What Women Talk About When Men are not Listening
by Ruth Rosen
During the last week, I’ve had a series of conversations with intellectual, liberal women who, like most of our male friends, companions and husbands, want to restore American democracy, end the war, and free up our nation’s wealth to support the health and well being of our nation’s citizens.
We care about the common good. We believe in a public good. We agree with Michael Tomasky at the America Prospect that Democrats will have to be more than a “collection of aggrieved out-groups,” to use words penned by David Brooks in his New York Times column of April 27. We agree with John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira that, again in Brooks’ words, “the message voters respond to best is notions of shared sacrifice for the common good…people are read for an appeal to citizenship.”
Multiculturalism and identity politics, gloats Brooks, are dead. Fine by me. Gleefully, Brooks announces that “Democrats are purging the last vestiges of the New Left and returning to the older civic liberalism of the 1950s and early 1960s.
But here’s the rub: Notice the years Brooks chooses as the historical moment to which we should return---before American women began demanding the equality that is essential to their citizenship.
In these conversations you men never hear, this is what we discuss: For four decades, working women have poured into the paid labor force. Yet American society has done precious little to restructure the workplace or family life. The result? Working mothers are burdened and exhausted, families are fractured, and children are often neglected. The dirty little secret, we repeatedly tell each other, is that it is both profitable and convenient to our government, business and many men, for women to wear themselves out trying to do the unpaid work of caring for children, the elderly and the social networks of our communities