December 1, 2015

Check out the highest-rated comment on this WaPo column, "The American Dream? I thought so, until I had a baby and no maternity leave."

"Just another first world, entitled diatribe. What??? You had to cut cable and drive an older car and only eat out once a week? The horrors!!! It sure is terrible that we live in a country where you couldn't get months of taxpayer funded maternity leave to be with a child you chose to have while still eating out, watching HBO, and buying a new car."

The author of the column is Carrie Visintainer, who is identified as the author of a book makes the commenter seem all the more right: "Wild Mama: One Woman’s Quest to Live Her Best Life, Escape Traditional Parenthood, and Travel the World."

Funny, just this morning, we were talking about how nobody says "live your best life" anymore. Ah, and suddenly I remember that I only just learned that phrase a couple months ago when everyone was talking about the pizza rat. At the time, I said:
Would you have had the presence of mind not just to photograph a sudden encounter of a beast at his best, but to speak to him, to speak words of wisdom?

Ah, but "Live your best life" seems to be an entire franchise of pop culture wisdom. I'm a little sad to see that. It seems to be Oprah-connected in ways I am not willing to explore....

48 comments:

n.n said...

There's always husband and father to pick up the slack.

Oh. Damn you Mother Nature! Curse the matriarchy.

Sebastian said...

"Funny, just this morning, we were talking about" -- how the world is organized by (mostly white) men for the benefit of (mostly white) women. Judging by the bitching, we have a ways to go, fellows.

For once, I'd like to see a rational analysis of ma/paternity leave -- as in, what is the value of the benefits, who receives them, and who pays. If companies are required to provide it, how much will incomes decline -- that sort of thing. Cost and benefits, as opposed to benefits and more benefits.

Monkeyboy said...

A certain subset of neurotic upper-class white women convinced themselves that they could "have it all" (just like men) and then decided that the reason they can't is because patriarchy and not because no one can have it all and being an adult means sacrifice.

Maternal Leave so she doesn't have to make a sacrifice.
Mandatory Family Leave so the Father that did make a sacrifice isn't being paid more for working more.

Henry said...

The author wants a redemption story without committing any sin. Consider this graf:

I hated dropping him off, not because I didn’t value the time away from him, but because now my job didn’t feel satisfying enough to warrant either the burdensome cost of child care, or being away from my child.

My emphasis. If she had drilled into this thought, the author might actually have explored something real. Instead, she's turned the profound act of becoming a mother into a bassinet of boilerplate.

Brando said...

They had a good article in the Post this morning about how everyone in DC thought it was a great idea to require private (not federal govt, of course) employers to provide paid maternity leave, but when asked if employee salaries should be tapped to pay for it the numbers went way down. As if it didn't occur to them that that's how these benefits are paid for! They must have hoped the "money tree" was going to cover this.

Freeman Hunt said...

The person saying "Live your best life" to the rat created a perfect moment in the universe. There is no better comment that could have been made. It is an apex commenting moment. "Live your best life," I say to the person who said, "Live your best life" to the rat.

n.n said...

Sebastian:

That's easy. Maternity leave or the baby is aborted or never conceived.

It's the least we can do for women who selflessly lend their bodies for Posterity.

Also, will a "maternity leave" position be a temporary position?

We live in interesting times.

Char Char Binks said...

She had a right to an abortion, and she made her choice.

n.n said...

The good husband, father, and man does not "have it all". That's a tale told by a self-interested party devoid of reality. Everyone must compromise at different times to different degrees. The popular culture has been complicit in propagating the "Peter Pan" fantasy to the detriment of society, relationships, family, and babies.

tim in vermont said...

I have made this comment before, so forgive me for repeating it.

"Even Conan must be weary of the 'lamentations of the women' by now."

eric said...

My wife has been on maternity leave for 15 years now.

Make your choice.

Ann Althouse said...

If you give women maternity leave beyond the period of physical recovery of the mother's body from childbirth, you have to give men the same thing. That's a lot of time off for men, considering how they can father children even when quite old. What about fairness to the other workers who are expected to cover or to the people who will only get temporary jobs because the person taking time off will have to be allowed back.

But on the other hand, if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing. Sorry for the eugenics though. Forget that.

Thorley Winston said...

A certain subset of neurotic upper-class white women convinced themselves that they could "have it all" (just like men) and then decided that the reason they can't is because patriarchy and not because no one can have it all and being an adult means sacrifice.

