. Good points.

Matt, some good points too. But careful -- it's a tired old anti-feminist argument that changes at the "elite" level are meaningless. Far from it. I agree 100% that lower income working women (and men, for that matter) face far more difficult work/family challenges. But deriding change at the tip of the iceberg doesn't do anyone any good. The well-educated financially stable women who worked our asses off to get those numbers after are names will make sure your doom and gloom scenarios don't become reality.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 9:41 AM

Good point, Leslie, that dreaming and pragmatism go hand in hand! I totally agree!

Speaking of fictional female characters, how Becky Sharp? Reese Witherspoon did a great job in the most recent film version of Vanity Fair! Interesting perspective on a woman trapped by the cultural barriers of her day.

Posted by: Murphy | July 11, 2007 9:44 AM

my daughters don't want to read the clique books. they think the books are stupid. get to the library and get your daughters some better books. (and your sons) look at the fairfax county summer reading list, or the flint hill prep reading list, which you can find online, or ask an English teacher!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 11, 2007 9:46 AM

Am I the only one who thinks it's important to go to college for your own personal knowledge and not soley to land a well-paying career? If you can do both, great. But even if my children never have to work a day in their lives, I would insist they go to college and better themselves!

Posted by: SLP | July 11, 2007 9:46 AM

It'll take all of President H. Clinton's

________________________________________________________________

I'm glad that you have already elected Billary!

Posted by: To Matt in Aberbeen | July 11, 2007 9:47 AM

Wow, Matt, do you really believe that (or was that someone else?)? That life was so blissful years ago? That the world is so horrible? Today, women have more choices, which actually gives men more choices - i.e., because a woman can earn more and has more opportunity, the husband might be able to stay at home with the kids, not feel obligated to take that high powered job where he'd never see the kids, or whatever. The fact that women have choices enables everyone else to have choices.

I think more choices are good for everyone. Yes, it can make things more stressful, but it ends up being better (see: my aunt, who graduated with a master's degree in chemistry but was still only able to get a job as a secretary).

Also, back in the 50s, where you are thinking such wonderful things, that's really the ONLY time in history that women didn't 'work.' Really. The country was prosperous and growing and the opportunity to not work existed. Before that, women worked pretty hard - either in factories, or the fact that they made everything from scratch (food, clothing, helping to build the house). So think before you speak. There was really no time in history that both mom and dad didn't work - and many times, that wasn't enough, as more than one generation lived together and they all helped out however they could.

Do you also really think stifling people's ability to earn more money is a *good* thing? Think about how many people think average, normal lives are in need of a cell phone, washer dryer, air conditioning, cable TV - I could go on. But really, you could be perfectly fine with only one bathroom in your house, and none of the other 'necessities.' But everyone doing better means everyone doing better. Would you rather be in Russia today, where everyone hopes of a government job (see, Stephen Pearlstein's column, today)? Do you think that's a productive way for a society to achieve anything? Can they live off their oil and no entrepreneurship forever? I don't begrudge anyone who earns money the money they earn. I think socialism only breeds complacency. And then where are you? Someone has to do better than others - I'd rather an open society such as ours, rather than the USSR of former years where they pretended everyone was equal. Okay, so maybe they were (ha, ha), but some were more 'equal' than others.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 9:49 AM

Miles

"My generation (Milennial"

Huh?

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 09:40 AM

Seriously? Millenial generation...or generation Y if you will, whatever you'd like to call it.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 9:58 AM

RE: SAHMbacktowork's comments

I'm an Xer too but it's not the choices that overwhelm me. It's the expectation that we will all do amazing things with those choices and soar as high as we can. It took me a few years of guilt and low self confidence to be OK with not aiming for the top (I don't have that kind of leadership ability, and I'm not willing to make those kinds of compromises). We're expected to have sky-high ambitions but I and my friends are basically all thinking, "well, isn't it OK to shoot lower if you're happy with it?"

As far as books, I too read the old-school Nancy Drews and liked them but I wouldn't say I got any kind of real meaning from them. I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder's books too, and the Cam Jansen series (kind of a female Encyclopedia Brown). My favorite "feminist" book growing up was "Julie of the Wolves" -- a Native Alaskan girl who runs away from an arranged marriage and a mean dad, and learns how to survive on her own in the wild with a pack of wolves. Totally raised my consciousness.

Posted by: NY Lurker | July 11, 2007 10:00 AM

"Am I the only one who thinks it's important to go to college for your own personal knowledge and not soley to land a well-paying career?"

I went to college mostly for free beer and sorority babes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:00 AM

Miles,

Watch your generalizations about groups of people. I am a baby boomer. We are not all self-centered. The baby boomers are the group who protested for Civil Rights, against the Viet Nam war, for legal abortion and birth control.

Leslie,

Your generation is not the only one to be revolutionary. Don't forget those who fought for the right of women to vote, the right for women to work in traditional men's jobs under the glass ceiling (factories, construction), child-labor laws, etc. Breaking the glass ceiling isn't the only good cause in this world. And i don't know that we should be so proud that women can now have the same 80-hour weeks, travel away from family, stress of financial responsibility for the family that men have always had. While there should be no restrictions on women doing anything they want careerwise, the proliferation of two-income families has led to inflation of "life costs" such as the extremely high housing expense. When two income families could afford to buy more expensive housing, that just drove up the cost of the housing which effectively makes it almost impossible for the average American family to afford a home with only one worker. The high performing Wharton types who marry each other can afford to live in this country on one salary (albeit, not necessarily in the manner they wish), but the average American family can't. for us, there is effectively no real choice to SAH or have a career/job or switch between the two.

Posted by: to Miles and Leslie | July 11, 2007 10:01 AM

don't begrudge anyone who earns money the money they earn. I think socialism only breeds complacency. And then where are you? Someone has to do better than others - I'd rather an open society such as ours, rather than the USSR of former years where they pretended everyone was equal. Okay, so maybe they were (ha, ha), but some were more 'equal' than others.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 09:49 AM

Pretend everyone is equal, or that we all have an equal chance. That's exactly what we do in America. That's the American dream; that everyone can own their own home, have 2.5 children, and survive off of one income. If lower middle class knew the truth - that they'll be lucky if they can even stay middle class their whole lives and have maybe a .005% chance at getting into the upper class - we'd have a social revolution.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 10:02 AM

Miles

"That's the American dream; that everyone can own their own home, have 2.5 children, and survive off of one income"

Not where I come from!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:06 AM

I'm 25, and I loved the old Nancy Drews (the blue books) and Trixie Belden. But the updated Nancy Drews? I read one once and I wouldn't read anymore of them. They really became trash in the later updates. Then I moved on to the Sweet Valley High and Babysitter's Club books. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:06 AM

"Wow, Matt, do you really believe that (or was that someone else?)? That life was so blissful years ago?"
. . .
"Also, back in the 50s, where you are thinking such wonderful things,"

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 09:49 AM

Among other things, I wrote:

". . . whereas in the Fifties, while Joe McCarthy was conducting his witch hunts and Lynchings were still going on in the Southland, . . ."

This doesn't sound like I think the Fifties were "blissful" or filled with "wonderful things." However, the immediate post-WWII era was the time when North American working people were reaping the fruits of decades of Union activism, culminating in the Wagner Act, while not having to pay the price of a twelve-million-man military establishment.

Why couldn't we have made the advancements that the Movement brought, and abolished the McCarthy witch hunts and the Lynchings, and still kept the good things from the postwar era, such as a family-supporting wage for ordinary workers, a social environment where nearly all children grew up with two married parents, and a low rate of dope addiction? When did the Movement's lofty goals get hijacked by Nihilists and "Tune in, Turn on, Drop out" types, paralyzing it while the Bosses moved everything to Mexico, India, and yes, Red China?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 10:13 AM

I would like to see a revolution in this country leading to affordable health care for all.

I would like to see a revolution in this country leading to affordable college education for all (Not another loan program that keeps lower income children away because they are terrified of ever being able to pay it back.)

In the 70's, and maybe even into the 80's, it was possible to obtain an entry-level position in a company and advance to a decent middle class life with a high school education. Now, you can't even start in those jobs without a degree. Education is a never a bad thing, but there are honestly jobs that require the education that don't really need the education. On the job training is really all that is needed. So in 30 years we have "progressed" from a nation that provided free public education (12 years) that enabled our citizens to get a job with advancement possibilities to a nation that provides free public education (12 years) that enables our citizens to pay for 2 or more years of college to get a job where they may advance only if they have 4 or more years of non-free education. If education is really seen as vital to the future of our country, there should be a better effort to make it affordable for all.

Posted by: a mom | July 11, 2007 10:18 AM

NY lurker: I totally agree. At my company (as with most) we have to figure out a 'development plan.' I told my boss: well, what if I'm where I want to be? I have a good (great) job, great benefits, and I'm not exactly sure that I want to move up. I might, I might not, but do I really have to always strive for 'more?' Or can I just be happy with what I have?

Miles: So go start one. Stop complaining. My great grandparents came over on the boat, never learned English. My grandmother started working at 8 because there were many many mouths to feed. My mother grew up without a father in a one bedroom apartment (with mom and sis). My father in law grew up above his dad's store and they had nothing. Literally, nothing. He has worked hard, going to school, and grad school, and getting where he wanted to be. My mom in law definitely didn't grow up in poverty, but her sisters dropped out of college to get married. While my MIL did the same thing, she went back to school - she worked full time, had three kids, and went to school in the evenings to get a PhD. I think that's working hard, what do you think?

There is definitely mobility in this country if you work hard for it. It's just that people seem to see what others have and seem to think they are entitled to it without working for it. Yeah, it's tough - life is tough. While some people inherit their money, many just go out and earn it. Really. They work hard, and they deal with an oppressive tax system, they deal with others wanting to take it from them, they deal with envy, etc, but they keep working hard because they know that's what they're supposed to do. And they know the rewards around the corner for doing that.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 10:19 AM

Miles

"have maybe a .005% chance at getting into the upper class - we'd have a social revolution."

What is the upper class?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:24 AM

I read my sister's Nancy Drew books,
she had them in the 1940's.
We cannot, all of us, get the education we would like to have had. Economic situations might require children to get their college degree on student loans. After raising two children alone after
their father's death, their ages at the time were 11 and 15. They had to pretty much get their college themselves. My working paid for home, food, utilities, etc.. One is resentful she has to repay loans, the other is not. Children expect a lot of us. We try to do the best we can,
but I have stopped beating myself up over the things they would like to have had that I could not afford. I supported them in the style to which they had become accustomed prior to their father's death, but there were no additional frills. I see a lot of children who were not afforded that much. Mine should consider themselves rather fortunate.

Posted by: ohio | July 11, 2007 10:24 AM

Today, women have more choices, which actually gives men more choices - i.e., because a woman can earn more and has more opportunity, the husband might be able to stay at home with the kids, not feel obligated to take that high powered job where he'd never see the kids, or whatever. The fact that women have choices enables everyone else to have choices.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 09:49 AM

This "men have more choices becuase women do", is basically the same thing as the trickle down economics of the 80s, garbage. I don't know about men younger than me (born in the 60s), but women having more choices hasn't given me or any of the men I know more choices. We are still expected to do all the the things we were in the "old days" in addition to all the new things that have also become our responsibility. It's really nice that you gals give us the occational mention (and men too), but really, please don't bother, it is a hollow sentiment that we don't need.

For what benefit? I still see my kid only 3 hours a day, my pay is less because I have been forced to daddy track myself and both me and my wife never seem to have a minute to ourselves. My wife has a career, but just like the women here, she complains of a lack of balance.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:25 AM

"We are still expected to do all the the things we were in the "old days" in addition to all the new things that have also become our responsibility."

Such as?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:31 AM

I'm a longtime lurker and was moved today to write...
Relativelynewtoblog - I guess I always thought that the important thing was to encourage reading in ALL forms and to instill that love. Sure, my mom hated when I read "trash" like the Babysitter's Club, or even Stephen King, but those books instilled curiosity which led me to read Vanity Fair, House of Mirth, Lolita, Valley of the Dolls, Anna Karenina, etc.
Jen S. - I'm in my third trimester and coffee REALLY helps my "placenta brain"!

Posted by: Megan's Mama | July 11, 2007 10:33 AM

Miles: So go start one. Stop complaining. My great grandparents came over on the boat, never learned English. My grandmother started working at 8 because there were many many mouths to feed. My mother grew up without a father in a one bedroom apartment (with mom and sis). My father in law grew up above his dad's store and they had nothing. Literally, nothing. He has worked hard, going to school, and grad school, and getting where he wanted to be. My mom in law definitely didn't grow up in poverty, but her sisters dropped out of college to get married. While my MIL did the same thing, she went back to school - she worked full time, had three kids, and went to school in the evenings to get a PhD. I think that's working hard, what do you think?

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 10:19 AM

I thought complaining was what this blog was all about. And seriously, we're talking about today. Not 30 years ago when your parents, grandparents or whoever in your family "made it." I love how people tell anecdotal stories about how totally awesome their parents/grandparents were, or how they worked really hard, as if that has any bearing on how hard YOU worked to get where you are. Sounds like (as I was already talking about) Americans used to be able to work themselves to greater economic benefit. Sounds like you and your husband already had middle class benefits by the time you grew up if your parents/grandparents had already "succeeded" as you saw it therefore that has no bearing on the current generation having any kind of mobility.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 10:36 AM

Are you ready for me?

Posted by: Mako | July 11, 2007 10:45 AM

Funny how these older women love to cackle about when they were "on the front lines". Can you imagine how boring and irrelevant you sound to a 20 something year old? In 1967 do you think any of them cared for what happened in 1927? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:47 AM

Megan's Mama, I am very tempted to go down the route!! Never been into caffeine before but on your advice, I'll give it a shot ((make that an espresso!)

Then again, I'm already needing to go pee way more than I used to-- add caffeine to the mix and I'll be jogging back and forth to the bathroom constantly! Oh well-- it's all a question of balance, right? And that jogging just may help with the swollen ankles.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 10:48 AM

Are you ready for me?

A few more posts by Miles should do it!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:51 AM

Miles

"Sounds like you and your husband already had middle class benefits by the time you grew up if your parents/grandparents had already "succeeded" as you saw it"

What are the "middle class benefits"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:55 AM

"We are still expected to do all the the things we were in the "old days" in addition to all the new things that have also become our responsibility."

Still waiting for you to tell us what your new responsibilities entail.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:56 AM

So complain. That'll help.

And I did not have near what my husband had- but that's a diff story. Anyway, I had a father who kept saying- y r u going back to school? Just get a job. Well, my great college degree allowed me to get a job waiting tables and I wanted something more so I went back to school. Because I wanted more choices.

And things are not 'free' just because *you* don't pay for them.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 10:57 AM

Anyone remember the Dana girls? Also by "Carolyn Keene". I liked them better than Nancy Drew

Not that any of it stuck with me like Julie of the Wolves or Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Posted by: MB | July 11, 2007 11:07 AM

"I would like to see a revolution in this country leading to affordable college education for all (Not another loan program that keeps lower income children away because they are terrified of ever being able to pay it back.)

". . . So in 30 years we have "progressed" from a nation that provided free public education (12 years) that enabled our citizens to get a job with advancement possibilities to a nation that provides free public education (12 years) that enables our citizens to pay for 2 or more years of college to get a job where they may advance only if they have 4 or more years of non-free education. If education is really seen as vital to the future of our country, there should be a better effort to make it affordable for all."

Posted by: a mom | July 11, 2007 10:18 AM

A free, four-year college education? You mean, like the free education my father got at the City College of New York? Or my classmates' math students got at Queens College?

New York City had free, four-year colleges, and free public hospitals for those who could not afford private ones, ninety years ago. And the City did it without Federal aid, too.

The colleges are no longer free, thanks to liberal Mayor John Lindsay. So, "a mom's" call for affordable education sounds like a radical new idea to those who don't remember when we had just that.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 11:07 AM

I don't understand having ficticious characters as your role models. Those 'people' were invented by someone else. My two favorite heroines were Clara Barton and Eleanor Roosevelt. Helen Keller came in a close third. I doubt any of us can come close to their accomplishments.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:08 AM

"We are still expected to do all the the things we were in the "old days" in addition to all the new things that have also become our responsibility."

Such as?

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 10:31 AM

All the things that used be part of the SAH job; cooking, cleaning, kid drop off etc.

Don't get me wrong, I have a daughter and I know these changes will give her more opportunities, she will have more choices etc, but my point was don't try to tell men that this will benefit us too. In the long run it may, but in the short term there are no benefits to men.

We are still expected to be the primary earner, whether or not this is true in any particular case, doesn't matter, the expectation is still there (it is the foundation for womens choices). We are also still the secondary parent, no matter what anybody says.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:08 AM

"While some people inherit their money, many just go out and earn it. Really. They work hard, and they deal with an oppressive tax system, they deal with others wanting to take it from them, they deal with envy, etc, but they keep working hard because they know that's what they're supposed to do."

