Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Last night, I did something I haven't done in a while: I read for pleasure. And, no, it wasn't a juicy novel or a trashy magazine or a blogger's guide. It was Little Sister's college paper. Wherein she explored Darwin's attitudes on slavery and abolition. And it was good. And she is a smarty pants. And reading the paper made me homesick for feverish intellectual debate and discovery. And oddly, I even found myself missing footnotes.
So, since the babes were napping and I was craving a bit of intellectual back-and-forth, I just stopped by one of my favorite cyberspace haunts - NYT's Motherlode - and jumped into the latest debate/discussion. Today, Belkin, eloquent and straightforward as ever, raises a perennial and perennially provocative question: do we women pay a calculable economic price for becoming mothers? And, to the extent that we do, is this society's problem or ultimately a matter of personal choice?
As you can imagine, things got feisty. And fast.
And as I read all of the comments, I felt my pulse quicken, and the ideas multiplying. I got that old school adrenaline rush that I used to enjoy when riled up in a Yale seminar when I would shoot a sweaty palm up in the air and wait my turn. And though there was no prof there to call on me, I made my comment. I talked about something the other kids in the class seemed to be ignoring (and now that I think about it that something was a bit off topic, but oh well): biology. That, like it or not, men and women are biologically different and that while these differences certainly do not justify the inequities inherent in this modern world, they at least inform them. That we are so quick to point fingers at men and each other and economic systems, but that perhaps it would behoove us to look at our biological roots too.
Anyway, I think my brilliant sister and her well-crafted paper got me thinking. About big ideas. About Darwin. About the fact that I can be both a harried/happy mother and a student of life. About the unrivaled joys of impassioned democratic debate. About the limitless and lingering questions we must continue to ask ourselves and each other.
A few of these questions:
Do you feel like you have paid a price (economic and other) by becoming a mother?
Do you think that anything can be done to level that proverbial playing field? To ensure that men and women reap equal economic rewards for their work? Or is this a pipe dream?
Do you think the gender debate has gotten so loud that it is falling on deaf ears these days?
Do you sometimes want to go back to college like I do?