Dear Miss Glass,
I waded into your article expecting to read a silly, condescending, but semi-coherent broadside – as coherent, at least, as a feminist railing against motherhood can be, which isn’t very. My expectations were about as high as an underground parking garage, but even so, you managed to be stupendously disappointing. It was the first time in a long time I can remember pausing at the end of every paragraph to wonder how old the writer was and how many times she’d been dropped on her head as a child and just how many magic markers she’d been sniffing exactly.
I say all that, not in an attempt to score polemical brownie points, but to draw to your attention something of which you may have previously been unaware (although I can’t imagine how). You really do sound like a petulant three-year-old – the kind who would benefit less from a debate than she would from a swift, firm pat on the behind.
I won’t waste much more time or energy in responding to you. Childishness is bleeding out of every word you write, and I have other things to work on. It’s also come to my attention that Matt Walsh has already answered your “challenge” – and you know, I can always trust Walsh to be as bitingly sarcastic as the occasion calls for.
What I’m going to do is answer just one of your questions and then turn the floor over to Chesterton and forget about you altogether.
Your question (and I can just picture the look on your face as you hammered it out): “Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself?”
No, Miss Glass. In all honesty I think she’s superior. But since elaborating on this point would likely draw a bloody deluge of criticism down on my head – and thus distract from the dreck in your article – I’ll settle for pointing out the false premises upon which your question is based. The first is that stay-at-home moms have no work to do; the second is that they don’t take care of themselves.
Now, a stay-at-home mom I am not and never will be. Obviously. But my Mother is one. And of course, we all know that carrying a tiny life inside of you and bringing that life into the world and then loving that life well and nurturing its tender little soul with everything you have – well, we all know that’s just no big deal. Not only has my Mom done nothing special, but by your assertion (I cannot call it reasoning) she’s done absolutely nothing at all.
Also: did I mention I’m the eldest of nine children? My Mother has done “absolutely nothing” nine times over. Poor woman. If only she knew.
But you are partly right when you imply that stay-at-home moms don’t (or won’t) take care of themselves. They are, after all, allowing themselves to be used up, to be spent. They do that because motherhood is sacrifice. I know. I know, because I’ve seen it every day of my life, every second of every minute of every hour of every year I’ve been on this earth – even when I was too young to know what I was seeing.
I was looking at death by living. It’s a beautiful thing, Miss Glass, but it’s a beautiful thing you would never understand. You’re too busy adjusting your tiara in front of the mirror.
And now I give you Chesterton:
Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist.
Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean.
To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?
No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.