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 10:19 AM

"Others wanting to take it from them"? Get ready for President Hillary Clinton. Even before getting nominated and elected, Mrs. Clinton is telling the American people that she is going to take things from them for the public good. Just wait until she becomes President!

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 11:11 AM

"I'm just wondering about the logic of spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on education -- I don't want my daughters to feel like they HAVE to work full-time forever, because we spent so much money on their education. "

I'm flabbergasted that there's any question about the logic of educating girls in 2007. If the expectation is that educating girls might not be a good investment for parents (or for girls, themselves), why the heck would investing training and mentoring time in female employees be a good investment for an employer? And Leslie thinks we've come so far.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:13 AM

Others wanting to take it from them"? Get ready for President Hillary Clinton. Even before getting nominated and elected, Mrs. Clinton is telling the American people that she is going to take things from them for the public good. Just wait until she becomes President!

Hillary has a new tax plan in two parts:
1. enter your income
2. send it in

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:16 AM

All the things that used be part of the SAH job; cooking, cleaning, kid drop off etc.

Don't get me wrong, I have a daughter and I know these changes will give her more opportunities, she will have more choices etc, but my point was don't try to tell men that this will benefit us too. In the long run it may, but in the short term there are no benefits to men.

We are still expected to be the primary earner, whether or not this is true in any particular case, doesn't matter, the expectation is still there (it is the foundation for womens choices). We are also still the secondary parent, no matter what anybody says.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:08 AM

It's called parenting, and it comes with the territory irregardless of gender.

You're only the primary earner because that is your expectation.

Ditto for believing that you are a "secondary" parent. You want to be respected as the primary one? Then insist upon being treated like the primary/co-parent that you are.

Those are your monkeys to get off of your back. Not your wife's, not your parents, not anybody else's.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:16 AM

I'm just wondering about the logic of spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on education -- I don't want my daughters to feel like they HAVE to work full-time forever, because we spent so much money on their education. "

Why shouldn't daughters feel they have to work full time forever? That what sons are raised to feel. Who will support them when they are not working?


Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:17 AM

"We are still expected to be the primary earner, whether or not this is true in any particular case, doesn't matter, the expectation is still there (it is the foundation for womens choices). We are also still the secondary parent, no matter what anybody says."

To put it another way, 20% of women think that it is a 'bad thing for society' for men to be SAHDs according to the most recent Pew survey.

See:
http://pewresearch.org/assets/social/pdf/Marriage.pdf

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:18 AM

Why shouldn't daughters feel they have to work full time forever?

*clap clap clap*

That's how I was raised, and quite frankly, I prefer it.

That is also how all the kids in the family are being raised. Support yourself. Don't expect anyone (read: spouse) to do it for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:19 AM

My two favorite heroines were Clara Barton and Eleanor Roosevelt. Helen Keller came in a close third. I doubt any of us can come close to their accomplishments.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:08 AM

I doubt you've thought through the absurdity of this statement.

Being a good nurse and starting a non-profit org? too many to count - there's nothing unique about Clara Barton.

Marrying a powerful man and using that forum for good? We may see it again in Jeri Kehn, but Melinda Gates has already done as much as Eleanor Roosevelt every dreamed of.

Overcoming multiple disabilities? Go visit Walter Reed and talk to our returning female vets.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:20 AM

"You're only the primary earner because that is your expectation."

Nope, it is my wife's expectation too!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:23 AM

I always thought Anne Sullivan was given short-shrift, historically.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 11, 2007 11:23 AM

"irregardless"

Do not use this!!! Use 'regardless.'

Posted by: Vocabulary Troll | July 11, 2007 11:25 AM

I spent a lot of time reading as a child/teenager, and many of these books had girls/women as their main characters. Some of my favorites:

The Little House on the Prairie series: Laura Ingalls was the main character, a strong pioneer girl who got an education, became a school teacher, and eventually married and had a child. Lots of obstacles to overcome. The series had great spirit.

Nancy Drew - The original series. To me, Nancy more resembled an adult than a teen. Resourcesful, practical, independent, smart.

Anne of Green Gables series - an orphan with a fantastic imagination, a sharp brain, and a good heart overcomes myriad hardships, gets a family, makes friends, gets an education, and has an interesting and fulfilling life. Another pioneer for women's rights and possibilities.

Little Women - Another group of girls that break the molds for their times. Jo is a rebel and a writer. This one was my special favorite.

A Little Princess - The title of this one is deceiving. Sara Crewe is strong, stubborn, smart, and optimistic. She survives the death of her father, and a period of forced child labor in England during the Industrial Revolution. She is nobody's victim.

Jane Eyre - Another strong woman. She is orphaned at an early age, becomes a teacher, and advertises (unheard of back then) to get the position of a governess. She does fall in love with Rochester, but resists his attempts to make her his mistress, leaves him, and only goes back to him on her own terms. When the story ends, they are equals, and he no longer holds the upper hand.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 11:27 AM

"You're only the primary earner because that is your expectation."

Nope, it is my wife's expectation too!

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:23 AM

Then tell her otherwise. Negotiate. If you want things to be different, do something about it. Find another job?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:28 AM

All this "cycling in and out" of the workforce is all well and good, and it's nice that women are free to do this, but let's not lose sight of the fact that they're able to do it because someone else (their spouse) is supporting them. None of the women Leslie describes could have done what they did without a spouse laboring to provide for them and subsidize their lifestyle choices. Is this really freedom?

And secondly, what's with all the class bashing? Yes, not everyone can afford to go to college, send their kids to private school, and make six figures. But a lot of people (especially readers of the Post) can. And so what? That doesn't make them bad people. Just because not everyone can relate to a certain issue doesn't make it unworthy of discussion! And it doesn't mean that poverty and injustice are unimportant. But Geez! Enough with the class warfare!

Posted by: DC | July 11, 2007 11:29 AM

"Why shouldn't daughters feel they have to work full time forever?"

Umm, because we're raising them to have *choices*, one of which is staying home raising children?

I wonder about the logic, too. We cannot pay for our children's education in full. We question having them in student loan debt and having to work to pay off those obligations, thereby limiting their choices to jobs/careers that pay enough and limiting their options to stay home with children if (when) they arrive because their financial obligations will be higher than if they didn't have loans.

Be honest people, how many here would be perfectly fine with paying for 4 years or more of college for your children only to have them work as a manicurist or housecleaner because that is what they really enjoy? After all, education in and of itself it important regardless of whether or not they use it toward a specific career.

Posted by: duh | July 11, 2007 11:29 AM

It's called parenting, and it comes with the territory irregardless of gender.

You're only the primary earner because that is your expectation.

Ditto for believing that you are a "secondary" parent. You want to be respected as the primary one? Then insist upon being treated like the primary/co-parent that you are.

Those are your monkeys to get off of your back. Not your wife's, not your parents, not anybody else's.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:16 AM

No $h!t it is called parenting, I do it every day. In my life I feel like a co-parent, but I know the world looks at me a the secondary one.

I am not complaining about my personal life, I am talking about society at a higher level. Earning money to support the family is still the most important task a parent has. Because without money, there is no family to support.

If you honestly believe that society does not expect men to be the primary wage earner, you are delusional. Men only get to opt out of this when they have a woman who chooses to opt in.

Again, my point is that none of this balance stuff we talk about has much of an affect on men. The choices all still belong to the women.

Seriously, ask every man you know wheter he expects to work full time untl he retires. I will wager, 90% or more will say yes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:32 AM

After all, education in and of itself it important regardless of whether or not they use it toward a specific career.


No not really, spending 75-100k to get a 25k job is stupid

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:32 AM

Eleanor Roosevelt had to do something. She was way tooooooooooo ugly to be a SAHM.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:34 AM

"After all, education in and of itself it important regardless of whether or not they use it toward a specific career.


No not really, spending 75-100k to get a 25k job is stupid"

And that was exactly my point. I think it is completely understandable for any parent to question the need to spend huge amounts of money on college for the children. For many, the answer will still be yes, but for others, it doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:35 AM

"Nancy Drew - The original series. To me, Nancy more resembled an adult than a teen. Resourceful, practical, independent, smart."

The other thing that was key to Nancy Drew, and which the current movie gets right, is that her boyfriend was nice to have around, but not key to any of her decisions. Nancy was going to do what she was going to do when she was going to do it. If her boyfriend was available when she had free time, she saw him. If she didn't see him for several weeks because she was solving a mystery, she didn't lose a moment's sleep agonizing over missing him. You knew Nancy wasn't going to defer admission to Yale in order to stay geographically convenient to Ned. A better role model is hard to find.

to duh: if we aren't raising our sons to have the same choices as our daughters, one of which is staying home raising children, then we are continuing to be as sexist as ever our parents' and grandparents' generations. Nothing's changed. This attitude is represented in med schools and law schools where male students accuse females of taking up a space that could have gone to a guy supporting a family. Nice to think we're turning out more of these guys and not fewer. Not.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 11:37 AM

"Eleanor Roosevelt had to do something. She was way tooooooooooo ugly to be a SAHM. "

Most SAHMs are real dawgs. Arf!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:38 AM

'"Why shouldn't daughters feel they have to work full time forever?"

Umm, because we're raising them to have *choices*, one of which is staying home raising children?'

So why isn't it a choice that your sons can stay home and raise his children? I view it as within the realm of possibility for my son.

Why the assumption that staying at home means staying at home forever, rather than for a limited period of time?

And no, if a child knows that deep down, they wish to be a manicurist, or hair stylist, then I want them to be honest enough to tell us BEFORE the discussion about how to pay for college is upon us. Any time before anyone signs on the dotted line will be fine, thanks.

But I also envision a mix of we contribute and the child takes out loans (I dream of scholarships, but I'm too pragmatic to pin any real hopes upon them). Assuming the kids go, of course.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:39 AM

"If you honestly believe that society does not expect men to be the primary wage earner, you are delusional. Men only get to opt out of this when they have a woman who chooses to opt in."

I'm female and I agree with this completely. Men only get to be SAH if they lose their jobs or if the woman oks it. Even if the woman oks it, a large segment of society sees the man as being a lazy slug and/or a mooch.

Posted by: lurker | July 11, 2007 11:40 AM

I was answering a question about daughters. It is presumptuous of you to assume that I would think differently of sons.

Posted by: duh? | July 11, 2007 11:43 AM

"If you honestly believe that society does not expect men to be the primary wage earner, you are delusional. Men only get to opt out of this when they have a woman who chooses to opt in."

I'm female and I agree with this completely. Men only get to be SAH if they lose their jobs or if the woman oks it. Even if the woman oks it, a large segment of society sees the man as being a lazy slug and/or a mooch.

Posted by: lurker | July 11, 2007 11:40 AM

It's tough, isn't it? And why are you so caught up in what "everyone else" is saying, thinking or doing? Aren't adults supposed to outgrow this sort of herd mentality?

But if you want sympathy, do it in high heels and pantyhose!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:44 AM

Leslie, I think about this as well. I've had to fight many battles as I worked my way up in the extremely male-dominated careers of consulting, business, venture capital and while I don't wish this on my daughter, I do think that having to fight for something is an extremely important component that makes life (and career) exciting and great. I also related to this on a different level - I am an immigrant to this country and have, along with my parents, come from nothing - we started out living on welfare and foodstamps. I would never want my daughter to go through what we did, but at the same time, I worry about her life being too easy because we can provide many things for her now.

Nataly from www.workitmom.com

Posted by: Nataly | July 11, 2007 11:44 AM

Again, my point is that none of this balance stuff we talk about has much of an affect on men. The choices all still belong to the women.

Seriously, ask every man you know wheter he expects to work full time untl he retires. I will wager, 90% or more will say yes.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:32 AM

The choices belong only to some women, not most. You have a very narrow view of the world if you think most women have an option of stopping work.

Most of us don't contemplate retirement, either. At least not those under 40.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:45 AM

No not really, spending 75-100k to get a 25k job is stupid

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:32 AM

Finally, someone bought the Magic 8 Ball that works!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:46 AM

"Why shouldn't daughters feel they have to work full time forever?"

Umm, because we're raising them to have *choices*, one of which is staying home raising children?

Posted by: duh | July 11, 2007 11:29 AM

Which goes towards proving my point that men are stil expected to be the primary earners. How can you expect a person to feel responsible for the financial stabilty of a family they aren't even required to be financially resposible for themselves?

Again, this is my point, this balance and choices and all (at the societal level) is of no benefit to men. When we start telling little boys that they can be stay at home parents too, maybe I'll listen, but right now nothing has really changed for better for men.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:46 AM

Forgot to sign my post (11:46)

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 11, 2007 11:47 AM

"If you honestly believe that society does not expect men to be the primary wage earner, you are delusional."

Really weird. Does society have that much influence over individuals anymore? Does anyone really care about societal expectations in their MARRIAGES?

This sounds more like a MAN thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:47 AM

I was answering a question about daughters. It is presumptuous of you to assume that I would think differently of sons.

Posted by: duh? | July 11, 2007 11:43 AM

duh - if that's not what you think, then disagree. Don't ramble on uselessly about presumptions. When someone makes a statement only about one gender, it's reasonable to take their statements as they make 'em. Got a point?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 11:47 AM

Megan's Mama -- yeah, go for the coffee! It was my lifeline for many, many years as a parent with three kids under 10.

To the bozo ingrate who wrote:

"Men have more choices becuase women do", is basically the same thing as the trickle down economics of the 80s, garbage...women having more choices hasn't given me or any of the men I know more choices...I still see my kid only 3 hours a day, my pay is less because I have been forced to daddy track myself and both me and my wife never seem to have a minute to ourselves... Posted by: | July 11, 2007 10:25 AM

You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. This is one of the many, many benefits of the fact that your wife works. You've "been forced" to Daddy Track yourself? Come on! That's another choice your dad's generation never had. Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

"And no, if a child knows that deep down, they wish to be a manicurist, or hair stylist, then I want them to be honest enough to tell us BEFORE the discussion about how to pay for college is upon us. Any time before anyone signs on the dotted line will be fine, thanks."

Well, sometimes the 16-17 year old children don't have their crystal balls polished and they don't know what they wanted to do. My niece graduated from college and worked in an investment firm for 2-3 years before quitting because she absolutely hated the work. Then she went to work at a store in a mall where she has been for the past ten years. My BIL used to brag about her when she was in the investment firm, but he never even mentioned her career change until asked how she was doing at ACME investment firm. Even now, ten years later, he rarely mentions her work life unless specifically asked.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:50 AM

DC -- Absolutely correct that these women (except for Hillary Clinton) had flexibility because their spouses worked too. And this cuts both ways -- their husbands have flexibility too, and are expected to play a large role in daily childcare and household management.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:51 AM

"And no, if a child knows that deep down, they wish to be a manicurist, or hair stylist, then I want them to be honest enough to tell us BEFORE the discussion about how to pay for college is upon us. Any time before anyone signs on the dotted line will be fine, thanks."

Well, sometimes the 16-17 year old children don't have their crystal balls polished and they don't know what they wanted to do. My niece graduated from college and worked in an investment firm for 2-3 years before quitting because she absolutely hated the work. Then she went to work at a store in a mall where she has been for the past ten years. My BIL used to brag about her when she was in the investment firm, but he never even mentioned her career change until asked how she was doing at ACME investment firm. Even now, ten years later, he rarely mentions her work life unless specifically asked.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:50 AM

Sad that he can't be proud of his own daughter. I'm *merely* a secretary, yes with a college degree, and my parents are both very proud of me and my work. They should be pleased their daughter found something she enjoys and is passionate about.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 11:54 AM

And no, if a child knows that deep down, they wish to be a manicurist, or hair stylist, then I want them to be honest enough to tell us BEFORE the discussion about how to pay for college is upon us. Any time before anyone signs on the dotted line will be fine, thanks.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:39 AM


Answer 1: Most kids, at 17, don't know deep down what they want to be when they grow up. They have an answer when you ask them, but that answer changes 8 times by the time they are 22. Heck, they change their majors that many times. They're not being dishonest because they have an epiphany over spring break after you've spent $50K.

Answer 2: Read yesterday's blog. How many of these parents would, if their daughters came to them in their senior year of high school and disclosed that they really want to be a stylist or manicurist, "mourn" the death of their dreams that Jennifer will be a Ph.D. earning, Nobel prize winning, happily married, heterosexual mother of 2? The kids who know they want to be manucurists don't want to go through the drama of watching their parents' (over)reaction to this disclosure, so they go along and graduate with a 3.0 average from some mid-level college. By the time they graduate, they've become more able to tolerate the parental drama and then mom and dad wail about how they wouldn't have invested the $$ in college if they'd known . . . . So Jennifer provides Answer 1, above: "I didn't know back then or I would have told you."

