Why Women Must Get Mad

Barbara Hannah Grufferman asserts that at this crucial moment in our country’s history, it’s time for women to move from anger to action

There is a scene in Network, a movie made over 35 years ago, that is part of the collective consciousness of most baby boomers. Howard Beale, the character who appears to be going mad before the very eyes of a live TV audience, is really just conveying what everyone else was feeling at the time but were afraid, unmotivated, or too complacent to say on their own:

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad! You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis.”

While Russia doesn’t seem to be a looming threat any longer, most of what Howard is ranting and raving about in this scene continues to plague us. But there’s more… so much more… and it’s time to get mad.

Let’s start with jobs.

There aren’t any, and as a recent article on the Huffington Post shows, many of the reliable industries (such as manufacturing) are drying up.

Even worse, companies are putting more into capital improvements than in people. An article in the New York Times reports that more companies are investing in equipment, not workers. “I want to have as few people touching our products as possible,” said Dan Mishek, managing director of Vista Technologies, a Minnesota-based firm. “Everything should be as automated as it can be. We just can’t afford to compete with countries like China on labor costs, especially when workers are getting even more expensive.”

And yet, our government continues to offer tax incentives to subsidize capital investments, not the creation of jobs, and the training of workers. Why? Capital has gotten much cheaper relative to labor costs. Workers lose, companies win, government sits back and watches.

A new study from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the Great Recession that technically ended in 2009 has doubled the time it takes before the average unemployed person either finds a job or gives up looking for one.

Another report, also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states that of all the new post-recession jobs that have been created, 90% of them have gone to men. Why? Because employers still believe that men are the main breadwinners in the families, and that a job should be given to an unemployed man before an equally qualified unemployed woman. It isn’t a stated policy, of course, but this antiquated thinking prevails.

In terms of salaries, women still continue to earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, across a wide spectrum of industries. And since single women head more households than ever before, it’s not just women who suffer, but children, as well. This helps perpetuate a continuous cycle of poverty, unemployment, despondency, and dependence on government assistance.

Alarmingly, a smaller percentage of women hold senior level management jobs or board positions, relative to men, and the percentage is dropping, according to a recent Grant-Thornton study.

If a woman is fortunate enough to have a job, there are relatively few satisfactory childcare options available. On top of that, women continue to be penalized if they choose to take time off to raise children, often due to a lack of sufficient childcare options, when they try to return to the workforce.

Are you mad yet? No?

How about the fact that our government has just entered into a third war? Just as important, funds are being used to support these wars instead of putting them where they are needed the most: creating jobs; figuring out how to offer affordable health care; rebuilding our infrastructure; and preparing our children to be leaders and strong participants in a new world order where other countries, such as China, are becoming ever more powerful.

What about the daily violence against women and children around the world, including right here in our own country? And the fact that both major political parties use women as political pawns, especially when debating the future of our own reproductive health and rights?

But, there’s more: The chemicals that pollute our air, water and food. The assault on the environment and many of the animals that inhabit our earth. The dumbing down of America by the proliferation of mindless TV at the expense of quality programming.

I started a discussion about this on Facebook and Twitter and one person left this comment: “Everyone has to get mad at a government that is hell bent on an agenda that erodes our way of life. There will be more publicity today about Sarah Palin’s emails than soldiers wounded or killed in Afghanistan.”

Another Facebook friend wrote: “How can we collectively get together and express our dissatisfaction and offer ideas for change, with a concrete plan?”

Women, this is a call to action. We have to stand up and say “We’re as mad as hell as we’re not going to take it anymore!” Demand jobs, equal pay, health care, the right to choose what we do with our own bodies, greater representation in government, and more leadership positions in the private sector. We’re not asking for a lot. We’re only asking for what every human being deserves.

Turn your anger into action:

  • Go to the One Million Pissed-Off Women page on Facebook and get motivated
  • Start a grassroots campaign for positive change
  • Read and be informed about the issues that are affecting us the most
  • Sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who is on the other end of the political spectrum so you can start to understand each other, and build consensus
  • Seek out politicians who share your worldview and anger, and support them
  • Run for political office
  • Get connected to like-minded women on Facebook and websites
  • Blog, write articles, get others motivated
  • Fight for your rights as a woman, as a worker, and as a mother
  • If you’re unemployed, keep trying to get a job or start your own company (women are the driving force behind the growth of micro-enterprises)
  • Show our children that change is possible

A few months ago, I wrote an article that included this simple statement:

To embrace feminism is to embrace this fundamental truth: every human being has rights.

