November 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Nice piece in Double X:
New Hampshire has gone full matriarchy. Next year, the state will be run by two female senators, two female representatives, and a female governor. And KJ Dell’Antonia of theNew York Times’ Motherlode blog is particularly impressed that the state is now matriarchal in the purest sense of the term: all of these women are mothers. That’s “inspiring and hopeful,” Dell’Antonia says, and she wishes these working moms would talk it up…
And what would they say? That depends on whether the elected official is a working mother or a working father—or as we generally refer to the latter, “father.” (Or, “Congressman.”) For the most part, women are the only ones asked to participate in this work-life balance conversation. Surely dads have swept a state’s leadership before, though their path to the patriarchy (“How Do These Fathers Do It?”) has never been very compelling fodder for an election trend piece. And while Dell’Antonia was bummed that Ayotte didn’t talk motherhood more, she doesn’t call on Ayotte’s challenger, a former New Hampshire representative and father of two, to document his own work-life juggling act.
When a successful woman does speak out about how she manages work and family, she has to take care that her work-life balance doesn’t tip too far in either direction. Admit that she’s hired a fleet of nannies to care for the children? She’s an out-of-touch elite. Talk about how she stayed home to raise them herself? She’s never worked a day in her life. Popped out a baby and returned directly to work? She’s neglecting her kids. Kept working even while in labor? She was never pregnant at all! Never had kids? What is she,gay? Her husband cares for them instead? What, is he gay?
A professional woman can’t really speak honestly about how she manages her home life without getting attacked. If Ayotte had spoken up, she wouldn’t be empowered to “help other working parents.” She’d probably just not be a Senator.
Great points. I’ll always remember when John Boehner had twins while he was serving as House Majority leader and the story was treated as a cute political curiosity. Imagine if it were a woman in that position having twins– surely a totally different story. I think it will be a great day not when women don’t feel the need to talk about work-life balance, but when more men feel comfortable, and are even expected to, talk about the issue.