In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, children are raised collectively in institutions rather than nurtured by their mothers. In fact, motherhood is frowned upon. I was reminded of this last week, when Kellyanne Conway announced her decision not to accept a White House position in order to be with her children.
Conway had to endure the critical scrutiny of televised panels of women, most of whom, as evidenced by the fact that they were political professionals on television commenting on motherhood and not at home engaging in it, had made a choice different from Conway’s.
A woman? Choosing the welfare of her children rather than her own professional welfare? Is this done anymore? Is it even permissible in our modern age where we talk ad nauseum about the welfare of children but when it comes right down to it don’t want to do what everything—research, common sense, nature—tells us is the best thing for them?
Why is it that the only thing worse in the minds of liberals than working for the Trump administration is not working for it because you want to take care of your children?
Of course most of these critics didn’t come right out and say it this way, perhaps fearing the wrath of the gods of the hearth. And their clear animosity toward Conway’s choice was conditioned by the customary “I’m not saying”s and “Of course there’s nothing wrong with”s, but their antagonism was only thinly veiled.
But Conway’s supporters were not much better. Every reason given for her decision had to be couched in feminist terms. My favorite defense was that she won’t actually be spending most of her time with her children, but will still be helping the Trump administration.
Whew. Won’t her kids be glad for that reprieve?
So low does our culture esteem the nobility of motherhood that any woman choosing her children over a career is put automatically on the defensive.
It is an interesting phenomenon of cultural history that feminists, whom one would have presumed would have based their movement on the superiority of the things women have always thought were most important (like motherhood), not only did not assert the superiority of the feminine, but completely abandoned it. Instead they based their movement on the idea that what men always thought important (like careers) were the really important things after all. In fact, no one seems to have noticed that the entire feminist movement was a wholesale surrender of women’s priorities to those of men.
Well, at least one person noticed. It was G. K. Chesterton who pointed out that the feminist movement began when “ten thousand women marched through the streets shouting, ‘We will not be dictated to,’ and went off and became stenographers.”
I wonder what the reaction would be if someone simply said, “Conway did exactly the right thing. The best thing for both her and her children would be for her to be there for them every day. A job, even as prestigious as one in the White House, is great, but no job, however great, is as great as raising your own children yourself.”
And, no, fathers are not just as good as mothers when it comes to the nurture and daily care of children. And if you are so disconnected with the reality of human nature and the workings of everyday life that you really think that’s true, then maybe you should get on with your local college’s family studies program where there are people (many of whom have no children themselves) who cherish such delusions.
The trouble with the discussion about whether women should stay at home or hire a nanny is that, by definition, the only people who can get on television and comment on it are people who can afford nannies.
We can all talk about the plight of women who can’t afford to stay home with their children for financial reasons, but when one who can afford it decides that that’s what she’s going to do, she shouldn’t be persecuted for it.