Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World by Linda R. Hirshman. I mean edited, not written.

I read many of the popular economics books irrespective of topic. Ostensibly, Hirshman presents the case that the “choice” of university-educated women to drop out of the workforce and have kids, essentially unassisted by their husbands, has unintended consequences: It reduces those women’s income and takes them out of the running for positions as Leaders of Tomorrow. Her claimed solutions involve having only one child (not clearly explained) and insisting that husbands take over their half of childcare and housework. She destroys the common blandishment that two working parents couldn’t possibly afford all-day childcare. There are costs, she says, to infantilizing yourself by raising infants, and costs to studying art history in university. Actual costs.

Most amusingly, Hirshman looks up Ph.D.s and other overachievers and finds nearly all of them have dropped out to have kids. Actually, it might have been all of them, though I’m not too sure.


It was a struggle to understand this tiny book – at 92 principal pages, it is an elongated magazine article or blog post. (Hirshman has a Flash site I won’t link to that’s stuffed with these keywords: mommy wars, stay at home moms, working mothers, feminism, choice feminism, values, taxing women, flourishing lives, glass ceiling, housework, urban baby, feminist philosophy, personal is political.) The book is typeset, not very well, in Adobe Garamond. (Except for that one line on one page that switched fonts.)

Can you understand this paragraph?

“If I work at a smaller firm, I still have to put in 50 or 60 hours a week, occasional nights and weekends, and my salary will once again be eaten up by childcare.” (This is obviously absurd: A lawyer in private practice working fifty hours a week makes more than any nanny except Mary Poppins.) Socially privileged women and just regular folks. Highly educated and the whole American female workforce. All the data reflect that women are tied to the household today in a way that rebuts every expectation of the feminist movement.

To hear Hirshman tell it, she gets a lot of bad press. I mailed her a question about the editing of her book and received the following top-posted response: “This E-mail seems oddly overwrought. I can only assume that the objection must be to content. Further messages will be sent to junk mail.” I take this as proof Hirshman has never met an editor, even during the preparation of her book. (Wendy Wolf was her acknowledged editor. What was the extent of Wolf’s involvement? Taking lunch?)

If Hirshman objects to her reputation as a total bitch, maybe she shouldn’t act like one. That has a cost too.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.07.27 12:14. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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