Thursday, September 22, 2005

Working/Not working

Lots of people have written about the NY Times article that discusses how many female Ivy League grads are planning to stay at home instead of work. People have come at it from different angles--the class angle, the gender angle, the really bad journalism angle. I think all of those apply. Only a certain class of people can comfortably say, "I won't need to work." For lots of complicated reasons, the burden of balancing work and family life falls to the woman, and the article does little to support the claims made or spread a wider net (are female State School grads going to stay at home?).

I posted a little of my reaction to my class blog, hoping that a group of smart women at an all women's college would have something to say. So far, not much. I'm hoping they will after class today.

I am conflicted about my reaction. On the one hand, I'm a little jealous. I'd love to have the "choice" To me, choice is such a loaded word. Choices aren't made in a vacuum. Circumstances change, choices change, options change. I'd like to say that the choices I've made were well-thought-out decisions, but many of them were reactions to circumstances. I first started working to put Mr. Geeky through grad school a little more comfortably than our combined Teaching Assistant salaries could. I took a year off and hated it, went back to school, loved it. Took a full time job again for financial reasons. Mostly reactionary. Oh, sure, when I was in college, I made plans. I was going to be a poet, never get married, and never have children. Even after having a boyfriend that I thought I could marry, I didn't think I wanted children (because we were artists; artists don't have children). Then I fell in love and I wanted children. And then you have to pay for the children.

The article makes me angry at some kind of gut level that I don't think I have the words for, though many of the other bloggers who've written about it have tapped into that anger. I think at the heart of it, I recognize, sadly, that women are still considered second class citizens, even by other women, even by themselves.