They actually addressed something similar on Supergirl a couple of weeks ago. Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart) explained to Kara how it was that she was a successful businesswoman and a mother. Basically she picked one, mastered it and then moved on to the other. Her message was that while it was possible to have it all, you can’t have it all at once.

Meade said...

Live Free Or Diatribe.

Skeptical Voter said...

Our host writes of maternity leave--beyond the time for physical recovery of the woman's body from childbirth---and says "you have to give men the same thing". to which I say, "Why?" To paraphrase another of her recent themes about "more expensive to have a woman's body", is it not possible that lack of paternity leave is just part of the "expense" of having a man's body?

I'm ambivalent about lengthy maternity leaves--although I've seen them in action in the case of my younger daughter. She lives and works in England, and is employed by an international consulting firm. The firm's policy gives women up to a year's maternity leave--a good part of that leave is at full pay, and toward the end of the leave it's reduced to half pay. While consulting work by its nature tends to involve a series of relatively short assignments for one client or another, I do think that women take a career hit by opting for maternity leave. That said, I'm glad she took the leave to spend time with the grandchild.

Coming from a different generation/tradition, my wife took a 17 year maternity leave after the first of our two daughters was born. The younger daughter was and is an ardent women's libber, but at age 15 or so she was irate that Mom was going back to work. She wanted her mother home when she got home from school.

damikesc said...

"Selfish bitch whines a lot" would probably be a more honest headline.

Feminists never seemed to realize that men were never able to have it all, either. Men had to sacrifice a shit ton for decades for their families and feminists didn't give a shit. They condemned men.

Which is why a lot of men stopped trying.

But on the other hand, if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing. Sorry for the eugenics though. Forget that.

We do not need more highly COLLEGE educated women. Or men. College is a virus. And women get maternity leave as is. Almost the entire "wage gap" is explained by that amongst full-time women.

I'd rather have women and men with common sense over bullshit book smarts that don't mean a damned thing in the real world.

Brando said...

I don't have a problem with someone trying to "have it all" and lamenting when it doesn't quite work out--we should all strive for what we want and disappointment when we fall short is natural. Motherhood and career are each hard enough on their own, and trying to minimize sacrifices is admirable.

Where I get eye-rolly is where the "we should do something about this" crowd pops in with brilliant ideas like mandatory paid leave (which means your sacrifice actually gets borne by your childless co-workers, or child-having co-workers who don't need to take the leave) or other such "free" goodies. We're going to hear a lot about that in next year's campaign, and be sure that anyone challenging the notion will be on the wrong side of the war on women.

Ken B said...

"If you give women maternity leave beyond the period of physical recovery of the mother's body from childbirth, you have to give men the same thing"
That depends on whether you want have more women raising kids at home than men.

Sebastian said...

"If you give women maternity leave beyond the period of physical recovery of the mother's body from childbirth, you have to give men the same thing." -- So what to do if men don't want this "gift"? Will they get the time off in salary? It's the feminist thing to do, since it makes the sexes equal and everything.

"What about fairness to the other workers who are expected to cover or to the people who will only get temporary jobs because the person taking time off will have to be allowed back." -- Who cares about "fairness" when the most vocal white female professionals get what they want?

"But on the other hand, if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing." -- I know you don't want to go there, but by the same token and the same logic, I take it if "you" want less competent, educated, rational women to produce less offspring, "you" might want to raise the burdens -- though presumably they would affect the less "rational" women less. Anyway, I look forward to UW law profs designing a maternity leave policy with a competence clause.

Todd said...

Monkeyboy said...

A certain subset of neurotic upper-class white women convinced themselves that they could "have it all" (just like men)...

12/1/15, 1:53 PM


And therein is the heart of the lie. The women that say that "think" men have it all. All the while ignoring all of the sacrifices and choices men make that results in the lives they have. They don't see the men going to work early and leaving work late. They don't see men taking jobs they hate in order to earn the income the want or need to support themselves and their families. They don't see men losing out on spending time with the wife and the kids because of work and chores that don't get done if they don't do them. They don't see any of these things and many more because many (most?) men act like men and don't bitch and moan constantly about their "issues" because they are too busy doing what has to get done. Also, most men understand they are where they are and are doing what they are doing as a result of the choices that they have made throughout their lives whereas many, many women simply want the freedom to choose without any of the responsibility of having to worry about the consequences of those choices.

