Sociological Images is a blog I’ve been following for quite some time. I love a lot of the things they point out and I get some great ideas from them, but today’s post, An invisible option in the aftermath of Slaughter’s ‘Why Women Can’t Have it All’ really got my hackles up.
“The ‘invisible solution'” Lisa Wade proposes to the problem of women (because let’s be real, it’s not ‘parents’ as they say that lose when they juggle work and kids, it’s women) is:
“Don’t. Have. Kids. No really – just don’t have them. Think about it. The idea that women will feel unfulfilled without children and die from regret is one of the most widely-endorsed beliefs in American. It’s downright offensive to some that a woman would choose not to have children.” [sic]
“I’m here to tell still-childless women (and men, too) that they can say NO if they want to… Just… think about it. Maybe you can spend your extra time working to change the system for the better. Goodness knows parents will be too tired to do it.”
Well, golly, that’s original. I don’t think anyone ever proposed the radical idea that women keep their legs closed and not grow babies, or that or that I could have said no if I wanted.
The comments have exploded with vitriol for people who have selfishly chosen to have kids. I guess that sort of throws a wrench in this idea that it is only child-free choices that are looked upon with disdain. “I feel sorry for children whose parents had them just because they thought they had to meet some cultural/social expectation. A parent should subordinate their desires to the welfare of their children OR they should NOT have children.” and “Condoms cost roughly $.50 each in a bulk pack. The average married couple has sex roughly twice a week… that’s $52 a year, or 8 hours’ worth of work at minimum wage. Are you telling me that there are that many people who can’t afford half a day’s work each a year to pay for their sexual enjoyment?” and “I am reminded of Anthony and Stanton’s friendship/partnership. It will take those of us who are tired in cahoots with those of us with the energy and blessed time to fight the good fight to move the ball forward.” So that was fun. Apparently I’m either too stupid or poor to buy condoms, selfish for having desires of my own, and too busy being a hausfrau to have anything worthwhile to say. But forget about that. Anyone can leave ridiculous comments. I’ll stick to addressing the article.
It’s funny I actually felt like I did have a little something to contribute to the world. Contrary to popular belief, my first positive pregnancy test did not ruin my life or render me perpetually barefoot and pregnant, incapable of reading, writing, or taking classes. In fact it might occur to somebody writing about societal pressures that leave “parents” (they mean women) constantly feeling as though they’re “failing at something” are not so much relieved by this kind of bold statement, but encouraged. After all, if I’m too tired to contribute intellectually or socially, surely I’m too tired to be any good at my job. But surely Lisa Wade, who describes herself as ” currently knee-deep in the literature on parenting and gender,” is aware that social pressures feeding women the message that becoming pregnant is not such a good decision, or that it makes them stupid, slutty, or worthless, are exactly the messages that foster the public opinion that it’s perfectly okay to deny mothers work, maternity leave, and autonomy. Right? And surely she can see that it’s completely unnecessary and unproductive to take part in it, right?
Lisa Wade made the mistake of perceiving herself as so far removed from the negative social pressures mothers face that she couldn’t possibly be contributing to them. Unfortunately, commenting on reproductive choices from the perspective of a full-time academic, especially through a widely-followed blog, accomplishes nothing short of that. I’m not bacteria in a dish, Lisa Wade, I’m a mother who has time to read and write.