This is from last fall but I just saw it the other day, read it on my phone after a 3 a.m. feed because I couldn’t settle myself back down, couldn’t….self-soothe…if you will lololll, and I wanted to get on board. I wanted so badly to get on board. I crave smart writing about parenthood [by women] that is positive, even casual.
Ultimately, this rankled so hard that I continue to be mad about it five days later and so here I am posting about it on my tumblog. The commenters on the article pretty much covered it, but I still need to get it off my chest.
I do agree fiercely with the writer’s conceit that a non-negotiable aspect of Having It All for [hetero] women is choosing a feminist as your partner. Not simply a nice guy, but someone who understands the powerful systemic forces that suppress women’s progress, and who makes attempts in his life to dismantle those forces. Then she seeks to normalize outsourcing care (yeah!) and warns women not to make their careers so flexible that they cease to exist or matter (yeah!).
However, from that blazing start the writer goes on to unwittingly prop up patriarchy by suggesting you not start a family unless you have worked really hard for it. By work, I mean paid labor. She claims to have spent her 20s slaving away and setting up avenues for passive income so that she could one day start a family. She calls her 20s a “launch phase” and suggests that during launch phases, people should not strive for work/life balance.
Ah, but the thing is, all of life is a launch phase. Twenty-year-olds deserve work/life balance. Thirty-year-olds deserve work/life balance, etc.
This late capitalist thing of having children as a capstone after a decade plus of responsible decisions…Fuck that. Full reproductive rights mean women can easily access safe abortions, yes, but to me it additionally means that a woman should also be able to have a baby whenever she wants without limiting her options. Not just after twelve years of earning middle-class wages, securing a mortgage, finding a partner who has also spent twelve years earning middle-class wages, and adopting a rescue dog or two.
Women should have children at any time they choose, take at least six months paid leave from work, access truly affordable subsidized childcare upon returning to work. Like I’m happy for the author that she set up passive income for herself so she could power down a few levels during her kid’s first year? But it’s kind of like, cool story…but what about the rest of us.
We should be rioting in the streets and demanding these things. Maybe after that we can all be smart, positive, and casual about modern parenthood.
Edited to add: My main point is that you should be able to be an unambitious slacker and enjoy a comfortable family life. At a baseline. It’s just work! It’s just jobs!
P.S. I bet me and the writer would get along well in real life and I bet a lot of my friends agree with the whole article.
All of this. This whole comment.
Also, get the hell out with the self-congratulatory tone. What I can’t stand about pieces like the one linked is the idea that we can figure out perfect workarounds to the huge structural problems. It undermines the campaign to fix the structural problems. And it’s bullshit! I didn’t do the launch pad thing, and though I sometimes think I’d have liked to do more travel before I had a kid, I never for a second wish I’d done more paid work.