Adrienne Pine was in a jam. The assistant anthropology professor at American University was about to begin teaching “Sex, Gender & Culture,” but her baby daughter woke up in the morning with a fever. The single mother worried that she had no good child-care options.
So Pine brought her sick baby to class. The baby, in a blue onesie, crawled on the floor of the lecture hall during part of the 75-minute class two weeks ago, according to the professor’s account. The mother extracted a paper clip from the girl’s mouth at one point and shooed her away from an electrical outlet. A teaching assistant held the baby and rocked her at times, volunteering to help even though Pine stressed that she didn’t have to. When the baby grew restless, Pine breast-fed her while continuing her lecture in front of 40 students.
Now Pine finds herself at the center of a debate over whether she did the right thing that day and what the ground rules are for working parents who face such child-care dilemmas.
1) First and foremost, the issue here is if breastfeeding mothers have an equal place in our society or not. Especially working, single mothers.
In the real world, single parents are likely to have some sort of conflict once or twice a year for the first five years of their kid’s life. (There are some single parents who never have such conflicts, ever, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.) Unless we’re going to say that it’s never acceptable for a single breastfeeding mom to hold a professional job, then I think we have to accept that sometimes it’s up to us to just grow the fuck up a little and not panic and wig out because BOOOOOOOBS!
The idea that childrearing should be absolutely separate from the work world is a leftover from the past, when a large number of middle class families could afford having a “wife at home” taking care of kids while Dad worked (and secretly drank). We don’t live in that world anymore; we live in a world where, typically, children are raised either by two working parents or by a single parent. It is inevitable that sometimes work and home overlap, and sneering or yelling at breastfeeding mothers is exactly the wrong reaction.
Amanda sums it up nicely:
Funny how we live in a society that both expects women, especially highly educated and ambitious women, to breast feed, but forbids them to do so while pursuing their ambitions. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think pushing women out of positions of prestige and power and back into the home was a feature and not a bug of this system.
2) Many comments I’ve read about this have been stuffed full of drive-by mothering. The child was allowed to crawl on a floor! Shocking! She had to take a paper clip out of its mouth! Shocking! Etc, etc. Makes me wonder if these people have ever met an actual infant. Seriously, the things are like a cross between a stumbling drunk and a vacuum cleaner.
3) Professor Pine did herself no favors with her essay, which seemed (as Amanda put it) pedantic and defensive, and I’d add just plain obnoxious (especially towards a student reporter who Pine casts as a villain). My favorite part is Pine’s sneer towards “lactivism,” which she describes as “hopelessly bourgeois… marauding bands of lactating white women.”1 Pine gives the strong impression that if this had happened to some other professor, Professor Pine herself would have been on the side of the critics.
But that’s okay. Rights are not the exclusive domain of gracious people.
4) A lot of folks arguing against Pine’s action say they’re only concerned with the students best interests. Jack at Ethics Alarms writes:
Was she engaged in personal duties and matters while being paid by the university to devote 100% of her attentions to her students? Yes. Is this professional and ethical? No. Was she in a fix—sure: I don’t care. It wasn’t the students’ crisis, and they should not have been involuntarily made part of the solution.
In the article, she unambiguously explains that her only choices (that she could see) were cancelling the opening class of the course, or bringing the baby with her. Jack argues that she should have conducted an email survey of students to find out what they’d prefer — as if such a thing were at all possible to write, send, get responses to, and compile on the morning of the class. Realistically, it does sometimes happen that single parents are faced with the choice Pine describes – either cancel work or bring the baby.
Let’s agree, for arguments sake, that our only concern should be fairness to the students. How is cancelling the class session entirely fairer to the students, exactly?
Several years ago, I would have been a student who took an hourlong bus and walk to get to the university. I walk up the three flights of stairs, overpriced textbook in hand, and reach either a closed, locked door with a “cancelled” note taped to it, OR a classroom where Professor Pine hands out the syllabus and says the usual first-day-of-class stuff for 75 minutes, but she also spends a few minutes intermittently dealing with the baby.
If the measure of value is “Professor Pine’s attention,” then obviously I get more value if Pine is there with a baby than if she’s not there at all. Aren’t I better off with 95% of her attention than zero percent?
5) In my life, public breast-feeding is unremarkable. Nearly every mother I’ve known who has a small baby, breast-feeds it while chatting (during games, during lunch, whatever), and it’s no big deal, just as it’s not a big deal if I pull out my sketchbook and start drawing while talking.
Is this a cultural thing? Are there still huge segments of the country where breast-feeding is treated as something that’s — well, if not shameful, exactly — then secret? Indecent to do in public? I’m sure there are. But I don’t see any advantages to treating breast-feeding that way. It seems like a lot of unnecessary trouble and fuss.
6) Remember this isn’t about just Professor Pine. Our reaction to her says a lot about how we react to working women generally, and to babies.
I was a wedding coordinator for 14 years, and I attended thousands of weddings. Probably there was a baby crying somewhere in the room in a quarter of those weddings. Sometimes a parent would rush out of the chapel with the baby, and I’d guide them to an area with comfy chairs, and they were always very apologetic. I’d tell them not to worry about it; crying babies have been part of weddings for thousands of years, after all.
Don’t get me wrong — I know babies can be disruptive. I’ve been at meetings and games where a baby in hand was crying, or shouting, or needed to be removed from the room and tended for a while while everyone else twiddled their thumbs. I’ve suffered on airplanes. Babies: noisy and inconsiderate of my needs. I get that.
But babies are an essential part of society. Without babies – preferably well-cared for babies – there are no future adults to take care of me when I’m old enough to need help with my diapers once more.
If Professor Pine intended to bring her baby to every class session, then I’d want her to warn her students ahead of time. But that’s not what happened here. Pine had an emergency and chose to prioritize not cancelling class. She has day care arrangements for the class generally, but on that one day her arrangements fell through because the baby was sick. By the next day she had arranged for a babysitter.
In short, it seems to me that Pine did absolutely everything she could reasonably do to prevent the baby from interfering with her class. To ask more of her than that is unreasonable. What we should do, instead, is realize that it’s not a big deal to have to be in the same room as a baby once in a while. It might not be ideal. If the baby screams or cries, that’s annoying.
But we’re grown-ups (or at least, we’re college students learning to become grown-ups). We should be able to deal with it graciously and then forget about it.
That’s what life is like in a society in which women – even mothers with babies — are equal members of society. That’s what life is like in a society which accepts that babies are part of life.
- Pine also comments “It could be argued that my ability to breastfeed in public has been won on the breasts of so many women who have fought for that right, and that I’m ungrateful to them.” No kidding. [↩]
The point is, what would her options have been in that situation? She would have faced the same situation–a sick baby, no childcare available, etc. So what should her action have been if showing up for work and doing her job were just as important as it apparently is here?
Ooh, here’s another thought experiment: Change Pine’s job to milk-nurse. Do her actions now make sense to those saying nursing on the job was wrong?
Or maybe we could change Pine’s job to construction work, and change her actions to smashing the walls of the classroom with a sledge-hammer! Since that’s okay, I think we’ve reasonably established that it’s okay for professors to go apeshit and demolish their classrooms on the job.
