Choice Feminism?

Linda Hirshman and I had a very interesting exchange of emails during the time when I was posting a lot about the New York Times article about elite college girls opting out of careers. Here’s the piece that she was working on at the time, referenced in the New York Times Week in Review on Sunday.


2 thoughts on “Choice Feminism?

  1. Wow, this article makes me INSANE. Is she actually describing the work of raising children as “sweeping and cleaning bodily waste”? As though no one ever has a conversation with their kid or plays with them or teaches them Very Important Lessons about how to be a person? Well, that’ll help improve the value our society puts on child care.

    And then she argues that being a CEO or a lawyer or whatever “elite” thing we are supposed to aspire to provides the “autonomy to direct one’s own life”, and “the utilitarian test of doing more good than harm in the world”. Can you get her to defend that statement? Because I am not seeing the autonomy that is provided by working 80 hour weeks, as many of those “elite” people seem to do. And corporate CEOs…are they known for doing a lot of good in the world?

    Possibly I am just not invested enough in the existing power structure to be able to appreciate what she is talking about. I just think it all sounds very unpleasant.

  2. Wow, that’s an intensely intellectually packed piece, the kind that’s packed so tightly I have trouble commenting on it. I agree it’s scary, though, because her solution to the idea that some people in society place a low value on child-raising is that, apparently, nobody should place any value on child-raising, and that the next generation should be raised by hirelings or wolves.

    That strikes me as a Jonathan Swift/Peter Singer/Aristophanes sort of cri de coeur; we can’t get the men to value raising children, she cries, so how would they like it if NOBODY was raising the children? Understandable and heartfelt but utterly socially disastrous.

    She seems to be advising that since “feminizing” the world has “failed,” we should give up and create an entirely “masculinized” world where money and power are the primary goals of all. (I guess those lower-class hirelings we get to raise the children and keep the house will be doing it as a stepping stone to money and power.)

    Then, presumably, in a generation or two, the hard, cold people this society generates will come together in a burst of amity and agree to, what, share the household duties they’ve now utterly devalued to zero, in a world of pure capitalism where all actions are judged based on their value towards making you a CEO? Ugh.

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