Saturday, February 19, 2005

A digression to social commentary

An article in Newsweek entitled Mommy Madness has been bandied about the blogsphere to some extent in the US. The article seems to be little more than a soap box for one woman to air her grievances regarding motherhood, the intransigence of males regarding child rearing, and the lack of assistance proffered by 'society'. Before I venture into bashing this article its most likely necessary to offer a few caveats. Firstly, there is no point calling me misognystic. I simply direct my contempt wherever it seems warranted, just as a direct my respect. I personally consider Margret Thatcher to be one of the greatest political leaders in modern history. Furthermore, being male I really don't have any idea but I tend to assume child rearing is challening and difficult and think alot of people do struggle with what is both a necessary and admirable venture. That being said...

I have no sympathy for the woman who wrote this article in Newsweek. Its simply a self centred airing of imagined grievances based upon self-imposed pretentious and unrealistic standards and expectations. The whole article is full of upper/upper middle class snobbery and I can only snicker at the "stress" that goes with not being sure you're child has the "best" piano teacher or does participate in activities x,y,z. It goes on to complain about how hard it is to juggle careers and children. This is quite true, however, when you read what sort of psychotic notion of parenting they have it would seem most of the misery they experience is purely self-inflicted. They are don't need to regiment their lives. Teach them to read, help them with their homework, sure have them play a sport and learn a music instrument but their life doesn't need to be coreographed and planned with detail normally reserved for a military campaign. Let them watch tv, play with their toys or run around outside...its what kids do. On the other hand just sitting kids in front of the Tv and turning it into the "babysitter" isn't a good idea either. But I'm fairly sure I watched about 3 hours of tv a day until I was 14 and I'm in law school, so I don't think it will rot their mind entirely.

The most amusing thing about the entire article is watching the author try and reconcile the notion that she can have everything she wants out of a career and a family. Sadly, that's not likely to happen, especially if you have unrealistic expectations about both. If your goal is to be "Corporate Princess" and "Supermom" you've created two conflicting goals and you're not going to satisfy either. To be cynical, life to some extent is a zero sum game, nothing is ever going to be perfect and its full of trade offs. The author's solution to this "problem" is state funded daycare...
this seems to be the same solution Canada's "luminaries" have come too. I shudder to think that the state which can't protect us from criminals, indulges itself in corruption and mismanagement on a regular basis thinks itself "competent" to look after children in their formative years. I tend to be following the party line on this one - cut taxes and let families deal with these trade offs as they think best. Rather than creating a program that creates the conditions requiring the program - try letting people deal with it themselves you lousy socialists with your one track mind forever seeking "more government". I'm only mildly optomistic about this program dying in its cradle because the provinces can't be so stupid as to be stuck with another "shared" program where Ottawa interfers and forces the province to pick up almost all the costs. I just don't see that happening when a majority of the provinces are already in deficit.

But back to the article Lileks of The Bleat absolutely savages this article. His response to it is absolutely brilliant, I'm posting alot of it below simply because I couldn't read it and not burst out laughing. In red is the text of the actual article and below it in italics is Lileks response..enjoy although I'd suggest reading the whole thing.

Women today mother in the excessive, control-freakish way that they do in part because they are psychologically conditioned to do so. But they also do it because, to a large extent, they have to. Because they are unsupported, because their children are not taken care of, in any meaningful way, by society at large. Because there is right now no widespread feeling of social responsibility—for children, for families, for anyone, really—and so they must take everything onto themselves.

Imagine that. You have to take the responsibility of your children on yourselves. The day I expect "society" to take care of my child in a meaningful way is the day I give society the right to take her away and do a better job if I don't schedule daily flash-card phonics sessions. I suspect that we are talking about two different groups - those mothers who genuinely need help because they made some horrible decisions and find themselves with many children and no fathers, and those who can't quite strike the perfect balance between Corporate Warrior Princess and UberSuperPerfectRoleModelLove-GusherMom, and hence get, well, excessive and control-freakish. I think the former group needs our help, and the second group needs a big frosty glass of chill-the-hell-out with a kicky pastel umbrella. Proof of the horrors of modern American life follows:

As I write this, I have an image fresh in my mind: the face of a friend, the mother of a first-grader, who I ran into one morning right before Christmas.

She was in the midst of organizing a class party. This meant shopping. Color-coordinating paper goods. Piecework, pre-gluing of arts-and-crafts projects. Uniformity of felt textures. Of buttons and beads. There were the phone calls, too. From other parents. With criticism and "constructive" comments that had her up at night, playing over conversations in her mind. "I can't take it anymore," she said to me. "I hate everyone and everything. I am going insane."

Well. It’s too bad Amazon cannot overnight a sense of perspective, because there are, in truth, tougher situations to find yourself in. I’d like to reserve “hating everyone and everything and going insane” for the moment when I’m fleeing the attack helicopters that have come to wipe out my tribe.

From my experience kids do not require their paper goods to be color-coordinated, unless that means everyone gets the same number of sheets of each color. Which, I hate to relate, can be arranged. And if you can't, and they complain, you tell them to deal with it. Likewise uniformity of felt textures, the absence of which has not caused any eye-gouging fights I’ve seen. But I’m a guy, and hence I will never stay up at night playing over conversations in my mind, something to which some women seem more prone than men. It's an instructive difference. It would seem to suggest an inherant dispositional characteristic that might not respond immediately to minor shifts in public policy.

In a related story Steve of Hog On Ice seems rather irked with something that crept into this Newsweek article a couple times. The notion that men and women are the same and that consequently "men aren't helping". Although he isn't responding to the lack of helpfulness directly..

One of the many unbelievably stupid things feminism teaches us is that men are just pretending to be men. Gays are real. Lesbians are real. Straight women are real. Transsexuals are real. Men, however, are putting on a macho act. Deep down inside, they, too, want to sit around babbling about nothing and watching "The View."

HAHAHAHAHA. Come on. I'd rather kill myself. The differences between men are women are chemical and impossible to change. If you spent a month on testosterone therapy, you'd start thinking and acting a lot more like we do. One of these days, some brave researcher is going to prove that butch lesbians have higher testosterone levels. Then he'll be fired and possibly crucified.


At 6:10 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris noted, "The author's solution to this "problem" is state funded daycare..."

For an opposing view to "Mommy Madness", here's a website that doesn't care for daycare at all!


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