August 13, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
It can be truly amazing to watch gender feminists try to puzzle out the simplest, most obvious things and fail. Usually, that’s as a result of inhabiting their ideological boxes for so long that seemingly all of life for them is distorted beyond anything most of us would recognize. I just finished with an article in The Atlantic by Olga Khazan that, while far more grounded in reality than this piece, suffered from the same malady (New York Times, 8/4/17). Ideologies invariably adopt certain notions and never question them. That results in the need to force reality to conform to those notions and reality, being what it is, resists.
Karen Rinaldi wrote the Times piece. She also wrote a novel called “The End of Men” that suffered some pretty damning online reviews. Cindy had this to say:
So basically this book is about 4 unlikeable women who whine, bitch (sorry), complain and bash the men in their lives.
Four women, successful in their careers, make stupid decisions in their personal lives, putting blame on their men, while wondering why they even want men in their lives.
Four women wrapped up in careers, marriages, affairs, and motherhood explore and try to make sense of the confusing female experience. Even when they have everything they want their not happy.
That gives an idea of Rinaldi’s take on men, women, careers, marriage and children. It’s a fair introduction to the woman who wrote the NYT piece that’s entitled “Motherhood isn’t Sacrifice, It’s Selfishness.”
Now, reading the article, it occurred to me that, like Ahab, in Rinaldi, two opposite things are at war. The first few paragraphs of the piece almost had me convinced that Rinaldi is pretty likeable. She began by talking about the vacation she, her husband and two children were about to take.
I was looking forward to uninterrupted time with my boys. We would spend days by the ocean and take trips to the boardwalk, where they would scream with delight while riding the roller coaster — the same one I’d ridden when I was their age, then ridden alongside them until Hurricane Sandy deposited it into the Atlantic. We’d ram one another with bumper cars; we’d ride the old-fashioned merry-go-round, waiting until my youngest son’s favorite horse, bright-blue Freddy, became available. Some days were sure to end in tears of exhaustion, but the tears didn’t outweigh the joy. Even on the bad days.
There’s a woman who takes pleasure in her kids, even the tears, even the bad days. Nice.
But when she told her mother about her family’s holiday plans, she got this response:
“Oh, that’s not much of a vacation for you. I’ll bet you can’t wait to get back to work. Motherhood, it’s the hardest job in the world. All sacrifice!”
Gee, it sounds like dear old Mom is one of those 70s feminists who hates the idea of motherhood, believes working for a living is the highest and best thing a woman can do and doesn’t mind suggesting to her daughter that she (the daughter) wasn’t as important to her as whatever job she did.
Not so nice. Indeed, Mom appears to resent motherhood itself, sees it as nothing but a burden and my guess is that she wasn’t very good at it. Whatever the case, her mother’s reaction to her vacation plans spurred Rinaldi to thought.
My mother was only trying to be sympathetic to my life as a working mother, but the self-satisfied way she proclaimed the sacrificial nature of motherhood grated. I don’t believe for one second that motherhood is the hardest job in the world nor that it is all sacrifice.
Rinaldi’s certainly right that motherhood isn’t the world’s hardest job and I appreciate her saying so and in no way is it all sacrifice. Comedian Bill Burr nailed that idea a long time ago. So far so good. But, perhaps because it was her mother who made the remark, that’s pretty much the end of the Rinaldi whom I find to be reasonably sensible and even appealing. After that, the train goes straight into the ditch.
She heralds the disaster by proclaiming the opposite.
Once my annoyance lifted, in its place spread a kind of clarity that helped me to understand how these linguistic tropes reinforce the disempowerment of mothers and women.
By “clarity,” Rinaldi means her attempt to stuff her competing motives of work and family into the feminist box that isn’t nearly big enough to accommodate either, much less both. Ideology can be comforting. After all, it tells the believer that it has the answer to many, perhaps all, important questions. So Rinaldi, momentarily flummoxed by her mother’s reaction, takes refuge in her gender feminism.
The results aren’t pretty.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.