Wednesday, April 12, 2006

GKC Friend at The New Yorker

Caitlin Flanagan writes for The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. She also writes as if she's read a lot of Chesterton on the issue of working mothers. But then again, she's probably just writing common sense, which is a Chestertonian way of writing. From a post at The Daily Eudemon today:

Fine stylist Caitlin Flanagan has waded further into the feminist wars with a book on working mothers. The LA Times has a pretty a good piece about it. Excerpt:

"These are the women who seem to be a natural audience for the 44-year old Flanagan, who lives in Hancock Park with her husband and two young sons. She socializes in liberal circles, and she writes about working mothers’ struggles: to keep households humming, to cope with ego-gratifying yet demanding careers, and to live with the nagging specter of the Perfect Mother. But because Flanagan writes cloaked as a (mostly) happy housewife, she’s raised the ire of her peers. In their view, the only thing more maddening than a happy housewife is a happy housewife who writes for the New Yorker."

I appreciate the LA Times’ honesty in this piece. It admits: liberal feminists hate Caitlin because she thinks mothers should stay home. They don’t just hate the idea. They hate her because of her opinion.

Why the hatred? I loathe pop psychology, but could the hatred come from guilt? Caitlin doesn’t pull many punches, and the overall gist of her message is so simple it cuts: you can’t have it all. Based on the LA Times piece, all she is saying is, “Something is lost. You can’t do it all. You can’t have it all.” That shouldn’t be incendiary. It should just be common sense. The full-time (not just eight hours a day) job of motherhood can’t be fully accomplished part-time.

Many sane working mothers acknowledge it and have chosen the trade off. That’s their choice. It’s only the ideologues that fly into rages when confronted with the common-sense notion that a person can’t work 36+ hours a day.

Aside: The best passage from the story:
A profile in this month’s Elle is a case in point of the impasse between Flanagan and her critics. In writer Laurie Abraham’s telling of their interview, Abraham arrived at Flanagan’s house flustered; back home, her daughter’s pet gerbil had just died. Flanagan at first sympathized. Then after their chat turned heated over the question of what’s lost when a mother works, she reminded Abraham: “The gerbil’s dead and you’re here.” “You could hear me gasp on the tape,” Abraham said in an interview.

1 comment:

Dennis Gorsich, San Diego said...

Sounds like someone we should read--you don't get much common sense these days.