Wednesday, April 18, 2007

thinking

My friend Hack Mommy was kind enough to name me a Thinking Blogger. Her blog is literate and funny and a little sassy, so I was Quite Pleased by the accolade.
Except Melissa wants me to tag other people. But I only know two bloggers personally. I will admit that I've started following some links to blogs and being entertained by them (Dear Lord! More reading to distract me, along with Dear Abby?) but I feel embarrassed tagging people I've not been formally introduced to, and who have been blogging for years, and have actual readers and such.
But I like The Lactivist. She's thoughtful, and sassy about being a brave breastfeeder, and she doesn't take any crap! If you're reading this, Lactivist, you are nominated! Congratulations! Think!
Melissa threatened to post a book review for her 'thinking nomination' post, but didn't actually do it, so I will do it for her.

I read The Feminine Mystique last week, and was quite influenced. A few notes:
  • My mom was a home economics major when the book came out, and it was required for a class. She said she and her classmates thought the book was radical. (When I read it, most of it seemed pretty straight-forward to me, like "well, of course."). This is one generation, people.
  • Though I found most of the book compelling some of it seemed like overkill. Friedan goes into a lot of (fairly ridiculous) examples of how women are exploited or pandered to by magazines, "experts", advertising, etc. When I say ridiculous, I mean it's incredible that they're real. However, the amount of change in our culture means that they seemed kind of removed from reality for me, (for example: it's no longer okay to assert that women can get over their husband's affairs by dying their hair blonde). After the shock wore off, I couldn't identify with most of the examples. Happily, this means things have gotten better.
  • Friedan asserts that children of working women do better (less neuroses, for example) than kids of traditional, mystique-style homemakers. While I don't completely disagree with her, (fulfilled moms are certainly better than bitter, bored ones), I think kids can lose out big-time if parents are more invested in careers than home. (This is equally true for men and women). I think my generation has gone more 'traditional' in their parenting choices because we lived through the surge of moms working, and realized that sometimes, it can really suck to have both parents plugged in to American corporate culture.
  • To go along with that observation, I don't want to live a frantic, scheduled-to-the-max life. Two parents working forty hours a week seems too frantic to me. (Of course, I'm blessed to have the luxury of choosing). Not that that is what Friedan calls us to do, but I think it's what a lot of professional women live with.
  • I read another book a while ago called The Two Income Trap. The authors point out that when families depend on two incomes to make car and mortgage payments, there's no way out of the hole if one spouse loses a job or becomes ill. And with so many families now having two incomes, our suburbs with good schools have experienced bidding wars on houses. So now even if you only wanted to live on one salary, it is increasingly hard to do so if you want your kids in a decent school.
So though I liked Friedan's book, it was frustrating to realize that though our culture has come leaps and bounds from the ridiculousness of the fifties, women still have a really hard time having both family and career--and the expectation that women should work means that families are even more precariously situated than before. Not that I'd go back to having to dye my hair blonde. I guess it just goes to show that our society continues to be broken, and answers are never easy.

Okay, hope I've made you all think today. Now I've got to go read Dear Abby. And some blogs.

4 comments:

Melissa said...

Follow-up reading, because clearly you don't have enough:

Check out Miriam Peskowitz's The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars for a more contemporary analysis of family and work.

AlegraMarcel said...

Very interesting ang THOGUHTFUL comments on the feminine mystique and two-incoming families. I'm not even a mom yet, but this is something I think about while i see my friends becoming mothers and facing these issues (and all the judgements that come with whatever decision is made...).

Jennifer said...

"She's thoughtful, and sassy about being a brave breastfeeder, and she doesn't take any crap!"

Awww....thanks!

I wonder if I could convince my kids to put that on my tombstone some day?

:)

Heather said...

oooh. three comments! and one from the Lactivist herself! I'm all verklempt!