"But I think respect and recognition are extremely important."

I would agree. However, who are you seeking respect and recognition from. Respect and recognition from your peers are one thing. The housewife down the street who feels she has no need to work is another. It will be harder to get her to understand what you're doing than it will be to convince some of my clients that a plea deal to 15 years imprisonment is a good thing.

Not everyone's going to be happy with your choices. There's no need to try and change their minds. First, you don't know which choices they are unhappy with. It could be your choice not to have children. It could be your choice to work so hard. It could be your choice to become an attorney (doesn't everybody love and respect lawyers?). It doesn't matter. Overtime, you will win respect from your colleagues. There may be exceptions. Some might refer to you as a bitch if you are successful at what you do. Nonetheless, why should their opinions matter.

Maybe the question is, why do we rely so much on external validation for what we do?

194 words.


I think Hirschman serves two very important functions: 1) she drives us to evaluate our attitudes and to come to an understanding of what we think are realistic solutions to problems of work and family and 2) she defines an extreme that makes attitudes like HF's a moderate position.

Having grown up in the 50s and 60s when Flanagan's book would have been a simple restatement of the normal expectations for all middle and upper class women, I am delighted we have gotten far enough along to have a substantial number of women for whom this debate has real resonance. My regret is that it is still so painful for so many.

The Happy Feminist

To chipmunk and Mr. 194 words (are you one in the same):

Your comments rub me the wrong way a little bit and I am trying to figure out why. I think it's because my post isn't really about a need to have everyone in the world approve my choices. It is a response to my perception that the media accounts I read and people I meet often seem very wary about the concept of professional women. Often a media profile of a professional woman will begin with a paragraph about how she gets home every night in time to cook dinner for her children -- as though we need some reassurance on that score before we can consider her accomplishments. Very rarely do I read a no-holds-barred piece advocating what professional women do without qualification or apology.

Maybe I set myself up for your kind of response with the personal tone of my post. But the post isn't about my fee-fees being hurt. It is in part using myself as an example to critique a strain in our culture that treats women in the workplace as a cause for concern rather than value added -- and to praise Hirshman for standing up for working women.


I agree, Happy. We don't *NEED* validation for what we do with our lives. But it sure feels good to have it. And what is so wrong with that, anyway?

Hirschman is admirable in part because she is unafraid to take a potentially unpopular position. And she is unapologetic about it. Why DO we all care so much about not being liked, anyway?


Interesting, in that your concern is about the media's account, and your concerns that media accounts of professional women "[o]ften . . . begin with a paragraph about how she gets home every night in time to cook dinner for her children." In April, Laura Blumenfeld did a column in the Washington Post talking about A.G. Gonzalez. The focus was on how he tries to explain his job to his children and his relationship with them. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/10/AR2006041001305.html. A column she wrote about Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns begins by discussing him doing housework. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/24/AR2005102401477.html. While you may not be thrilled with the discussion in the story, could the author be recounting something that is important to the subject of the story. That is, just as its important for you to be able to go to the office on the weekend, it may be important to the professional who is also a parent to come home from work to cook dinner for her children. Rather than the story having to "reassure the reader" that the subject is a "mommy first," the story may just be recounting who the subject really is.

The Happy Feminist

Maybe, but then you have this article, for example:


The headline refers to "working parents" but those quoted in the article talk only in terms of how children are more likely to be obese the more hours "mothers" work outside the home.

Nicole Black

"I know men in general certainly think so."

What is it with you and overgeneralizations about men, Hap? I just don't get it. My husband is not like that, nor is my dad. And I know a lot of other men that are not like that, and plenty of women that are.

As for your nya-nya-nya-nah-nah toned post, I find it a bit strange. Good for you that you want to spend all of your life working all the time, no matter what your situation. Great. If that's what makes you happy, I'm all for it.

But, don't be so quick to predict how you'll feel in a given situation. And you have no idea what you'll face at any given point in your life.

My husband's (successful) battle against cancer early on in my career, before kids, affected me, and my general outlook, profoundly. It has affected every decision that I've made since he was diagnosed. I'm much more likely to live for today and to make sure taht I enjoy each day to its fullest.

From my perspective,that did not include slaving away at what was, for me, a generally unfulfiiling job in a law firm.

If you find your work fulfilling, more power to ya. But, enough with the "loud and proud" stuff, por favor. It really is a bit much.

The Happy Feminist

I don't know (or especially care to know) what you mean by "nya nya nya" tone. This was actually meant to be a positive feel-good piece -- and it did make me feel good, which is the primary purpose of this blog. Judging by the responses on this thread, it made other people feel good too.

Also, I do know how I will feel when circumstances change. I've been kicking around for a while, and know my own mind pretty well.


I don`t mind Happy`s "loud and proud" stuff. But I DO mind LH`s "get off your lazy ass and stop wasting your education" stuff.

LH obviously fills a void -- we need a voice to stand up for unapologetic career women. I was one for many years, and would still be one if my husband hadn`t been transferred, and I plan to be one again. I felt no guilt when the baby called the babysitter "Mama," and when we ate meals of convenience food in front of the TV. I worked by choice and I loved my work. I didn`t love my family any less because I wasn`t home baking bread -- and now that I AM home baking bread, I can honestly say, I don`t love them any more than I did before.

I think we need MORE "loud and proud," and fewer guilt trips and less hang-wringing.



Why DO we all care so much about not being liked, anyway?

A very good question. Compare those who care about being liked with those who don't. How do they receive their satisfaction? I would venture the opininon that this need to be liked is a partial career inhibitor for women in the top reaches of science, where if your case is strong you need to demolish the case made by others and you need to do this publicly.

What is it with you and overgeneralizations about men, Hap? I just don't get it.

I think she needs to internalize a more statistical way of phrasing. For instance, it's wrong to say that all Blacks are less intelligent than Whites, but it is correct to say that Blacks as a group have lower IQ scores than Whites, but we can't infer anything about any individual Black person from the group level data, though we can point to probabilities. Yeah, it's a mouthful but it's accurate and conveys the group level point while acknowledging individual variance. She should also have studies ready to quote if anyone questions her on her group level claims. Common knowledge doesn't cut it.

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