Different jobs have different responsibilities and requirements. That it would be inappropriate to bring a child to one does not mean that it would be inappropriate to bring a child to another. Behavior that is appropriate at one is not necessarily appropriate at another. A classroom is not a boardroom is not an operating room is not a battlefield is not a strip club. Your analogies are failing because of this.
Myca, let me ask you this.
1. Baby is sick so can’t go to daycare so okay to bring sick baby into University classroom.
2. Healthy happy baby accompanies mother/father to classroom as it saves on daycare costs for Professor/Mother (or father).
Are both of these scenarios okay? If yes why, if no why not?
Both of your scenarios have insufficient detail for me to answer, and it’s unclear what you mean when you ask whether a scenario is, “okay.”
I cannot recall at present, I am not sure what the meaning of “is” is, I do not remember that specifically and your terms are ill-defined. Objection, compound question, no background. Sorry, I can’t see that without my reading glasses, and I am not going to accept any other glasses than mine, which are at home.
That doesn’t even really work in court, Myca, because the jury starts getting the feeling that the witness is just not really being sincere. And this is just talking about stuff on a message board.
By the way, Copyleft’s point, which you didn’t acknowledge at all, was that if the construction workers (and surgeons) can somehow work it out and not bring the baby to work, why can’t teachers?
Myca, consider “okay” to mean most students will agree that it is okay for my professors (all of them) to bring their sick babies into the classroom with me. Then you have the two different scenarios.
I think I have provided sufficient detail now that I have clarified what is meant by okay. No need to complicate things, let’s start off by keeping it simple, my question states a baby, a classroom, and a University Professor.
What if she were an astronaut? Huh? HUH!?
In my opinion, Pine lucked out in that she happened to have a job that she could still do with a baby in tow. If she were an astronaut and her baby got sick, she wouldn’t be able to bring the baby to space, even if she had an adorable little space suit and a good supply of space diapers. She’d have to figure something else out. In a system in which there’s no reliable safety net for parents who need childcare, some people just end up luckier than others.
Here’s another example: awhile back, Chris mentioned the idea of nursing in a business meeting. In my department (I’m a librarian), most of the staff members are mothers, and before I gave birth, they made it clear that I should do whatever I need to do as a mother, whether that means calling in sick or bringing the baby to work. I have a strong feeling that if I needed to nurse during a staff meeting, no one would blink. I know this is absolutely not the case in most work settings. I just got lucky.
And, since the question seems to be “if a construction worker can figure something out, then why can’t a professor?” my answer is: because she doesn’t have to, a baby is not a big deal, and everyone should get over it. I’m not going to pump milk when I could just breastfeed, because pumping is a pain in the butt and I really don’t care if people get offended. Here’s a question: have any of the students demonstrated some real, concrete harm that they suffered because of the presence of the baby? Did anyone get sick or have to go to therapy or anything? Did anyone leave class feeling like the baby prevented them from understanding the concepts that were covered? I’m not talking about abstract issues like the value of an education or students as consumers or whatever, I’m asking about actual, demonstrable harm that the baby caused.
Ah, in that case, StraightGrandmother, then I really have no way of knowing. I imagine it would depend largely on the departments involved.
In the first scenario, I know that it generally wouldn’t have bothered me much, when I was in college. It would have bothered me more as a regular thing than as an emergency stopgap.
The second scenario wouldn’t bother me at all.
But most students? Who the hell knows? Moreover, I think Julie’s questions in this regard are useful:
We don’t run classes according to student preference.
Myca, “We don’t run classes according to student preference” You don’t? Professors are not accountable to the students at all? All the school administration cares about is the Professors, and the students be damned, they are lucky that we accept their $30,000 a year?
Yup, that seems to be exactly what Myca said. No strawman here.
Julie, the student who said, “Um Professor your baby has a paperclip in his mouth” obviously was distracted from the lecture. The student had his/her eyes on the baby and was distracted by the baby, so without that student here on this discussion board to say for sure I believe it is safe to say that the baby did cause a distraction.
Julie IMHO the issue isn’t about breastfeeding, that is not the issue, the issue is “Bring your baby to work day” This is about bringing your personal life into the workplace and having that impact/distract others. I understand why the Prof wants to obscure the issue and make it about breast feeding, but that really isn’t the issue, that is just a smoke screen to distract from the real issue of inappropriate conduct.
This is just one of the things you do as a parent have appropriate childcare. I would hate to be in a classroom with babies in it, whether by the students or by the teachers. Can you imagine going to all your classes and the Profs have their babies and toddlers there, every time? The Prof says she is taking her baby to daycare, I got news for her those infants in daycare are sick all the time they catch everything from the other kids. I love children and babies but I sure do NOT love them in the workplace.
There isn’t “one” issue with Pine’s behavior. There are multiple issues.
1. Bringing her child at all was inappropriate. Her child wasn’t old enough to manage herself during the class, and distracted both the students and the teachers’ assistant. Her students paid money for a service. Please note the rudeness with which Pine spoke of the kind student who, distracted from the class he was supposed to be receiving, told her her child had something hazardous in her mouth. In her piece (follow the link in the blog post) the professor denigrates the student for guessing the child was a boy in his haste to point out a harm to her child. Her child didn’t belong in that classroom.
2. She breastfed in front of a captive audience. She is a professor of anthropology, and she doesn’t get why her students may have a problem with an authority figure breaking clothing taboos? She doesn’t deserve her degree. No student should have to say, “I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago and would rather be in a non-breastfeeding class”. It is expected that a college classroom will not be a place where one finds infants/toddlers getting into paperclips before being breastfed. Most STUDENTS would leave the room to breastfeed!
3. Her treatment of her TA was ludicrous. The TA clearly felt the child was a disruption. In her piece she said the TA’s actions permitted her to carry on with the class–even though she said childcare wasn’t in the TA’s job description. CORRECT, and she should have had the TA distribute any necessary information.
4. The piece she wrote afterwards should be cause for her dismissal. Her sexism would be justification for termination if it was anti-female. The males in the class do not deserve her vitriol, and the females in her class had every right to feel uncomfortable.
To StraightGrandmother’s comments at 108 and Myca’s at 109, remember that “student preference” can be for two contradictory things at once. The student who tweeted about it obviously preferred not to see breastfeeding. Any commuter students would probably vastly prefer not driving an hour only to find that class was cancelled.
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There are really two pro-Pine groups:
1) Those who think it’s fine to bring the kid, which makes the “did she handle the emergency correctly?” question entirely moot.
2) Those who agree that it was not ideal to bring the kid, but who believe that her emergency was justification for doing so.
Re #1: Apparently Pine doesn’t think it’s entirely appropriate to bring her baby whenever she wants, because she normally doesn’t do so. Apparently, at least some students in the class don’t think it’s OK; apparently, a LOT of people outside the class don’t think it’s OK.
I’m not sure why the only person whose opinion is relevant would be Pine.
@Jadey, and again, the whole point is that if this class is so difficult and unique that it could not happen unless taught by Professor Pine, then it’s probably a really great idea for Professor Pine to have a plan other than “dump the kid on my TA” if she has a childcare emergency. Even Professor Pine admits that watching a sick baby was not part of her TA’s job*; I really don’t get your argument that babysitting is just like teaching a class, since we’re not talking about whether the TA is a competent nanny, only about how inappropriate it is to require a TA to perform personal services for her professor. Services which, apparently, she never thought to request of her visiting personal friend, probably because unlike the TA, Pine has no professional power over the friend.