We have the right to get angry, and the power to take action. Be brave, be bold, and get mad as hell!

Barbara Hannah Grufferman is the author of The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More”, a resource book which addresses many of the concerns of women over 50 with the help of top experts in different fields.

26 comments so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    I too remember Peter Finch in Network in 1976 — how could you forget — his memorable quote of “I am mad as hell and I am going to take it anymore”.  I know I am in the minority here, but being part of a large protest in Washington is just not my style.  Even when I was surprisingly young, a group of women appeared at my front door and suggested they would back me if I would run for political office.  I had been campaign manager before — which  too was unusual or so I was told — but I was good at that and really loved it.  Actually running for office in the ’70s hadn’t occurred to me.  But it wasn’t long before  I said “yes”.  I wanted to see if I had what it took to do it.

    I WON . . . and as I look back on it, I think of the astronaut that said “one small step for (women)kind”.  That was me.  For gigantic protests are one thing, but actually having a woman’s foot in the local political door was newspaper fodder.  I actually was asked to speak to a room full of women activists at the state capital, telling them, encouraging them to follow in my footsteps.

    And – as we can see now – other women began to get into politics, more every year, and now are making impact big time.  It was the ’70s and I felt I made hay while the sun shined. 

    I didn’t storm Washington.  I didn’t scream and shout.  I was too busy.  Life was a challenge.
    The largest board in my large city was loaded with men whose names you might have known then as they were THAT big.  I had a plan, a plan to work hard, to be seem and noticed.  I was still a kid in many ways.  Over time I gained experience and knowledge that I kept building on.  I had to talk their language, hold my own.  I was not pushed by other women as I kept pretty quiet as I took the baby steps upward to what I called “the big time” — the most influential board in the city.  I was noticed.  I was elected.  . and eventually I was on the executive board as the only woman.  . and those years were the best of my life.  I didn’t talk about the plight of women – sorry about that!!!  I feel I made it on my own strengths and always I feel I was not talked about behind my back by men.  Just the opposite.  I have always felt that in political office and in public office of the highest sort, I was listened to and respected. 

    I guess you would say that, as a woman, I didn’t talk the talk, but instead I walked the walk – and the walk took me to where I wanted to be and kept me there.  And sure, I was interested in reading and aware what was going on in the larger world in those years, but I could not do much more and still follow my dream.  I was a girl and then a woman who followed her dream, gave it her all, and  — perhaps only in my own mind — proved that YES, it can be done.

    I think if we do make it, we should be a cheerleader for other women, actually offering direction,  and never ever rest on our laurels as by continuing growing and learning. We soon find we are extremely vital still and make waves as the years go on.  And you who know me know that the exuberance and excitement this gives me keeps me a very high cloud!  Wow!!
     

    • avatar Barbara Hannah Grufferman says:

      Thank you, Joan, for leaving this very thoughtful comment. I agree with you, especially about how we need to cheer women on, and giving direction to the next generation. The most important thing, I think, is to convey the understanding that “feminism” is simply a word. The truth of the matter is everyone — male or female — should have equal rights. Period, end of story. Once we can accept that fundamental truth, the rest will follow.
      All the best,
      Barbara

      • avatar Joan Larsen says:

        Hi Barbara —

        I wish the two of us could talk sometime.  I loved, most of all, the sentence that said:  The truth of the matter is everyone – male or female – should have equal rights.  That is what I call perfection in thinking and in writing.

        I look around me and – for years – I have heard about the glass ceiling and unequal pay.  And I have my own thoughts on that that are truth but people don’t want to hear.  Karen R below spoke truth when she said women actually impede other women – perhaps not all the time, but I see it often in the workplace.  There is backstabbing and jealousy always going on — and in a way I do not see with men.  I will leave it at that but I have many thoughts on it — and no real way to counteract it.  I have no trouble with men and I have risen up the ladder totally with men behind me.

