Get to What?

May 7, 2009 § 16 Comments

I purposely photographed this book on my pillow because the pillow is one of  the things I leave every morning, sometimes unwillingly, to hie myself off to work. (You can’t tell it’s my pillow, though because I have big pillow and this is a small book and I had to zoom in on the title a bit.)

And though it’s not hundreds of pages long, the book is pretty intense, with some good and interesting points.  Hirshman is taking up where the venerable Betty Friedan left off. That’s not entirely fair, making her an extension, but it sharpens the point and she does mention Friedan often enough.

Part of Hirshman’s plan: “Don’t study art. Use your education to prepare for a lifetime of work.” “Never quit a job until you have another one. Take work seriously.” “Never know when you’re out of milk. Bargain relentlessly for a just household.”

I mentioned the book to HM several years ago when I read  a sharp review on it.  He surprised me with a copy of it. I had forgotten about it. I am still reading it. I read it in bits. And I reread some bits along the way because I forget her adamance, the reason for it.

I believe she might be correct,  that smart, educated women take themselves or are “taken” out of the job market in order to raise families and we all lack, that is, suffer for not having their acumen, judgment, knowledge, energy in the work world. 

Another of her points: we started a “movement” but didn’t finish it.

t’s often interesting to sit on a different side and take a look at the thing, the object, the item under scrutiny, see how it appears from “over there.”  Sometimes I’m looking for verification of the fact that I do go out there to work but then, I’m a near-empty nester so it’s not the same push-me pull-you that it is for younger mothers.

I haven’t said an awful lot about the book but I haven’t really ever finished it. Sometimes you have a book that you read as you need it or as its topic strikes you on a certain day. 

You might give it a whirl, as you’re standing in the library or bookstore. It will make you feel good about whatever it is that you choose to do.

The thing is, we’re needed everywhere, we moms and wives and girls and individuals and students and smarty-pants.


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§ 16 Responses to Get to What?

  • anno says:

    Sounds like a provocative book. Like you said at the end, though, women are needed everywhere. The problem is, we can only be one place at a time.

  • Alesia says:

    Interesting. I don’t know if the movement was abandoned or if the objectives just keep changing. I do think that the government needs to catch up to the fact that women work now. They’re still functioning under the old “one (male) head of the household” model. There’s damn little support for families with two working parents, let alone single parent families.

    • oh says:

      Good call, Alesia. Oh, yes, the author has plenty to say about electing government who will pay attention to providing for the working mother/parents. She’s pretty strong about this one. You are right on track with pointing out the short shrift on support for two working parents and the single parents.

  • jeanie says:

    That sounds like a fascinating and intriguing book and certainly one from which we could all benefit. It does seem as though for families, in particular, the woman still gets the sharp end of the stick. Maybe better than the 60s… but not what it should be!

  • Arti says:

    Having a job is probably the most valuable asset in this economy. But woe to us who are freelancers, or workers at home, … Sounds like a thought-provoking book. I look forward to your writing more on it. It’s good that you share it with us while still reading it. I’ve always thought of rushing up and finishing a book before I can write about it. Thanks!

    • oh says:

      Arti – These are awesome comments that people are posting. Woe to freelancers or workers at home? You are sooo right. It’s difficult. And how many places do you know, to this day, that engender or allow working from home? As for freelance, well, a lot of us know the amount of time it takes to market the freelance work besides doing it.
      I will see what other topics pop up as I read this “manifesto” which is sometimes an “uncomfortable” read. I’ll keep you up to date!

  • Jeannine says:

    Don’t study art. Use your education to prepare for a lifetime of work. Never quit a job until you have another one. Take work seriously…..
    Really? No thanks.

    • oh says:

      Hi, Jeannine, Well put! Because there are so many reasons that so many of any of us work, it’s odd, if not difficult, to hear Hirshman’s “dictates” on how it’s done or should be approached.
      Don’t study art, she says. Nope, I didn’t study art (not full-time anyway)but I did major in French! Hirshman would be very concerned by that. But, oh,the incredible places it has taken me.

