“The End of Men” by Kat Merry
Should we rejoice? Should we worry? What does this powerful dismissal of a gender mean to female readers? Well, the Museum of Motherhood addressed these questions and more during our Wednesday night telecast on WFNI (Women’s Family Network).
Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men And the Rise of Women was recently featured in a thorough critique written by Jennifer Homans in The New York Times, “A Woman’s Place.” Homans gave her opinion (and often inferred those of other women who have read the book) about Rosin’s confident and controversial claims of today’s crumbling patriarchy compared with the “revolution of feminism” that she believes is occurring right now.
As a newly hired college intern for M.O.M, I have not always been familiar or comfortable with open discussions on feminism, especially on a live streaming network! As a facilitator of the WFNI group discussion, it was crucial for me to familiarize myself with the basic history of feminism and the patriarchy. Reading through the “herstory” of women and their place in society while also learning about the modern-day feminist allowed me to gain knowledge as well as develop my own perspective once the WFNI show began.
Topics covered in our chat centered around the woman in the working environment. Working women, more specifically mothers, have assimilated into the working world beautifully. By assimilation, I do not mean that they are any less skilled or capable to work a 9-5 job. I simply mean that they have defied a “herstory” of having limited job opportunities, giving the female sex the RIGHT to hold a steady job, essentially, of their choosing.
As for me – being a female student about to embark on a hunt for a career – soon I will grasp my diploma, smile for my mother’s camera, and make that symbolic walk across that stage, the other side holding the dreaded question, what now? I believe that everyone who is well-prepared and qualified has an equal shot at any profession.
The concern today is the treatment of women in specific professions once you walk through the door, and even after years of being a part of the workplace you have earned a spot in. It is often difficult to remember that work life and home life often collide with one another. As the mother of two daughters, my mother had her fair share of having to leave work because I had the sniffles or my sister hit her head in gym class. This is life and although I have no experience in the matter, I have learned from my mother and watching visiting mothers here at M.O.M, that you have to rise to the occasion and roll with the punches.
An example of the adversities working mothers face everyday came up in an article by Bridget Crawford, “Bringing Your Kids to Class is Not Professional.” In this piece, Crawford talks about American University professor Adrienne Pine who unfortunately could not find someone to watch her sick child during a 1-hour lecture in one of her classes.
Pine struggled at the beginning of the lecture trying to teach the subject matter to her class while dealing with her restless child. Thanks to help from a teacher aide in the classroom, Pine was able to complete the second half of her lecture with little disruption. Towards the end of the class, however, Pine proceeded to breastfeed her hungry child and finish her lecture. The child quickly fell into a peaceful sleep, but Pine received some negative backlash from students and faculty attacking her decision to bring her “mom-job” into her “real-job.”
Reports were filed under a claim from the faculty manual: “The faculty manual requires professional conduct in the classroom at all times, including a focus on high standards for teaching and respect for students,” (Crawford, 2012 ).
The ripple effect of Pine’s actions did not shock me, but they did give me something to think about when considering the balance of life as a mother and life as a working mother. To all my readers out there, I can’t help but wonder, was this situation truly unprofessional? Do you think Pine was disrespecting her students and her guidelines as a professor by satiating her hungry child? If Pine had simply waited to feed her child until the class was dismissed, would this article by Crawford even exist? If it were a male teacher, feeding his child breast milk from a bottle, would this stir up the same controversy?
These are the kinds of thoughts that women and men must mull over when considering how far women have truly come in the working world. Are we being depicted as career-driven mothers, respected for the hard work we put in at and outside of our workplace? Or do we need to start perfecting our constant balancing act behind the scenes of our work to get the respect we know we deserve?
Rosin’s book The End of Men, along with other research I had collected, guided our discussion on Wednesday, but more importantly, it opened a door for me, as well as other M.O.M staff, for further investigation on the topic of feminism and the modern mother.
There is nothing more powerful than expressing your opinions, raising your voice, and hearing from others. This is what the WFNI is all about, and as I progress with future discussions, I hope to learn more about myself and more about all of you out there! So, stay tuned for our next show, Wednesday October 17 at 4:30pm – On behalf of the Museum of Motherhood, I am Kat Merry, see you next week!
Homans, J. (2012, September 13). A Woman’s Place. In http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/books/review/the-end-of-men-by-hanna-rosin.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1350000127-G946IQvu5zc/dsFfzUxwtg. Retrieved October 1, 2012
Crawford, B. (2012, September 9). Bringing Your Child to Class is Not Professional. In http://www.feministlawprofessors.com/. Retrieved September 17, 2012