        But instead of protests and the like, I think we each have the capablity of making our own roads.  If we believe there are “no jobs”, then we can sit at home sulking.  IF a person knows how to do the research in looking for a job, he or she knows that you can pick a corporation and on their website are the job listings.  Because my expertise in – in part – libraries which are wonderful to work for, you can go to the local libraries websites around you and pull up the week’s offerings.  Mine this week has two I could excell at now — if I were so inclined.  Once you are hired and talking to others, the world opens up and chance remarks may lead to higher positions elsewhere.  While the world definitely is what it is, the ease is not the same but the jobs are there.

        For those with children, I could not work (it was political office) until my kids were teens.  Younger children are a problem.  But part time work can become full time later at that stage.

        So I am the best example who at a young age took a route, found ways to get my foot in the door at a lower level, and became wiser with time — and was propelled to where I wanted to be.  But I am not into lists as much as I am “into action”.  We are talking work and professions here, getting ahead — so today is the soon enough moment to take the step out your door and see what develops in the working field. 

        Volunteerism can LEAD to jobs — but it can stall you also.  I like to get the job and then volunteer on the side.  But that’s just me.  And I could go on, as I think I have got it together, but this is enough.  Thanks for provoking thought in your column!  Joan

  2. avatar CatA says:

    Joan – you blazed your own trail and showed that it could be done.  A great example then as now of how important the components of personal initiative and hard work are.  It’s just a shame that successful and powerful women are still often seen more as anomalies (or as too-mannish) rather than as a models to emulate. 
    I am nonplussed at the déjà vu I feel reading this current-day article.  I find the fact that the article’s content mirrors the women’s issues of 35 years ago (glass ceilings, equal pay for equal work, etc.) depressing and wonder about the gains women’s rights have actually made in these many years.  Especially when I see how advertising and the media continue to pander and promote women’s physical appearances and attributes over more noteworthy contributions in politics, science, education, medicine and in the military.  Most depressing of all is the fact that even though more women than ever head up households, the jobs they need to provide for their families continue to go to men under the outdated perspective that a man will always be the family breadwinner.

    Big business with its black-hole greed has sucked the life out of the country.  Cheap off-shore labor and automation means bigger CEO salaries and stockholder profits – it’s always about the money, never about keeping folks employed so they can feed themselves and their families.

    Yes, I’m mad, too.  I’m not in a position to run for office.  But I will continue to encourage the younger generation of women to educate themselves, to always give their best effort, to network, and to vote or run for office, and build a better future for their children.
     

     

  3. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Barbara -  You wrote an interesting article which I found to be just shy of the many feminist toutings of the 1970s.  The one big difference is found is your list of steps … #4 “sit down and have a cup of tea with someone on the other side of the political spectrum so you can start to understand each other and build consensus.”  The protestors of the 60s & 70s did not believe in that particular guideline.  Their consensus was if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem…. which displayed a blantent unwillingness to even hear a point of view different from their own.   Perhaps feminism has now reached maturity which is a good thing.  I know many girls/women of past decades who agreed with most of the goals of the feminist but who were not welcomed in the movement  because they did not agree 100%.  It was all or nothing and many women remained on the sidelines and took up their individual banners to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of their family and leave the greater cause behind.

    I hope the feminists of new century do not make that same mistake.

    • avatar Barbara Hannah Grufferman says:

      Yes, I believe we have all matured, and the younger generation sees the dire need for a final solution to the issue of equality. However, I see a passiveness among women in general that I find troubling, and I hope this article will help to kickstart a new passion for getting what we deserve.
      Thank you for reading and commenting . . .
      Barbara

  4. avatar Lila says:

    On the wars, yes, I am pretty mad about the Libya thing. I don’t see it as any more justified or necessary than intervening in any of the other countries experiencing the so-called “Arab Spring.” Which, no surprise, is turning into something more resembling “Musical Chairs” or “Business as Usual.”

    As for the funds – I was already mad in 2002 with the start of the Iraq War, and the public’s lackadaisical attitude toward it. Their ignorance of the vast expenses, which coupled with simultaneous tax cuts for the rich, have plowed our national budget right into the ground. Bush holds the bag for his decisions, but now – unfortunately – Obama is adding to the mess rather than fixing it.

