Linda Hirshman is outraged that so many women persist in devoting themselves to motherhood. These women are simply “letting down the team,” she argues, frustrating the forward march of feminist progress.
In her book, "Get to Work: A Manifesto for the Women of the World," Hirshman expands the arguments she has been making in journal articles and television appearances. As she has made her case before the public, she minces few words.
"I am saying an educated, competent adult's place is in the office," Hirshman told "Good Morning America." In other words, moms who stay at home with their children have given themselves to a calling that no educated or competent adult should desire or accept.
America’s moms responded with an uproar. Hirshman has little to fear from conservative Christian men–it’s the moms she had better look out for.
Her book is packaged like an update of "The Communist Manifesto" by Marx and Engels or as a companion volume to Chairman Mao’s "Little Red Book." There is nothing subtle about her message or her packaging. Just like other social engineers and utopians, Linda Hirshman wants to redefine human experience by sidelining one of humanity’s most central features–the care of mothers for their children.
She acknowledges that most educated women, if given the choice, will choose to give children priority over career. To Hirshman, this is simply unthinkable. These women are letting their sisters down, accepting the menial and mind-numbing work of motherhood over the glorious work of the office, where real life is lived and real women aspire to fulfill their destinies.
The actual work of motherhood disgusts her. After reading the diaries of mothers, she notes: "their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person." Being herself a complicated, educated person, she cannot understand why a woman would, for example, wipe the soiled bottom of her baby. Complicated, educated women just must not do such things, she insists–or they are letting down the team.
She even compared mothers to the “untouchables” of India–a caste consigned to sweep bodily wastes and care for the bodily needs of others.
"Get to Work" will attract attention, of course. The book is so radical and strident in its tone that the media will not be able to resist its allure. Nevertheless, a half-century after the feminist revolution was launched, women simply aren’t buying its message–not if it means that women who love motherhood are “letting down the team.” The persistence of motherhood is a sign that women really do know what they want.