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 11:55 AM

My BIL used to brag about her when she was in the investment firm, but he never even mentioned her career change until asked how she was doing at ACME investment firm"

Same story in my family. SIL bragged about her son for YEARS. Now she never mentions him. It's as if he doesn't exist. Sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:56 AM

I only have sons. I never comment on what we should do for daughters. LOL.

Posted by: me | July 11, 2007 11:58 AM

It's the bragging about grown children's accomplishments that should cease. Really. It's annoying.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:00 PM

I expected to get bashed for my, er, provocative question -- and I did. surprise, surprise.

I'm not really that sexist. It's just that I have a Ph.D. and am currently an adjunct professor (because it works part-time), so I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. Not sure if I'd advise my daughters (or my son) to do the same thing.

I do have a son but he's always been really cutthroat and ambitious -- so I'm pretty sure that when he talks about grad school and the like he'll probably stick with it. On the other hand, of my two daughters, one wants to be a teacher, which I think is great. But my husband has more or less said that since that isn't a particularly high-paying career, maybe she should think about a state school. I wonder about the cycle that we're setting up, though -- girls going into less prestigious, lower paying professions and as a result, going to less prestigious schools which just maybe open fewer doors . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | July 11, 2007 12:00 PM

Eleanor Clift is ugly also!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:02 PM

I was unclear, the magic 8 ball comment was mine.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 11, 2007 12:02 PM

Sometimes I see my BIL as a cartoon with words in a bubble - "I didn't spend all that money for her to go work in a mall."

Posted by: July 11, 2007 11:50 AM | July 11, 2007 12:02 PM

Sometimes I see my BIL as a cartoon with words in a bubble - "I didn't spend all that money for her to go work in a mall."

I don't blame him a bit. He's dissapointed and poorer for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:05 PM

I wonder about the cycle that we're setting up, though -- girls going into less prestigious, lower paying professions and as a result, going to less prestigious schools which just maybe open fewer doors . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | July 11, 2007 12:00 PM

Welcome to nursing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:05 PM

"It's the bragging about grown children's accomplishments that should cease. Really. It's annoying."

And so is the bragging about Timmy's pre-school graduation ceremony awards! And bringing the awards and 1,000 photos to the office so everyone can gawk awkwardly!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:06 PM

I'm one of those people who thinks that a college degree is useful even if you never have a high powered career. I got so much out of my liberal arts bachelor's degree. I learned to enjoy literature, history, anthropology, languages, art, and even some music. I learned to write, which I think is useful no matter what you end up doing. I even got a basic foundation on math and science. All these things form the basis of an educational foundation that continues to enrich my life today. And I have to say that the most important part of this education was learning to think critically. So I would not flinch at sending my kids to college, even if I knew they wanted to be hair stylists or manicurists or even welders and plumbers. I would encourage them to pursue a degree, along with the technical training they required for a particular trade. I don't think that a college degree can ever be wasted, no matter what you end up doing with your life.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 12:07 PM

I don't see what kind of choices us normal women have. In my field (software development) one either works 50 hrs/week, or one doesn't work. We need my paycheck to stay afloat. I am job hunting right now - there is nothing out there with any flexibility at all. So much for choice. The losers of course are my kids, who end up spending hours each afternoon in the crappy afterschool program run by our school district. I get to see my kids on weekends and between 7 and 9pm at night. Wonderful. BTW, my husband is also a software developer, and he works mandatory 10 hour days, and is on-call at night.

Posted by: ratgirlny | July 11, 2007 12:08 PM

This attitude is represented in med schools and law schools where male students accuse females of taking up a space that could have gone to a guy supporting a family. Nice to think we're turning out more of these guys and not fewer. Not.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 11:37 AM

Why do you demean the male student for an attitude that is born out of reality? While you never know which student will go on to not use thier law/medical degree, you can pretty much be statically correct in assuming it will be a woman.

This attitude is there because women are given choices that men are not. And whether you like ot or not, one of those choices available is to not use that degree and be a SAHM. Because you haven't made that choice, doesn't mean others won't

Forgive us for living in the real world as opposed to the world as you (not you in particular, the generic you) would like it to be.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:10 PM

You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. This is one of the many, many benefits of the fact that your wife works. You've "been forced" to Daddy Track yourself? Come on! That's another choice your dad's generation never had. Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm printing this out and hanging it on our refrigerator.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:12 PM

you can pretty much be statically correct in assuming it will be a woman.

Statistics are not immutable.

Not that long ago, it was statistically correct that 99% of all licensed doctors and lawyers would be male, for example.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:19 PM

"Why do you demean the male student for an attitude that is born out of reality? While you never know which student will go on to not use thier law/medical degree, you can pretty much be statically correct in assuming it will be a woman."

Shoot -- I'll encourge my sons scope out the chicks at Med Schools. Marry one of them, be a SAHD, and live in comfort.

Posted by: Workin' It | July 11, 2007 12:19 PM

To the bozo ingrate who wrote:

"Men have more choices becuase women do", is basically the same thing as the trickle down economics of the 80s, garbage...women having more choices hasn't given me or any of the men I know more choices...I still see my kid only 3 hours a day, my pay is less because I have been forced to daddy track myself and both me and my wife never seem to have a minute to ourselves... Posted by: | July 11, 2007 10:25 AM

You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. This is one of the many, many benefits of the fact that your wife works. You've "been forced" to Daddy Track yourself? Come on! That's another choice your dad's generation never had. Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm the bozo ingrate, nice way to talk to your constituents (sp). You would treat me different if I were a woman.

My father spent just a s much, if not more time with us as I do, and his time wasn't split between me and doing chores after work.

What do you know about my family and life? Tell me again what I havwe gained?

----------------------
Really weird. Does society have that much influence over individuals anymore? Does anyone really care about societal expectations in their MARRIAGES?

This sounds more like a MAN thing.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 11:47 AM

When women here complian about balance and other societal issues, no one says; "It must be a w WOMAN thing, why is that?

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:23 PM

You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. This is one of the many, many benefits of the fact that your wife works. You've "been forced" to Daddy Track yourself? Come on! That's another choice your dad's generation never had. Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm printing this out and hanging it on our refrigerator.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:12 PM

Why?

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:26 PM

"You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. "

This varies so greatly...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:27 PM

You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. This is one of the many, many benefits of the fact that your wife works. You've "been forced" to Daddy Track yourself? Come on! That's another choice your dad's generation never had. Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm printing this out and hanging it on our refrigerator.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:12 PM

ROFL!!! Good one!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:29 PM

You really have no perspective. You probably spend 3-6XX as much time PER DAY with your children as your own father. This is one of the many, many benefits of the fact that your wife works. You've "been forced" to Daddy Track yourself? Come on! That's another choice your dad's generation never had. Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm printing this out and hanging it on our refrigerator.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:12 PM

Why?

Posted by: devils advocate |

It's not always about you, you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:30 PM

"Emma Woodhouse was a good negative example; who wanted to be like her?!"

I disagree. Emma was intelligent, beautiful, thoughtful to her family and talented. She was also overconfident of her own abilities, but she was 21 and by the end of the book had learned the error of trying to manipulate people to her ends.

Elizabeth Bennett and Eleanor (Sense and Sensibility) had less to learn during the course of the book, but the topics were different. Emma was about being a person who can learn from her mistakes.

Posted by: Austen fan | July 11, 2007 12:31 PM

Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

Leslie, please list what you think these many, many, benefits are? Because I am just bozo ingrate man who can't see them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:32 PM

Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

Leslie, please list what you think these many, many, benefits are? Because I am just bozo ingrate man who can't see them.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:32 PM

Ask your wife.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:36 PM

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

I'm printing this out and hanging it on our refrigerator.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:12 PM

Why?

Posted by: devils advocate |

It's not always about you, you know.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:30 PM

I know it is not always about me, I am a man, it is rarely about me on this blog.

It was a serious question though. Do you see it as true for you?

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:37 PM

Make a gratitude list and get on with your life.

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

Leslie, please list what you think these many, many, benefits are? Because I am just bozo ingrate man who can't see them.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:32 PM

Ask your wife.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:36 PM

In other words, you don't know either?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:38 PM

It was a serious question though. Do you see it as true for you?


Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:37 PM

Yes. I see more of my children than my father saw of his. My mother may have been a SAHM, but my father preferred to be at work or on the golf course, rather than have much to do with us. My wife outearns me and pays the lions share of the bills, and also provides for the extras that we feel are good for our children. Her job provides us with great health care, we both put money aside for our retirement via our 401Ks, and she even handles most of the indoor and outdoor chores. Not to mention the investments. She even handles automobile maintenance. I'm damned lucky and I'm smart enough to know it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:43 PM

"So I would not flinch at sending my kids to college, even if I knew they wanted to be hair stylists or manicurists or even welders and plumbers. I would encourage them to pursue a degree, along with the technical training they required for a particular trade. I don't think that a college degree can ever be wasted, no matter what you end up doing with your life."

I do agree that a college degree is never wasted. However, I think one of the influences on how parents feel about this is the level of sacrifice that is made to pay for the education. If parents are living their lives at the level they wish to be living and are still able to save for the kids college, or the grandparents are paying, or the kids have college, I think it would be easier to see them in a job that they would have been able to get without college. However, if the parents live in a cramped house or rent rather than own, don't take vacations, work second jobs, have meager wardrobe for themselves and children, don't have cable much less a big screen tv, give up camp/enrichment opportunities for the children, plan to work longer or have a less comfortable retirement in order to send kids to college, then I do understand why they might be resentful of the money spent.

There's no reason that children who aren't pursuing a career requiring a college education shouldn't go right to work and take college courses that interest them at their own expense at the local community college.

Posted by: to Emily | July 11, 2007 12:44 PM

ooops - or the kids have college scholarships

Posted by: to emily | July 11, 2007 12:48 PM

There's no reason that children who aren't pursuing a career requiring a college education shouldn't go right to work and take college courses that interest them at their own expense at the local community college.

Posted by: to Emily | July 11, 2007 12:44 PM

In other words, they should share in the financial risk their parents are making so that their child can reap the financial rewards.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:49 PM

Workin' It

"Shoot -- I'll encourge my sons scope out the chicks at Med Schools. Marry one of them, be a SAHD, and live in comfort."

DH was a SAHD for 10 + years. I know 3 other couples who have the same arrangement. The wives are all lawyers.

Look for someone who shares your VALUES, not the best looker who will have you. You will have fewer complaints.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:52 PM

Workin' It

"Shoot -- I'll encourge my sons scope out the chicks at Med Schools. Marry one of them, be a SAHD, and live in comfort."

DH was a SAHD for 10 + years. I know 3 other couples who have the same arrangement. The wives are all lawyers.

Look for someone who shares your VALUES, not the best looker who will have you. You will have fewer complaints.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:52 PM

You're setting a bad example of maturity and rationality. Stop that!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:01 PM

It was a serious question though. Do you see it as true for you?


Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:37 PM

Yes. I see more of my children than my father saw of his. My mother may have been a SAHM, but my father preferred to be at work or on the golf course, rather than have much to do with us. My wife outearns me and pays the lions share of the bills, and also provides for the extras that we feel are good for our children. Her job provides us with great health care, we both put money aside for our retirement via our 401Ks, and she even handles most of the indoor and outdoor chores. Not to mention the investments. She even handles automobile maintenance. I'm damned lucky and I'm smart enough to know it.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:43 PM

You are lucky AND the guy all the women on this blog complain about. I.e. "I work just as much as him, I even make more money, but I still have to do more than half of everything."

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 1:02 PM

You are lucky AND the guy all the women on this blog complain about. I.e. "I work just as much as him, I even make more money, but I still have to do more than half of everything."

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 01:02 PM

Jealous?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:04 PM

Not to mention the investments. She even handles automobile maintenance. I'm damned lucky and I'm smart enough to know it.

Sounds like you have a big penis...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:05 PM

I feel sad for people who don't want to pay for college for their children because they are afraid their children won't use the degree. Then don't pay for it! When paying for college for your children, you do it out of the kindness of your heart. If you want to attach conditions (major, job, career, boyfriend) that you are afraid they may one day go back on (which is possible in ANY scenario) then DON'T PAY FOR IT. There are loans and jobs out there, you can offer the kid a place to stay while they pay for their own community college and they can take on the loans if you are so afraid they won't need/use the degree.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 1:07 PM

Not to mention the investments. She even handles automobile maintenance. I'm damned lucky and I'm smart enough to know it.

Sounds like you have a big penis...


Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:05 PM

Nope, just an average guy. I got lucky.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:08 PM

Austen fan,
This is why literature is so wonderful...a good work will cause each reader to make his or her own meaning.
When I first read Emma in my Victorian Lit class, I didn't like her at all. I felt like she was shallow, manipulative, dense, and an insufferable snob. If I had read that book at age 14, I would have used her as an example of how *not* to behave (which is what I meant by a negative example) and modeled myself to be her opposite. By the time I read the novel, I was 20, and I had already figured out what not to do; for whatever reason, her negative qualities really struck me. It's the only Austen work I don't like to reread.


Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 1:08 PM

"Look for someone who shares your VALUES, not the best looker who will have you. You will have fewer complaints."

And if your value is to have a spouse who will support you while you are SAH parent, then be sure to look for that someone in law school or med school or Wharton :).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:09 PM

Nancy Drew? Please, I read romance novels.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:10 PM

"Not to mention the investments. She even handles automobile maintenance. I'm damned lucky and I'm smart enough to know it.

Sounds like you have a big penis...


Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:05 PM

Nope, just an average guy. I got lucky."

Or, you take care of business in the bedroom. It's more than luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:11 PM

Workin' It

"Shoot -- I'll encourge my sons scope out the chicks at Med Schools. Marry one of them, be a SAHD, and live in comfort."

DH was a SAHD for 10 + years. I know 3 other couples who have the same arrangement. The wives are all lawyers.

Look for someone who shares your VALUES, not the best looker who will have you. You will have fewer complaints.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:52 PM

But, then I would be married to a lawyer! ;)

I know a hundred couples, where none of the dads are SAHDs. I win.

You do realize how rare the woman who will accept a SAHD is in my generation (born 1962). We all talk a good game but when it comes down to it, most women see men who can't support them (whether they want to be supported or not) as deadbeats.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:12 PM

"Not to mention the investments. She even handles automobile maintenance. I'm damned lucky and I'm smart enough to know it.

Sounds like you have a big penis...


Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:05 PM

Nope, just an average guy. I got lucky."

Or, you take care of business in the bedroom. It's more than luck.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:11 PM

Not particularly. I have limitations there too, but she doesn't harp on them. She doesn't talk about it at all, for which I am grateful. Nor does she cheat. She honors her committments, as do I. No one promised us a rose garden.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:13 PM

We all talk a good game but when it comes down to it, most women see men who can't support them (whether they want to be supported or not) as deadbeats


SHH, they will kick you out of the club if you say this publicly...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:14 PM

You are lucky AND the guy all the women on this blog complain about. I.e. "I work just as much as him, I even make more money, but I still have to do more than half of everything."

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 01:02 PM

Jealous?

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:04 PM

Absolutely.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 1:16 PM

"You do realize how rare the woman who will accept a SAHD is in my generation (born 1962)."

Fine, I'll tell my sons to scope out the hot, YOUNG, Med School chicks.

Posted by: Workin' It | July 11, 2007 1:17 PM

"DH was a SAHD for 10 + years. I know 3 other couples who have the same arrangement. The wives are all lawyers."

I don't know you, so I will assume that this is true. I know a few dads who call themselves SAHD because they handle the bulk of childcare, but they are either part-time working dads or work-from-home dads. While it is true that they are handling most of the childcare, they are still bringing in an income and are not stay at home parents the way women have been traditionally where home and children are there responsibilities with no paying job of any sort.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:19 PM

I first read Austen in my early 20s, so I wasn't looking for the lessons either, but I still liked Emma. I was young enough then--and had been cocky enough--to remember myself like that. :)

The one I don't like as well is Mansfield Park. Fanny Price drives me crazy--she's so passive. And I love Lady Susan just because she's such an awful person and totally unashamed of it.

Posted by: Austen fan | July 11, 2007 1:20 PM

Who needs a big penis? All a girl needs is a man with a good tongue.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:21 PM

All a girl needs is a man with a good tongue.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:21 PM

If you believe that, it doesn't even need to be a man.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:24 PM

"Who needs a big penis? All a girl needs is a man with a good tongue"

This might be this guy's secret!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:24 PM

"Make a gratitude list and get on with your life."

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM

"Leslie, please list what you think these many, many, benefits are? Because I am just bozo ingrate man who can't see them."

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 12:32 PM

You can be grateful that you live in a society where people are more equal.

Near the end of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, after the Scouring of the Shire, Frodo says that sometimes, some people have to give things up so that others can have them. He is referring to the remnants of the Old Order, including himself and Bilbo as well as Galadriel and her Elves, who have to leave Middle Earth for the Blessed Lands because the age of Elves and the like is passing away, and the Age of Men is dawning.