(By the way; calling me a liar because you had a different interpretation of Elusis’ post than I did? Seriously, if you’re a gonna pretend to argue in good faith, try harder.)
As others have already said, the issue isn’t breastfeeding. The issue is that Pine brought a sick baby to her lecture then dumped the child on the TA, and despite that the child spent the lecture crawling around the room, doing more than slightly distracting both the TA and the students. (If Pine were in fact telling the truth that she specifically “instructed” her TA that childminding was not in the job description, and the TA insisted on playing with the child anyway, I think we have a pretty good idea that the baby was actually interfering with the lecture, and the TA was trying to solve the problem.) When called on this, Pine didn’t talk about the tough choices facing single parents or the university’s woeful childcare situation. She threw a tantrum — in my opinion, somewhat cynically playing on the ‘lactivism’ she brags she is too much of a badass to ever need herself.
*For someone who is as hypervigilant as she claims to be about sexism, Pine somehow managed to breeze by the implications of her female TA providing babysitting and all the sexist make-me-coffee-honey history of women in the workplace that brings up.
Sorry folks; been at a conference.
G&W you did misinterpret me, whether deliberately or not is not for me to say.
The class I had to cancel and offer makeups if needed had 12 students in it. If we’d needed another meeting I honestly don’t know how we’d have done it as it was the end of the semester and I was at the time working 60+ hours a week at my full-time job, and I almost certainly would have had to hold multiple sessions just to cover the scheduling needs of the 12 very busy students. Thank goodness it didn’t come up. If it were a lecture class with 50 or 100 or 200 students in it, no way.
So no, I was not making the point that this is an option. I was making the point that in a desperate situation, I had no real choice but to cancel and hope it wasn’t a problem long-term. My students missed out on the final class process I had planned and not even individual meetings would have made up for that.
Teaching, at any level, is not something you can just hand off at a moment’s notice. The only advantages public elementary and high school teachers have is that they have an organized system of substitutes whom the principal or secretary can call on, plus administrators like the principal or VP who can in an emergency (e.g. sudden attack of food poisoning mid-class) step in for the moment; and they meet 5 days a week so giving a “read quietly in your seats” assignment as a drop back and punt strategy isn’t going to wreck the curriculum, unlike in college where a class meets 2-3 times or grad school where you meet only 1 time per week.
I do make extensive lecture notes and yet it’s unlikely that even a colleague who has taught in my exact subject before could take over with little or no prep. As the only Marriage and Family Therapist teaching in a department of Psychologists, it’s laughable. And at a small school, there is not likely to be anyone available. I have been a TA and was never in a position to be able to suddenly run a class at a moment’s notice, because I was TA’ing for an undergraduate class I’d never taken. “Show a video” only works if you have an appropriate video to hand (and it’s at school, not in your briefcase at home) and it is long enough to cover the full class time (which, for a 2 or 3 hour class is unlikely).
The points have been made elsewhere: 1) some jobs have flexibility and others don’t and that’s kind of the world of work for you; and 2) who was harmed here? And I don’t see how either of those points are debatable.
And it seems like there’s a tremendous amount of unexplored sexism coloring this whole debate. It is pervasive in academia for things to be organized as if the scholar (whether student or prof) has a wife at home to take care of things in the real world, no matter the gender of the academic. Being female or single means constantly running up against barriers (take an unpaid internship? take a year to work 40+ hours a week on your dissertation? travel all over to do research? teach classes with no backup?) to the progression of your studies/career that men with a wife who does child care and brings in income just don’t have. How do men balance work and family? They let their wives do it.
Fixed that for ya. It’s membership in those classes that’s the issue, not the gender. If you have the ability to make other plans yourself, you don’t get to complain “what about the women who can’t make other plans?” as a defense
But let’s accept your premise: If you want to work in a field that requires a six figure investment, a multi-year commitment, and a lot of uncompensated time, you need to be rich, or partnered with someone who is rich. And you probably can’t afford or manage to have kids, unless someone else takes care of them.
I.e., if you want to have kids AND you want to have a career where you will be able to work all you want, then you need to find someone to stay home with them. Make your relationship choices accordingly. You can partner with a Nobel-prize-winning scientist or you can be with a kid-loving stay at home, but probably not both.
It is entirely sexist to suggest that women cannot be eligible to teach at the college level. It’s not sexist to suggest that most people would be unable to take a year of 40-hour entirely-unpaid weeks or that many people have difficulty holding jobs that require them to travel on short notice for a variety of reasons including but by no means limited to child obligations. Or that most people can’t take an unpaid internship for a long period and still, you know, buy food.
Maybe someone who is single and poor and a bad planner and in a relatively low paid field cannot decide to have children at her chosen moment AND do her research of a particular type AND get a highly-sought-after career in the precise method she most prefers.
If so, that person would be just like the other 99.999% of Americans who realize that life choices have benefits and detriments both. Someone who is smart enough to be a professor does–or should–understand the impact of her choices.
You’re getting a bit off-tangent, Elusis, with your mildly sexist statements and ever-so-charming touch of victimhood, but there really are a whole lot of men out there who would like to sit home.
Problem is, no one really wants them. I don’t, you don’t and lots of other women don’t. Zero status in society is a turn-off in reality. Men accept that in women for some reason I haven’t deciphered yet.
Still, those types of men exist, and not in small numbers. Get one of them – then you have your “wife” (if you are lesbian, there are also plenty of women who want to sit at home and get supported). Or quit your constant one-sided (read: heavily distorted) account of things. Either one would be fine. k thx.
That article was also pretty funny.
I haven’t been able to find the actual paper, but from what I’ve read this appears accurate
1) The authors talked to the male scientists.
2) The authors reached conclusions about the wives of those scientists.
3) The conclusions were at times in disagreement with the interview results.
One could answer that by interviewing the women in question. If the answer is guessing, that says more about the political views of the authors than the reality that they’re purportedly writing about.
I fall more into the second camp … or, rather, I think that:
1) In a the kind of world I would like to live in, it ought to be generally okay for a college professor to bring his or her infant to class. I think it would be less disruptive than about a thousand other things that nobody cares much about, and there ought to be more social support for raising children. That being said
2)We’re not in that world yet, and so I can understand people being upset at a professor who just decided to bring her child to class 100% of the time*. I cannot understand the level of upset at a college professor who, confronted with an emergency situation, picked what she thought (and I’d agree) was the best option available.
Yes yes yes yes yes. This.
The problem is that:
1) Right now, women are expected to be (and overwhelmingly are) the primary child care providers for their children. This is changing, slowly.
2) ‘Professionalism’ and what is ‘proper’ for jobs are still pegged to an outdated standard in which the vast majority workers had unpaid help at home taking care of their kids. This is changing, slowly.
3) But the economy is now such that most families require two incomes. This isn’t changing. This has changed.
Thus, women end up in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation. Take care of your kids during an emergency? Bad worker. Don’t? Bad mom.
I mean, we were seeing suggestions here like, “Give your infant child to a stranger you find on the Quad.” Golly, I wonder what we would be hearing about Professor Pine if she’d done that and something had gone wrong?
Wait, no, I don’t wonder. I know. And so does everyone here.
