Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Our Sunday paper ran an editorial by Linda Hirshman. Ms. Hirshman complains that Everyone hates Linda.

There were so many things wrong with her arguments it was hard to know where to begin. Our local newspaper has a 125 word limit for letters to the editor. After much internal debate, I focused on one point, the influence and stabilizing effect of mothers at home. Just the day earlier, there was the report on declining friendship in America. I had hoped to demonstrate the bad effects of Ms. Hirshman's advice as evidenced in the article on friendship, but found I couldn't do it in 125 words or less. So, I sent off the following email to the Mercury News.

Linda R. Hirshman contends she is "Stepped on for standing up for working women" (Perspective, June 25). Stay-at-home mothers are "making a mistake" and wasting their talents according to Ms. Hirshman. She's forgotten that the small number of working mothers in her generation were successful due to the network of full-time mothers who were there to help them out. Those full-time mothers did the important things, like nurturing children and volunteering in the community, that career women no longer had the time or energy to do. Stay-at-home mothers were the glue that strengthened communities and kept children safe. Ms. Hirshman, the least you could do is say thank you. Stop poking holes in the boat that working women and their families are standing in.

Today, I went back and read her Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World. She has quite the Vision of the Anointed complex. The beauty of blogging is that we are not limited to 125 words.

Here's some of what the blogosphere has to say:

Mental multivitamin


I had intended to go over the "Manifesto" line by line putting in comments. However, I don't want to give her delusions a greater audience. Her view point is so absurdly false in comparison to my life experience, that there was no common ground on which to start. Her comments about homeschooling were particularly odd. I can't decide if Ms. Hirshman is really that narcissistic and self-centered or if she is just evil. Instead, I will shares some words on family, marriage and motherhood:

The bravest battle that ever was fought!
Shall I tell you where and when?
On the maps of the world you will find it not;
'Twas fought by the mothers of men.

Nay not with the cannon of battle-shot,
With a sword or noble pen;
Nay, not with eloquent words or thought
From mouth of wonderful men!

But deep in a walled-up woman's heart --
Of a woman that would not yield,
But bravely, silently bore her part --
Lo, there is the battlefield!

No marshalling troops, no bivouac song,
No banner to gleam and wave;
But oh! those battles, they last so long --
From babyhood to the grave.

Yet, faithful still as a bridge of stars,
She fights in her walled-up town --
Fights on and on in her endless wars,
Then silent, unseen, goes down.

Oh, ye with banners and battle-shot,
And soldiers to shout and paise!
I tell you the kingliest victories fought
Were fought in those silent ways.

O spotless woman in a world of shame,
With splendid and silent scorn,
Go back to God as white as you came --
The Kingliest warrior born!
-- Joaquin Miller (1839-1913)

The memory of a mother waiting is a safeguard against temptation
-- Author Unknown

The best thing to spend on children is your time.
-- Arnold Glasow

The future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

Abstracted from home, I know no happiness in this world.
-- Thomas Jefferson

The trouble with being a parent is that by the time you are experienced you are usually unemployed.
-- Author Unknown

If we had paid no more attention to our plant than we have to our children, we would now be living in a jungle of weeds.
-- Luther Burbank

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
-- Abraham Lincoln

No other success can compensate for failure in the home
-- D. McKay

A picture memory brings to me;
I look across the years and see
Myself beside my mother's knee.
I feel her gentle hand restrain
My selfish moods, and know again
A child's blind sense of wrong and pain.
But wiser now,
a man gray grown,
My childhood's needs are better known.
My mother's chastening love I own.
-- John Greenleaf Whittier

A truly happy marriage is one in which a woman gives the best years of her life to the man who made them the best.
-- Author Unknown

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.
-- George Moore

The future of the race marches forward on the feet of little children.
-- Phillips Brooks

It is better to build boys than to repair men.
-- Author Unknown

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christinemm said...

Dear Janine, I loved what you wrote.

I blogged a rant in reaction to Hirshman's piece last week.

Here is the link to my rant.


A main issue that ticked me off that day is the notion that we mothers at home are not 'working'. Since when does working for pay, even at some unsatisfying job, better than those of us who are at home, making no money, and doing volunteer work?

Many, many people rely on volunteers, the working mothers and their children are some of them.

Janine Cate said...

It is so ironic. I'm at home literally saving the world.

Andie D. said...

Incredible post. Thank you.

I am a SAHM currently. I was originally offended by Linda for implying that SAHMS are destroying feminism. Then I became offended by Linda because she was causing another rift between women (SAHM vs. working, WAHM, etc.).

In the end, aren't we all just parents? Trying to do what we feel is the right thing for our families? Yes. To that end, I wrote my own post on my site.

And yes, it was well thought out. ;)

Janine Cate said...

I think it would have been fine if "Linda" had said these are the reasons why I think staying home with my kids wouldn't have worked for me.

I still wouldn't have thought she knew what she was talking about, but she did have the right to say it. Since she's never been a SAHM, her opinions don't carry much weight. It like saying you hate brocolli when you've never tasted it, or only eaten it badly prepared.

Happy0303 said...

Thank you for submitting this post to the carnival. I think it's very fitting since there is so much debate surrounding Linda Hirshman these days.