As former Brandeis visiting professor Linda Hirshman puts it in a controversial article in this month's American Prospect magazine: "The real glass ceiling is at home."
For years, most feminists have stressed respect for women's choices.Now comes Hirshman
, saying that "choice feminism" was a mistake.Feminism, she
argues, needs to become more judgmental and tell traditional women that their choices are bad for society (women won't achieve full parity with men when so many voluntarily leave the track that leads to power), and bad for them because the lives they're leading allow too few opportunities for "full human flourishing."With views like that, no wonder Hirshman made conservative pundit Bernard Goldberg's list of "100 people who are screwing up America."Actually, I doubt that she's
having much effect on America; but her
prescription for feminism is screwed up all right. Hirshman
does make some valid points.
solution is no solution at all.
For one, the feminist movement is not a totalitarian regime.It has no power to mobilize women to follow the party line in their personal lives, as Hirshman wants. (Her script includes choosing a husband whose career is least likely to eclipse yours, and having no more than one child until the government coughs up day care.) And, if feminists start disparaging women's "incorrect" choices, women will likely tell them to buzz off.Hirshman's tone is insufferably patronizing: women, she
laments, think they're making free choices and never realize that their lives are shaped by traditional sex roles and by feminism's failure to revolutionize the family.
...In her simplistic analysis, Hirshman ignores the social impact of working women who don't follow a rigid model of success -- those who leave corporate jobs to start businesses or who work in social service jobs.She
also ignores the flexibility of the modern marketplace.