*Which is why StraightGrandmother’s question was such nonsense, BTW. “What if ALL professors brought their kids ALL the time?” Sure, that’s a reasonable reaction to one professor bringing one kid during an emergency once. Strawman much? Eyeroll. Also, Kant’s universal maxim is bullshit, so whatever.
Penelope @118: Speak for yourself.
Myca @120: I am really fucking tired of the argument that anyone who is critical of Professor Pine in this situation is a sexist who doesn’t understand the plight of mothers in the workplace.
Mythago, Myca simply didn’t make that argument, as far as I can tell. Can you quote the bit where he said that, or something that could be fairly interpreted that way while giving Myca a reasonable benefit of the doubt?
Than you should FUCKING LOVE my argument because that’s not what I’m saying.
This isn’t about individual sexism (at least not for me) and I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I’m saying that our current work/life structure is set up to privilege traditional nuclear families and is hostile to other sorts of arrangements, including working mothers. And that’s sexist.
I don’t think that’s the cause of the upset. I mean, we don’t agree, but that’s not really the argument here because the disagreement is not so strong.
Most of of it was also caused by her response, and her attack on the journalist. And by the claims of various folks that this was really all about breastfeeding, and so on.
Very few people that I’ve seen disagree that she was a jerk in that article, and towards that student journalist. Certainly, I don’t disagree.
As I said before, this is not “all about breast-feeding,” in the sense that we’ve been arguing about many other issues, not just about breast-feeding. But it IS all about breast-feeding in the sense that it just wouldn’t have become a national news story without the breast-feeding angle. Do you disagree with that?
@ampersand – personally, I doubt it would have been picked up nationally if Pine hadn’t pitched such a nasty hissy fit in Counterpunch.
Yeah, you’re probably right about that.
Bur if she had thrown the nasty fit without the breast-feeding element, I doubt it would have become a story that way, either.
G&W – if only institutionalized sexism could be solved with a simple strikethrough. Here in the real world, though, I assure you that… well, see Myca’s reply. I have had a male spouse for part of my academic career*. I assure you, when women say “I need a wife” we aren’t just being cute and ironic. There are centuries of rueful gender critique layered into that simple phrase.
*He likes to call those years “the time when I didn’t work,” because I took a 125% graduate class load, worked a TA or GA position, did hours in the school clinic or a community externship, and my labor paid for 100% of my tuition plus a (pathetic) stipend plus health insurance for both of us. Plus I did 100% of the home labor including finances, home maintenance, yard, car, etc. He worked 8-5 and cooked approximately 2 meals in 5 years, including the year when he was unemployed and I was working a full-time clinical job as my PhD internship and studying for my licensing exam. My experience is not particularly different from any female academic with a male partner whom I’ve known..
@Elusis, you have convinced me that it is wrong to think the TA or a colleague could have taught the class. Only Professor Pine could have taught that class. Therefore, Professor Pine should have expected that she was going to have a problem if she had a conflict between childcare and class time, and that if she could not make childcare plans she might have to cancel a class if she had a childcare emergency. What she should not have expected is that an appropriate alternative was to bring her mobile baby to class and let it crawl around the entire lecture to be monitored by her TA and, apparently, her students.
@Myca, I would hope nobody disagrees that in the US, at least, our system re the workplace is set up to privilege men in traditional nuclear families; and that in a less sexist society, Professor Pine would have had more and better options (as would her TA and her students).
Where I am disagreeing is with the idea that this particular situation is all about women’s struggles in the workplace and anyone who thinks Professor Pine should not have brought her child to class is clearly Sexist McSexist-Sexisting. And, as g&w points out, Professor Pine is not exactly making a case for her issue being the struggles of mothers to balance childcare and a job. (Kind of the contrary; for a self-described feminist she is all about the ‘I don’t need your weak sauce because I am a badass woman’ you normally hear from antifeminist types.)
And, again, I am really astonished that all the discussion of sexism completely skips over Professor Pine dumping her child on the TA.
Elusis, don’t blame society if you picked a crappy partner. I picked a good one and he has always done at least as much as me with the house and taking care of the kids. In fact when I was up for promotion he not only quit his job and we moved to a new city, he got his boss to quit along with him and they went in as a pair to a new job. Your crappy partner is not sexism against women, apparently you just can’t pick ’em.
To hell it is! Trust me you can tell that Prof Pine, if she got away with it the first time she would have constantly brought baby to class, because as she said she likes what is easiest for her. “I’m running late no time to take baby to daycare, no problem I will just bring her to class.” And once this starts then everybody is doing it. I did not appreciate your patronizing eye-roll BTW.
This whole situation boils down to piss poor planning and or laziness (and laziness is one of my pet peeves) When I had my second child shortly before he was born I made up a pamphlet, made copies and stuffed mailboxes in my neighborhood saying I was about to have a baby and would need a sitter in a month or so, please call me if you are interested. And I got a real nice babysitter just down the next block. Read: Planning, effort, not laziness. I had no advantages over any single mother, anyone could do what did, married mother or single mother.
I think everybody here is claiming that this was an emergency when it really wasn’t, it was simply piss poor planning. She knew the rules at daycare about sick babies and she never bothered to line up backup daycare. That is sheer laziness to me. It is not society, and how all the cards are stacked against women and how men have it so much better blah blah blah, it is none of that. It was simply piss poor planning. “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” And again what if we all did that, took our kids to work with us?
Here, here is a real emergency. Your backup babysitter gets taken to the hospital in an ambulance. In which case I would have asked my TA to watch my kid and paid her for it, I would not have had the kid in the lecture hall, babysitting my child would have been done somewhere else on campus and I would have called my TA on the phone and asked him/her, I wouldn’t just show up with a baby and surprise him/her. In a true emergency as the one shown above, a real emergency, your T/A will help out. But ask first and pay.
And yes me too, I don’t like washing bottles either, but as a working mom if you are not lazy, you pump and bottle every once in a while so that if you ever have to be separated when the kid is hungry somebody else can feed the baby, especially if you are a single mother. None of this is rocket science nor sexist.
There was no emergency here, only piss poor planning combined with laziness.
Well thanks for that thoughtful advice. I suppose we should never try to talk about institutional sexism because really, any given example of it is just easier to talk about in terms of “bad individuals” and “bad choices.”
I certainly admire his resolve, if he has stuck with you for any length of time while you act like that in public.
By the logic you use above, if we put a bag over your head and spin you, and you still manage to pin the tail on the donkey, you are a ninja, while if you miss you are of subnormal intelligence, dubious character, and you sing poorly, too.
and later, to Myca:
Wait, I get it. It’s a comedy act! Ahahahahahahaha! What a relief!
also to Myca:
Oh, STOP! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!
How many people actually have backup childcare that can come at a moment’s notice? I remember going into work with one or the other of my parents a few times when I was a preschooler, because our regular babysitter was sick, and there was no one who could just drop everything and come babysit. I can’t think of any situation where you can just have someone on call like that. Who just hangs around with nothing to do, waiting for a call to be someone’s backup babysitter once or twice a year?
StraightGrandmother @130: Actually, expecting your teaching assistant to run personal errands for you, like watching your kid, is pretty much the definition of ‘selfish’. Not to mention lazy and poor planning.
When you’re done patting yourself on the back for being lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a stellar babysitter, consider that the issue is bigger than Professor Pine being a twit. I’ll note that it wasn’t the wonderful Mr. StraightGrandmother who was putting flyers in mailboxes to make sure his child had a sitter.
