"Why would the cow tolerate someone who thinks she is for sale?"

What, you think that modern relationships are devoid of transactional elements?


Really? I specifically chose economics as a major because I wanted to go to law school. If it was good enough for Sandra Day, it was going to be good enough for me.

The Happy Feminist

To the extent they do, Tango Man, I don't think said transaction boils down to:

Woman holds out sex as commodity in order to get man to marry her.

That's what that quaint little expression implies-- that the man wouldn't want to marry the woman but for the sex.


On the subject of "duty," I want to make the point that some (not all - and not me) SAHMs and SAHDs do what they do because they feel that it`s their duty to be their children`s primary caregivers. Everyone`s got a very dfferent concept of "duty," just as they have different concepts of "fulfillment."

I don`t think I have quite the same idea of "duty" as HF does -- I do try to "use my talents to benefit those beyond my family" (by doing volunteer work totally unrelated to my kids), but I never thought about having a duty to "take advantage of the opportunities hard won by generations of women before me," which strikes me as eating spinach because there are people starving in Ethiopia. Their lives are theirs and mine is mine.

"...women who are educated past college level (ie. so-called "professionals"), worked, had kids and then changed course, in part due to their decision to have kids."

Nicole Black, if you come back -- I`m a SAHM with a masters, with three kids, ages 4-11, who will probably try to go back to work after the youngest starts kindergarten, but am at home now.


First of all, TangoMan, Flanagan doesn't present any convincing evidence that people are having less sex. She notes a few quotes from columnist, and the publishing of a book. Sex is a subject people are notoriously insecure and misinformed about, though, so I don't put a lot of stock into Margaret Carlson's anecdotal observations.

And secondly, I have to question the value of duty-based sex in the first place. We've come a long way in defining consent and allowing women to declare consent in a sexual relationship. We've also come a long way in allowing women to take hold of their own sexuality. That Flanagan is worried about the reduction in women lying back and thinking of England is really repulsive. Whether or not we're witnessing a precipitous drop in the average weekly number of marital sexual encounters is still really not known, however.

And for God's sake, this is just the old threat that feminists are emasculating their men. When you meet a feminist that wants to stop having sex with her partner, please let me know because I haven't met one. If men can work outside the home and still come home and enjoy sex, I don't see why a woman can't - unless her husband leaves the child and housecare to her.


L, I have to agree with your point that "duty" is really subjective. I basically think that the work-because-it's-your-duty argument is a sham, just like I think it's silly for someone else to tell me that it's my duty to have kids and stay home with them. What-the-fuck-ever. People work to make money. People provide services so that they will make money. If you want a service that's not there, if you've got the money the service will likely crop up.

And for what it's worth, I don't think Hirshman has any kind of contempt for people who aren't at the top of their field - I think she just notes that when you don't care about money, you're losing out on a lot of potential influence. And when you decide to step out of the positions of power, you end up losing power (duh). You could be a social worker and make a difference, or you could get a law degree, work for a think tank, and influence policy.

(Sorry, Happy, for the two posts in a row, but there were two conversation threads to address.)


I would think it would be the prudey types that would not enjoy sex rather than liberated women. I don't have any evidence, but then again neither does Flanagan.

My mom was a prudey type and a strict conservative. She taught my sister and I to be ashamed of our bodies and that sex was bad. My mom always stayed home and was in no way a feminist. But I bet my mom would get Flanagan's stamp of approval because she kept an immaculate house and baked bread.

I, on the other hand, never thought I would be engaged. I also never thought I would have an orgasm. Now I'm engaged to the man who gave me my first orgasm. I am willing to put up with government intrusion into my personal life (aka marriage) to keep him around. You never know, the next guy might not give the big O.

Barbara P

I'd just like to weigh in as someone who doesn't do particularly well as a mother or a careerist...

OK, I'm just kidding (mostly).

The work I've done for about 10 years (computer programming) has not given me the sense that I'm really contributing much to society, duty, etc. I once sat at an interview, where after having passed rows and rows of cubicles the interviewer basically told me in so many words that the web software I would write would be replacing all of their jobs! (I didn't happen to take the job, but still...) Also, I've experienced working months on projects that were just thrown away for one reason or another (extremely demoralizing, FTR) I do fulfill the duty of supporting my family, and I suppose I'm doing pretty well by Hirschman's standards by working in a male-dominated position, acting as a pioneer (which gets old, let me tell you).

I'm glad for you Happy, that you can feel about your work the way that you do. But I can certainly see why there are many people, both men and women who would feel that they are contributing much more by staying home. Women are probably more likely to do so simply because it's more socially acceptable for them.

As for me, I'm in the process of changing careers. :o)


Wow, Happy, you've got some real trolls in your journal. You're more tolerant then I am; I'd be deleting the posts that are clearly just trying to be offensive.

I really like the way that you talk about your duty to contribute to society, and the ways that you talk about loving your job. I just read the Hirschman myself. I certainly don't agree with everything she says; in fact some of her ideas about class offend me. But there are a couple things I love:

-- Unapologetic defense of the value of women in the workplace.
-- Frank talk about thev social and personal costs of choosing to be financially dependent on a man.
-- Specific advice to young women on how to avoid some of the traps US culture sets up for young women; ie, being encouraged to get degrees that mean you will always be financially dependent on others.
-- Honest and strategic talk about battles over housework.

I’ve seen way; way too many women avoid choices that enable you to support yourself. I encourage women in my life to seek out professional jobs where they can support themselves and contribute to society. There are serious risks to choosing fields that will leave you financially dependent on others. It is, also, a loss to society to have women focus all their energy on a few individuals rather then society as a whole. I can love and befriend them, but I think they’re making a mistake that they may well regret later.

Barbara P

Oh, and I just wanted to add as a general comment that some women should work f/t because they'd actually be *bad* SAHMs. I think that this was true of my grandmother, for example. I know she loved (loves) her children, but they may have been better off in daycare, with a happy, fulfilled mother. No one ever looks at it that way! For me, I didn't really like having to work full time when my daughter was really young, but staying home full time would have been equally unacceptable, if not worse. (I would have been happiest working 1/2 days.)

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