In fact, there is a "new breed" of men that have apparently decided that they want to "have it all" and have begun to act like women and are saying screw the consequences to the choices they make. They will get a hard lesson in life when they discover that life is much less accommodating to the whims of men.

Brando said...

"But on the other hand, if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing."

You could get the same effect by cutting back on subsidies for incompetent, uneducated irrational women who produce offspring. Why must everything be a race to hand out more goodies, instead of letting individuals reap more of the effects of their own choices and efforts?

Freeman Hunt said...

But on the other hand, if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing.

The highly competent, educated, rational women are the least affected by these policies. (As the article shows. The highly competent, educated woman rationally works out a good plan for her family.)

Larry J said...

The only time I've ever heard about men being able to "have it all" was in a Michelob beer commercial about 30 years ago.

rehajm said...

If you give women maternity leave beyond the period of physical recovery of the mother's body from childbirth, you have to give men the same thing.

This mischaracterizes the 'same thing'. Providing men the woman's imperative is not the 'same thing'. The 'same thing' would be to provide men economic freedom and leave time to indulge in their biological imperative.

SGT Ted said...

Female entitlement on parade.

Birches said...

You had to cut cable and drive an older car and only eat out once a week? The horrors!!!

I stay home. This is our default. Spouse finally got an iphone (it was provided through work). I consider it a small trade off, but apparently raising your children should require no sacrifice.

ALP said...

Hands down the best comment on that thread on WaPo:

danaman
1:00 PM PST
Here's one for the author: when your babysitter/child care person, barista, etc. have a baby, pay them for X months for not doing any work.

When the expense comes out of your own pocket, clarity arrives quickly.

Gabriel said...

@Ann:What about fairness to the other workers who are expected to cover or to the people who will only get temporary jobs because the person taking time off will have to be allowed back.

This is not the real issue. This is not why family leave is controversial.

It is because men don't have to take as much time off that men acquire responsibility and experience--and the promotions and compensation that follow--that is more than a woman doing the same job, who took family leave, can acquire.

This is not unfairness so much as physics. The person who IS at work is contributing to the company in a way that the person who is NOT at work cannot, doesn't matter the gender.

Since it is physically impossible to award women who took leave experience and responsibility during the time of their absence--they are not the persons that these things happened to--the "fair" solution, as always, must be to confiscate something from men.

Todd Roberson said...

A lot of good ideas here, both pro and con for maternity leave.

Here's an idea; just throwing it out there:

How about we let individual companies and employees decide what's best for them and their situation? And then make choices accordingly.

I know ... nuts ...

Todd Roberson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

As a single person, I don't see why I should be forced to subsidize her reproductive choices. All this kind of stuff needs to be planned out before you have a kid.

Hagar said...

The "men having it all" would be the Black fathers not sticking around as all the pundits say they should?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...But on the other hand, if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing.

"Educated" I'll give you, Professor, but citation needed as to "highly competent" and even "rational." Why would we assume that (at the margin) it'd be highly competent people who were more likely to take advantage of paid leave benefits?

Bounded rationality, if present, would suggest that the woman in question would choose the available path that she believes will benefit her the most at the least cost. If staying home with the kid is actually move valuable to her than having cable, etc, then she'll make that choice--thus the pushback from the article's commenters pointing out that she's not really discussing (in her case) a change that would make a different choice POSSIBLE, she's simply arguing that a given choice should be LESS EXPENSIVE to her. Only to her, of course, since someone else has to pay for it. From the description she is able to make the choice she says she favors but only at a given cost (a cost she can "afford"), but is complaining that the cost is higher than she wants it to be.

Well no shit, lady. I want all of my costs to be lower. We all want that! I want the price people pay for the things I sell to be high and the cost I pay for the things I buy to be low. That's true in monetary terms, and it's true in nonmonetary terms, too.

There are meaningful discussions to be had about the total cost of childbearing (and rearing), why that cost is higher now, and so on. Simply dressing up the idea that "I want the things I want to buy (and choices I want to make) to be cheaper" doesn't do much to help us have those discussions, though.

JCC said...

"if you want highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring, you might want to lift the burdens so that more of these women will take on childbearing."

Sorry to add to the beatdown, but that really is a sad commentary. Are you suggesting that those women who chose to stay home and become full time parents are any less competent, educated or rational? I would opine that they are, in fact, probably more so that those who decide they can somehow work part-time and parent part-time and be as successful at either.

And what others said, like Todd et al.



Bay Area Guy said...

