Not long ago, Leslie Bennetts, author of an infamous tome warning mothers that failing to work fulltime for the entirety of their lives is sure to leave them eating dog food out of tin cans, feigned shock when at-home moms everywhere took issue with her collection of sad tales.
She complained to WNYC radio of the “angry comments” left on the Today Show’s website after her interview with Ann Curry failed to create a stampede of homemakers returning to the 8-to-5 grind. She objected on the Huffington Post to the “blistering attacks” of the mommy bloggers and their “highly combative sense of indignation,” never noting that some of that indignation may stem from her likening them to “cranky children.” And she grumbled to the Associated Press about e-mailers assuming she was divorced, lonely, and bitter.
In fact, many of my acquaintances who saw a segment of the Today Show I taped with Bennetts last week assumed the same.
The set-up was simple. I was there to discuss my book, Beside Every Successful Man, a how-to guide that shows women (particularly stay-at-home and wannabe stay-at-home moms) how to help their husbands achieve greater career success, thus making the option of an at-home wife more feasible. Bennetts was there to provide balance to my research (though it is worth noting that NBC producers offered no such balance to Bennetts when her book, The Feminine Mistake, was featured the year before.)
While I answered the first question put to us about Sarah Palin (She’s a wonderful example that women have many choices open to us today; we can do the PTA for a spell then go on to the use those same skills in phenomenal ways…), Bennetts declined to respond. “Basham has cherry-picked her divorce statistics,” she bellowed instead. (I hadn’t). “She’s encouraging women to believe in a fairy tale.” (If so, it’s a fairy tale millions of women live every day). “Depending on a husband is a high-stakes gamble!” (It may be something of a gamble, but the odds—that is, statistical evidence—show that if it’s a bet, it’s a reasonably safe one.)
But the biggest beef between Bennetts and I was that while I have no problem with women who choose the lifestyle she has (fulltime career with children), she could spare no flexibility for my decision to help my husband achieve more in his work so that I will be able to opt-out of full-time employment when we have kids. This was not a reflective, civil disagreement, appropriate to morning programming. Bennetts objection to my personal 3-year plan was grim, loud-mouthed, and unrelenting.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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