Well, you have the merit of living at a time when the Age of Men is passing and the Age of Equality is dawning. Yes, you still have to work to support your family, and you have to give up the Privilege of having some career paths open to you just because you're a man, while they are closed to ladies and girls. And pretty soon, President Hillary Clinton will see to it that you are paying taxes to provide subsidized Day Care to the children of the ladies you are competing with. As Frodo says, sometimes some people have to give things up so that others can have them. Remember that you still retain the Privilege (if you earn enough, and find a willing mate) of having a stay-at-home mother to raise your children.

And the Age of Equality means more than just wage and career equality between men and ladies. It also means wage and career equality between North Americans and, say, Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Bangladeshi children and Red Chinese prisoners. Did you think you had a right to a better standard of living than they have? Not if globalization makes you compete directly with them!

"The Eye of Mordor is upon you
All the livelong day.
The Eye of Mordor is upon you,
You cannot get away.
Do not think you can escape it
In Rhûn or Eriador:
The Eye of Mordor is upon you
Till the One Ring is no more."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 1:26 PM

I helped pay for my college education, because my dad had this nutty idea that you only appreciate something if you have made some sort of sacrifice to get it; it does no one any good to have everything just handed over on a silver platter. It's just how it was done with us.
I work it that way now; if the boys want things, they have to work for them. They have to maintain what they have. Small example: son #2 is cursed with his cell phone (yeah, I know -- I wanted them to have cellphones once they started driving and being driven by their friends, for safety reasons). He keeps breaking them, walking into the ocean with phone in pocket, dropping phone off a condo balcony...anyway, we have the replacement insurance on their phones. Each time you replace the phone, it costs $50. He broke his phone two weeks ago, and I refused to take it to Verizon or pay the money -- it was all him. I hope he will be more careful -- but, if not, it's no skin off my nose.
Of course, Dad has no problem whatsoever spoiling his grandchildren. He has made sure that they won't have to shell out any out-of-pocket money for school. I think he's even willing to repay the loans (I say he should just leave them the money in his will, but whatever).

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 1:26 PM

If you believe that, it doesn't even need to be a man.

Gross

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:27 PM

And the Age of Equality means more than just wage and career equality between men and ladies. It also means wage and career equality between North Americans and, say, Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Bangladeshi children and Red Chinese prisoners. Did you think you had a right to a better standard of living than they have? Not if globalization makes you compete directly with them!

Bring it on. Not everyone is running scared, Matt.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:28 PM

"You do realize how rare the woman who will accept a SAHD is in my generation (born 1962). We all talk a good game but when it comes down to it, most women see men who can't support them (whether they want to be supported or not) as deadbeats."

You are hanging with the wrong people. Look for people that live the good game, not just talk it. They aren't hard to find.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:29 PM

And the Age of Equality means more than just wage and career equality between men and ladies. It also means wage and career equality between North Americans and, say, Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Bangladeshi children and Red Chinese prisoners. Did you think you had a right to a better standard of living than they have? Not if globalization makes you compete directly with them!

Everything old is new again. What's your point, Matt? Wanted to rest on your laurels rather than than having to continue to educate and update your skills?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:31 PM

I agree, Fanny Price is unappealing. I do like the book, however, because so many other people get their comeuppances. I haven't read Lady Susan for a long while (I can't find my copy, and it's not as easy to find as the more well-known titles), and all I really remember is feeling the the book had an unpolished feel to it.

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 1:32 PM

"If you believe that, it doesn't even need to be a man. "

It does for educmom's #1 son!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:34 PM

Well, Matt, I doubt we'll really ever be competing completely in the same way with the chinese. I mean - they just executed the head of their FDA for the food scandals. I don't think we do that here.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 1:35 PM

"You are hanging with the wrong people. Look for people that live the good game, not just talk it. They aren't hard to find."

Ok, this is the difference between anecdotes and data.

The previously posted Pew survey shows that 20% of women think it is a 'bad thing for society' for more men to be SAHDs. From every survey, it is clear that it is more socially acceptable for women to choose either to be a SAHM or a full-time WOHM than it is for a man to choose to be a SAHM.

Are their more 'enlightened' individuals who don't share this view? Sure. But the basic point that women have more socially acceptable 'choices' with respect to working or staying at home with their children is objectively true.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:35 PM

However - ONLY 20% think this is a bad thing for society.

I BET that 20 years ago, 50 years ago, whenever, at some point it was probably 95%. And it's probably decreased over time...

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 1:37 PM

"The previously posted Pew survey shows that 20% of women think it is a 'bad thing for society' for more men to be SAHDs."

20% isn't a whole lot, dude.

Posted by: Workin' It | July 11, 2007 1:38 PM

"However - ONLY 20% think this is a bad thing for society.

I BET that 20 years ago, 50 years ago, whenever, at some point it was probably 95%. And it's probably decreased over time..."

Yes, I am sure it will drop over time...

But as for NOW, TODAY, THIS VERY MOMENT IN TIME -- women have more socially acceptable choice with respect to working outside the home or staying home full-time with their children.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:40 PM

I totally applaud Leslie's appreciation for these women who take advantage of their skills, interests, and flexibility to re-enter or stay in the workforce on their own terms. But for those of us who are our family's breadwinners, this kind of work arrangement simply isn't optional. African American women, middle-income women, and women single moms in particular have a long history of fulltime participation in the workforce that is largely ignored because it doesn't contain any of the intellectual drama of Leslie's class; it's just a fact of life that for some of us, part-time embroidery is a pipe dream.

You could argue that this still reflects a choice -- one I made years ago when I chose not to marry an investment banker, for example, or incur debt so I could become a lawyer (I work at a non-profit and am STILL the breadwinner!) But you can't argue that anyone chooses to be born black, single, or middle-class.

My generation (Xers) is the first in this country whose standard of living will, in general, be lower than that of our parents. Whatever the economics of choice may be, it's more expensive to have a family now than it was a generation ago. For all our progress as women with choices, it's sad that some of us still wonder whether we can afford a family.

Posted by: JFS | July 11, 2007 1:40 PM

Look for someone who shares your VALUES, not the best looker who will have you. You will have fewer complaints.
===================================================


Behind every beautiful woman is a man tired of her sh$t!

Posted by: Bumper Sticker | July 11, 2007 1:40 PM

I get the books in a collection so I can reread them all at once when I want to. There's a good hardback on sale on Amazon (I had to replace my 15yo copy).

Lady Susan is one of her first books, so it's not as polished or well-developed as her later work. But the study of a completely amoral woman is interesting.

Posted by: Austen fan | July 11, 2007 1:43 PM

Well, Matt, I doubt we'll really ever be competing completely in the same way with the chinese. I mean - they just executed the head of their FDA for the food scandals. I don't think we do that here.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 01:35 PM

No, we just execute retards here.

And 20% "bad for society" is very different from how many people would actually find it acceptable for their own situation. For instance I'd like to see "would you be okay with being the financial breadwinner and your husband being a stay at home parent"...I'll bet it's sadly low, but I still wonder.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 1:44 PM

Why do you demean the male student for an attitude that is born out of reality? While you never know which student will go on to not use thier law/medical degree, you can pretty much be statically correct in assuming it will be a woman.

This attitude is there because women are given choices that men are not. And whether you like ot or not, one of those choices available is to not use that degree and be a SAHM. Because you haven't made that choice, doesn't mean others won't

Forgive us for living in the real world as opposed to the world as you (not you in particular, the generic you) would like it to be.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:10 PM

I'll demean anyone who judges the determination and life choices of someone else based on their own biases rather than objective data. If it offends you to call out ignorance, so be it.

I do live in the real world. Your statistical comment has no merit. As many men as women at the top of each class either never work in the profession after graduation, or clerk for a year or two, then decide they liked school more than they like the practice of law as a business. Frankly, this is true for teachers, doctors, geologists and every other profession. Almost no one stays in their first job for more than a couple of years and many, many folks change careers or return to school in some other field. With respect to the law, the attrition rate for women in the first three years isn't any higher than it is for men. If there's a difference, it reveals itself at the 4 - 10 year mark because many lawyers marry lawyers and [insert comment of Leslie's here about employers' lack of flexibility, yada, yada, yada].

For a variety of reasons, including self-selection, the men who remain in law firms reach a higher degree of career and financial success than the women. The goal of every law school student sure as heck aint making partner -- since that goal has all but evaporated in the last 10 years. Many have as their goal going in-house, or public service, or augmenting their MBAs to add value to a pure business resume. In other words, whether you like it or not, men have the same practical choice -- and exercise that choice regularly -- with respect to a law degree. Use it, use it for a couple of years, use it only as an accessory to your business credentials.

There's no excuse for being a Neanderthal unless you want to sell car insurance for Geico.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 1:45 PM

"20% isn't a whole lot, dude."

1 out of every 5 women think it is 'bad for society' for men to be a SAHD.

That is much higher than the number that express discriminatory views on race...


Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:45 PM

"You do realize how rare the woman who will accept a SAHD is in my generation (born 1962). We all talk a good game but when it comes down to it, most women see men who can't support them (whether they want to be supported or not) as deadbeats."

I can speak only for myself, but I'd be happy for DH to be a SAHD for a while. In fact, when we got married, that was the plan. But by the time we wanted a child, he realized he didn't want to be at home.

Bottom line, I love being a SAHM, and will always be grateful that I've had this opportunity. And if DH decided tomorrow that he'd like to try it out, I'm strt sending out resumes immediately, happily and without reservation. Fair's fair.

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 11, 2007 1:48 PM

"You do realize how rare the woman who will accept a SAHD is in my generation (born 1962). We all talk a good game but when it comes down to it, most women see men who can't support them (whether they want to be supported or not) as deadbeats."

You are hanging with the wrong people. Look for people that live the good game, not just talk it. They aren't hard to find.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:29 PM

I disagree, they are very hard to find because there aren't that many of them. One in five women think a man being a SAHD is bad for society. I would guess that three of the remaining four think a SAHD is great, for other women.

Example, you (a woman, I assume) are on a date twenty years ago. You ask the guy across the table what he does. His answer is; "I work at the mall, because I want to ba a SAHD someday. By the way can you pay for dinner, I am a little short". Future husband or deadbeat?


Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 1:48 PM

My generation (Xers) is the first in this country whose standard of living will, in general, be lower than that of our parents.

You will live in a bigger house, make more money, drive a better car and have retirement savings. Give it a rest slacker

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:49 PM

"Ok, this is the difference between anecdotes and data. The previously posted Pew survey shows that 20% of women think it is a 'bad thing for society' for more men to be SAHDs."

Right. The difference between anecdotes and data is that, based on the statistics you've provided, the vast majority of women - 80% (that would be a landslide in a presidential election, bucko) -- think it is either a neutral thing or a good thing for more men to be SAHDs.

"From every survey, it is clear that it is more socially acceptable for women to choose either to be a SAHM or a full-time WOHM than it is for a man to choose to be a SAHM."

And I hope so because I don't want to see any man choose to be a stay-at-home-mom.

"Are their more 'enlightened' individuals who don't share this view? Sure. "

Yeah - that 80% discussed above.

"But the basic point that women have more socially acceptable 'choices' with respect to working or staying at home with their children is objectively true."

based on . . . . what data?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:51 PM

Future husband or deadbeat?

Some people look for ambition in a mate, and some don't care a fig about ambition. So some people might think this was fine - another might say: no way...

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 1:52 PM

"For a variety of reasons, including self-selection, the men who remain in law firms reach a higher degree of career and financial success than the women."

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 01:45 PM

Uh-oh. Too many ladies are quitting the Firm and letting their husbands support them. Linda Hirshman, where are you with your whip to make these women Get to Work?

"Labor Liberat" (old Roman saying meaning, "work makes you free")

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 1:52 PM


ratgirlny-- have you tried to get the after school care improved? That would be ideal not just for your kids, but also for all their peers (and for the peers' parents-- maybe you could all rally together to get improvements)

----------------------------
devils advocate, if it sis true that some females are just "taking up space" in law and med school programs because they won't use their degrees, then shouldn't their fellow male students in fact be THANKING them for attending the school? After all, that means that there will be that many few competitors in the law/medical care marketplace, right?

Personally, I doubt that there are men that are annoyed by having female classmates, but I could be wrong! If there are any such men reading this, could you please provide a bit of insight into what it was that bothered you? Thanks!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 1:55 PM

"The previously posted Pew survey shows that 20% of women think it is a 'bad thing for society' for more men to be SAHDs. From every survey, it is clear that it is more socially acceptable for women to choose either to be a SAHM or a full-time WOHM than it is for a man to choose to be a SAHM.

Are their more 'enlightened' individuals who don't share this view? Sure. But the basic point that women have more socially acceptable 'choices' with respect to working or staying at home with their children is objectively true."

The flip side of that is that 80 percent of women think that men choosing to become SAHDs is okay. Not a bad number, really. And I bet its growing every day. A few years ago, that number will be even larger. Things are changing. And while it may be true that women can choose to either work or stay at home or some other hybrid of these options more easily than men these days, it is also true that men also have more options today with respect to these options than they did 25 or 50 years ago. And as time goes by, the options will continue to grow for both genders. Its a process, and we are on a continuum. It will not stagnate at the level where were are today. Change is coming. Deal with it.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 1:57 PM

"Right. The difference between anecdotes and data is that, based on the statistics you've provided, the vast majority of women - 80% (that would be a landslide in a presidential election, bucko) -- think it is either a neutral thing or a good thing for more men to be SAHDs."

So if 20% of men thought it was a 'bad thing for society' for women to work outside the home, women wouldn't feel pressured in any way, shape or form to be SAHMs...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:58 PM

"If you honestly believe that society does not expect men to be the primary wage earner, you are delusional. Men only get to opt out of this when they have a woman who chooses to opt in.

Again, my point is that none of this balance stuff we talk about has much of an affect on men. The choices all still belong to the women."

Agreed that society expects men to be the main breadwinner, while women have choices.

But you know why women can choose? Because for several hundreds of years, women have been fighting for that right. It sounds like ancient history to complain that women couldn't own property, couldn't be admitted to the bar or to practice medicine (if they even managed to get the education in the first place) -- I mean, wasn't that the Stone Age or something? But when my mother got married in 1965, it was against the law to use birth control -- but perfectly legal for an employer to fire a woman when the inevitable result occurred (while, of course, giving her male coworker a raise because he needed to "support his family"). I'll see your "societal expectations" and raise you a few legal prohibitions.

The fact is, no one handed women "choices" on a silver platter. We earned them -- frequently at great personal cost. I am where I am because my mother faced up to the ignorant school board in 1970 Texas who wanted to teach me that "boys are doctors, girls are nurses" (which she did despite the fact that she taught in that same school district. You can guess what her "modern" ideas did for her career there).

Don't get me wrong -- I do realize that societal expectations are hard for men who want to do something other than be the primary breadwinner. It burns me up when I hear people say things like they'd never trust a male caregiver. In my world, sexism is something to be fought against, so why is it still ok to be sexist against men?

But at the same time, I'm not real sympathetic to complaints about how men just don't have any choices, about how hard the societal pressures are. Part of it is "welcome to my world." I've got a full-time job, but "society" still expects me to be Martha-freaking-Stewart to boot. And then there are all of those who christen me Bad Mother for working and -- gasp! -- admitting that I actually LIKE it (hope "society" is used to its perpetual state of disappointment by now). Fact is, we all have the "right" to stay home or work -- but none of us has the right to be free of criticism for that choicce.

But I'm also just not real sympathetic to complaining instead of doing. Don't like society's expectations for men? Great, neither do I -- so go do something about it. Blaze a trail, negotiate a different solution with your wife and your boss, figure out what matters to you and fight to make that happen, the way women had to. Maybe you'll get there, maybe you won't. But maybe you'll be able to give your kids or grandkids the choices you wanted.

Posted by: Laura | July 11, 2007 1:59 PM

The flip side of that is that 80 percent of women think that men choosing to become SAHDs is okay.

That is a response to a fact that has not happened or which may never happen. It is like would you be okay with a 90 percent reduction in auto emissions? Yes of course. Would you be ok with a 12 percent unemployment rate to achieve that? Well, no way. Surveys are essentially worthless.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:03 PM

"The flip side of that is that 80 percent of women think that men choosing to become SAHDs is okay. Not a bad number, really. And I bet its growing every day. A few years ago, that number will be even larger. Things are changing. And while it may be true that women can choose to either work or stay at home or some other hybrid of these options more easily than men these days, it is also true that men also have more options today with respect to these options than they did 25 or 50 years ago. And as time goes by, the options will continue to grow for both genders. Its a process, and we are on a continuum. It will not stagnate at the level where were are today. Change is coming. Deal with it."

Wow -- I love the dichotomy.

So men should just patiently wait, things are going to change over time, blah.

Where is the righteous indignation directed at those 20% of women who hold this view? Where are the other women calling them 'neanderathals'? Where is the empathy for the unfairness of the situation faced by men today?

