I am going to smack the next idiot who tells me that raising her children full time — by which she really means going to Jivamukti classes and pedicure appointments while the nanny babysits — is her feminist choice.
This is how writer Elizabeth Wurtzel begins a piece on TheAtlantic.com entitled titled “1 Percent Wives Are Helping To Kill Feminism And Make The War On Women Possible.”
You know, subtle.
And it goes downhill from there.
I hoped this piece would be tongue-in-cheek, bombastic. But it’s not. It’s serious. She actually appears to be serious when she says that when she meets a Princeton graduate who is a “full-time wife,” she feels “betrayed.” Later in the piece she ridicules ladies, who “having forgotten everything but the lotus position, these women are the reason their husbands think all women are dumb, and I don’t blame them.” Harsh. But the piece de resistence is when Wurtzel writes, “A job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation).” I can hear the seething rage of mothers across the country all the way here in New York City.
All that judgment is, well, what we’ve come to expect when the subject is women, sex, children, and work. She’s not arguing anything new here. Yet the most obnoxious part is when Wurtzel tells us how she would never date a rich guy because she doesn’t want to compromise her integrity. Because to her, the tippy-top-most point of integrity (and mind you, this is a woman who wrote a book about being a drug addict) is paying your own AmEx bill:
[B]ut in the interest of doing what’s right both for me personally and for women generally, I have been strict with myself about earning my keep. For the longest time I would not date anyone who would now be called a one-percenter because money and power are such a potent combination, and if I am going to be bossed around, I don’t want that to be the reason. When it’s come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy. I don’t want everyone to live like me, but I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work.
The thing is Wurtzel does have one valid point: “Who can possibly take feminism seriously when it allows everything, as long as women choose it?” The problem is that she decides to hitch her whole piece on that one valid point. Her complaint is that “feminism has misread its mission of equality as something open to interpretation, as expressive and impressive, not absolute.” By her argument — “Real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own” — equality means being exactly alike, not just being equitable. Yet her definition of equality (“real feminists” are the ones who do paid work outside the home) becomes not feminist when it becomes something a woman is forced to do rather than something she freely chooses.
Dating or even marrying a rich man — let alone a “one-percenter” — is not a problem most of us will ever face. (And to be sure, while a partner’s financial resources can effect the power dynamic in a relationship, Wurtzel is making an awful lot of assumptions of what goes on inside other people’s relationships.) I share as much distaste for, say, the Walton / Hilton / Kardashian / Romney fortune, but my distaste is more about how policy affects their fortune, not how their personal, private life choices should offend me. Why Wurtzel thinks one-half of the one percent — or I guess a bit more, if you include mistresses — are worthy of our attention, period, but especially while discussing the “war on women,” is beyond me. It appeals to class rage, sure. There’s nothing like class rage to get everyone whipped into a frezny.
But let’s be honest. Mostly it’s just this.
Linkbait — (noun), an article written online for the sole purpose of trying to draw traffic.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@theFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.
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