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Katha Pollitt on Linda Hirshman

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: ,

From the L.A. Times review of Linda R. Hirshman's new book Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World:

"Get to Work" showcases a concern for the fate of elite, educated women in the U.S. that is both off-putting in its narrow scope and refreshing in its candor. The polemic expands on her December "American Prospect" article "Homeward Bound," which argued that these women, especially, should stay in their jobs after they have kids, so that they are in a position to effect real change in the world, and so that they can force men to shoulder more of the workload at home.
This is her chaos theory of work-life balance: Women shouldn't constantly worry about whether the milk's gone sour or their husband's socks are strewn across the kitchen table. In the case of "a choice between something that engages your full human capacities and gives you power, honor, wealth and so forth in the world on the one hand, and something that's repetitious, physical, low-level on the other hand, do the higher thing," she said.

But is corporate law, for example, the "higher thing"? Reached by phone, Katha Pollitt, a columnist for the Nation and author of the forthcoming book "Virginity or Death!"" said she admired Hirshman for "laying down the law like the anti-feminists" who are "very free in telling people what to do." But Pollitt also said, "There's a lot of work that isn't very exciting, and you can easily find yourself thinking: 'What's this all for?' Then the notion of putting your energies toward the family seems very appealing because the alternative is continuing to do something that's not all that interesting or fulfilling." And, indeed, some women might enjoy working in the home. "Well, everybody needs a hobby," Hirshman said at this suggestion. "I am an elitist in that I believe people have different capacities."


And what’s wrong with making men shoulder more of the housework whether you raise kids or not? As a single woman I certainly realize that I do a LOT of housework and errand-running just for myself! Ideally living with someone (especially someone you love and care about) should result in alleviating that amount of drudgery for both parties, not just one (ie, the man).Even better, let both parties split the fee of a housecleaning person to lighten the load and provide a little paid work for someone. Just give up cable TV, have sex or take long walks and talk instead, and it’s totally affordable!Fair is fair, right? I’m a fair-is-fair-ist, not a feminist!

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