Nobody. Backup people are going to be family members, friends, or acquaintances who work different shifts than you do, or who don’t work outside the home. Or teenagers if your plans are considerate enough to fall through during the summer.
Yep. And the great thing about it is not only are the sexist assumptions not questioned, but when a woman is in a situation that she’s not happy with, it’s *her fault* because she should have picked better. The spouse not doing their share of the household duties gets off totally scot-free. (I guess we’re all supposed to be competing for the minority of men who do 50% or more of the housework. That or we’re supposed to share, and men who do housework all get a harem.)
Except that you forgot to mention the first part of what I wrote, about it being a “true” emergency, and in a “true” emergency call and ask and pay. Just my kid is sick and I didn’t bother all that time I was pregnant and knew the baby was coming, in all that time I never bothered to have my childcare covered.
Kelley is right about who steps in as backup childcare.
Several of you are picking on me because I wrote about the effort I put into finding childcare. But aren’t you then picking on millions and millions of other mothers also? What I did was not extraordinary, in fact it is quite ordinary, millions and millions of mothers and fathers figure this childcare situation out and manage to raise their children and work without ever once taking our children to our places of employment. That was the point of my example how I did it, it was not a whole lot of effort, make a pamphlet and stuff mailboxes which is not a big deal, but what it was was planning. Rich/poor/single/married has nothing to do with being a responsible parent and securing adequate childcare.
Well I hope the men who do 50% of the housework do not get a harem.
Kelly’s comment really gave me pause, maybe because she wasn’t being snotty, or bragging about how hard she works over and above what anyone else could possibly work (and if you only knew…). This comment,
I kind of see your point Kelly. But then I kind of see my point also, why did you marry or partner with someone who is taking advantage of you, why do you stay? This is something you work out within the first three months of your marriage/partnership.
But then I see your point also, it really isn’t the *fault* of the person doing an over percentage of the work, it really is the slacker spouse. I guess I don’t see the inequality of doing housework as sexist, I see it more in the terms of a failure of a personal relationship.
I would like to add a further comment to what I wrote
Securing adequate childcare and paying for it are 2 different things. I especially am supportive of subsidized childcare for working poor. Here is where being a married mother/father and a single mother/father can have a big impact. Many single parents do struggle to pay for childcare and fewer married parents do. Although there are poor married couples also. This is where I think we as society needs to help. This is obviously different than Prof Pine, she had the capacity but just plain didn’t bother to make the effort.
mythago, Mr. Straightgrandfather was home making dinner while I stuffed the mailboxes. And if you think I was patting myself on the back, well there are literally millions and millions of other parents patting themselves on the back also for being a responsible parent. If you are going to work, we all have to do this, it is completely ordinary.
What Elusis seems to be saying in essence is that almost all men do no housework in a marriage and, for comparison purposes, almost all women in a marriage do all of the housework. And, if a man doing housework is very important to you, having to actually pick a male marriage or even living-together candidate who does housework is out of the question (presumably because the relevant men are so rare, it would be very difficult). So given that comparison, it’s like totally unfair (stomps foot). And all of this has a firm statistical footing, because all of Elusis’ friends – as she discloses – say that their men are and were exactly like that.
There may well be a tilt in society towards men not doing as much housework (and, correspondingly, women not making as big of an effort in general with regard to work outside the home). But the problem I have with her statements is that it is not my experience that almost all men are that way. I even have memories in the 1960s of my father doing a very significant share of the housework. My mother (as well as my father) had a hard job, and she wouldn’t have expected less. On top of that, I don’t buy it that all women are Donna Reed – I’ve seen too many slobs.
I guess I would react the same way to a man who complains that his wife just sits at home on her kiester and doesn’t even dust: Why’d you marry her then, if it’s so important to you and she doesn’t make more of a contribution in other ways? And if it is so bad, why do you stay in a marriage?
It’s just sexism on the part of Elusis, frankly.
It’s just sexism on the part of Elusis, frankly.
Penelope: Can I help you with something? You’ve seemed particularly interested in my posts over the past week or so.
“Penelope: Can I help you with something? You’ve seemed particularly interested in my posts over the past week or so.”
Since you asked: Because the crap you come up with is especially dopey and childish, frankly.
Penelope, please read the moderation policy. If you don’t think you can manage to address the other posters here without
condensationbeing condescending, then I’d prefer you stop posting comments here altogether.
[Edited to correct silly spelling error.]
I will behave myself in the future and stick to a discussion of ideas and not people, Ampersand. After I wrote that, I kind of thought myself that it dealt too closely in personalities.
What Elusis seems to be saying in essence is that almost all men do no housework in a marriage and, for comparison purposes, almost all women in a marriage do all of the housework.
Where did Elusis actually say anything remotely akin to this?
Glad it’s not just me wondering about that. I thought I’d suddenly developed some kind of accent that was making everything sound all black and white.
Oh well. I’m not particularly interested in engaging in a war of straw men (or women) anyhow.
That was part of my point, but the larger point was that we have a sexist cultural expectation that taking care of the house is “women’s work.” Men who aren’t expected to do those things, and therefore don’t, aren’t necessarily taking advantage; they’re just doing what seems normal and expected to them.
So, the average married man does less than half the housework his wife does. And that doesn’t even consider who’s responsible for childcare or errand-running.
This means that when a man who does 10-12 hours of housework a week looks around at his buddies, he’s doing a good bit more housework than they are. Their wives might even be saying, “Wow, I wish my husband did X and Y all the time.” So from his perspective, not only is he not taking advantage, he’s pretty awesome. And yet, he’s still doing about half as much housework as his wife.
This is why it can’t just be a conversation about picking better partners. When the average is so skewed, a man who does less housework than his wife is still going to look pretty awesome because he’s well above the expectation. My point is that the expectation itself is screwed up. That’s where the sexism comes in. It’s not just a matter of some men being lazy slackers; there are sexist cultural expectations about who does what. With those expectations, a woman’s odds of picking a partner who does an equal share of the housework are pretty low.
*I would really like to have seen this adjusted based on each partner’s weekly hours of work or school. If one partner is working 20 hours a week and the other is working 40, then the 20-hour partner *should* be doing twice as much housework.
I think it makes more sense to separate the questions of “what gets done” from “…and who does it?”
Some folks care most about something getting done. If both parents want to work, those families tend to have two career parents and a lot of household help.
Other folks care about doing things personally; many people take joy in childcare (though I doubt many folks take joy in doing dishes.) They elect to personally fill a given position in order to get the satisfaction of involvement. Those families tend to have one stay-at-home parent.
The problem is when you start to have too much interest in what your PARTNER does personally. The most common conflict is when one partner would rather work more and hire someone, while the other person expects them to participate personally.
Each partner should be maximally able to say “I’m going to ____.” But each needs to minimize the followup, “…therefore you have to _____.”
Now as a practical matter a lot of people appear to feel that they don’t want their kids raised by nannies; they don’t want their house taken care of by others; etc. That’s their right to feel that way. But that is a desire which they can’t push off onto someone else.
John wants the floor clean, and hates to sweep. John lives with Harry, who doesn’t want to sweep either.
