Monday, January 27, 2014

Stay-at-home moms: you don’t owe the world an explanation

Matt Walsh writes:

To stay-at-home moms:
Once, several months ago, I wrote this post about you. It was a simple expression of gratitude for stay-at-home moms, particularly my wife.  Actually, it reads more like a diatribe against people who don't adequately appreciate them, rather than an expression of gratitude.
It got some attention. It was viewed around three million times in two days, in fact.  Thinks Matt Walsh, "Hmm. If I write about this again, maybe I'll get another 3 million views..."
Truth be told, I never intended to be an official spokesman for SAHMS across the nation. You do not require my services, nor am I equipped to provide them. Plenty of you can eloquently defend your vocation, and because you have experience in the arena, you can do so more richly and convincingly than I ever could. This is an appropriate caveat. Good work, Matt.
I’m just a guy who loves his wife and appreciates the sacrifices she makes for the family. That’s really the entirety of my insight into this subject.
So it’s with appropriate hesitancy that I offer just one suggestion to all of you.
Here it is: don’t pay any attention to people like this.
In fact, don’t even click on the link. Then why did you give us the link? It’s a blog post, from a website called Thought Catalogue, entitled, “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.”
It’s about as enlightening as it sounds. The gist: this woman has no kids, she’s never been married, she has zero understanding of what goes into raising children or maintaining a healthy marriage, yet she’s decided to degrade you because, presumably, the poor girl is hard up for cash and needs to get a ton of cheap hits so she can collect on the ad revenue. Says the man who supports himself financially with his blog, and chose to repeat a subject that got him tons of hits last time. Seriously, Matt, sometimes I don't know if you are even trying to have an honest discussion. "She doesn't have any experience raising kids or maintaining a marriage" - that is a valid point. "She's greedy and just trying to make money" - not  a valid point. You don't know what her motivation is, and personal attacks do not constitute an argument. Even if she were just trying to make money (which you presumably are as well), that fact in itself wouldn't invalidate her arguments.
I don’t usually take to reading incoherent, half baked, inflammatory trash [insert requisite troll-comment about how my blog is nothing but incoherent, half baked, inflammatory trash A glimmer of Matt Walsh realizing that personal attacks are a dime a dozen, but so ironically unaware that personal attacks form the basis of many of his posts ] so I wasn’t aware of this “writer” more personal attacks or her site until an hour ago. I only became aware when dozens of my own readers, mostly stay-at-home moms, sent the article to me, asking for my take.
And what is my take? Well, she raises some interesting points and we should all pause for a moment to reflect upon her observations.
Just kidding. She’s an obnoxious cretin begging for attention. Sighhhh. This is exactly the type of attitude that makes productive conversation in this country impossible. Once again, Matt falls back on his traditional "I'm not going to listen to you because you're a stupid doody-head" approach. (By the way, I'm envisioning a Matt Walsh Greatest Hits collection, with a compilation with all of his insults. "She's an obnoxious cretin begging for attention" is track 4.) 
I’m giving it to her, mostly because I’m a hothead and I’m easily baited. At least you have some self-awareness.
But also because my one experience with wading unwittingly into the “Mommy Wars” taught me something. It taught me that our broken, confused society has convinced many stay-at-home moms that they need to justify or apologize for their choice to opt out of the hallowed ”job force” in favor of full-time mothering.  One of my least favorite of all of your non-arguing tactics - emoting tactics, if you will - is your false generalizations about "society" or "progressives." You are implying that society at large would predominately oppose women's choices to be SAHMs. I do not believe that is true. I have not encountered any evidence that is true. What is your evidence, Matt? (A lone blog post, even comments on blog posts, does not count.)
But they don’t.
You don’t. You really, really don’t.
If you read the comments under that ridiculous more emoting, more insulting article, you’ll see women expressing outrage (understandably), but also offering explanations as to why they decided not to outsource their mom-duties. It pained me to see this. You’re raising your kids, it’s as simple as that. You shouldn’t have to give a reason, anymore than you should have to give your reasoning for drinking water or walking on two legs. In some sense it is true that women don't need to explain their choices. However, there are definitely circumstances where it is productive, therapeutic even, for women to discuss these matters with other women. I have taken part in these discussions myself and have found them helpful. When you are struggling with how best to live your life in a way that maximizes your potential as a human being, in a world where the potential of women is generally degraded, it is nice to hear the opinions and experiences of other women. So let us be, Matt.
I think motherhood should be promoted but not fatherhood because ewww diapers, and the institution of the family should be defended, but you do an excellent job of that simply by being moms.
The disrespect for SAHMs stems from ignorance. The only cure for ignorance is truth, and there are two ways to administer a dose of it: you can say it, or you can demonstrate it.
All I do with this blog is say it. As moms – out in the world, against the odds, against the grain, giving of yourself, dedicating your lives to you children — you are demonstrating it. You are living it.
Many of your critics just haven’t done it. They haven’t been in the trenches all day, every day, shaping children into respectable adults, and doing it themselves, by hand, with sweat and tears and heartache. They haven’t sacrificed everything for another person. They don’t know what that is — what it feels like. They don’t know what it’s like to be in charge of another human being’s entire life. All day. Every day. They don’t know what goes into running a house. They’ve never been there. They live in a civilization built by people who put in the sort of work and made the sort of sacrifices that they themselves would never be willing to make. And, in their comfort, in their arrogance, in their brokenness, they mock.
They mock you.
But they don’t know what they’re saying. They just don’t know.  Oh, once again, the ol' "my opponents don't know what they're saying" trick. It never gets old. Except for always.
And what is this argument about, really? Is it better to have a job or take care of your family full time? Is that the controversy? What a twisted point of view we have in this culture. This is what happens when you buy into the notion that mankind, and especially womankind, achieved emancipation through industrialization. Ok, I totally agree with you here. The Industrial Age and the advent of consumerism gave birth to the modern idea of a “job,” and the pinnacle of freedom and self fulfillment is to have one of them. Matt, you are very much on-the-mark here. How long will it last?
