Women, Working, and Urinal Cakes

“I think it’s a mistake for these highly educated and capable women to make that choice [to stay home],” said law professor and working mom Linda Hirshman. “I am saying an educated, competent adult’s place is in the office.”

Whoa! I’m an educated competent adult. I should make my own choices! And I’ve chosen to stay home and educate my children, as opposed to going to work full time and educating other people’s children.

Hirshman says working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn’t buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine.

“I would like to see a description of their daily lives that substantiates that position,” Hirshman said. “One of the things I’ve done working on my book is to read a lot of the diaries online, and their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person.”

Excuse me. What diaries online is she talking about? If she’s talking about blogs, she should call them that. There is a word for them. And I can tell you that my life is particularly interesting.

For instance, just yesterday, having heard of “urinal cakes” for the first time (My eldest asked his father what they were for.), we got into a discussion on them. Then my husband said he didn’t think eating words, like cake, and restroom words, like urinal, should be used together. My eldest was asking why not. I explained to him that it was like putting “your parents” and “sex” into the same phrase. “Eww! Let’s not talk now.”

There you have it. Urinal cakes are fine and dandy discussion words for teenage boys, but not your parents’ sex.

I said I was going to blog about it, but they didn’t want me to. (I wonder why.)

Maybe all the particularly interesting blog entries aren’t written down. Though if you’ve read Bouddica’s Voice, Daring Young Mom, Roughcut Gems, or ArmyWifeToddlerMom, you know that’s not totally true.

As for “fulfilling,” who is she to decide what is fulfilling? Which is better? To make some money, talk to grown ups, send my kids off to someone else to raise? Or to raise them myself? I vote for option number 2. I voted with my hands, my feet, my life, my money. And I’ll keep voting that way till they’re “grown up.” And maybe longer, if you look at The Common Room.

Hirshman says that’s why women should only have one child. If you have one, you can keep up in the workplace, but two makes it difficult.

So, she not only wants to decide what I, a competent educated adult, will do every day, she also wants to determine how many children I have. Maybe I should send her over to the Common Room. I’m sure the Headmistress would have some significant things to say to her about that.

One of Hirshman’s most sobering arguments is that women who leave the workplace are ensuring that the hard-won gains made by women will be undone. She asks why should business schools give advanced degrees to those who don’t use them?

How about because women paid for them and earned them? This idea about not giving people degrees is why my grandmother, educated at UC Berkeley, with a BFA and an MFA, was asked to turn down a slot for a PhD. But do you really think, in an age when MORE women than men are going to college, when more women than men are getting advanced degrees, we’re suddenly going to go back in time because some of the women aren’t using their advanced degrees for a while?

Is she crazy?

What school requires, or even considers, whether or not you are actually going to use your degree? Certainly not the one where my dad’s friend’s brother-in-law got six doctorates in a row. He was 50 when I last heard and was still going to school, still had done nothing with his advanced degrees but get another TAship. Do you think the schools are going to quit awarding him degrees just because he has them and isn’t using them? Not as long as he’s paying, they’re not.

And neither will any other school.

All the above quotes are from ABC News.

Air Force Family has a discussion up that is related to this post. Not on this woman’s view of what we women should be doing, but on the Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs mag’s discussion of “patriarchy.” It is well worth a ready.

8 thoughts on “Women, Working, and Urinal Cakes

  1. Why don’t you try using correct punctuation to make yourself more credible as a home teacher? I quote:

    For instance, just yesterday, having heard of “urinal cakes” for the first time (My eldest asked his father what they were for.) we got into a discussion on them.

    Should be:

    For instance, just yesterday, having heard of “urinal cakes” for the first time (my eldest asked his father what they were for), we got into a discussion on them.

    Good Lord!

  2. To “Anonymous,” who was so sure of what they said that they were unwilling to identify themselves, even with an online pseudonym.

    In order of your comment, I don’t need to be more credible as a home teacher. First off, I don’t teach homes. I teach my sons. I am a homeschooling mother. I also have a PhD, that’s a doctorate- a terminal degree, in how to write. I also have a master’s in English Literature and a Bachelor’s of Secondary Education with majors in history and English and a minor in biology. In addition, I have dozens of graduate hours each in communications, business, and missions.

    I will not say that I am always perfect at grammar; in fact, I often break the rules on purpose. And sometimes I break them because I am in a hurry or not thinking.

    But I am correct in my usage of the parentheses and the period for this blog entry.

    “Rule 3. Periods go inside parentheses only if an entire sentence is inside the parentheses.” from Grammarbook.com

    And, while He is good, I don’t think that using his title as an exclamation of disgust is appropriate.

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  4. I’m glad Ms. Hirshman likes to work, but to try to superimpose her outlook on everybody else seems pretty presumptuous. So does this statement:

    “Hirshman says working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn’t buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine.”

    Is it not possible that some women might actually be MORE fulfilled by being full-time moms than they would by splitting time between home and office? And who said that stay-at-home moms were trying to ARGUE anything in the first place? Perhaps when you’re a law prof, you start to view everything in terms of arguments and counterarguments rather than beliefs and preferences.

    (To be fair, some moms DO take an evangelistic stance toward being stay-at-home moms, and I have essentialy the same response to them as I do to Ms. Hirshman. Every family, parent, child is different — there is no one-size-fits-all solution.)

  5. I am aghast at someone telling me what I should or should not find “fulfilling” as an educated person. That takes some nerve!
    I am an educated woman who found herself staying home to take care of two small children. Initially, I thought along her same lines…This is boring, I am wasting my education. etc… (I mean face it, there is not a lot of support or admiration out there for those that make the choice to stay home. For a while it was embarrasing for me to say that I stayed home when asked, “What do you do?”)
    However, once those little ‘wastes of an education’ starting blossoming as little people, I found myself being drawn into their world and now today, with two preschoolers, I am so fulfilled I am considering homeschooling as well. In fact, I can’t remember a job that fulfilled me so completely and so brings out my natural creativity and the hidden teacher in me. The way I look at it now, there is very little more important than the ties we build with others and our own families.
    I am happy that others find fulfillment in their work, but for them to condemn those of us who have chosen other paths and actually(gasp) like the choices we have made is pretty much the height of intolerance. —Carr

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