  5. avatar Lila says:

    Careful on the statistic about women earning 77% of men’s salaries. For a different take see Carrie Lukas’ 12 April 2011 article in the WSJ, titled “There is No Male-Female Wage Gap.”

    Lukas does not come right out and say this, but what any perceived pay gap really seems to boil down to is this: women are the ones who get pregnant. What Lukas does say is: “In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts.” Notice: everyone in that study was single and childless. Unencumbered. Able to give ALL of their attention to their work.

    You yourself note that even as women earn 77% of men’s salaries, there are more single-woman households than ever before, and children are thus pulled into a cycle of poverty. Well, YES. Child care is expensive, and women without partners or other adults to share child care responsibilities have to pay a lot for professional child care while Mommy is at work. This is one reason why I am really, really against the notion that every woman can “do it all.” No, they cannot. There are only 24 hours in a day. Every hour at work is one away from your child, and vice versa.

    As to why there are fewer female execs and senior managers: same issue. Good managers put in long and often unpredictable hours. This is not a good fit for a single parent.

    Parents have to make choices between work and children. Most parents I know put their child first. If the child is the priority, then work cannot be the priority and then it should not be a surprise that they are viewed as less committed to their job than co-workers who are childless, or married with a stay-at-home partner. One of Lukas’ statistics: full-time working women put in 8.01 hours per day compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. A 9% difference.

    Here’s a test, and a statistic I have not seen cited: how do single fathers fare in the workforce? How many of them rise to senior management? How many hours do they work compared with their “unencumbered” counterparts, and how does their salary compare?

    The real issue is not gender, it is parenthood without adequate child care support.

    • avatar KarenR says:

      Hate to say it but often women impede other women in the workplace as much as or even more than men do.

    • avatar Barbara Hannah Grufferman says:

      Excellent overview of the issues . . . thank you so much for posting your comment. Childcare is a huge issue in this country, and I did touch on that in the article. But, even single women are making less than men, so that is still an issue, too
      All the best,
      Barbara

  6. avatar brad berger says:

    Women the majority of Americans are getting paid less for the same jobs as men, they still must break glass ceilings, and they are being violently attacked and assaulted by males at home and at jobs and constantly face men who are bullies. The ERA can be passed by Congress and ratified by the states before the Nov 2012 elections. It is time for women to unite and demand the ERA 11/12 basic Human Rights for American women.

    The ERA (SJ 21) was reintroduced in Congress on Wednesday and not one major media story in a newspaper or other news outlet. This is the most important Human Rights story in the world today and it is ignored. Why hasn’t President Obama called for the immediate passage of the ERA – he has not uttered one word about the ERA shame on him. And why isn’t Leader Pelosi a Cosponsor of the ERA? And why aren’t Leaders Reid and Durbin and Senators Leahy, Boxer, Feinstein and all the other Democrats in the Senate like Kerry and Franken immediate sponsors of the ERA. There should be March on Washington on Sept 17 of 5 million women demanding Congress immediately pass the ERA and vow not to leave Washington until the men in Congress free the ERA from committees and pass the ERA and send it to the states for immediate ratification. It is time for a Civil War of words and deeds by women to insist that Congress pass the ERA. Every member of the House and Senate should be called on immediately before July 4 to add their name as a cosponsor of SJ 21 the ERA. If they do not then the consequences they sow for themselves will become self evident. The time for excuses is over women have waited calmly for over 200 years for their full Human Rights and the bullies can now go to the other side of the issue and await their fait. It is time for all those in Congress to cosponsor the ERA and sign up for democracy before July 4. Let Human Rights for women and the ERA ratification start now.
    Women who have made it in the last 30 years including women in Congress, entertainment, like Oprah, and the media just don’t care about their sisters who make less money, get beaten, sexually harassed and raped on a daily basis. These women must lead the fight in the media with public and monetary for the ERA. That means the women who run this website. You really owe it to the other women.