Oh, that's right -- the men should just suck it up and stop complaining -- put their heads back down and get to work.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:08 PM

"Change is coming. Deal with it."

Change is coming, but maybe not the way you think. As a 50-something mom who believed she could have it all, I am advising my daughters that they can't have it all.

I have a middle class career and live a middle class life. Neither DH nor myself make enough to live comfortably on one salary and provide retirement and education funds for our children. Don't have paid help at home. Didn't take time off to be home with the kids other than 4 month maternity leave. I have had a good life, but it is exhausting. I have had numerous days of rushing, missed appointments, scheduling problems, work pressures, school functions and obligations for the kids, etc. Probably no more than most people. Sometimes I believe that focusing only on career or only on family would be an overall easier, more satisfying life than trying to do both.

I have told my daughters that they should consider all aspects of their lives when planning their futures, not just their career goals. Some careers require much sacrifice of family and personal time. Others give you more personal time, but financial struggles. Some feed your soul, others feed your family. If you can find something that feeds your soul while giving you the money and financial resources to live the way you want to live, then you are truly lucky. Most of us just muddle through. If my children want high-demand careers, I will support their choices, but I will also point out the pitfalls. I will do the same if they want careers that are low paying - if they love it and are willing to live the lifestyle that the career supports, that's fine, but I want them to understand the ramifications of their choices.

Posted by: another view | July 11, 2007 2:09 PM

Rock it, Laura!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 2:10 PM

My generation (Xers) is the first in this country whose standard of living will, in general, be lower than that of our parents.

You will live in a bigger house, make more money, drive a better car and have retirement savings. Give it a rest slacker

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:49 PM

"make more money" O RLY?
http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/25/pf/mobility_study/index.htm

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 2:12 PM

Just lick it.

As in this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:16 PM

"That is a response to a fact that has not happened or which may never happen."

Not true. There are SAHDs out there. My husband is one of them. It is an emergent thing, and it is beginning to happen. SAHDs may be a minority, but they are out there, and their numbers are growing.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 2:16 PM

My generation (Xers) is the first in this country whose standard of living will, in general, be lower than that of our parents.

Gold vs. platinum lifestyles, overall.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:19 PM

Any woman who wants to be equal to men lacks ambition.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:20 PM

Is your hubby's cute nickname PW?

Posted by: to Emily | July 11, 2007 2:20 PM

"Not true. There are SAHDs out there. My husband is one of them. It is an emergent thing, and it is beginning to happen. SAHDs may be a minority, but they are out there, and their numbers are growing."

So accoding to the latest census, a child today is 56 times more likely to have a SAHM than a SAHD. [Or to put it another way, of all of the SAH parents, less than 2% are men.]


Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:20 PM

As long as there are girls who love to fantasize about being kidnapped, Nancy Drew will remain popular.

Posted by: Liz D | July 11, 2007 2:21 PM

SAHMs or SAHDs - they are equally boring!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:21 PM

"Oh, that's right -- the men should just suck it up and stop complaining -- put their heads back down and get to work."

Oh please, let me get out my violin. If men don't like the way things are, they should do the work to change things. Want to have the privilege of being a SAHD? Then have the guts to buck societal expectations and find a way to do what suits you? Like Laura said, woman had to fight for centuries for the rights that we now have, and yes, we are still fighting. Learn from our example. Fight for what you think is fair. Complaining will get you nowhere. My sympathy wears thin for crybabies.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 2:22 PM

Fight for what you think is fair. Complaining will get you nowhere. My sympathy wears thin for crybabies.

Emily's husband was not allowed to comment, he is home waiting for her next instruction on what to do

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:25 PM

Why do you demean the male student for an attitude that is born out of reality? While you never know which student will go on to not use thier law/medical degree, you can pretty much be statically correct in assuming it will be a woman.

This attitude is there because women are given choices that men are not. And whether you like ot or not, one of those choices available is to not use that degree and be a SAHM. Because you haven't made that choice, doesn't mean others won't

Forgive us for living in the real world as opposed to the world as you (not you in particular, the generic you) would like it to be.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 12:10 PM

I'll demean anyone who judges the determination and life choices of someone else based on their own biases rather than objective data. If it offends you to call out ignorance, so be it.

I do live in the real world. Your statistical comment has no merit. As many men as women at the top of each class either never work in the profession after graduation, or clerk for a year or two, then decide they liked school more than they like the practice of law as a business. Frankly, this is true for teachers, doctors, geologists and every other profession. Almost no one stays in their first job for more than a couple of years and many, many folks change careers or return to school in some other field. With respect to the law, the attrition rate for women in the first three years isn't any higher than it is for men. If there's a difference, it reveals itself at the 4 - 10 year mark because many lawyers marry lawyers and [insert comment of Leslie's here about employers' lack of flexibility, yada, yada, yada].

For a variety of reasons, including self-selection, the men who remain in law firms reach a higher degree of career and financial success than the women. The goal of every law school student sure as heck aint making partner -- since that goal has all but evaporated in the last 10 years. Many have as their goal going in-house, or public service, or augmenting their MBAs to add value to a pure business resume. In other words, whether you like it or not, men have the same practical choice -- and exercise that choice regularly -- with respect to a law degree. Use it, use it for a couple of years, use it only as an accessory to your business credentials.

There's no excuse for being a Neanderthal unless you want to sell car insurance for Geico.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 01:45 PM

Why does my statistical comment have no merit? Because it does fit with what you believe, it isn't relevant or isn't true?

For those who don't work in their field after graduation, they shouldn't have been there either.

I wasn't talking about just the top of the class, I would expect those people to be committed to their career. What about the rest of the class? Your second paragraph supports my point; ten years down the road there is a good chance (I'd guess 25%) that the woman lawyer will be a SAHM married to her lawyer husband. The chances are 2% that the male laywer will be doing the same.

Still, there is no need to demean anybody, especially if they are ignorant.

Truth be told, I think the original statement is sexist. I don't believe that men should have priority over women (or the other way around) in anything. Sometimes my namesake gets the better of me.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 2:27 PM

My husband is more of a man than your sorry self can ever hope to be. But that is what happens when the only head you have is in your penis.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 2:27 PM

Emily especially likes the way he treats her hemorrhoids after a long day at the office...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:29 PM

If I met a guy who didn't want to work, I'd think he was a deadbeat. If I met a woman who didn't want to work, I'd think she was a deadbeat. For me, people who don't want to work are deadbeats.

I'd be interested to know what percentage of men (or women, or both) would say that a woman being a SAHM is a bad thing for society. I wonder if it would be near the %20 from the survey mentioned above.

Posted by: Meesh | July 11, 2007 2:31 PM

devils advocate, if it sis true that some females are just "taking up space" in law and med school programs because they won't use their degrees, then shouldn't their fellow male students in fact be THANKING them for attending the school? After all, that means that there will be that many few competitors in the law/medical care marketplace, right?

Personally, I doubt that there are men that are annoyed by having female classmates, but I could be wrong! If there are any such men reading this, could you please provide a bit of insight into what it was that bothered you? Thanks!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 01:55 PM

Jen -

I'm not a man, but since you responded to my comment, I'll volunteer the thinking. Of course, since you doubt it's true, you may want to skip this entirely.

You can't make up for a good start, e.g., attrition later on doesn't help you in the way that top performance out of a top school helps you. For example, you never get another chance to clerk with a Supreme Court justice. Only certain top schools are feeders to those jobs, and only stellar rankings and performance will position you to attain those jobs. Attaining those jobs lifts your earnings for as long as you are in the profession.

As a practical matter, and although this is a generalization, the opportunities for greatest earnings in a legal career go to those who attend top 20 schools, make law review and are in the top 10% of each class. Law school is a zero sum environment. What is good for you is bad for me if you are ranked more highly than I am. If two of the people on law review don't intend to enter the profession, and while they may enjoy and benefit from that learning experience immensely, their spots on law review are wasted with respect to the career credential someone else could have had, e.g., the next two people who would have gotten on law review might have some justification in feeling screwed.

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 2:33 PM

I'm glad somebody mentioned the Little House books--I loved those when I was in grade school.
In high school, I read Judy Blume books on the sly.
Parents: do you think it's okay for teens to read books where there aren't necessarily negative consequences to having sex? (i.e., not every premarital encounter ends up in STDs, pregnancy, disaster, etc.)

Posted by: Teen books | July 11, 2007 2:34 PM

"Oh please, let me get out my violin. If men don't like the way things are, they should do the work to change things. Want to have the privilege of being a SAHD? Then have the guts to buck societal expectations and find a way to do what suits you? Like Laura said, woman had to fight for centuries for the rights that we now have, and yes, we are still fighting. Learn from our example. Fight for what you think is fair. Complaining will get you nowhere. My sympathy wears thin for crybabies."

That's right -- blame the victim.

20% of WOMEN have this view -- how about focusing your attention on their discriminatory viewpoints? How do we get WOMEN to be less discriminatory? How do we get WOMEN to be more accepting to equality?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:34 PM

Go ahead and troll on. I am sure you can think of many gratuitous insults that are not relevant to the discussion anyway. You have just proven the obvious. You are too stupid to have a real discussion on the topic, so your next move is to resort to nananabooboo. Lovely and mature. Around here, we call that intellectual surrender. But I would bet that that is your constant condition in life.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 2:34 PM

20% of WOMEN have this view -- how about focusing your attention on their discriminatory viewpoints? How do we get WOMEN to be less discriminatory? How do we get WOMEN to be more accepting to equality?

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:34 PM

You persist in overlooking 80% who feel differently.

That 20% is likely to get smaller and smaller as those who are currently younger than 18 grow up, and those who are much older, die.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:36 PM


Try this on again and tell me if it's any more appealing:

Example, you (a man, I assume) are on a date twenty years ago. You ask the girl across the table what she does. Her answer is; "I work at the mall, because I want to ba a SAHM someday. By the way can you pay for dinner, I am a little short". Future wife or deadbeat?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:36 PM

You're husband must secretly hang his head in shame every evening, knowing he is a deadbeat and enduring all of the fake wow that's cool comments from his friends

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:38 PM

"20% of WOMEN have this view -- how about focusing your attention on their discriminatory viewpoints? How do we get WOMEN to be less discriminatory? How do we get WOMEN to be more accepting to equality?"

My attitude toward those women is exactly the same as it is to the men who have the same view. Get with the times. Things are changing. Deal with it. That comment was in no way directed exclusively at men.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 2:38 PM

yes, MN, I get that law school is a zero sum game-- believe me, I get it!-- but I don't see why it has to men vs. women. I never got the impression that my male classmates didn't want female classmates. did you?

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 2:39 PM

Her answer is; "I work at the mall, because I want to ba a SAHM someday. By the way can you pay for dinner, I am a little short". Future wife or deadbeat?

Since the guy is trying to get laid, he pays and could care less!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:40 PM

Don't get me wrong -- I do realize that societal expectations are hard for men who want to do something other than be the primary breadwinner. It burns me up when I hear people say things like they'd never trust a male caregiver. In my world, sexism is something to be fought against, so why is it still ok to be sexist against men?

But at the same time, I'm not real sympathetic to complaints about how men just don't have any choices, about how hard the societal pressures are. Part of it is "welcome to my world." I've got a full-time job, but "society" still expects me to be Martha-freaking-Stewart to boot. And then there are all of those who christen me Bad Mother for working and -- gasp! -- admitting that I actually LIKE it (hope "society" is used to its perpetual state of disappointment by now). Fact is, we all have the "right" to stay home or work -- but none of us has the right to be free of criticism for that choicce.

But I'm also just not real sympathetic to complaining instead of doing. Don't like society's expectations for men? Great, neither do I -- so go do something about it. Blaze a trail, negotiate a different solution with your wife and your boss, figure out what matters to you and fight to make that happen, the way women had to. Maybe you'll get there, maybe you won't. But maybe you'll be able to give your kids or grandkids the choices you wanted.

Posted by: Laura | July 11, 2007 01:59 PM

I get the point, you have no sympathy for men. Us women fought hard for what we have, you guys are on your own.

This is a frickin blog. There are no fights to be won here. It is a group of people complaining, some compliants are valid (womens), some aren't (mens).

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 2:40 PM

MN

"If two of the people on law review don't intend to enter the profession, and while they may enjoy and benefit from that learning experience immensely, their spots on law review are wasted with respect to the career credential someone else could have had, e.g., the next two people who would have gotten on law review might have some justification in feeling screwed."

You nailed this point!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:42 PM

Example, you (a man, I assume) are on a date twenty years ago. You ask the girl across the table what she does. Her answer is; "I work at the mall, because I want to ba a SAHM someday. By the way can you pay for dinner, I am a little short". Future wife or deadbeat?

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:36 PM

What does 20 years ago have to do with TODAY?

I've taught my kids that if you ask someone on a date, you are the host and you are to pay. Clearly you can tell someone what the budget will allow. If they wish to split the bill, that's fine. If not, that's fine too.

I also tell them that others may not have been raised with the same formula, so to always bring enough money to cover for yourself and a tip. Offer to contribute/pay your share. If you don't have to tap your money, then offer to pay for the tip.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:43 PM

their spots on law review are wasted with respect to the career credential someone else could have had, e.g., the next two people who would have gotten on law review might have some justification in feeling screwed."

Who said life was fair? Those people earned the spot, got the degree and in a free country have the right to do as they please.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:45 PM

Emily - just call him Bruce :>)


Hey, Bruce, it's pretty common for female partners to have full-fledged stay-at-home spouses -- not working from home and not working part-time. As others have noted here in other contexts on other days, there are certain sales-driven professions where success and balance are more easily attained when one parent bears the brunt of kid-related scheduling. In the same way that other couples sometimes look up and examine whether it makes sense for the lesser-earning spouse to be employed at all in light of the stress of having a two-job family, the analysis for a couple in which the female is an attorney often results in a decision for the man to quit his job -- particularly for couples residing far outside the Beltway.

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 2:46 PM

"You're husband must secretly hang his head in shame every evening, knowing he is a deadbeat and enduring all of the fake wow that's cool comments from his friends"

It's YOUR husband. What kind of guys do you hang with? They seem pretty shallow!

Do you have secret shame and hang your head about the many orgasms your wife fakes?

Posted by: Top Cat | July 11, 2007 2:46 PM

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:43 PM


BWAAAAAAAAAAAAA, Good luck presenting a bill to a girl on a date! That's a good one!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:47 PM

Oh Yes, it is now time for the anon D!ck head to surface to attack Emily on something she said months ago.

Do you have a life? Wait, you are the hemorrhoid on the a$$ of this blog. Go Away.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:48 PM

"BWAAAAAAAAAAAAA, Good luck presenting a bill to a girl on a date! That's a good one!"

Unless the date is Britney Spears....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:49 PM

I also tell them that others may not have been raised with the same formula, so to always bring enough money to cover for yourself and a tip. Offer to contribute/pay your share. If you don't have to tap your money, then offer to pay for the tip.

================================================

All this (who should pay what) should be negotiated before any offer is accepted. Because, dates, like marriage, are nothing more than a business proposition anymore.

Posted by: The death of romance! | July 11, 2007 2:49 PM

20% of WOMEN have this view -- how about focusing your attention on their discriminatory viewpoints? How do we get WOMEN to be less discriminatory? How do we get WOMEN to be more accepting to equality?

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:34 PM

You persist in overlooking 80% who feel differently.

That 20% is likely to get smaller and smaller as those who are currently younger than 18 grow up, and those who are much older, die.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:36 PM

And the person who started this part of the discussion over looked the hundreds of men who didn't say anything about women taking up space. I would bet that the percentage of men who feel "women shouldn't get into law school because the spot should be resereved a for a man who will have to support a family" is significantly less than 20%, but you see no problem overlooking them.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 2:49 PM

I've taught my kids that if you ask someone on a date, you are the host and you are to pay.

Try reading carefully, 2:48.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:50 PM

Jen - Yes, LOL. That's why I said it.

I had 3 classmates tell me, directly, that certain women at the top of our class were wasting opportunities that would have / should have gone to men, had those women either worked less hard or matriculated elsewhere. 8 years later, each of the women they identified are still practicing law. Take a guess about the current careers of the sexist whiners. One classmate was convinced that he'd have gotten into a higher ranked lawschool if not for all those minorities, including women, occupying spots rightfully owed to him. He's still practicing, but the erroneous sense of penile entitlement lives on.

I tend to figure that if X percent are willing to say something directly to your face - and they are your friends - then it's safe to assume that another X percent hold those same views but are sophisticated enough not to express them. I have also heard from enough colleagues who attended other law schools and had similar exchanges that this problem is not an aberration or unique to my alma mater.

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 2:52 PM

"I've taught my kids that if you ask someone on a date, you are the host and you are to pay."

That's why I wait for the men to ask me for the date...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:53 PM

"I've taught my kids that if you ask someone on a date, you are the host and you are to pay."