OK, then: If John wants the floor clean, John can
1) suck it up and sweep it himself;
2) hire someone to sweep it, and work somewhere else to pay the sweeper; or
3) leave it dirty, and rely on Harry to sweep it when/if the dirt hits Harry’s “no tolerance” level;
4) reach some sort of relationship accommodation with Harry where Harry will agree to sweep in exchange for some other benefit to Harry, whether related to money or sex or work or love or anything else that John and Harry can work out; or
5) move out (or kick Harry out) and find someone else who is more compatible.
It is difficult to understand why people almost always focus on #4, and why they blame Harry if he says “hell no, sweeping sucks and I’m not interested. Do it yourself if you care about it so much.” Why not blame John for ignoring the other four options?
And regarding the “it’s hard to find a partner” issue:
Yes, men who want to do a lot of housework and child care AND who are also capable of holding down a good career at the same time are very rare. (Women of that kind are also rare, FWIW.)
OK, you say: forget about the career. Men who just want to do housework/childcare are plain old rare. News flash: Men who just want to stay at home rely on women to support them, and successful women who appear to be interested in such men are, anecdotally speaking, even more rare.
Most career powerhouse women seem to focus on career powerhouse men. Did you notice how those PhD women in Elisus’ study were mostly married to other PhDs? Again, this is a choice thing. You can have a spouse with a successful career or one who stays home, but not both.
Sure, women may say they’re interested in those traits once they’re already experiencing a relationship. But that’s BS.
Bob Barista works part time making espressos in the evenings and wants to stay home and raise kids. Bob wants a woman who makes six figures so he can be a full time father.
Pete Powerhouse is an executive with a 60 hour workweek. He’s not interested in staying home.
Come on, folks. Can you seriously argue that Bob is a hot ticket in the marriage market? Can you seriously argue that men who want to rely on someone else for support are highly-sought after partners?
It’s not real life. People may wish that they are CURRENTLY married to “someone like Bob,” but they probably wouldn’t have given Bob the time of day when they first met.
It’s also an access thing and a compatibility thing. From ages 22 through 30, I was spending a pretty significant amount of my life in the math department. Most of my social life was there, because I just didn’t have time for much else. There were a ton of grad students who were dating each other, and several of those pairs eventually got married.
And, as for compatibility, most of the people who I can have enjoyable conversations with, and who I would want to spend a significant part of my life with, are educated people. Sure, there are some exceptions — mostly people who wanted to go to more school but couldn’t for family or financial reasons, and so they read a lot and learned a lot on their own — but for the most part, when I’ve dated people who weren’t too interested in learning, we’ve just bored each other.
Oh, and most of those two-Ph. D couples that I know have some of the most complicated child care arrangements I’ve ever seen. Like, Mondays, mother stays home with child in the morning while father teaches, then father comes home, everybody eats lunch together, and then mother goes to teach. Tuesdays, both parents teach in the morning, so child is in day care at mother’s campus, but they can’t afford day care for all day, so mother picks up child at lunch time, and child hangs out in mother’s office while mother does research and grading for most of the afternoon, then father picks up child from mother’s office before mother goes to teach evening class, and so on. (This is, of course, assuming that the two of them have jobs in the same city. I know several married couples who were living in different cities, or even different countries, for the first few years after graduation, because they couldn’t find jobs in the same place. In most of these cases, what eventually happens is that one partner gets a tenure-track job at a big university, and then the other partner gets hired at the same university as an instructor. It’s almost always the husband with the tenure-track job, since they usually get these jobs when they’re in their mid-thirties, around the time they start to want kids, and there’s really not much room for maternity leave while tenure track.)
“And, as for compatibility, most of the people who I can have enjoyable conversations with, and who I would want to spend a significant part of my life with, are educated people. Sure, there are some exceptions — mostly people who wanted to go to more school but couldn’t for family or financial reasons, and so they read a lot and learned a lot on their own — but for the most part, when I’ve dated people who weren’t too interested in learning, we’ve just bored each other.”
People can be educated but not want to work outside the home after college – men and women. I agree with gin-and-whiskey that a man wishing to stay at home and therefore looking for a high-earning woman to support him – whether he went to college or grad school or not – is not going to be as attractive as other alternatives.
I was responding specifically to the part about people with Ph. Ds marrying other people with Ph. Ds.
Do most people who are dating actually have things planned out that far in advance? I don’t know if I’ll want to be a stay-at-home mother — it depends on what jobs are available then, where I’m living, what sort of job my husband has, whether the kids have any special needs, and all sorts of other stuff that I can’t predict right now. I barely know what I’m doing next week, and people are planning who’s going to do which household chores in several decades?
Men who want to raise a family and who aren’t inherently career focused are “low status” undesirables when it comes to dating. You (global, not personal you) might end up loving such a man if you were married to one, but you’d rarely start dating one in the first place. The signals that women send about that start very early in the dating game.
That controls availability. If 50% of women and girls in the world decided they wanted to date and marry and support poor men who played piano full time, there’s be a worldwide rush to quit your job and tickle the ivories. But since it appears that most women demonstrate more interest in relatively rich men who have jobs, it seems odd to complain that men will end up focused on working for money.
Bingo again! But this isn’t a surprise, right?
-You can have kids early AND then have a high powered career with no tolerance for absence.
-You can have kids AND a high powered career with no tolerance for absence, if you take a very minimal maternity leave and if someone else (nanny or partner) does childcare.
-You can have kids AND take a long maternity leave if you choose a career with a high tolerance for absence.
But if you choose not to have kids early, and if you choose to select a career with low tolerance for absence, and if you choose to provide primary childcare and take a long maternity leave…. then sure, your career will suffer.
You can get everything you want, including kids; a generally good career; a particular specific career; and maternity leave. You just can’t get them all at the same time in the precise manner you want.
Or we can work to change the system so that there are more options available, rather than just accepting that the way it is is the way it always will be.
gin-and-whiskey: So your argument is the career side version of “Broads SAY they like nice guys, but they always go for the assholes”?
I mean, turn @149 around. Barb Barrista works part-time making espresso in the evenings and wants to stay home and raise kids; he wants a wife with a six-figure salary. Polly Powerhouse is an executive with a 60-hour workweek. She’s not interested in staying home.
Are *you* really arguing that Polly is a hot ticket on the marriage market – particularly if she is clear that (like Pete) she expects the man she marries to handle childcare and housekeeping? I’d say she’s about as popular as your buddy Bob there.
One big reason few “powerhouse” women don’t marry Bobs is there aren’t many men who want to be the housewife. We live in a culture that prizes the powerhouse and gives lip service to unpaid work, especially “women’s work”. Women rarely want that role anymore, with its financial dependence and lack of respect. Why on earth would men – who also face cultural expectations about “wearing the pants in the family” and their worth being tied to paid employment – rush in?
As for John and his messy floor, interesting that you had to excise gender.
What options aren’t available? They’re all available, just not necessarily in every selected combination.
Besides, if you start “fixing” things through handicapping it gets hard really fast. It quickly becomes apparent that you’re not really enlarging “choice” overall, you’re just prioritizing certain sets of choices.
How do you preference a third-year prof who wants to have a baby, and will be out for a year? She’s in a competitive field, after all. She and a few other existing profs will be applying for a job at the beginning of their fourth year.
Either she gets credit for being out during her third year (bad for everyone else, since they’re losing space to a competitor who is less qualified than they) or she takes a step back in her career (bad for her.)