    • avatar Barbara Hannah Grufferman says:

      Brad, thank you so much for your comment! You are absolutely right!!!! I saw the re-introduction of the ERA on Huffington Post, where I also have a weekly column, and it quickly faded into the background. I would like your permission to use parts of your comments in an upcoming article I’m working on. Let me know.
      Thank you so much for being such a strong supporter of women. I appreciate you!!!!
      All the best,
      Barbara

  7. avatar Babsline says:

    The article is very interesting and mostly correct…………BUT, you insist on ‘private employers’ paying you to have your children, however the men they employ do not have to take time off to give birth!

    Since I am a ‘former SB employer’ I see that as what makes the male worth a few dollars more, to any company! There are other examples but am sure some will already vehemently disagree with this one example.

    AFTER you get to the point in your life of being the BOSS, and OWNING that company…….then, and only then can you set the rules.. This is from a 70 yr. old Mother and grandmother, as well as a former retired Small Business Owner.
    2 seconds ago

  8. avatar sarahlane1 says:

    I contemplated running for office at one point, but had several female elected officials tell me to my face that I shouldn’t do it while my kids were young. However, they were more than happy to fawn all over the young men running for office who conveniently had full-time stay at home wives tending to their children. KarenR is totally right, and Brad is even more right. The women electeds in this country need to do a whole hell of a lot more to elevate the status of women in this country. Sorry, Joan, but younger children aren’t a “problem” – outdated attitudes from men and women alike when it comes to child-rearing are. Congrats, I guess, for being the “only woman” on the board but did you ever mentor a young woman interested running for political office? Perhaps I am wrong, but I suspect not. From Ompower, to Momsrising, to Jezebel and all the other self-congratualtory Fb pages and websites out there, none of what is being done will amount to a hill of beans without intense political and economic pressure to free our country and our world from the vice grip of power hungry men who put individualism before the common good. Mad as Hell? That should be putting it mildly.

  9. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Sarajane –

    The women you talked to when your children were young were correct — and still ARE correct.  If You wanted to get into politics when you were young, then you probably should have had children.  Your responsibility and more than that -LOVE – will pay off big time if you are there to see your children grow.  If you don’t, I almost guarantee trouble if there are absentee parents.  If you think you can do both, you are spreading yourself too thin — and not only the children but the marriage suffers.

    When I ran for office — standing at city train stations, speaking at meetings with no experience, NO ONE “mentored” me.  I did my best – and running for office was much harder than being in office.  (By the way, I have had several political offices and after so many years I am still in yet another office).  The boards and trustees 30 years later are heavily women in high city positions – largely minority women in my large city.  Women – even young women – these days (as different from the time when I was in my 20s) are fully capable of running with little or not help.  We are not babies.  What we need are credentials in “real life” — which means giving of ourselves in volunteer boards, and other largely visible ways of meeting lots of people (even church) and making our names familiar.  In other words, we work our way up the ladder of life.  IF a man or a woman needs help in their quest – no matter where it takes them in life – I help.  What decent person wouldn’t?????   

    What I have never done is gone so far as to jeopardize our family life as – in the end – without that we are alone.  And you won’t understand that until you get there.  I love having my mind challenged — I seem to need it.  But if I had to take one or the other, it is much more rewarding to have my heart warmed by those who love me.  I try to keep work reasonable — with exceptions that do come up — and my family come first. 

  10. avatar sarahlane1 says:

    So by that rational, Sen. Gillibrand of NY is selling her family short? How about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the DNC? What about elected men with small kids? Should they just get a pass? C’mon, Joan. Please recognize that your antiquated attitude in this regard is a huge part of the problem.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Sarah, hard as it is for me to admit – because I think women should be allowed to do anything they are capable of – I agree with Joan, and YES, I think mothers in high-powered or risky careers ARE selling their very young children short… UNLESS they have a stay-at-home partner who can take over the full-time childcare role that mothers usually fill. Male, female, gay, lesbian, full-time nanny, I don’t care, just a competent, stable, loving adult who can BE THERE for the young child.

      My Mom died when I was six. Up to that point, she was the one who got us up, who put our meals in front of us, read to us, who got us to school and was home in the afternoons after school, who helped us with clothes or homework or play or scrapes… she was our full-time parent, our security, our authority, our main source of love. Dad was seen at breakfast and dinner, and his interaction with us was limited to evenings… unless he was stressed or tired… and weekends. We had some happy times with him at the beach or pool, but his presence was VERY limited compared to Mom’s.