That's why I wait for the men to ask me for the date...

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:53 PM

Not a check-grabber I take it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:56 PM

"I've taught my kids that if you ask someone on a date, you are the host and you are to pay."

That's why I wait for the men to ask me for the date...

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:53 PM

I always knew there was someone out there buying The Rules. Good luck with that whole playing hard to get strategy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:58 PM

One classmate was convinced that he'd have gotten into a higher ranked lawschool if not for all those minorities, including women, occupying spots rightfully owed to him.

He's probably right. Considering that minorities (blacks usually or hispanics can get in with lower qualifications). Asians usually don't get or need special rules to help them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:59 PM

"Try this on again and tell me if it's any more appealing:

"Example, you (a man, I assume) are on a date twenty years ago. You ask the girl across the table what she does. Her answer is; 'I work at the mall, because I want to ba a SAHM someday. By the way can you pay for dinner, I am a little short.' Future wife or deadbeat?"

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:36 PM

Sounds like my one-time girl friend, the one whose supper I paid for every Sunday night while we were in college. She used to say she wanted to have six little ones. She sounded like a future wife, not a deadbeat. And sure enough, she was a future wife -- some other guy's future wife.

Where's the "deadbeat" here?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 2:59 PM

Sounds like my one-time girl friend, the one whose supper I paid for every Sunday night while we were in college.

So, was it a gift, or a poor investment strategy?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:02 PM

What does 20 years ago have to do with TODAY?

I've taught my kids that if you ask someone on a date, you are the host and you are to pay. Clearly you can tell someone what the budget will allow. If they wish to split the bill, that's fine. If not, that's fine too.

I also tell them that others may not have been raised with the same formula, so to always bring enough money to cover for yourself and a tip. Offer to contribute/pay your share. If you don't have to tap your money, then offer to pay for the tip.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:43 PM

Twenty years ago was when I was dating and when I was making the decision who I wold marry. Someone suggested it should have been easy for me to find a woman who would accept a man as a SAHD. My point is that when I was making that decision, there were no women like that.

Who does the most asking with regard to dates? Most women still believe the man should ask, so having the asker pay is just another way for the man to pay.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 3:02 PM

Matt - the deadbeat is a person who is taking a minimum wage job with no earning goals in sight waiting for the day that someone else picks up the tab for her to do even less - like sit on her tuckus. I am not surprised that you couldn't identify either laziness or a willingness to sponge off the efforts of someone else.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:02 PM

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 02:59 PM

did you get "any" out of the deal? If so, money well spent..

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:03 PM

"Matt - the deadbeat is a person who is taking a minimum wage job with no earning goals in sight waiting for the day that someone else picks up the tab for her to do even less - like sit on her tuckus"

And have babies! You men are such suckers!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:05 PM

Who does the most asking with regard to dates? Most women still believe the man should ask, so having the asker pay is just another way for the man to pay.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 03:02 PM

My daughter has asked out more than one young man. So far, she's had her fair share accept. What's your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:05 PM

One classmate was convinced that he'd have gotten into a higher ranked lawschool if not for all those minorities, including women, occupying spots rightfully owed to him.

He's probably right. Considering that minorities (blacks usually or hispanics can get in with lower qualifications). Asians usually don't get or need special rules to help them.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 02:59 PM

Bruce, your hood is hanging right behind the door. Don't forget it on your way out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:05 PM

Bozo Ingrate:

I can't believe I'm actually writing YOUR gratitude list for you, but here goes.

1) You have a wife.
2) You have a job.
3) You have kid(s).
4) You can read.
5) You now have a memorable nickname on this blog.

Don't you feel better now?

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 3:06 PM

I'll be a working-from-home dad (WFHD?) soon, privileged and/or saddled with the bulk of our childcare responsibilities.

Now, I may be missing something, but from what I've already discovered about staying at home with children? It's not a good place for someone who wants to avoid work. My current office job, however, is a pretty good place to avoid work. (Exhibit A: This post.)

My point here is that when we talk about who stays home, we're not really talking about who does the work.

and...


---
20% of WOMEN have this view -- how about focusing your attention on their discriminatory viewpoints? How do we get WOMEN to be less discriminatory? How do we get WOMEN to be more accepting to equality?
----

That 20% may be a drag, but seriously? Men have a lot of privilege in our society, even given the point of Leslie's article today. If we have to work a little bit harder to do do something that's not within our usual privileged realm, then good for us. We're blazing new trails. We're iconoclasts. We're moving society along.

But the whining is a bit unnecessary, isn't it? Let's reserve charges of discrimination for situations where someone is really suffering.

Posted by: Josh | July 11, 2007 3:07 PM

Bruce, your hood is hanging right behind the door. Don't forget it on your way out

I know it's hard to justify affirmative action where some are allowed to do things merely on the color of their skin. MLK JR didn't like it and most people don't either.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:10 PM

this blog has traded up if it's lost pATRICK but picked up Josh.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:10 PM

New book for Louisa May Alcott fans:

http://www.amazon.com/Edens-Outcasts-Louisa-Alcott-Father/dp/0393059642/ref=sr_1_1/105-7438167-6758027?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1184180906&sr=8-1

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:10 PM

"Matt - the deadbeat is a person who is taking a minimum wage job with no earning goals in sight waiting for the day that someone else picks up the tab for her to do even less - like sit on her tuckus. I am not surprised that you couldn't identify either laziness or a willingness to sponge off the efforts of someone else."

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:02 PM

Laziness? Willingness to sponge off someone else? Does that describe a SAHM?

Sorry -- keeping house and raising children is not for the lazy. It's hard work, and the SAHM is on call 24/7. Simone de Beauvoir, Andrea Dworkin, Linda Hirshman -- they're the ones who paint SAHM's as spongers. One would think that readers of On Balance, where both sides of the "Mommy Wars" get a fair hearing, would know better than to characterize SAHM's (or would-be future SAHM's) as "lazy."


Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 3:11 PM

Parents: do you think it's okay for teens to read books where there aren't necessarily negative consequences to having sex? (i.e., not every premarital encounter ends up in STDs, pregnancy, disaster, etc.)

Posted by: Teen books

HAHAHAHAHA, we can't EMPOWER teens about their sexuality. They must be scared and shamed about it at every opportunity.

Posted by: Liz D | July 11, 2007 3:17 PM

"Sorry -- keeping house and raising children is not for the lazy. It's hard work, "

On what planet?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:18 PM

this blog has traded up if it's lost pATRICK but picked up Josh.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:10 PM

Hey, thanks, anonymous complimenter. (much milder form of secret admirer?)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:18 PM

Matt,

SAHMs aren't lazy and no one said they were, despite your efforts to twist my words into something they weren't. Go ahead and use Wikipedia to come up with a bunch of names of famous published women. Nonetheless, a good marriage takes the combined efforts of two people willing to work - whether that work is paid or not paid, with or without children, in the fields or at the sewing machine. If one person, long before marriage, indicates by her choices that she has zero work ethic and interest in positioning her future family so that it can gainfully support itself later on, then she's looking for a Sugar Daddy. If you want to date a gold digger, be my guest, but most smart guys want a partner not a user.

A woman looking for a Sugar Daddy has never been synonymous with a SAHM. There's a world of difference in attitude, as I would you think you might have discovered.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

MN sorry that you heard that kind of BS. I don't think those guys are justified to think that they should get a slot rather than a woman. If the woman earned it, she should get it. If the man feels he could have gotten on to Law Review "but for" her being in school, well he should also realize that the reality is that if she had been excluded because of her gender, then some other guy would have been accepted-- and THAT guy would have beat him out of the spot on law review.

So he didn't get on the law review-- so what? If he has real skills and desire, he could start his own law review. I know of two guys that did that. Very savvy guys. It's possible not getting on to the law review actually was a blessing in disguise-- it sure impressed future employers that they started up their own-- possible more than if they had just been on the "real" law review.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

HAHAHAHAHA, we can't EMPOWER teens about their sexuality. They must be scared and shamed about it at every opportunity.

This is the person who wants to show your son how a condom works on a banana when he comes over to hang out at her house and play xbox.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

Considering that minorities (blacks usually or hispanics can get in with lower qualifications).


It's hard to argue with facts, so you bring out the you are racist card. Weak

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

?We all talk a good game but when it comes down to it, most women see men who can't support them (whether they want to be supported or not) as deadbeats.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 01:12 PM "

I would say that we see men who can't support THEMSELVES as deadbeats. And that men see women who can't support themselves the same way. (Fairly, in my opinion!)
Being a SAHP is not a default choice for a spouse who can't hold down a job--especially these days, it is (or should be) a carefully planned choice between two wage earners who want to cut down to one wage for a while in order to benefit the whole family.
And to throw some fuel on the fire: the only reason I wouldn't support Mr Bee in being a SAHD is that my salary just wouldn't cut it alone. I make 34% less than he does. And I'll bet there are plenty of other women in my situation--whatever you believe about the causes of wage discrepancies, it's a statistical reality that often the woman is the lower earner, and that does put a wrench in the decision to have the man be the one to stay home.

Posted by: worker bee | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

"Matt - the deadbeat is a person who is taking a minimum wage job with no earning goals in sight waiting for the day that someone else picks up the tab for her to do even less - like sit on her tuckus. I am not surprised that you couldn't identify either laziness or a willingness to sponge off the efforts of someone else."

So, your wife was a mall clerk and had no ambitions.

You really hitched your wagon to a star!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

Bruce, your hood is hanging right behind the door. Don't forget it on your way out

I know it's hard to justify affirmative action where some are allowed to do things merely on the color of their skin. MLK JR didn't like it and most people don't either.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:10 PM

The point of affirmative action is to make up for the thousands of years a whole race of people were enslaved and treated as non-equals, as well as compensate for the fact that most positions of power and authority in this country are held by white men who may or may not have gotten the memo that it's not cool to discriminate anymore. Must be nice to be a white male and go into an interview and not have to worry that they'll not hire you if they think you're going to have kids soon, or not hire because of the color of your skin. Likely you can just be judged on your merits and whether or not your a jacka$$.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM

"Sorry -- keeping house and raising children is not for the lazy."

Actually, it's the ideal job for the lazy. Think about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:20 PM

thousands of years a whole race of people were enslaved and treated as non-equals

America has only been a country for a couple of hundred years Einstein...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:22 PM

Considering that minorities (blacks usually or hispanics can get in with lower qualifications).


It's hard to argue with facts, so you bring out the you are racist card. Weak

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:19 PM

Unless you are in university admissions or have some statistical data to discuss, racism is the only thing you are bringing to the table. You can call it weak. I call it accurate. Care to discuss facts?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:23 PM

"Bozo Ingrate:

"I can't believe I'm actually writing YOUR gratitude list for you, but here goes.

"1) You have a wife.
2) You have a job.
3) You have kid(s).
4) You can read.
5) You now have a memorable nickname on this blog.

Don't you feel better now?"

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 03:06 PM

Leslie left out rhythm, music, good times, starlight and sweet dreams:

"I got rhythm, I got music, I got my girl
Who could ask for anything more?
I've got good times, no more bad times
I've got my girl, who could ask for anything more?

"Old man trouble I don't mind him
You won't find him around my door
I've got starlight, I've got sweet dreams
I've got my girl, who could ask for, who could ask for more?"
-- Music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 3:23 PM

thousands of years a whole race of people were enslaved and treated as non-equals

America has only been a country for a couple of hundred years Einstein...

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:22 PM

And western civilization picked them off from their home continent and ensalved them for thousands of years before then. America isn't the center of the universe, but that doesn't mean our laws don't have to compensate for "the way things have been" prior to our country's existence. And you thank you for calling me Einstein, but my moniker is Miles maybe you missed that...

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 3:26 PM

Matt, what are you, 100 years old?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:27 PM

No Matt, I'm sorry, but musicians and their lyrics are not permitted.

On this blog, any money or time devoted to the providing children with musical education is money wasted. No matter what, no matter when.

The mean-spirited anonymous have made that abundantly clear.

Posted by: Bedrock | July 11, 2007 3:27 PM

"So, your wife was a mall clerk and had no ambitions.

You really hitched your wagon to a star! "

Hey! DD is a mall clerk!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:28 PM

So he didn't get on the law review-- so what? If he has real skills and desire, he could start his own law review. I know of two guys that did that. Very savvy guys. It's possible not getting on to the law review actually was a blessing in disguise-- it sure impressed future employers that they started up their own-- possible more than if they had just been on the "real" law review.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 11, 2007 03:19 PM

I'm glad it worked out for them, Jen, LOL. In this instance, at our school, there wouldn't have been any point, though, in him diverting his time and attention to starting an alternative journal. The employers I'm thinking of have as a hiring criteria membership or editing positions on Law Review - other journal experience is irrelevant. It all depends on the job - as with most things.

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 3:28 PM

but that doesn't mean our laws don't have to compensate for "the way things have been" prior to our country's existence

That has got to be the stupidest thing said today. Our laws are for our people for our country not for what happened elsewhere eight centuries ago. You ARE a rube....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:30 PM

Matt

You left out daisies in green pastures...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:32 PM

Hey! DD is a mall clerk!

As long as DD is also aspiring to more than minimum wage (as in earning it for DD's own self), there's no problem.

But if that is as big a dream, then there are bigger problems.

DD = delightful daughter? If DD = developmentally delayed, then perhaps this is the outer limits.

Otherwise, it's a get-by job, if one is lucky or heavily subsidized by the 'rents.

Posted by: Wayne | July 11, 2007 3:32 PM

Re: "Labor Liberat" (old Roman saying meaning, "work makes you free")

The German version of this Arbeit Macht Frei was wrought into the iron gate outside of Dachau. Not that I disagree with the sentiment...

Posted by: BraesBayou | July 11, 2007 3:35 PM

"Hey! DD is a mall clerk!"

Remember "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"? Pheobe Cats was a mall clerk. I'd buy her a slice of pizza and not complain any day.

Posted by: Workin' It | July 11, 2007 3:36 PM

"On this blog, any money or time devoted to the providing children with musical education is money wasted. No matter what, no matter when."

Bedrock is one of those sheep whose opinions depend on the approval of not just 80% but 100% of society. How embarrassing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:38 PM

"Hey! DD is a mall clerk!"

Remember "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"? Pheobe Cats was a mall clerk. I'd buy her a slice of pizza and not complain any day.

Posted by: Workin' It | July 11, 2007 03:36 PM

Remember Flo, from "Alice's Restaurant"?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:38 PM

"On this blog, any money or time devoted to the providing children with musical education is money wasted. No matter what, no matter when."

Bedrock is one of those sheep whose opinions depend on the approval of not just 80% but 100% of society. How embarrassing.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:38 PM

You wouldn't recognize sarcasm if it walked up and bit you on your woolly ass.

Posted by: Bedrock | July 11, 2007 3:40 PM

"Remember Flo, from "Alice's Restaurant"?"

Oh yea, another hot one...

Posted by: Workin' It | July 11, 2007 3:40 PM

"No Matt, I'm sorry, but musicians and their lyrics are not permitted.

"On this blog, any money or time devoted to the providing children with musical education is money wasted. No matter what, no matter when.

"The mean-spirited anonymous have made that abundantly clear."

Posted by: Bedrock | July 11, 2007 03:27 PM

"Mean-spirited anonymous?" On this blog? I'm shocked . . . Shocked!

We're here to have fun. Just skip over any mean-spirited postings, anonymous or not.

"Pereat tristitia,
Pereant osores.
Pereat diabolus . . ."

(Let sadness perish!
Let haters perish!
Let the devil perish!)
--from "Gaudeamus igitur"

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 3:41 PM

but that doesn't mean our laws don't have to compensate for "the way things have been" prior to our country's existence

That has got to be the stupidest thing said today. Our laws are for our people for our country not for what happened elsewhere eight centuries ago. You ARE a rube....

---

I hate this conversation. Nothing personal, Miles, or anonymous neo-con troll, but there is just no end to it. Affirmative action supporters believe we should use our government to adjust to existing inequalities, while detractors believe that we will do best to ignore it. I don't claim to understand the ideals behind the latter perspective, but I've never seen an argument wherein either side budged.

Posted by: Josh | July 11, 2007 3:42 PM

but that doesn't mean our laws don't have to compensate for "the way things have been" prior to our country's existence

That has got to be the stupidest thing said today. Our laws are for our people for our country not for what happened elsewhere eight centuries ago. You ARE a rube....

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 03:30 PM

And you, sir, are a racist, bitter white man who thinks that MAYBE some minority person (or woman) who was less qualified than you somehow screwed you over or cheated you out of success you would have otherwise had. Possible! It's also possible someone hired you INSTEAD of hiring a minority.

Justifications:
-Past historical discrimination severely limited access to educational opportunities and job experiences.

-Ostensible measures of "merit" may well be biased toward the same groups who are already empowered.

-Regardless of overt principles, people in positions of power are likely to hire people they already know or people from similar backgrounds, or both.

