Saturday, August 18, 2012

Anne-Marie Slaughter on “having it all” (Stair-Stepping and Priorities)

Another intriguing part of the article is where Dr. Slaughter encourages women to consider stair-stepping careers with peaks and plateaus, but acknowledges the courage that approach takes.  She cites approvingly Governor Chris Christie and Michelle Obama as examples of such stair-stepping to accommodate family and career.

In her article, Dr. Slaughter also notes her own surprise at “coming to grips with what I really wanted.”  She seems genuinely surprised about her own priorities:  “I realized that I didn’t just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home.”  I found this to be a very bizarre part of the article.  She waxes nostalgic about the “simple pleasures of parenting” like it is an embarrassing shock that she would like these things.  Why would it be a shock or embarrassing to want to spend time with one’s family?  Good grief, I would hope that people would not marry and have children unless they enjoyed being in a family.  If you are a spouse and a parent, it would be tragic to not long to be with your partner and children.

In addition to being bizarre, I find this passage really telling.  And it is the primary reason I noted in an early post that I feel rather sorry for Dr. Slaughter. 

This passage from Dr. Slaughter’s article is consistent with the widespread societal attitude that intelligent, professional adults don’t enjoy their families.  The underlying belief appears to be that families are for wimps, religious zealots, the feeble-minded or some other disfavored, low-status group.  Only if you don’t have something better to do with your time would you enjoy family time.  God forbid intelligent, professional adults might actually like to spend time with their kids!  Clearly that would be a sign of sub-par intellect.  What’s next?  Watching the Three Stooges or following NASCAR?  Heaven forbid!  That would be too proletariat. 

Indeed, Dr. Slaughter tells an insightful story about her time as dean when several female assistant professors reprimanded her privately for talking about her children because it did not show the “gravitas that people expect from the dean.”  Dr. Slaughter refused to change and observed, “it is interesting that gravitas and parenthood don’t seem to go together.”  Hmmm.  “Interesting” is not exactly the word I would choose to describe such attitudes.  “Tragic” and “misguided” are more fitting per my world view. 

My Christian faith tells me that God made human beings in his image, and he loves them more than we can fathom.  In particular, God has a special concern for the vulnerable among us.  The Old and New Testaments cite children as an example of a particularly vulnerable, overlooked segment of the human family. 

I find many liberals (or as some call them “cultural elites”) to be a curious bunch.  They profess egalitarianism, but in my experience can be quite snotty if you are not from the Northeast and you don’t have an elite educational pedigree.  They also profess to be concerned about oppressed, marginalized and other unfortunate peoples.  However, many such cultural elites seem to have little regard for children.  I guess they get in the way of high-brow pursuits or something.  However, if one is truly “elite” and one has an educational pedigree, then there should be no threat to be on the same level as people who have not had the same advantages in life. 

Genesis 5:1-2

God created men and women to be like himself. He gave them his blessing and called them human beings.

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