      Then, poof. No more Mom, and we were now the very young children of a single working parent. Dad was still seen at breakfast and in the evenings, just as limited as before, because – well – he WORKED for a living. We became latchkey kids. Dad did what he could to fill the void, but a lot of what Mom used to do with us was just… gone. It had a huge impact, especially at such a young age.

      When mothers enter into high-powered careers with unpredictable or very long hours, they are turning themselves into my Dad. Joan is right: an “absentee parent,” at least to some extent. And how much worse it would have been if Dad had been on the campaign trail, gone from home for days or weeks at a time.

      Again, I think women should be allowed to do ANYTHING they are capable of. I was in the military and deployed for months or a year at a time… always with a risk that perhaps, one day, I might not have not come home at all. I chose NOT to inflict my lifestyle on children, and had I ever gotten pregnant, I would have left the military, probably resenting it the whole time, but it would have been my right choice for my child.

      Responsibility is about choices.

  11. avatar sarahlane1 says:

    Lila, I’ll be sure to pass on your view point to my neighbor who just got back from a year in Afghanistan. She is the mother of two young kids. Her husband is also in the military and completed three tours, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, also while his kids were very young. Not being born wealthy, they both chose to go into the military pre-kids in order to pay for college instead of accumulating mountains of debt, and they chose to stay in the reserves so they could afford to save for their kids’ colleges while also working full-time jobs. They have family nearby as well as friends and neighbors who help them out, and I promise you their kids are well cared for and well-adjusted. I’m assuming you sit in judgment of both their parenting choices, or do you reserve judgment just for the mom? And by the way, had you giving up a career you loved in order to have a child you resented, you would have been doing a serious disservice to that child, so thanks for being, um, “responsible.”

    Look, I’m sure you and Joan mean well, but don’t you see how you are both proving my point? Fight for better childcare and elder care options, fight for flexible work schedules, fight for paid maternity and paternity leave such as exists in more civilized countries than ours, but stop fighting women like me who refuse to quietly accept the sexist status quo handed down by previous generations of men and women alike.

    In peace,
    Sarah Lane

    • avatar Lila says:

      I DO mean well. I mean well for the KIDS, who are not allowed to choose.

      I made the best choice within my power for myself and my potential children, based on my own childhood experience. My Dad was something of an absentee parent by fate and it did not go well or easily. There are never guarantees in life, but I did not want to start right down the road of being an absentee parent by choice.

      I know MANY single military parents and dual-career couples with kids, and that is their choice, within their power. Many make it work, but many cannot; I also know MANY military women who had one child, and elected to stay in service; but upon their second pregnancy, left the service. They found it was just too hard to leave their kids all the time, and too hard to face the possibility that they might be setting their children on a path to orphanhood. Routine deployments are hard enough, but when you actually have been under several attacks or several of your friends get killed, and you still have months to go before going home – you begin to seriously worry that you might not see your family again, and then what… of course you have your care plan in place, but you start to think it so inadequate compared to being there yourself…

      And I have known parents who did get killed. IEDs. In the cases I personally know of, there was a civilian wife still there for the kids.

      The military does not allow single custodial parents to join, nor both partners of a married couple with kids in their custody. The intent is to have a parent there for the kids. No, they don’t kick you out for having kids after you join, nor for regaining custody that you had previously surrendered. They DO require a family care plan, which is what your friend put into action in order to deploy to AFG.

      I do not sit in judgment against parents. It is their right to both be absentee parents if they so choose. If they have a good, steady adult to raise the kids and be there for them, FINE, so long as the kids have stability and love. But then the parents are not really the parents, are they? The nanny, or neighbor, or aunt, or grandparent is really the parent. Kids grow up FAST. A year is an eternity to them. So many military toddlers don’t recognize their parents upon return from a year-long deployment. That hurts. Now make a parent, like your friend’s husband, absent for a year three times in his young child’s life. The military recognizes the problems this causes in families; they are making more use of video phone calls home (“morale calls”) and returning soldiers go through pre-reunion counseling to help them adjust back to family life, to expect that changes have occurred, to deal with all they have missed, and understand the reactions of their spouse and kids to their return.

