Let's Blame Rich Mommies for the War on Women

mary poppinsGuess who is totally ruining feminism? SAHMs from the top 1 percent, that's who! Writer and lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel says so in The Atlantic: "1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible." OMG, Elizabeth! No, they're not.

Pttthh. Let's not give this tiny group of women so much credit.

Wurtzel makes the case that rich mommies who stay home with the kids are not really working because they're actually just leaving the kids with the nannies while they run off to yoga and their manicures. Fair enough, I'll give her that. But who the hell cares? Why are we even talking about this minuscule collection of women? Let's talk about the rest of us moms -- stay-at-home or not.


Wurtzel says the whole point of feminism "was that women were losing their minds pushing mops and strollers all day without a room or a salary of their own." Fine -- feminism is about economic, professional, political, and intellectual equality. (Although let's not forget that to a large degree, feminism began with wealthy SAHMs, see "American Suffrage Movement.")

But life is complicated, especially for us "regular" people. Some of us get jobs because we have to. Some of us don't get jobs because those jobs just barely cover childcare. Some of us consider parenting intentionally -- even if that means staying home full-time with the kids at great financial sacrifice -- a feminist act.

Wurtzel gives a passing nod to the 99 percent of us with hard choices. But then she makes these logical leaps. If I'm following correctly, they go something like this:

  • Rich women who stay home with their kids are not doing any sort of work whatsoever and are infantile because they're not supporting themselves.
  • The rich men who support these idle women think all women are as stupid and dull as their wives.
  • These are the same men who run everything so no wonder they keep blocking feminism.

Whaat? Like it's rich wives' fault their CEO/Congressman husbands are such jerks! I think she just hates her rich, SAHM friends. She thinks they're boring (they probably are). She thinks they're lazy (hmm). She thinks they matter (but they don't).

But their husbands -- the ones who supposedly think all women are as stupid and idle as their wives -- they are increasingly rubbing elbows with the Sheryl Sandbergs (COO of Facebook, let us not discuss their disappointing IPO here) of the world. Sandberg will be the first to tell you that part of feminism's great gains have been made by convincing men to share the housework. Unpaid housework. Oh wait -- there I go again, talking about working and middle-class people.

"Something becomes a job when you are paid for it." I accept that definition of a job. But work is work, and someone has to do it. Parenting -- teaching babies how to talk, teaching toddlers how to share, teaching children how to pick up their Legos -- may not be a "job" according to Wurtzel's definition, but it's definitely work. But then, I guess you'd actually have to have tried parenting to know that. Good thing The Atlantic had an expert speak to that subject ... oops.

As for feminism, I'll take all the allies I can get. I don't think we're at the point yet where we can be so picky about who the "real" feminists are.

*I never do this but FINE, you're right, bad question. I've revised it.

Do you agree with Wurtzel that being a wealthy stay-at-home mom disqualifies you as a feminist?


Image via d4rr3ll/Flickr

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