Jenn Satterwhite has been ranting in my comments section, which has made me very happy. She is bringing up difficult issues and she is making me nervous about posting responses. This seems good.

One thing Jenn brought up is that she wishes women would stop arguing among each other about the stay-at-home vs. career issues. I think Jenn imagines a very supportive environment where everyone makes a decision that is best for them.

I imagine an environment where it’s okay to rip each other to shreds.

Here’s why: Back in 1994 when I was writing about myself online before everyone else started, American Book Review asked me to review online writing. In my review I stated that most of the writing sucked. The editor told me that you can’t trash people who are on the forefront. “They are trying something new,” he said. “Be kind.” So I found nice things to say about generally tiresome writing.

Today, everyone is an online writer and criticism runs rampant. Similarly, in the 1970s it would have been completely uncalled for to throw stones at a female CEO. and today, throwing stones at Carly Fiorina is progress.

We will have more progress when we can throw stones at moms who make decisions we don’t agree with. For example, there is some point at which a high-powered, dual-career, nanny-run family is treading on neglect. Let’s mark that point and start throwing stones. Who is protecting the kids? Who is protecting society? Stone throwers. So take a stand.

I will be happy when the war is not between stay-at-home moms and working moms but between parents who refuse to put up with neglect and those who convince themselves it’s okay. In a world where men and women are sharing care and creating careers that accommodate family, this will be a genderless discussion with bombs exploding. That’s what I want to see.

6 replies
  1. annaig
    annaig says:

    Well said, Penelope!

    I’d make a parallel with Françoise Giroud sentence:
    “Equality between men and women will be achieved when non-competent women have high-responsability jobs”

  2. Dave
    Dave says:

    I will risk a comment in a realm I only observe and participate in from a not-at-home, male perspective…

    We (parents) don’t know what we are “supposed” to be doing. The choices are hard, but once we make them, we have invested a great deal of emotional energy in the choice and we feel the need to defend it. It is not realistic that there can be a satisfying world of people saying “ok, fine, do what you want,” when the stakes are so high.

    There is an inevitable tension; you can’t learn without multiple perspectives, but then, once you make a choice, it is easy to be defensive because further discussion challenges your decision.

    So, to keep learning, you have to supress the urge to tell “busybody know it alls” to go f themselves when they say things like “My son has never seen a television.” Well, good for freakin you. My 2-year old knows how to operate our DVD player.

    The thing about all these people writing blogs about their day-to-day activities is that we know have an infinite supply of viewpoints making it possible to find some kind of validation for just about any choice. But I think we still long for some authority to bless our own choices because, just because somebody else made the same choice and posted it up on their website…that doesn’t really make it the right choice for anyone but her.

  3. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    What we definitely agree on is this statement: “I will be happy when the war is not between stay-at-home moms and working moms but between parents who refuse to put up with neglect and those who convince themselves it’s okay.”

    I still dream of the world where good parents–working outside the home and inside the home–support each others’ choices. Suppporting choices that work best for the entire family– mom, dad and children–regardless of where the work is taking place.

  4. Joanne Bamberger
    Joanne Bamberger says:

    Interesting take on the argument. I’ve been calling for a cease-fire, as well, but your point about neglect is well-taken. Unfortunately, I think our society is a long way from creating careers that can accommodate families and the Mommy Wars are going to continue to be stuck in a volley of ‘my choice is better than yours’ arguments.

  5. matchmaker
    matchmaker says:

    Bailey's seems to be everywhere! Just two days ago I had the most divine Baileys Cheesecake topped with a chocolate ganache and a oreo base. MMMM. now you've shared this with us, I think I need me some Bailey's for the new year! :)

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