Or so we’re told. Ironically, this is a traditionally left-wing point of view what is? the valorization of career? The idea that self-fulfillment comes through a job? I think that pretty clearly cuts across the entire political spectrum, and is quite frankly a little more right-wing, but hating capitalism is also a traditionally left-wing point of view. It is, if you define "left wing" in such a way that it excludes many people that you typically place under that umbrella. The free market is evil, they say nope this is wrong; the idea that capitalism = free market has its origins in early Cold War Era propoganda, but that is neither a traditional nor a useful definition of capitalism; critics of capitalism do not say free markets are evil and often contend that capitalism limits the freedom of the market more than any other economic system, but the ultimate expression of female liberation is to participate in it. Well, this is a VERY good point. For those people who are critical of capitalism and feminist (a tiny minority of the American population, to be sure) it is a problematic idea indeed that female liberation occurs through participation in the system of capitalist exploitation. However, many anti-capitalist feminists are already aware of that, and are capable of discussing the topic in a much more nuanced way than you realize. I have seen such discussions, and I can tell you, Matt, that there are plenty of anti-capitalist feminists who do NOT criticize SAHMs nor think that careerism is the best expression of feminism.
What a dizzying philosophy these people profess. These people are much more thoughtful than you give them credit for. The opponents with whom you dialogue in these posts are imaginary beings that you yourself have conjured up.
And with this philosophy we haven’t just put the cart before the horse, we’ve severed the cart from the horse completely, and now we’re sitting in the cart waiting for it to gallop off into the sunset. Get to the point. The point is, jobs exist as a means to care for your family. Some jobs are meaningful in their own right, but most, when separated from family, serve no great purpose other than as vehicles for personal advancement. Replace the word "family" with "community" and I agree with you.
What’s the point of personal advancement? The answer is either A) to amass wealth and material possessions for your own enjoyment or B) to be in a better position to use your abilities to serve others. Still agreeing with you. Last time it lasted about 2 paragraphs. Let's see how long it takes you to say something rash and uninformed again.
You, stay-at-home moms, are using your abilities to serve others true, and you’re doing it in the most direct, purest way possible: motherhood.
Beyond all of this, the worst thing about trying to convince women that there’s something wrong with “staying home” is that it fools young girls into being ashamed of their feminine instincts.  AHHH. And this is where it all breaks down. Most of the blog post was a somewhat poor exposition of a reasonable point of view, supported by emotionally-driven personal attacks and mischaracterizations of other people's beliefs. Per usual. Now we've just slid into pure, pure sexism (also not out of character for you, unfortunately).  Most girls are not naturally competitive and ambitious AHHHHHH — at least not competitive and ambitious in the sort of way that men tend to be AHHHHH, the sort of way that has always made men into fighters and hunters and conquerors. AHHHHH
Ok. There is so much I could write to disprove the claims in the previous paragraph. One could easily spend 6 years in graduate school reading all of the relevant biological, psychological, sociological, and anthropological studies. Some of the most interesting come from anthropological observations that gendered behavior is culturally specific. What is considered "masculine" and "feminine" behavior varies across cultures, and of course, there is a lot of variation among men and women within cultures. Also, there is the whole biological complexity of sex and gender, which makes it physically impossible for simplistic binary behavioral divisions to exist apart from socialization (and in pretty much every way possible, human variation is much too complex to be accurately described by a fixed set of categories or binaries). In fact, there is no compelling biological evidence that there is any natural basis for "masculine" and "feminine" traits. I am quite familiar with the science because I have read many of the valid studies. 
But all of that is not as relevant to me as one single question: I am competitive; I am logical; I am more practical than sentimental; I am pretty certain I'm better at math than Matt Walsh; and I wouldn't even be surprised if I am physically stronger than him; does this make me any less fundamentally a woman? (Am I more of a man than Matt Walsh?) This is a question I have struggled with my whole life, and has shaped my views on gender more than anything else. If womanhood is defined by a list of traits that have never in any way applied to me, am I not a woman? Do I have to forget about math and logic and let my muscles atrophy to be a proper woman?
Should Matt Walsh be less emotional in his blog posts to be a proper man?
If we answer "no" to these questions - if I am just as much a woman as someone who fits all the stereotypes - then, in reality, these traits do NOT define the essence of womanhood.
It is a very good thing that women are not this way.
Women naturally desire to love others and sacrifice themselves. They care about relationships. They aren’t as concerned with getting ahead as they are with elevating those around them. Barf. This just sounds like a license for men to be selfish and expect women to always do what they want for them.
None of those characteristics will serve you well in many jobs. They won’t help your “career advancement.” They will only make you vulnerable, and put you at the mercy of your less scrupulous competitors. This is why it is dangerous to see “the professional world” as an end in and of itself. OMG! Women can't handle the workplace!
Thank you, Matt Walsh. You are reminding me exactly why some women want to prove themselves in their careers: men like you tell them that they can't.
But you know all of this. Nope, sorry, don't. The people who don’t know probably won’t be convinced by anything I have to say. Probably because your mix of personal insults and unsupported assertions is not compelling to anyone outside of the choir you are preaching to.
Pay no attention to them.  Never listen to people who disagree with you, Keep yourself in an ideological bubble. They don’t deserve to be taken seriously. People who disagree with you are clearly not good people anyway. They are doody-heads.
Besides, you’ve got better things to do with your time. I probably do have better things to do with my time than read and comment on your blog posts... *shame*

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