      It’s just my opinion, but I make my choices by it and I stand by it. Others have their opinions and do as they choose. There are consequences for all of our choices.

  12. avatar sarahlane1 says:

    “But then the parents are not really the parents, are they? The nanny, or neighbor, or aunt, or grandparent is really the parent.”

    No, the parent is still the parent, something you might understand if you were one. My neighbor was no less a mother when others were helping her with her kids, just like I’m still the mom when my kids are off at school. As another working mom who raised a wonderful daughter once said, it takes a village. The idea that a woman should either be chained at home 24/7 to care for her kids vs. being childless and working a full-time career is exactly the sort of attitude that has prevented American women from achieving the same type of parity as women in Scandinavia enjoy. Guess which countries ranking the highest on the happiness index?

    But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this outdated way of thinking. As a law student I interned last year at the National Women’s Law Center, supposedly one of the premier organizations fighting for the things I’ve mentioned previously – decent childcare/elder care options, flextime, work/life balance etc. On “paper” they look great, but here’s the reality: the few women working there that have youngish children/ailing parents who ask for a more family-friendly schedule are maybe given one begrudgingly and are often ostracized. The HR director asked for a one-month leave of absence to care for her dying mother and was shown the door.

    It’s no wonder, from NWLC to women like you and Joan, that women have made so little progress in this country.

    • avatar Lila says:

      One more time since you missed it: I think women should be allowed to do ANYTHING they are capable of. But why do you insist on giving women something that men can’t have?

      What happens to fathers who ask for leaves of absence, who work shorter hours, or who drop everything at work to take care of a sick child? Their careers suffer. Is there some reason that women should be given a pass on the very same issue?

      What is the father’s alternative? To make childcare arrangements, and to be an absentee, or at least a less-involved, parent. This has ALWAYS been the case. Now it is the case for women, too. CHOOSE.

      There are only 24 hours in a day. You are either at work or at home or doing something else entirely. Having a career, or what kind of career to have, means deciding how ABSENT you will be. CHOOSE.

      Parents who are more involved with work – to include extended absences – are NECESSARILY less personally involved with their children. No amount of saying it isn’t so, will change that. You are either there, or you are not.

      Duh, yes, they are still parents. They still love their kids. They perhaps do this to provide for their kids. They ensure the kids have good care. But they are ABSENT from their kids’ lives to some degree. And that means someone else is stepping in. (I HOPE someone else is stepping in!)

      I know military parents – mostly Dads – who missed all kinds of important events like first words, first steps, first days of school, numerous birthdays and plays and sports matches, graduations. They feel horrible about it. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the argument played out: “Where were you when I was… ?” “I was working to provide for you, so you could have….!” “Well, I needed you here!” Moms already have the right to do this too, so GO FOR IT. CHOOSE IT. Many have already chosen it.

      I just think children should have a steady, go-to adult in their lives, ie, the GOOD CHILDCARE that you want so much. If women can’t or won’t be the available adult, then PROVIDE ONE – a stay-home Dad, a steady nanny, an arrangement with a neighbor, whatever you CHOOSE – and move on. This good childcare will enable Mom to have her career just like Dad.

      That IS what you say you want. I’m all for it. My posts do NOT advocate keeping women at home, they only point out that if you’re not around, you’re not around. Obvious.

  13. avatar sarahlane1 says:

    Work/life balance, flextime, telecommuting, all this things apply to dads as well. The difference between the US and Scandinavia/Europe is that they address these issues collectively through a tax structure that provides for decent social services (those damn socialists!), as opposed to dumping it all on the mom to figure out. Good childcare, or even mediocre childcare, is extremely expensive in the US.

    Lila, to be frank, I think this exchange has exhausted it’s usefulness. When you become a parent, let me know. Then we perhaps can have a more educated discussion.

  14. avatar Lila says:

    Joan is a parent, so I leave you to her good sense.

  15. avatar sarahlane1 says:

    The lady who said younger children are a problem? No thanks.

  16. avatar clair says:

    Show our children that change is possible