You know. We all knew it had to happen. It was bound to happen the minute it became public news that she did it. She couldn’t have just stepped out of her career, cut back her hours, and moved on with her life. Oh no. This is America people.
Instead talking heads had to clamor onto it.
Until the day after election day in 2008, and possibly beyond that date, someone, somewhere, is going to be criticizing my new favorite candidate’s wife: Michelle Obama. Even if Obama doesn’t receive the Democratic nomination. They’ll still be talking about her.
Oh- they’ll talk about her for a lot of reasons. I mean, not only is she African American. But she’s a mom.
So there’s two biggies.
Oh – and she used to work.
Until the other week.
And that is what I’m going to dish about today. I previously linked to the Washington Post article about her and her decision to cut back her hours to only 20%, to support her husband and have time with her children.
To me, the most poignant part of the interview was when she indicated that she’s been struggling with whether to work or stay home with her daughters every other month since she had her daughters. Hell, that was like my Jerry Maguire moment with her.
She didn’t have me at hello.
She had me with that true mom confession.
I struggle with it every single day. I should find some pain in knowing that her children are much older than mine, therefore this struggle is like a noose around her neck. But the thing is – I know that. I don’t expect the struggle to go away.
So she had me with her confession. Sold. Love her. Wish I could nominate Michelle for President.
And then I read this piece in Salon, “Michelle Obama’s Sacrifice”:
And it pissed me off. Big time. Kitty’s claws are really out now.
Now – I’m pretty certain the writer makes several valid points. Personally, I cannot speak to the experiences of black women and what Michelle might represent for them. So I sure as hell am not going to try.
But it was this that really got my knickers in a knot:
“It’s also quite likely she’s making this sacrifice so her children will have at least one parent available. But the result is the same. Our daughters grow up knowing that their freedom to work at hard-won, beloved careers hinges on the doings of their husbands.”
Really? Is that what Michelle is teaching her daughters? Is that what every other woman who steps out of the workforce is teaching her daughter?
Isn’t that extreme and RIDICULOUS? I expect it out of Rush or Imus.
After first wondering if this reporter really is just Rush Limbaugh writing under a pseudonym, I then decided to poke around and learn more about this “Debra Dickerson.” More specifically, is she really a she? And if so, is she a mom?
Turns out my conspiracy theory was once again just that. She is a she. And she is a mom.
But that doesn’t make what she is saying any less egregious in my mind. In fact, the very nature of the fact that a working mom said it, makes it the most egregious offense.
How dare we judge a woman for making a decision on behalf of her family, and more specifically, how dare we continue to set forth this notion that making the tough decision to “opt-out” of the workforce means we are failing to set a good example for future generations of women.
That is what chaps my ass.
Since when is going to a job every day the sole representation of feminism and teaching our daughters to be strong, independent, smart and strive for the stars?
My own mother raised four very independent, strong-willed, hard working daughters – and her job was us.
Until women, with working women being the most egregious offenders, cease and desist judging and criticizing other women for stepping out of the workforce to tend to our children, we cannot expect anyone else too. We cannot expect husbands, men, other women without children, and most importantly workplace culture, to provide flexible work arrangements or be willing to hire back someone who has stepped out for a few years – if we ourselves aren’t doing it.
End of story.
So before we go off and hear more studies about women “opting out” and all the repercussions it has on the workforce, and on children, marriages and careers, let’s first take a step back and mind our own business.
Let’s stop judging and criticizing women for the decisions they make for their own personal lives and instead, focus on the bigger problems: no federally mandated paid maternity leave, and really almost no corporate culture that enables women to work flex time, part time or from home.
I am really fired up.