Affirmative action occurs in "occurs in school admissions, job hiring, and government and corporate contracts."
" California, Michigan, and Washington have banned various forms of affirmative action by government organizations. "

So private organizations who are not directly contracting with the government can use affirmative action only when they want to. So stick to the private sector and continue to choose professions and industries where white men still hold the power, money, and authority. That should be a sizeable majority of employment in this country and should allow poor little you to get yourself a job.

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 3:42 PM

"Hey! DD is a mall clerk!"

Actually, DD is on commission and does very well. I didn't realize there was mall clerk snobbery.

I had low paying jobs in college & law school; no one looked down on me.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:43 PM

oops- typo. I meant to say "Affirmative action supporters believe we should use our government to adjust existing inequalities"

Posted by: Josh | July 11, 2007 3:44 PM

I had low paying jobs in college & law school; no one looked down on me.

Right. You were in college and law school, so you were clawing your way up and out. "Get-by job".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:45 PM

I meant to list my source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action

Posted by: Miles | July 11, 2007 3:45 PM

everything on Wikipedia is 100% accurate!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:46 PM

Josh

"oops- typo. I meant to say "Affirmative action supporters believe we should use our government to adjust existing inequalities"

Nobody who matters gives a damn. Give it a rest.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:51 PM

Re: 'Labor Liberat' (old Roman saying meaning, 'work makes you free)

"The German version of this Arbeit Macht Frei was wrought into the iron gate outside of Dachau. Not that I disagree with the sentiment..."

Posted by: BraesBayou | July 11, 2007 03:35 PM

The sentiment goes back 'way before the Romans. Remember the 128th Psalm, where it says, "When thou eatest the labor of thy hands, Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, in the innermost parts of thy house; Thy children like olive plants, round about thy table."

Yes, the Germans gave the slogan a bad name, but guess who has been affirming it regularly over the past ten years, and who used it repeatedly to extol the virtues of work in his recent Presidential campaign? None other than Nicholas Sarkozy. In his formulation, "labor liberat" comes out, "le travail rend libre." And M. Sarkozy won!

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 3:52 PM

"Right. You were in college and law school, so you were clawing your way up and out. "Get-by job".

Yes, I was. Why do you think otherwise?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:53 PM

I had low paying jobs in college & law school; no one looked down on me.

That you knew.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:56 PM

"I had low paying jobs in college & law school; no one looked down on me."

"That you knew."

It wouldn't have mattered if I had known.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:59 PM

Bedrock, you stated "No Matt, I'm sorry, but musicians and their lyrics are not permitted."

Please review "Statement of Disclaimer, Warranty and Performance Guarantee for this Blog" originally published April 4, this year.

It specifically allows lyrics under the "Daily Guarantee" item D, to wit "The blog will spontaneously explode with foreign language quotes, suspicious blog statistics, song, poetry and prose."

My contribution today,

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Posted by: Legal Eagle | July 11, 2007 4:00 PM

Who needs Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden when you have Buffy and Xena?

Posted by: generation z | July 11, 2007 4:03 PM

I was born in 1972 so I am sure I am only a few years younger than Leslie, but I do not see myself as some great pioneer. I actually saw my MOTHER as the pioneer and she was born in 1943. She went back to work fulltime as a teacher when I entered first grade, was the primary caregiver for my brother and me and also earned 2 advanced degrees at night over the course of about 10 years. I believe that her generation was much more the pioneers than we are. I always assumed I would continue to work when I had kids and was lucky enough not to be forced to quit my job when I was 5 months pregnant like she had to. Yes, discrimination still exists, but it is nothing like the generation before had to face. I think we should thank them rather than pity ourselves.

Posted by: KBJ | July 11, 2007 4:07 PM

20 yrs ago when I graduated from hi school I most certainly wasn't looking to play SAHM. I was hoping to have a career when I got my BS and hoping to find a DH who would stay home with the kids. Seriously. Of course I didn't want that at that moment, but that's what I wanted.

Posted by: atlmom | July 11, 2007 4:09 PM

Josh

"oops- typo. I meant to say "Affirmative action supporters believe we should use our government to adjust existing inequalities"

Nobody who matters gives a damn. Give it a rest

Josh, so much for the honeymood period here.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:12 PM

Bozo Ingrate:

I can't believe I'm actually writing YOUR gratitude list for you, but here goes.

1) You have a wife.
2) You have a job.
3) You have kid(s).
4) You can read.
5) You now have a memorable nickname on this blog.

Don't you feel better now?

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 03:06 PM

The list I was asking for was what about my life is better because my wife works?

I'm not stupid, I do know that I have a lot to be thankful for (even more than is in your list) but , none of the above are in any way dependent on, or a reesult of, me having a working wife. My original point was balance, as discussed here, has little or no benefits to men.

Your list probably looks exactly the same (exept for the genders) and yet everyday you have some complaint about something.

And I like "devils advocate" better.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 4:13 PM

MN - to a certain extent, you definitely nailed it re: female attorneys. I look around me at the (relatively few) female partners around me and they almost all either are single (no kids) or have husbands who have quit their jobs entirely or substantially reduced them so that they can be the primary breadwinners. I'd imagine this is the case for most women in very high-powered careers. I mean - how else can you do it?

We talk about how great it is to have these choices, but these choices haven't given us any more balance than our fathers had back in the 50s/60s when they were the major breadwinners. It's great to have options in the workplace, but it is laughable to think that this can be linked to better "work/life balance" for women.

Posted by: londonmom | July 11, 2007 4:14 PM

devil's advocate --

Hmm, nice misconstruction. I am sympathetic to how hard it is to fight societal pressures -- and like I very clearly said, I am happy to help and support in that struggle. The fact that 20% of women think SAHDs are bad for society is just horrible.

What I am not sympathetic to is the general, broad-brushed complaints about the unfairness that men weren't just handed the same "choice." If you want to talk specific issues -- yeah, my boss/wife expects X, so how can I accomplish Y -- I'm right there with you. But when I hear general complaints that "a woman can choose to work, but I can't choose to stay home," it bugs me. Because women spent years struggling to get that choice, men have only begun, and yet the guy seems surprised that it's not there yet?

Here's an example. You're in school, you study your butt off all year, and you get an A. A kid three desks over goes to class, studies here or there but doesn't put in a lot of effort, crams for the final, and gets a C. And then he comes over and says, gee, how come I YOU got an A and I didn't? Truthfully, would that not annoy you? Would you not want to tell the guy it's because you worked your butt off and you earned it, and he shouldn't expect a good grade to just be handed to him? Not in a "nanny-nanny-boo-boo, you're on your own" way, but in a "get a clue" way. Even if you'd have been more than happy to help him study, that question would still grate, because it's either clueless (the guy doesn't realize how hard you had to work) or shows an attitude of entitlement (this guy thinks he should get whatever he wants without having to put in the work).

It's not a "we had to fight to get ours, so you're on your own to fight to get yours" -- TOTALLLY not it. I WANT that kind of equality -- I want my husband and my son to have the same choices I have, I want the freedom to make my family work however works best for us, without the annoying critics on either side. But I also want the recognition that you might have to work hard to get there, and put up with unjustified crap. Yes, those societal expectations suck. But they don't change unless and until people are willing to step up and defy them and prove how stupid they are.

Posted by: Laura | July 11, 2007 4:18 PM

To the poster asking about sex in teen books:
It's one thing to glorify sex, and have young female characters who define themselves solely by their usefulness to boys, and another to have charcters who simply live the typical teen life. Not all stories have to be morality plays. While I certainly don't advocate teenagers having sex, it happens with more frequency than any parent reading this blog wants to admit. Most of the time, the girl does NOT get pregnant, or contract herpes, or suffer some other life-altering humiliation. It becomes like the boy who cried wolf: if every story teens read is hysterical, then they won't recognize real warnings when they come across them.

Also, readers bring their own thoughts, feelings and experiences to literature and come away with their own meanings -- just look at the way Austen fan and I had differing opinions on the book Emma, or the various opinions expressed earlier today about Nancy Drew. If you find your child is reading something questionable, read it yourself and start a conversation with her.
Above all, be very wary of censoring your child's reading!

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 4:19 PM

Who needs Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden when you have Buffy and Xena?

Posted by: generation z | July 11, 2007 04:03 PM

Buffy and Xena are pretty kick-ass, no doubt, but their popularity is of a similar vein to Nancy Drew's, right? Women doing what women shouldn't be able to, or aren't allowed to do.

The question for me is what does our popular media do next, once all of our rules of gender propriety have been spectacularly broken and breaking gender lines gets boring?

Posted by: Josh | July 11, 2007 4:21 PM

I can't believe that someone is so myopic or misinformed as to say that "40 years ago no woman..." could go between homemaking and paid employment. My mother did it, repeatedly, as my siblings and I were growing up.

Three of the four of us were born before my father had graduated from college. My mother already had her degree, and worked full time during his years as a student.

After Dad finished college, Mother was a full-time homemaker four 5-6 years, until her youngest child started kindergarten. Then she worked part-time - week-ends and vacation coverage for her full-time peers.

This was all during the 60's. I was born in '59 and my youngest sibling was born in '63. So, Mom was supporting the family from '58 when my parents got married, until '62 when Dad graduated and went to work. She was home full-time from '62 until '68, then went to work part-time.

Over the next 39 years up to the present, she has sometimes stayed home, sometimes took part-time work, and sometimes held full-time positions.

Someone needs to get their facts straight before making such sweeping statements about all women, or no women, doing something sometime in the past.

Oh, and maybe I should share my grandmothers' work histories too, just in case there's some confusion about what women could and couldn't do during the '30's '40's and '50's.

Posted by: Sue | July 11, 2007 4:21 PM

londonmom,

Were I single or a single parent, I'd view it differently, but I see balance as something my husband and I achieve as a combined unit on behalf of our family. Some days/weeks in order to achieve balance as a family, his life is less balanced. Sometimes, mine is less balanced. I don't find it laughable to view an individual's family choice for one person to work very, very hard outside the home while the other works very, very hard inside the home as balanced -- for that family. The difference, in my view, between now and the 50s, is that many couples (not all, because devils' advocate is in a state of mourning of some lack of options) can determine based on their talents, gifts, and preferences, rather than based on gender, which career best merits the family focus and how to best relieve family stress. My 2 cents, of course.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 4:22 PM

Bozo Ingrate:

I can't believe I'm actually writing YOUR gratitude list for you, but here goes.

1) You have a wife.
2) You have a job.
3) You have kid(s).
4) You can read.
5) You now have a memorable nickname on this blog.

This list would have been incomplete for most women here. I can't make partner,my job does not have flex time, my kids are eating away at my personal growth, of course I can read( indignantly), and teh last big deal

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:23 PM

educmom, I'll second the warning about censoring your child's reading.
My parents had a shelf of books I was not allowed to read. I had read every one of them secretly by the time I was twelve. (Then I turned into a promiscuous chain-smoking thief. Just kidding!)
I really enjoyed some of these books, hated others, and was just plain confused by a couple (Naked Lunch!) I would have liked to discuss them with my parents, but of course I couldn't, without admitting that I had disobeyed & read them in the first place.
On second thought, my parents might have done this with the specific idea that I would disobey, and that it would launch me into a lifetime of reading challenging, interesting literature!

Posted by: worker bee | July 11, 2007 4:26 PM

Who needs Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden when you have Buffy and Xena?

Posted by: generation z | July 11, 2007 04:03 PM

Who needs BOOKS when you have tv?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:28 PM

Josh: Buffy would still be great even if there was no gender tension... it's also about the archetypal struggle between good and evil, both external and internal; whether ends justify means; whether redemption is possible; loyalty between friends; when good friends do bad things; loss, death, souls...
And, um, vampires!

Posted by: worker bee | July 11, 2007 4:31 PM

Sue-

Thanks for reminding me that both of my grandmothers (and their mothers too) worked outside the home for many years of their lives. Balance is not merely an issue for people today. It has always existed!

Posted by: KBJ | July 11, 2007 4:32 PM

Workerbee, my parents didn't actually tell me I couldn't read anything, but there were a few books that were 'put away' in the (mistaken) belief that I wouldn't find them. I remember finding Portnoy's Complaint and trying to read it when I was maybe eight or nine. I think the book opens with the narrator masturbating and getting caught (or maybe that's just the first thing I remember) -- boy, I have never put a book down so fast! I haven't tried reading it since.

Posted by: educmom | July 11, 2007 4:34 PM

"Bedrock, you stated 'No Matt, I'm sorry, but musicians and their lyrics are not permitted.'

"Please review 'Statement of Disclaimer, Warranty and Performance Guarantee for this Blog' originally published April 4, this year.

"It specifically allows lyrics under the 'Daily Guarantee' item D, to wit 'The blog will spontaneously explode with foreign language quotes, suspicious blog statistics, song, poetry and prose.'

Posted by: Legal Eagle | July 11, 2007 04:00 PM

This must be a warranty of merchantablility. There's also a warranty of fitness. That's why we can post Gershwin lyrics, old German drinking-song lyrics, and quotes from the Psalms, but we had better not post lyrics like 50 Cent's "In Da Club," unless we want to go the way of Don Imus.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 4:36 PM

devils advocate,

Balance, and discussions about balance, have a lot to offer men who marry women who seek partners and not daddies.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:38 PM

I haven't read Portnoy's Complaint either! I do remember getting confused by the same thing in Beautiful Losers and having to ask my brother for clarification (as I recall he was too young to know also!)

Posted by: worker bee | July 11, 2007 4:39 PM

but we had better not post lyrics like 50 Cent's "In Da Club," unless we want to go the way of Don Imus.

Unless said poster is a person of color...
PC code section four, paragraph 6, line 12, addendum 5..

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:39 PM

I've been a lawyer for over 20 years and worked for different firms as well as the government, and I've never met or heard of a female partner who had a stay-at-home husband. Housekeepers, yes. SAH husbands, no.

Posted by: DC | July 11, 2007 4:40 PM

Megan's Neighbor - I don't disagree with you when looking at it from a family perspective. My husband's life is certainly more balanced because he has a wife who brings in a nice income for the family. Less pressure for him = more balance for him and time to spend with his family. But for me - I have MUCH less balance in my life than my mother did in hers (she was a graduate school educated SAHM - once she had children she said goodbye to her career and did things like help out my father's business and volunteer).

I'm not saying this is a bad thing (I love that I have these choices) and my husband loves that HE has these choices. But in terms of balance, I think that our (womens') ability to get to the very top (whether that be CEO, president, female managing partner) hasn't made it any easier for us to "balance" our work/lives.

Posted by: londonmom | July 11, 2007 4:43 PM

But in terms of balance, I think that our (womens') ability to get to the very top (whether that be CEO, president, female managing partner) hasn't made it any easier for us to "balance" our work/lives.

By definition, these jobs demand that you have no balance and frankly those that aspire to them , made their decision a long time a go about what they really wanted.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:45 PM

It's not a "we had to fight to get ours, so you're on your own to fight to get yours" -- TOTALLLY not it. I WANT that kind of equality -- I want my husband and my son to have the same choices I have, I want the freedom to make my family work however works best for us, without the annoying critics on either side. But I also want the recognition that you might have to work hard to get there, and put up with unjustified crap. Yes, those societal expectations suck. But they don't change unless and until people are willing to step up and defy them and prove how stupid they are.

Posted by: Laura | July 11, 2007 04:18 PM

I thought my response would tick you off. ;)

Do you honestly believe that women earned all their choices without the help and sympathy of some men? Do you think it would even have been possible without the help of some men? So, if men get no sympathy from women who feel the same way they do (i.e. you), what do you think we should expect from the people who don't believe as we do? You look at me as the enemy, yet we believe the same things. Equality for men in these areas can not be won by men alone, the like thinking women must help. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

I was raised to believe in equality. When women were making strides in the workplace, I was/am happy. I believed it when feminist when they said they were for equality for everyone, but they lied. The equality that I believed in wasn't for everyone, it was for women and women only. My original post was pointing out this and this alone. Don't tell me the things that women are talking about on this blog for will benefit men, they won't. And they won't because we don't realistically have the choices that women do.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 4:48 PM

You have hit a spot devils advocate, where women had some moral authority in changing society in the 60's, now it is just another special interest group among hundreds of others.Clawing for it's own interests and clinging to the vestiges of a time gone by

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 4:54 PM

You know, I have to admit that Devil's Advocate makes some valid points. Although it should be pointed out that a lot of men (thankfully not my husband) really like the fact that their wives "don't have to work" and can handle all the household and child-rearing duties while the husband goes off and makes the bucks. That kind of imbalance does not appeal to me.

Posted by: DC | July 11, 2007 4:56 PM

"I was raised to believe in equality."

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 04:48 PM

Wow! The Devil's advocate believes in Equality. And for sure, those on the "side of the angels" believe in Equality.

