Monday, November 28, 2005

Elite Women

This Prospect article is quite good. The are many problems with all of the recent "dopey New York Times articles" in part because they emphasize the notion that "elite women" have "choices" and then imagine a phony trend that they're "choosing" to have children.

We all have choices, and we all make those choices subject to various constraints. Even "elite women" who are presumed to have more, if not unlimited, financial resources and more desirable careers to leave behind face other constraints. The "choice" to perhaps leave a career behind in order to have children is not a simple embrace of childrearing over all other things, but simply the most preferred available option.

More flexible and forgiving work environments, great male willingness to participate in household duties, greater availablity of flexible and affordable childcare arrangements, and numerous other things would make raising children more compatible with an elite career would soften up some of the constraints women face. Some of these are cultural, some individual, and some could be improved through better policies.

While I have no firsthand knowledge, it's rather apparent to me that it's goddamn hard to raise a kid when both parents have full time jobs, and it's goddamn difficult, even for relatively affluent people, to raise a kid with one income. I think some of the reason we don't talk about this enough is that in these days of baby and family fetishizing it's somehow taboo to acknowledge that it is, as our great president is fond of saying, hard work.