Never in the history of humanity have we seen so many educated people, so irretrievably stupid. You almost have to break it down to them, as you would a child

Memo to the female author, Carrie Vistainer:

To properly raise a child, there must be: (a) a breadwinner and (b) a caregiver.

Traditionally, the husband/father was the breadwinner, and the Wife/mother the caregiver.

That's probably how you were raised.

In the 1960s, young women were taught by feminists that they "needed a man, like a fish needs a bicycle." This was very bad advice. It's extremely hard to be both (a) and (b). It's also very hard on the child.

Now, if the parent is rich via the Lotto or inheritance, than Yes, it's much easier. You don't need (a). Also, you can hire a nanny to perform (b). Heck, you can adopt 13 kids, under this system (see, Pitt, Brad & Jolie, Angelina).

Abundance of $$ generally solves most problems.

But, female author, if you're just a working stiff, like the rest of the world, then, Yes, properly raising a child is pretty darn tough -- even if you are fortunate to have a good husband, and you apparently do.

Bringing a baby to work, though, is kinda stupid. It's hard to focus on your job, right? You're probably not as productive as those who work without bringing a baby to the office, right?

Any questions?

The Cracker Emcee said...

The chances it affects me are astronomically low.

hawkeyedjb said...

"How about we let individual companies and employees decide what's best for them and their situation?"

Yes. The woman who wrote the article could have negotiated this upfront - I'll work for $10k/year less if you give me 3 months leave for each baby. Or $20k less for 6 months, whatever. But there's this dream that time off can just be given, and it won't come out of anybody's paycheck. In more socialist ("advanced") countries, these benefits come out of every paycheck in the form of taxes.

In the end, you're paid based on your productivity and your value to the employer, and nothing else. If you want the government to rearrange the form of your compensation, that doesn't seem particularly advanced. It just means you want to pretend your time off is coming at no expense. Hah! It's coming at your expense.

Bay Area Guy said...

The Feminist Left (somewhat redundant) is all bolloxed up over the work/Mother thing.

It's almost impossible to do both simultaneously. And, if you can, it's almost impossible to do both well.

Here's a clue -- try to attract a good man. Marry him, before you have kids. Support him, while he works hard. Once you have kids, raise them properly. Once the kids are old enough, then see about going back to work.

Or, try a part-time gig while you are raising kids, if you truly need the money.

Talking to Leftists reminds me of talking to my children.

Anonymous said...

The chances it affects me are astronomically low.

Are you sure they're not abysmally high?

iowan2 said...

We, made decisions, for us. All of us. No sacrifices. Mom stayed home with the kids. We gained not lost.

Unless you're measuring gain or sacrifice by dollars. But, that's not how we measure.

Crazy Jane said...

NOBODY gets it all.

The companies that are offering multi-month paid maternity and paternity leaves want to retain those employees at any cost. Not all these employees will be as valuable ten years from now, and then reality will set in.

Most "everyday people" will have faced this tradeoff earlier and not be so shocked.

Government employment already is the soft hammock of the work world; these people -- from postal workers to university professors too "busy" doing "research" to teach students -- are disconnected from reality.

Two points to keep in mind:

1) You're only as happy as your unhappiest child.
2) Nobody wants "I wish I'd spent more time at the office" etched on his/her tombstone.

Eric said...

Talking to Leftists reminds me of talking to my children.

Oh it is, in the same way that your kids expect you to foot the bill when they do something stupid.

Chris N said...

Me and my better half read this aloud, and came to suspect that no working adult can be this moronic.

It's not satire, rather more likely a certain writing style (victimhood 101) turned up for dramatic effect, partly to self-promote.

Mommy-blogging meets Euro-socialist wannabe meets possibly depressed woman who shouldn't be exposing her life and trying to make some scratch.

If it's not too early, I hereby nominate her for the 2015 Golden Diaper Awards.

Gahrie said...

Good Christ, Let's just cut every woman a check for $100 grand every year. That pays for their birth control, tampons, dry cleaning bills etc. No woman has to work anymore...and if they chose to work anyway, they have to live by exactly the same rules the men do.

Give them a $50 grand bonus for every live birth, and an extra $10 grand a year for each kid they raise.

Give them $20 grand when they get married the first time (and not any subsequent marriages) and $2 grand a year every year they stay married.

jaydub said...

The author wrote: "As I wrote down our income and expenses, I thought about how ridiculous it seemed to be doing this — how the United States is the only first-world country that doesn’t have a national law mandating paid time off for new parents."

