Elizabeth Wurtzel, lawyer and author, wrote a column this past week for The Atlantic. The title of the piece is “1% of Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible: Being a mother isn’t a real job—and the men who run the world know it.”
Seeing how I just finished writing about the New York Times take on fatherhood, this article intrigued me as well, especially the title. The 1% in the title and the shades of Occupy it brings to mind along with the subtitle are certainly meant to get the reader to keep reading, which it did in my case. It would not be my usual read, but Wurtzel pulled me in. Any English composition teacher would be proud of her. The rest didn’t do much for me, however, certainly not endear me to the side of feminists, at least Wurtzel’s brand.
Wurtzel unloads in the first paragraph: she’s tired of the way feminism is perceived and communicated. Yet her example makes me wonder what company she keeps. Is she really that removed from reality? She says that she is going to “smack the next idiot” who tells her that raising her children full time is her feminist choice. But then she defines who these women are. They are not, in her mind full time mothers. She says what they mean by raising their kids is “going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments.” I had to look up Jivamukti classes. For those like me who don’t know: yoga. But my first question is why can’t a woman choose to take yoga and get pedicures? I would soon find out. But first, we must keep in mind that Wurtzel is talking about rich mothers, the 1%. But I can’t help but feel that if someone from the 99% were reading this, they would feel they were being talked down to as well.
She says that feminism can’t be taken seriously if it allows everything as long as it is a woman’s choice. I find that interesting. So what are the options? And who gets to decide what women can and can’t do. She ends the opening paragraph with this statement: “The whole point to begin with was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own.” I thought the whole point was that women were “losing their minds…” and didn’t have a choice about it. So at the very beginning, Wurtzel has decided that at least she is the new male: the one who tells the women what they can and can’t do.
She does explain why women can’t claim motherhood as a job. “A job that anyone can have is not a job.” That is laughable, insulting, and betrays her complete lack of understanding of what mothers do. But the reward of motherhood is not a paycheck, and in Wurtzle’s mind, money is the only paycheck acceptable. Sad, really.
So what can women do according to Wurtzel? Work and make as much as men. And if not, they are harming feminism. Why? Well, it’s obvious to me from the article: the goal of feminism is for women to be just like men?