  • shoreacres says:

    Well, well.. You can’t trust the wikis for everything, but I suspect the bio’s pretty accurate:

    “Linda Redlick Hirshman (born April 26, 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio) is a lawyer, feminist, and author of “The Woman’s Guide to Law School” and “Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex.”

    “She is a retired Distinguished professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University. She holds a law degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in philosophy…”

    Even though I haven’t met Ms. Hirshman, I know her. I’ve worked with her, studied with her, been criticized by her and been given the opportunity to be like her. I’ve also rejected her, a number of times.

    Age is important here. She’s two years older than I am. We weren’t in the first wave of feminism, but at the beginning of the second – the era of tokenism. Anyone who made their way through academia and the professional schools in those days had their work cut out for them, and important decisions to make.

    We all made our decisions, and we live with the consequences. I just don’t feel the need to write a book to justify mine 😉

    • oh says:

      I am coming along right behind you, Linda, on the cusp of tokenism and okay-you-girls-made-your-point, the third phase of feminism. Out of fairness to Hirshman, I should put update more of the whys and wherefores of what she says. But I haven’t read any farther since this entry. (ahahaha – in fact, I’m reading a “beacH’ book – oh, she would not like that.) So, I may have more to include later. In the meantimet, it’s good to have discourse on some of these topics. It’s also wonderful to be in a place where I can read this book and so many other books and articles of all sorts and then sift through them to see if there’s anything I want to take from them.

      • shoreacres says:

        I spent most of the day thinking about your post and Ms. Hirshman, trying to understand why my response to her was so visceral and negative.

        Finally, it struck me. After economic and social equality, a proclaimed goal of the women’s movement was to encourage women to choose their own path through life, and provide structures that supported their freedom of choice.

        Ironically, as the movement became increasingly successful, women did begin to choose – and some of their choices weren’t “approved” by movement feminists. There are stories galore to be written about those days, and those days aren’t over.

        It’s worth noting that Ms. Hirschman’s definition of work is fairly precise and narrow, and there are some real value judgments being made. But thinking about all that is for another time – I’m going to go see if there’s still milk in the fridge!

  • litlove says:

    Very interesting! This is a book I need to get hold of. I suspect it of appealing to the inner whip-cracker in women who says Must Do Better, Must Do More. Personally, I think the workplace should change and become less masculine – competitive, uncompassionate, obsessed with people’s visibility. I think the women of the working world should bond together to demand flexible hours, better pay, child-friendly environments. I do really think we’ve done enough bending over backwards as it is. So I must get hold of this to see what she says!

  • Kim L says:

    I haven’t read this one, although I have heard of plenty of controversy about it. An uproar among stay-at-home moms if I remember right. Anyhow, I think women need the freedom to decide what’s best for them and their families. Those who work and those who stay home with kids both have to sacrifice.

  • Care says:

    I’m not sure about this idea… I suppose I would read it and cringe. I like to define ‘work’ as VALUE ADD and sometimes, that work isn’t valued in what they call the ‘workplace’. A bigger topic than I want to fight right now and THAT is likely the crux of the issue.

  • oh says:

    LItlove, I suspect you would read this book and like some many of the excellent reader/responders here would find some of it hiliarious, some of it ho-hum, some a bit inflammatory and some not so new. It’s good to hear from different points of view, and extremists and manifestos get us thinking; but so much depends on personal choice. Thank goodness.

    Kim – You nailed it. Work “out” or work home – there are sacrifices either way. and joy in the freedom to choose. but there are still some “things” needing tweaking (childcare, equal pay, etc.). Onward.

    Care – the workplace is very presently a strange and shakey place in all kinds of ways. I’m glad it is being re-evaluated from all sorts of perspecitves. Very glad to hear from you!

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