Here's what the law here in the first-world country of Spain acutally says: "Maternity leave for a woman will last 16 uninterrupted weeks, which may be extended by two weeks for multiple births for each child from the second child onward. This period may be taken at the discretion of the person concerned, provided that six weeks fall immediately subsequent to the birth. Irrespective of this obligatory post-birth time off for the mother, if both parents work, the mother may opt for the father to take a specific uninterrupted portion of the leave subsequent to the birth." Notice it is one or the other, not both parents. Also, after the leave of absence following childbirth, "Workers are entitled to a reduction of their working time, with a proportional reduction in wages, if they are directly responsible for a child under six years of age." In other words, they can work part time.

What actually occurs is totally dependent on the new parents' employment situation. Small shop keepers, sole proprietors, consultants, maids, gardners, owner/operators, etc do not take maternity leave because they would have to shutter their businesses or would lose their customers; so, for many people there is a large disconnect between what is autorized/required and what is possible. Same is true for mandated working hours, time off, holidays, etc. What often happens is the extended family steps in to provide the child care - usually grand parents, but maybe unemployed relatives, etc - or the new mother takes the baby to her place of work. Thanks in large part to Spain's formerly wildly generous social benefits and the current merely generous social benefits, the unemployment rate is 23% (around 50% for young people,) and many people have become free-agent entrepreneurs out of necessity. Libs would be well served to finally grasp that there ain't no free lunch and to quit citing the "rest of the first world," particularly Europe, as reason for doing something in the US. Except for government employees and large companies that can distribute the cost invisibly among a large number of employees, no employer can afford the types of benefits libs demand, no matter how noble the intentions. BTW, a Spanish mother would laugh at the author's description of her breastfeeding difficulties in the work place - here the mother does it where ever she happens to be at the time, and no one thinks twice about it. In the US it's a big deal primarily because women choose to make it a big deal.

The Gold Digger said...

highly competent, educated, rational women to produce offspring

None of my grandparents went past 8th grade. Yet they managed to produce three very successful small businessmen/women, an ESL teacher, an optometrist, and a commercial airline pilot.

My mother was a stay at home mom who dropped out of UW-Eau Claire, to which she had a full scholarship, to get married. She and my dad produced a neonatal nurse practitioner, an architect, and an MBA.

Formal education is not required to be a good parent.

Anthony said...

That's a lot of time off for men, considering how they can father children even when quite old.

No, it's not. Men overall and women overall will be eligible for the same number of periods of parental leave. Men week just have a different distribution of use, both in the number of times each man gets to use the leave, and the ages they do.

R.C. said...

The problem with these entitled women is that they covet.

They covet the jet-setting lifestyle. They covet the nice restaurant meals. They covet everything just-so. They covet the experience of being romanced, the experience of being in love, the experience of being independent, the experience of being powerful, the experience of being cerebral, the experience of being beautiful, the experience of being sexy, the experience of being liked by all. They covet all of that.

"And how do we begin to covet, Clarice?"

We begin by coveting what we see every day.

Where do these women see this, every day?

In television and movies, that's where.

Ever notice how the friends of "Friends" had a gigantic, $20K-per-month apartment in the city, and barely ever showed signs of having jobs, obligations, or crushing unsolvable long-term problems?

It's an old observation, but it needs reiterating: Television and Movies are, for our culture, what the fireside oral traditions of prehistoric tribes were: They form our worldview, our expectations of what life is like.

As your tribe sits whittling their spears, the first fireside story told about the depredations of the contemptible-but-scary tribe on the other side of the mountain can be written off as an anecdote. But if the children of your tribe never hear anything but variations on that theme, their expectations of what life is like are molded by those stories. You can raise a whole generation of delightful children with genocidal tendencies that way (just ask the producers of Palestinian television).

But that's not the kind of thing watched by the women of the post-Christian West.

What is?

Isn't it story after story in which the protagonist, with whom all female viewers are intended to identify, encounters the wealthy and exciting and urbane and finds her place among them, and never is burdened by an elderly aunt in Oklahoma or a bad case of eczema?

In pre-20th century life, you could only covet the life of the top 1% by working in the household...at which point, you could probably also see the problems.

But with a culture informed by television and movies, what you see every day is exciting young good-looking people with few hassles and exciting romances, endlessly cycling through the courtship phase of love.

And we begin to covet what we see every day.