When she comes back a year later, how do you evaluate her? If she and these folks are competing for the same fourth-year job, how much “help” does she get? here are some other folks in the applicant pool:
Fourth year profs who never had kids and don’t want them.
Fourth year profs who had kids without taking a long maternity leave, and worked for almost their whole third year
Fourth year profs who had kids before they started teaching, so that they wouldn’t have to take time off at all.
ETA: some of them probably would agree to a “shared” system that benefits stay-home parents. Others wouldn’t. Some of them might choose to stay home; others would rather work.
Do you think their choices were poor ones? You can’t act to “balance” HER choice to prioritize her family, without providing an incentive against THEIR choice to prioritize their careers. There’s no magic bullet.
I don’t understand what you’re asking. Are you talking about professors or instructors? A third-year professor wouldn’t be looking for a job.
Does it matter?
You could substitute “competitive dog walkers” and the question remains the same.
WTF!?! It is not rare for men to stay at home or be in part time work. You might have missed it, but we’ve been in a massive unemployment, underemployment and worklessness crisis for a very long time. The real problem is that that circumstance is much too fucking common, not that these people are impossible to find and that we need a lot more of that sort of thing.
Sure it matters. One has or is working toward tenure, the other doesn’t. The tenure schedule is what I was talking about in the comment you quoted to begin with.
The common “solution” of one partner being a professor and the other being an instructor was also one of the things I was commenting on.
gin-and-whiskey makes the most sense.
Loved her comment
I don’t think most men want to do a lot of housework, but some men will do it simply because it needs to get done and the wife can’t do everything either if she is working also. I guess after reading all these comments I should appreciate my husband even more, apparently he is quite rare, LOL!
One thing that always motivated my husband was money, he always said his dream was that I would make more than him, that never happened BTW. Because he was motivated about money he wanted me out there working and building a career, so he helped a LOT in the home. Even though for 30 years he worked 6 days a week every morning he got the babies dressed when they were babies, took them to the sitter, washed the dishes and unloaded the dishwasher, swept the floors, made the beds and made us dinner. It is like Gin-and-Whiskey says, these were choices he made because he wanted something in return, he wanted me to establish a career and pull in a substantial salary for the family, which I did. But every night I was home alone with the children while he worked, and at night I did it all, more or less like a single mother. That is a choice I made, I wanted him to have his solid professional career and bring home that substantial income also, and that meant six days a week and nights for him.
It is like Gin-and-Whiskey says you can’t have it all everything is a trade off. I will say one of the happiest days of my life is the day I hired a very reliable weekly cleaning lady when my kids were middle school age. That helped a lot. Those early choices we made in how we were going to support each other and divide up the home chores did allow me to grow in my career and eventually hire a cleaning lady. I think that is called payoff.
Kind of keeping on topic, this is also why I never took my kids to daycare I always used a neighborhood babysitter. Yes I looked at them and visited them but they were not for me. Even way back then they had the “No sick kids” rule and professionally for both my husband and myself, that was not going to work. We could not be taking off of our jobs if our children were sick with normal childhood sicknesses. So I went with local babysitters who I knew would keep my babies and children even if they were sick. Like most people, a few times I had to stay home from work when my kids were really sick, but this was rare. Neither my husband nor myself ever took our children to work because of a childcare problem.
Like Gin-and-Whiskey says life is just a bunch of tradeoffs and you can’t have it all. You can’t be both a stay at home mommy AND a working outside the home woman (or man).
Gonna give that rare husband of mine an extra kiss tonight :) The moral of the story is- Life Gets So Much Better if you have a Weekly Cleaning Lady. I do feel deeply sympathetic to people out in the workforce today, or those who are not in it, but not by choice. I wish you better days ahead.
So, how can life get better for her?
Ruchama I am sorry I don’t understand your question of, “So, how can life get better for her?” Are you referring to Professor Pine? How can life get better for her?
No, I’m referring to the cleaning lady. Solving your own work/family balance problem by adding to someone else’s work/family balance problem doesn’t actually solve anything, it just moves the problem elsewhere.
The specific schedule isn’t super relevant, really. I am discussing a broader rebuttal to your “change things to increase options” point, and the collateral fallout from that position.
StraightGrandmother @163: “You can’t have it all” is a cultural buzzphrase meaning “ladies, quit complaining about things being unfair”. Of course nobody can have “it all”, if by that we mean that everybody has limited time to assign to career, family, hobbies and so forth and cannot magically generate more. That is very different than acknowledging family and work expectations are different for women than for men.
Yes, your husband is rare (though I keep noticing that your posts talk about how you hired the cleaning lady, you looked for babysitters). Why do you think that is? Because women love scrubbing floors and men kinda don’t?
Feminists used to say “the personal is political”. That meant that things women chalked up to ‘personal’ were really wider problems: when there are a whole bunch of trees together, you probably have a goddamned forest.
@Penelope: How many men do you think genuinely want to be stay-at-home fathers, married to a breadwinner wife, and to have full responsibility for childcare and household tasks? How desirable in the marketplace do you think a woman is if she wants a husband who will be a “male housewife”?
Not so fast. If Person A wants to have kids and let someone else do dishes, and Person B wants to stay home but needs 10 hours/week of flexible work to make ends meet, then it’s a BENEFIT to B wash A’s dishes. Everyone wins.
I’m curious: Do you not see the costs to the “change things to increase options;” not see the generality of my example; not see the benefits to “not interfere with B washing A’s dishes”? Or do you just not want to acknowledge them?
Ruchama No, I’m referring to the cleaning lady. Solving your own work/family balance problem by adding to someone else’s work/family balance problem doesn’t actually solve anything, it just moves the problem elsewhere.
Actually my employing the cleaning lady did not make her life worse, it made it better. She came and cleaned my house according to a schedule that was good for her. And she was paid well. At the time cleaning ladies made $25 an hour. I don’t know what they make now because I don’t have one now.
Yes, your husband is rare (though I keep noticing that your posts talk about how you hired the cleaning lady, you looked for babysitters). Why do you think that is? Because women love scrubbing floors and men kinda don’t?
I did do a heck of a lot as you mention, because my husband worked 6 days a week and nights but he sure worked at home in the mornings. I came home from work everyday to a clean kitchen, beds made and most of the times, I would say 80% of the time our supper was made and all homemade we never had frozen food or store bought prepared meals, all our vegetables were fresh, and he wasn’t even there to eat it. And I never did the supper dishes, left that for him in the morning. I did my share also, like I said it was only me at night, pick up the kids, heat and serve dinner, sports, piano lessons, homework , baths, all of that was on me without letup, we both did grocery shopping. But single moms have it worse than I ever did.
So I found the babysitters and hired the cleaning lady, so what, he was sure doing his share also. Sunday was his only day off. mythago, yes he scrubs all the floors, I vacuum and he washes/scrubs, it has always been that way (except for the years we had a cleaning lady) as I don’t like to wash floors and he doesn’t like to vacuum. AND our homes always were wood floors or tile, just a room or two with carpet.
I accept the statistics Kelly cited earlier and I understand that there is a whole goddamned forest, to use your words, and I am only one tree, but it is hard, as this is not the life I have lead so I accept it on faith that that is really the way it is for most women. I just can’t join you in the complaining.
I just can’t join you in the complaining.
