The Obama Mama

November 26, 2008

work-life-balance

There was a great piece by Ruth Marcus in the Post today.  She talked about her reactions to Michelle Obama’s statement that her first priority is going to be maintaining a stable environment for the girls.  She mentioned her initial discomfort with Michelle Obama’s public statement about putting her girls before all else.  She worried what message that sends about work/family balance for women.  This made me think about the Linda Hirshman article from a couple of years ago which argued that until there is true equality between the sexes in terms of career/family balance, all women are morally obligated to work, otherwise they are undermining feminism and women everywhere.

Ruth Marcus doesn’t argue anything nearly as stringent as that, but her discomfort with the position in which Michelle Obama finds herself as well as with her own struggles and those of her friends is palpable.  She is right, it is incredibly frustrating that men are allowed the luxury of deciding how involved they will be in the child rearing while women are largely expected to put their career aside when necessary. The one that really gets my goat is how we give all kinds of kudos to fathers who are more involved, for example those who take paternity leave, but criticize mothers who make the decision to take an extended leave of absence.  

In my happy little fantasy world, extended parental leave would be supported, no matter who takes it.  Such a decision would not affect your earning potential, your ability to move up in your field, etc.  Until then, though, I guess I’ll stick to my so-called career move of building my own thing for a while to maintain my “marketability” for later. Call me a traitor, call me a sucker, call me a martyr.  Hell, call me a cab.

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