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January 4th, 2006

Linda Hirshman, a prof at Brandeis, wrote an excellent article on feminism. About how women "choose" to be a housewife… but it's not the right choice. Also how yes, more women are graduating from universities, but they are doing so with liberal arts degrees, and not necessarily with an eye on having to support themselves and their families. They expect a man to do that. She believes that choosing to be a house-wife is opting out, and not fully utilizing your own life. It seems like a majority of ruling class women are choosing to be housewives. Where are the women in elite positions? She talks about a lot of stuff that is causing a lot of debate in the feminist world. Her article is definitely worth a read.

David Brooks wrote an op-ed awarding her for one of the best magazine essays of 2005, but saying she is wrong. (Times Select subscription required)


Salon.com summerized the Hirshman and Brooks article (free after pesky ad):
Also worth a read. Refers to the NYT’s op-ed by Tierney about 3 women university graduates for every two men. The possible implication that women should stop being so effective or accept marrying down or becoming lonely spinsters. Salon also refers to the women who used to tout choosing housewifery as a wonderful thing, until she got divorced.

Here are some excerpts from the Hirshman article:

"The number of women at universities exceeds the number of men. But, more than a generation after feminism, the number of women in elite jobs doesn’t come close."

"...while the public world has changed, albeit imperfectly, to accommodate women among the elite, private lives have hardly budged. The real glass ceiling is at home."

"Here’s the feminist moral analysis that choice avoided: The family -- with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks -- is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government. This less-flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral responsibility only of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust. Women assigning it to themselves is equally unjust. To paraphrase, as Mark Twain said, “A man who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as a man who cannot read.” "

"The first pitfall is the liberal-arts curriculum, which women are good at, graduating in higher numbers than men. Although many really successful people start out studying liberal arts, the purpose of a liberal education is not, with the exception of a miniscule number of academic positions, job preparation."

"The point here is to help women see that yes, you can study art history, but only with the realistic understanding that one day soon you will need to use your arts education to support yourself and your family."

"Every Times groom assumed he had to succeed in business, and was really trying. By contrast, a common thread among the women I interviewed was a self-important idealism about the kinds of intellectual, prestigious, socially meaningful, politics-free jobs worth their incalculably valuable presence. So the second rule is that women must treat the first few years after college as an opportunity to lose their capitalism virginity and prepare for good work, which they will then treat seriously."

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