So, if everyone believes in Equality, how come there is so much Inequality in the world?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 11, 2007 4:58 PM

I think the bigger question for the person slogging the low wage, poor future job because they want to be a SAHP is - what if that never happens? What if you never get married, what if you can't have kids? (adoption can cost a great deal of money) What then? the dead end job forever?

I think your scenario - directed to either sex - should be more of a question of intelligence (or lack of imagination) of that person. If you choose not to have ambitions, where does leave you if plan A falls through.

I know a lot of quite bright (well educated at that) 30 somethings that are holding out from buying a house, not buying good furniture, etc because they have the odd idea that they need to be married first.

What if thet never happens? Why did you sit on a garage sale couch for 10+ years and have your books on blocks and boards for goodness sake.

I personally had a nice career, nice house, good dishes :o) got married, had 2 kids, and am now am an almost SAHM (work part time at home about 10-12 hours a week). Didn't know it would turn out this way (maried at 37), didn't plan that it would either. I planned my life in case I stayed single so tha I still would have a nice life. you just never know.

RL

Posted by: Re: deadbeat scenario | July 11, 2007 5:06 PM

I've been a lawyer for over 20 years and worked for different firms as well as the government, and I've never met or heard of a female partner who had a stay-at-home husband. Housekeepers, yes. SAH husbands, no.

Posted by: DC | July 11, 2007 04:40 PM

Well, DC, I work with 9 that I know of - the firm's too big for me to know everyone's story. All I can say is, get out more, LOL.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 5:09 PM

I think the bigger question for the person slogging the low wage, poor future job because they want to be a SAHP is - what if that never happens? What if you never get married, what if you can't have kids? (adoption can cost a great deal of money) What then? the dead end job forever?
------------------

Then you scream sexism and blame men for the fact that women only make 79 cent for the dollar when compared to men.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:11 PM

By definition, these jobs demand that you have no balance and frankly those that aspire to them , made their decision a long time a go about what they really wanted.

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 04:45 PM

Do you say the same thing to men who support SAHMs with three kids? I doubt it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:15 PM

I know a lot of quite bright (well educated at that) 30 somethings that are holding out from buying a house, not buying good furniture, etc because they have the odd idea that they need to be married first.

What if thet never happens? Why did you sit on a garage sale couch for 10+ years and have your books on blocks and boards for goodness sake.

I personally had a nice career, nice house, good dishes :o) got married, had 2 kids, and am now am an almost SAHM (work part time at home about 10-12 hours a week). Didn't know it would turn out this way (maried at 37), didn't plan that it would either. I planned my life in case I stayed single so tha I still would have a nice life. you just never know.

RL

Posted by: Re: deadbeat scenario | July 11, 2007 05:06 PM

*claps* *claps* *cheers* *claps*

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:18 PM

Do you say the same thing to men who support SAHMs with three kids? I doubt it.

Yes I would. The top slots are made up of people (men and women) who WANT those jobs and are willing to make the sacrifices of family and time to do it. Sadly, the family and marriage is the first thing to suffer. Check out Jack Welch, a perfect example.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:19 PM

Well, DC, I work with 9 that I know of - the firm's too big for me to know everyone's story. All I can say is, get out more, LOL.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | July 11, 2007 05:09 PM

I think it is you who needs to get out more. You are basing your opinion on the one firm you work for. How would you know what goes on in the rest of the world? You rightly called me out earlier, but where are the objective facts here? LOL

Maybe your law firm is the anomaly and the wife of every SAHD in the DC area works at your firm.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 5:20 PM

"Do you honestly believe that women earned all their choices without the help and sympathy of some men? Do you think it would even have been possible without the help of some men? So, if men get no sympathy from women who feel the same way they do (i.e. you), what do you think we should expect from the people who don't believe as we do?"

Devil's advocate - You are making the assumption that women don't support or have sympathy for men who are striving for the same kind of equality, both at home and at work, that women want. You are wrong. Most women fully support men who are working to achieve those ends. We want our partners and husbands to have options, to be involved dads, to have less pressure to be the sole breadwinners, to have the option to take less stressful jobs. What we have little sympathy for is men who let inertia take them over and instead choose to complain about their situations, thinking that somehow, society should just hand them what they want. If you are willing to work for equality, I will work with you, shoulder to shoulder and hand to hand. But if you want to whine and complain while you do nothing to help yourself, you are on your own, because I am too busy working for what I think is important. I don't have time to waste on whining.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 5:21 PM

Bozo Ingrate --

Ah yes, I'd forgotten that some men in their charming myopia think life has to have improved for THEM in order to support women working. You're right -- your life hasn't gotten any better. Now your wife can leave you if you treat her terribly. She can cheat on you with all those hunky guys she works with. In the divorce proceedings you might face female lawyers and female judges who might actually see her viewpoint. Your daughter might grow up to think you are a sexist pig instead of a god who controls the purse strings in your family. Guess I see why you are so bitter about how terrible equality is for you --

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 5:24 PM

I've been a lawyer for over 20 years and worked for different firms as well as the government, and I've never met or heard of a female partner who had a stay-at-home husband. Housekeepers, yes. SAH husbands, no.

Posted by: DC | July 11, 2007 04:40 PM

So if you've never encountered one, there must not be any, right? My husband's cousin is a partner at a major law firm, her husband has stayed home with the kids for over a decade. It came as a shock to the elderly relatives, but it works for the couple, and the kids are happy too.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:32 PM

Devil's advocate - You are making the assumption that women don't support or have sympathy for men who are striving for the same kind of equality, both at home and at work, that women want. You are wrong. Most women fully support men who are working to achieve those ends. We want our partners and husbands to have options, to be involved dads, to have less pressure to be the sole breadwinners, to have the option to take less stressful jobs. What we have little sympathy for is men who let inertia take them over and instead choose to complain about their situations, thinking that somehow, society should just hand them what they want. If you are willing to work for equality, I will work with you, shoulder to shoulder and hand to hand. But if you want to whine and complain while you do nothing to help yourself, you are on your own, because I am too busy working for what I think is important. I don't have time to waste on whining.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 05:21 PM

I made no such assumption. Laura specifically said twice in her post that she has no sympathy for men (it was nuanced the same way you did).

You gals are the ones making the assumption that I am just a whiner who doesn't walk the walk. For all you know I am the number one activst for mens equality. You say women support men "to be involved dads, to have less pressure to be the sole breadwinners, to have the option to take less stressful jobs.". I do all these thing, and I advocate for other men to do them too. Yet when I bring up the issues that I believe are holding men back in this area, I am called a whiner.

Am I or equality supported here? Sure doesn't feel like it.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 5:33 PM

Bozo Ingrate --

Ah yes, I'd forgotten that some men in their charming myopia think life has to have improved for THEM in order to support women working. You're right -- your life hasn't gotten any better. Now your wife can leave you if you treat her terribly. She can cheat on you with all those hunky guys she works with. In the divorce proceedings you might face female lawyers and female judges who might actually see her viewpoint. Your daughter might grow up to think you are a sexist pig instead of a god who controls the purse strings in your family. Guess I see why you are so bitter about how terrible equality is for you -

Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 05:24 PM

You are the one who said my life will improve if my wife works, I was just asking how.

Do you read what is written here? My life is fine, my wife works, and I am happy for it. You, on the other hand, seem to have a lot of baggage.

Emily and Laura, this is the kind of support I have learned to expect from women who believe in "equality"?

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 5:43 PM

Am I or equality supported here? Sure doesn't feel like it.

Oh you are naive aren't you...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:43 PM

Am I or equality supported here? Sure doesn't feel like it.

Oh you are naive aren't you...

Posted by: | July 11, 2007 05:43 PM

I like to think of it as idealistic optimism. ;)

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 5:45 PM

News Flash Leslie, women have been leaving cheating and hating their fathers long before your time, get off your high horse

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:45 PM

You say you support "men who are working to achieve those ends. We want our partners and husbands to have options" But when a person disagrees with you, you disparage in such a vile and common manner as to say "...But that is what happens when the only head you have is in your penis."

You say you believe in equality but resort to Ad Hominem attacks to support your comments.

How much class is in your equality?

Posted by: to Emily | July 11, 2007 5:51 PM

"I do all these thing, and I advocate for other men to do them too. Yet when I bring up the issues that I believe are holding men back in this area, I am called a whiner."

I make the assumption that you are doing nothing because you never mention what you are doing. Laura and I, and many others on this blog, talk about how we work and are full partners to our husbands so that they can have options to work less, be more involved dads, what have you. You only talk about what you don't have. The difference between the people who achieve their goals and those who don't is that those who do achieve them find a way to make it happen, rather than seeing all the negatives and the obstacles and bemoaning the impediments. There will always be obstacles and problems, and any one of them can stop you in your tracks and make you quit. So put your money where your mouth is and tell us what you have done to achieve this life you claim is denied you. Maybe, if we were privy to your actual struggles rather than to your perpetucal pity party, we might actually be willing to give you some help and advice.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 5:53 PM

No one will have to worry about affirmative action soon. It will go away because of the way Bush stacked the Supreme Court. Miles if you are so great, why do you or other s like you need it? I can't wait until it goes away because then things will be fair for everyone and not based on the color of skin you were born with. Oh and you don't need to look too hard to find a racist. I think one if sitting at your computer.

People alive today should not have to pay for other people's crimes. Grow up, get a job and move on. Your "race" was also not the only race of people who were persecuted. You are, however, the only ones still crying about and using it as a way to get ahead.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 5:55 PM

""But when a person disagrees with you, you disparage in such a vile and common manner as to say "...But that is what happens when the only head you have is in your penis.""

Oh, did I hurt your feelings? So sorry. But when a person vilely attacks me (or my wonderful husband), they can expect to be treated in kind. Was it vile and common? Sure. But it was also dead on. And I make no apologies for it.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 5:58 PM

RIP, Lady Bird Johnson, who sought to make the world a more beautiful place in which to live.

Posted by: catlady | July 11, 2007 6:01 PM

No, you did not hurt my feeling as I was not the one attacking your husband. But you seem to believe that every slight should be repaid in kind. As I recall, you are a lawyer, so I guess that sarcasm and character assassination are proper tools and a proper response to anyone who disagrees with you. Your use of these techniques only reduces your effectiveness in conveying your point of view and probably results in the escalation of insults directed toward you.

Posted by: to Emily | July 11, 2007 6:10 PM

Nope, I'm not a lawyer, but I'm sure that all the lawyers on the blog will appreciate your broad brushed compliment.

And as to my effectiveness for conveying my point of view, I am quite satisfied with it, but thank you for your concern. As to the insults, they may come, but I can handle them better than they can handle me.

As for class, if you read this blog, you will already know that I don't have any, and that's just fine with me.

Posted by: Emily | July 11, 2007 6:15 PM

Bozo Ingrate -- "My life is fine, my wife works, and I am happy for it." That's the first time you've said that your life was good. Glad to hear it. Seriously. Seriously! Have a good night and see you tomorrow.


Posted by: Leslie | July 11, 2007 6:15 PM

Once again, more pro-feminist crap from Leslie, with no balance issues.

Posted by: nO Balance | July 11, 2007 6:49 PM

Once again, more pro-feminist crap from Leslie, with no balance issues


I'm afraid you missed the game and all the cars have left the parking lot. Try again tomorrow.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 6:54 PM

Emily, the official ball buster of the On Balance Blog!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 7:05 PM

devil's advocate --

I am surprised you keep misreading my comments, as you're normally a pretty fair debater. You've said that I said twice I have no sympathy for what men face. I really don't understand how you could read my comments and come to that conclusion -- I have said, repeatedly and clearly, that I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for what men face, that I would join you in the struggle to gain equality on the homefront, and that as Emily said, I work toward that in my own life every day. I absolutely agree with you that women didn't achieve their success on their own, and I doubt men will, either. I hold no truck with stereotypes in either direction.

The only thing I have no sympathy for is whining without doing, especially when coupled with a lack of recognition for what women went through and/or a sense of entitlement -- I thought my last post made that very clear. What set me off was an anonymous post that seemed to fall into that category. If that was you, then based on the additional information you've presented, it looks like I read it wrong.

Posted by: Laura | July 11, 2007 7:14 PM

"I'm just wondering about the logic of spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on education -- I don't want my daughters to feel like they HAVE to work full-time forever, because we spent so much money on their education. "

OTOH, what if you skimp on your daughter's education because you assume she'll spend years living on her husband's income, then by the time she grows up no man wants to marry her?

I'm glad my parents assumed that girls do need college savings as much as boys do :), especially since I've been too ugly to marry (and it's not a weight problem so I can't just diet and exercise it off) since I was 9 years old. :(

"Don't get me wrong, I have a daughter and I know these changes will give her more opportunities, she will have more choices etc, but my point was don't try to tell men that this will benefit us too. In the long run it may, but in the short term there are no benefits to men."

Would you really be better off in the short term if your daughter wasn't allowed to earn a living herself and you had to support her until you managed to marry her off?

Some fathers do believe this. Some of them profit by only supporting their daughters until age 8 or 9 or 12 or 13 when they manage to earn bride prices from HIV+ guys who rape these brides on the wedding nights instead of waiting until they're old enough to have sex drives.

"All this 'cycling in and out' of the workforce is all well and good, and it's nice that women are free to do this, but let's not lose sight of the fact that they're able to do it because someone else (their spouse) is supporting them. None of the women Leslie describes could have done what they did without a spouse laboring to provide for them and subsidize their lifestyle choices. Is this really freedom?"

Sounds more like sex appeal. It's only available to the ones sexy enough to get and keep spouses in the first place (give or take a few asexuals who pair up with each other for friendship, I guess).

"Sad that he can't be proud of his own daughter. I'm *merely* a secretary, yes with a college degree, and my parents are both very proud of me and my work. They should be pleased their daughter found something she enjoys and is passionate about."

They should also be pleased that their daughter didn't stay in the job she hated, burn out, and kill herself.

"It sounds like ancient history to complain that women couldn't own property, couldn't be admitted to the bar or to practice medicine (if they even managed to get the education in the first place) -- I mean, wasn't that the Stone Age or something?"

It sounds more like September 11, 2001, Kabul.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 9:07 PM

I think it is you who needs to get out more. You are basing your opinion on the one firm you work for. How would you know what goes on in the rest of the world? You rightly called me out earlier, but where are the objective facts here? LOL

Maybe your law firm is the anomaly and the wife of every SAHD in the DC area works at your firm.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 05:20 PM

The comment to which I responded was, in essence, I don't know anyone like that so they don't exist. There's little more that needs to be said to that then, I have, so expand your mind. btw, I don't live in DC, but work for a firm with a presence there and elsewhere throughout the US. I have to assume that the original poster has an extraordinarily small social and work circle, never travels, and doesn't read either. Sorry you appear to have the same problem, devils.

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 11:19 PM

Anon @ 9:07 --

Please consider talking to a someone about this. Carolyn Hax frequently recommends the Women's Center -- (202)293-4580. If you're not in the DC area, call them anyway and they'll provide a referral.

Best of luck.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | July 11, 2007 11:37 PM

I am starting a new job soon. I have not worked for a few weeks in between jobs. I keep noticing the same people on this blog day in and day out. Do you have jobs? How are you blogging and working? There is no way that all of you are working from home.

I love the Washington Post and have read it on-line for YEARS. I only read the blogs when there are no "discussions" going on in the Live Online section. Blogs are a joke compared to the interesting questions posed by clicksters for the different WaPo talent (ex: Michelle Singletary, Hax, Brown).

Posted by: Curious | July 12, 2007 9:03 AM

I think it is you who needs to get out more. You are basing your opinion on the one firm you work for. How would you know what goes on in the rest of the world? You rightly called me out earlier, but where are the objective facts here? LOL

Maybe your law firm is the anomaly and the wife of every SAHD in the DC area works at your firm.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 11, 2007 05:20 PM

The comment to which I responded was, in essence, I don't know anyone like that so they don't exist. There's little more that needs to be said to that then, I have, so expand your mind. btw, I don't live in DC, but work for a firm with a presence there and elsewhere throughout the US. I have to assume that the original poster has an extraordinarily small social and work circle, never travels, and doesn't read either. Sorry you appear to have the same problem, devils.

Posted by: MN | July 11, 2007 11:19 PM

You probably won't read this but, my point was that you are using the same logic as the person you were arduing with.

S/He says, "I don't know any therefore they don't exist"

You say "I know 9, therefore they are everywhere."

You are both using the same bad logic. The point is that while he is definitely wrong, you were only a little bit more correct.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 12, 2007 10:31 AM

Devil's advocate - I read MN's response to the poster's claim that s(he) has never heard of a female partner with a SAH wife. MN never said that they were everywhere. She just said that they do exist, and that she's seen it in her firm. Don't put words in her mouth. It does not help your credibility.

Posted by: Emily | July 12, 2007 11:14 AM

I meant to say SAH husband (above).

Posted by: Emily | July 12, 2007 11:15 AM

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