I was flipping channels the other night when I landed on Scarborough Country on MSNBC. I am not a fan of Joe Scarborough, but this particular show made me sit up and take notice. The title of the story read "Career Women Make Bad Wives?" (--click to watch the chauvinism ensue).
I was transfixed for the 6 minute segment. I looked around. No I had not been transported in time. It WAS 2006. But it sounded like the 1950's. This topic came up because Forbes magazine ran an article written by Michael Noer that stated,
"Recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it."
There is so much wrong I don't know where to begin. Host Joe Scarborough brought on relationship coach April Beyer, Rabbi Shmuley (of TLC's "Shalom in the Home") and Leslie Morgan Steiner, editor of "Mommy Wars" to discuss if career women did in fact, make bad wives.
Leslie Morgan Steiner, helpfully pointed out that the Forbes comment was completely without merit since there was no study to back it up. It was written to attack women who step outside the traditional role associated with "wife" and "mother." Notice how the quote turns women who seek a career into cheaters, and bad mothers. It's just lazy misogyny.
This flies in the face of common sense. Women today don't work because they want an opportunity to get away from the kids (who they apparently hate) and find someone to have an affair with, women work because the economy demands two-income households for most middle-class families. 70 percent of women who have children under 18, HAVE to work to help support the family. Moreover, women can desire a career, and this doesn't make them a slut or bad mother. It just means they feel they have something talent-wise to offer the world, and they want an outlet to express it.
Rabbi Shmuley's comments distressed me as well. He felt that families need to spend more time with their children, connecting, showing love and keeping the romance of marriage alive. Well yes, that's fine and true. But why does that responsibility fall entirely on women?
Why isn't there a 6 minute program on Scarborough Country about how career men are destroying the home? Do you think Forbes would ever print this:
"Career men tend to assume that their office hours exempt them from family housework and chores. They help out less and spend no time nurturing their children. Men with careers are less likely to be interested in their partner's daily activities and therefore are bad communicators."
The presumption that career women make "bad wives" is an interesting one. What makes a "good wife?" Should she always have dinner on the table at 6 pm sharp? Should she never be wearing sweatpants? Always have a patient, kind word for the children? Never "nag" anyone to do housework? And above all, be ready to give a blowjob at a minute's notice?
Cause if that's the "good wife" American men desire, then no wonder career women are failing. If women are working 8 hours a day, just like their husbands, they're bound to get a little snappy when they come home and have to cook, clean, do laundry and put all the romance into the marriage as Rabbi Schumley insinuates.
There is nothing wrong with staying at home and raising a family. For either gender. But relationship "coach," April Beyer also upset me when she said, "There's not a woman alive who'd say, 'I'd rather be at work than in the arms of the man I love or at home on the couch with my children.'"
Sure every person wants a break from work but no one seems to question that it's "natural" for men to work. Isn't it funny that you've heard people say, "men have to get out of the house or they'd go crazy." But it's assumed that women naturally want to be in the home (where they belong, of course). I love my family but I also love my time alone working on furthering my education and career. Women deserve "me time"! They deserve the right to their own goals autonomous of family and husband.
The Forbes article is inexcusable but giving it airtime and actually posing a serious discussion on "career women as bad wives" is just ridiculous.
On a funny note...Turns out there's an entire award designated to modern day chauvinism.
I was not aware of this until recently, but the "Ernie's" are given out to showcase the worst in sexist behavior. The ceremony takes place in Australia but recently made headlines here in the U.S. for awarding Tom Cruise an Ernie for his comment, "I've got Katie tucked away so no one will get to us until my child is born ... [Katie's] life from now on was going to be about being a mother. I'm not giving her the chance to turn into another Nicole."
This year marked the 14th anual Ernies Awards. There is even an award for a woman -- for the remark least helpful to the sisterhood. For example, Australian journalist Bettina Arndt was awarded for her comment that "well educated women don't always make the best mothers."
Other winners this year:
In the judicial category, lawyer Chrisovalantis Papadopoulos won the Ernie for saying a rape was only brief and "at the very bottom of the scale of seriousness," while the political prize went to Australia's Bill Heffernan who criticized his opponent, Labor MP Julia Gillard, for remaining unmarried and childless. "Anyone who chooses to deliberately remain barren ... they've got no idea what life's about," he said.
For more on the Ernies...