Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Both/And

My daughter has both a small child and a demanding career. That is to say, she has two full-time jobs. It isn’t easy juggling her schedule, but she wants to do it, she needs to do it, and she does it well. She lives in a world made possible by the feminist movement, but I don’t think of her as a feminist so much as a mother and a nurse practitioner who struggles every day to balance two roles that define her life. And I am awfully proud of her. So I have followed with interest the flap over the part in Rick Santorum’s 2005 book, It Takes a Family, that says: “Many women . . . find it easier, more ‘professionally’ gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.” The passage goes on to blame “radical feminists” for refusing to acknowledge the equality of work done in the home, and ends up calling for “both fair workplace rules and proper respect for work in the home.”

I think Santorum and his critics have both missed the essential point – for many women the issue is not “either-or”, it is “both-and.” They want – and more often they need – a family and a job, just as men do. And we need what they have to offer on both fronts. So yes, it takes a family. But it also takes a village.

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