I don’t understand what you mean by this. You seem fixated on the idea that the subject is “does your husband do his fair share around the house?” It’s not.
Not many, to be sure.
OTOH: How many women do you think genuinely want to be solely focused on their careers, without participating much as a parent in either child raising or household decisions? How many women would happily go back to work 4 weeks after the kid shows up?
If both groups are very small (as I think they are) but roughly equivalent, then neither group is disadvantaged w/r/t the other one.
Not very, though probably better than the male housewife. Which doesn’t make much sense. If there is a big demand for housewife men (as has been implied by various posts, though not by you) then one would expect the market to reflect that. It doesn’t.
I admit that there is a certain “grass is greener” mentality. I just so happen to have experience in both roles, as the primary parent and the secondary parent. So has my wife. Neither one of us correctly anticipated either the benefits or the costs of either role. It sucks way more than you think having to deal with the vomiting kid all day. And it sucks way more than you think when you realize that the person who the kids run to for comfort, and who watches them take steps and learn to read and so on, isn’t you any more.
I believe that if you offered the situation of
“household with two career-driven spouses, a housecleaner, and a newborn with a nanny”
it would appeal to more men than women.
Do people agree or disagree?
gin-and-whiskey: There is every reason to think that the two groups are not roughly equivalent. We are not talking about an imaginary marriage “market” where the only variable is personal preference in work vs. at-home time. Most households don’t have the luxury of one parent leaving the workforce forever; of those that do, there are going to be a variety of factors that affect the decision of how breadwinning and childcare is managed., ranging from the distribution of income by gender (“my husband makes more than me”) to cultural expectations (“her family thinks I’m a bum”).
I doubt there are many people who are considering, hmm, I’ve always wanted to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but I think I would be more desirable on the marriage market if I instead decided I’d rather be an at-home parent (or vice versa).
Also, as I’ve said before, you’re not the only person here who’s been both the at-home parent and the breadwinner parent at different times. If by “way more than you think” you mean that people have idealized versions of the thing they haven’t done, well, no shit. I’m not sure what other point you might have been making.
re @173, I disagree. Do I think that women, moreso than men, would be more likely to be conflicted at the idea of “somebody else” taking care of their children? Sure. Men rarely get shit about that sort of thing. I also believe there are a nontrivial number of men who prefer to have a stay-at-home wife for reasons other than not wanting to personally do the laundry.
what the hell is wrong with this world…..imagine yourselves having a sick baby….imagine not being able to miss work because you wanted to teach your students…what the hell is the big deal???weren’t we all breastfed? not unless your an alien who has never seen a breast before then you’ll be the only acception..i really don’t understand…society is being so critical about it:0….
weren’t we all breastfed?
You are the Usain Bolt of ignorant commenting.
ROLFMAO. Best ever.
I wouldn’t have agreed with the “no shit” part until I did it. Maybe you would have, but most people don’t seem to be able to manage it well. It bears constant repeating.
I doubt there are many people who are considering, hmm, I’ve always wanted to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but I think I would be more desirable on the marriage market if I instead decided I’d rather be an at-home parent (or vice versa).
ROLFMAO. Best ever.
Well, I m not sure that I would have agreed with the “no shit” part until I did it. Maybe you would have, but most people don’t seem to be able to manage it well.
So it bears constant repeating IMO, because (a) if we’re arguing about something then it’s important that it be based in reality, and (b) there aren’t all that many people around who have really done both and can comment on the reality of it: I’m not the only person I know, but you and I are in a pretty small minority.
For many people, “ending up in a preferred relationship” is a HUGE factor in controlling their behavior and choices. People change careers, cities, jobs, appearances, and almost everything else in the hopes of ending up with the person who they want.
Sure, there are limits on those changes; Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have offered to be a housewife because it’s not in her nature. But most people have a fair bit of range and the market has a lot to do with where you land in that range.
In my mind, the ideal relationship in terms of work/home balance would be one where, every few years or so, both people would together evaluate all the “Am I happy with what I’m doing?” and “Is my partner happy with what he/she is doing?” and “Are our children happy with this situation?” and “What opportunities do each of us have, and how would pursuing those opportunities affect each of us individually and the family as a unit?” and work from there. Making one decision and sticking with it for the rest of your life seems stupid. And it seems like this is what most couples my age (early thirties or so) are doing — almost none of my friends who are married with kids have one person who works and one person who stays home, or both people work full-time and they have paid child-care. They’ve all gone through various systems of one person working, or the other person working, or both working part-time, or both working odd schedules and having day care on the one day a week that neither one is home, or one of them working from home part of the time, and so on. This is what I mean by “change the system” — there is no reason that full-time work and staying home are or should be the only options.
(Now that I think about it, I can only think of one couple with kids my age that I know where one parent works full time and the other stays home full time, and in that one, it’s the wife who works full time, as a minister, and the husband, who has a masters degree in math, is a stay-at-home dad.)
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For many people, “ending up in a preferred relationship” is a HUGE factor in controlling their behavior and choices.
Which, as you say, fall into a range. People change careers, cities, etc. in order to end up with the particular person they want – “I moved to Philly because that’s where my wife’s job is” – but that’s very different from throwing away or building entire life plans in the hope of getting a vague Someone. Particularly given that, as you say, the ability (much less inclination) to make those alterations falls into a range. Otherwise we’d all be jumping into jobs with six-figure salaries in order to end up with high-earning spouses, right?
That range is also affected by external factors other than individual choice; we’re not deciding “who stays home?” in a vacuum in which all opportunities are free of personal and societal gender expectations, or more explicit economic ones.
@mythago…i guess i found an alien;p….i know breastfeeding in class might seem wrong for some people, and a woman bringing a child to work is even worse, but how come people don’t find it a big deal for fathers to bring their kids to work..you’ll hear comments like “aaww that’s so cute” “how sweet of him”….wait until you reincarnate as a woman with children, I wanna see what you gonna say, and what’s wrong with breastfeeding???? “weren’t we all breastfed?” YES!!!that is my question..whether you find it ignorant or what, what is your answer??……..ugh*
Well, my answer is no, I was not.
I must also answer this question with a resounding, “NO!!!” If we were to take my immediate family as representative of Americans (which we should not do), we would estimate that 1/5 of the population was breastfed.
and how come it’s not okay to talk about breasts and women but it was okay for cavemen to walk around without clothes??I mean, think about it. Society needs to be more open minded. Maybe I have different views because I am from the other side of the world, but I sure as hell know that breastfeeding is natural. People need to get over it and stop pretending that body parts are scary and shameful. That said, bringing a baby into a classroom was inconsiderate towards the students; a bit naive on the professors part.
“People need to get over it and stop pretending that body parts are scary and shameful.”
Sure, that’s why male professors should lecture with their wiener hanging out if they feel like it.
If you have a problem with that, you need to get over it. (Eyeroll).
This is one of the stupidest arguments I’ve seen on this site – do you believe the logical extension of your own assertions?
well, forgive me then if I have offended anyone. But sure, I get what you’re trying to say. And yes I’m over it now…don’t wana argue on this subject anymore. My argumentative paper is turned in already. Exploring different views on this subject was a great help. Thanks for the help
Penelope, there’s nothing wrong with making a “logical extension” counter-argument, as you did.
Is obviously insulting, and added nothing to your argument.
Please try not to do that again.
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