A woman needs a career like a fish needs a bicycle.

Though taken out of context, the above title is my favorite Maureen Dowd quote. Yes, Maureen Dowd said that, but when she did, it looked a lot more like this:

If the new ethos is “a woman needs a career like a fish needs a bicycle,” it won’t be healthy.

Are young women rejecting the feminist movement? Maureen Dowd seems to have noticed. She doesn’t appear to like it, but she has definitely noticed. In a surprising way, this is worth the read.

It made me think about how a coworker of mine recently asked me what my ideal job was. I told him that I would someday like to be a stay-at-home mom. His reply dripping with sarcasm: “Oh, that’s a lofty goal.”

I’m not sure there are many goals more lofty than bearing and raising the next generation, but let’s entertain the idea. Working hard at the job I am in now will get me a raise of several dollars per hour in the next two years. That’s pretty cool. Where will I be then? In the same place I am now - an office full of other people who know how to do my job - and a good deal of them know how to do it far better than I. Even if I decided to step up into a management position, there will still be a bunch of people around me who could easily replace me. Though I have never seen my company show anything but value for its employees, the fact I have to face is that in a workplace, I am fairly easily replaceable . If I just didn’t show up to work one day, there might be a little bump in the road when people wonder where I am and why my job wasn’t getting done, but by 8:30 am someone else would be doing it.

The more “lofty” goal, on the other hand, of someday devoting myself to raising my children and caring for my family would indeed make me irreplacable to my future husband and each one of my future children. No one else could do that job like I could. No other woman could love them the way I could. And if one day I just decided not to show up, they wouldn’t go on like nothing ever happened, only briefly giving thought to where I could be. If I did not show up, their worlds would completely stop.

There isn’t a paycheck in the world that could entice me to turn my children over to a stranger I wouldn’t trust with my car who is being paid $7/hr to put up with someone else’s children while I go to an office, spend my time, energy and brainpower doing a job for a company which realistically sees me as fully expendable. Modern feminism has it so very wrong and I am one of the young women Maureen Down writes about who has rejected it. I know that I need a career like a fish needs a bicycle.

9 Responses to “A woman needs a career like a fish needs a bicycle.”

  1. Kelly Says:

    An excellent G.K. Chesterton quote on the topic: “Twenty million young women rose to their feet with the cry ‘We will not be dictated to’, and promptly became stenographers.”

  2. SaintFloyd Says:

    Mom Power!

  3. Simon Says:

    I think you’re missing something important, though, Elle. One great consequence for feminism, even for you, if that you can see your future choice to be a stay-at-home mom as just that: a choice. You have the option now of having a career. The coercive social pressure for you to stay home as dwindled, although it is not completely gone. And now you can say that you have chosen to stay home instead of pursuing a career. And, other women, with different aspirations, don’t have to make the same choice and confine themselves to what they would perceive as an undesirable life of staying at home. Now they have the choice to have a career. And now we have more women in positions of power because of it. And I, for one, think we’re better off with more women in positions of influence.

    So while you voice your objection to feminism, I suggest that we all — including you — are better off now that some of its ideas have been accepted.

  4. Elle Says:

    We are all better off because of feminism? Surely you don’t include the millions of babies who have been dismembered and murdered in their mother’s wombs? Surely you’re not talking about the children who are abandoned on a daily basis to strangers in daycares for the sake of a lifestyle with more material goods? Women have been working throughout history. It’s not a recent innovation.

    Social pressure for parents to sacrifice and actually spend time raising their children is a good thing, Simon. I don’t want to be free from that. I don’t have a problem with women in positions of influence. I happen to think that a woman’s influence is very important. However, it’s not worth it when it is at the expense of her family.

    It seems to me like you’re missing the fact that the position of mother is the most influential position any woman will ever have.

  5. Chaz Says:

    Dowd is playing on a quotation by Gloria Steinem:

    A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

  6. Opie Says:

    I can’t believe that co-worker made that comment. Well, actually I can; what I can’t believe is that feminists say things like that to women like you and then get so frustrated when we don’t blindly accept their ideas.

  7. Simon Says:

    “Surely you don’t include the millions of babies who have been dismembered and murdered in their mother’s wombs? Surely you’re not talking about the children who are abandoned on a daily basis to strangers in daycares for the sake of a lifestyle with more material goods?”

    First, let’s separate out the abortion issue. I was not addressing that at all. Abortion debates predate feminism.

    Second, you’re loading the issue by saying that women “abandon their children to strangers” and by saying that it is for “a lifestyle with more material goods.” My wife has worked while we had children and it was not for money or more material goods. I think you don’t see that many people — men and women — actually find meaning in their lives by engaging in professions through which they use their minds, creativity, etc. And, you’re also missing that not all parents are good parents. Perhaps that is why studies show that children in daycare are as healthy and doing as well in school as children raised by full-time moms. Now I am NOT advocating that moms should not stay home. I am saying that you are loading the dice by saying that women “abandon” their kids for the “sake of material goods

  8. Ste. Em Says:

    Let’s follow with this premise that feminism is good because it gives a woman choise.

    Eve made a choice.

    Therefore what Eve did was good for mankind.

    This is what Gnosticism says, too.

    And that is precisely how Feminist Theology runs with it. In fact that is how feminism in general “validates” the humanity of women. She is fully human *because* she can make a choice. Eventually all sorts of mischief ensues. And, btw, it is feminism which predates abortion. The latter is a product of the former.

    Elle, you are dead straight on. For a good read on how much so, try F. Carolyn Graglia, Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism.

  9. Simon Says:

    Ste Em.

    Nice argument. Eve was a woman who had a choice. She made a bad choice. Therefore, whenever women choose, it is bad. Very convincing.

    And by the way: saying the feminism predated abortion debates doesn’t make it so. Read some history. At the least, there were abortion debates in this country in the 19th century. The kind of feminism you attack did not come about until the latter part of the 20th century.

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