To the Editor:
It’s a shame that Keith Urbahn spent so much of his editorial piece (“Ivy League to future stay-at-home moms: Don’t bother,” 10/05) ranting for the right of stay-at-home mothers to have the choice to do just that. Because the Yale Women’s Center agrees with him. Perhaps the New York Times article that we have read is in actuality two different pieces, but the significant reason why this article has become such a point of contention for many at Yale and at other elite universities is because it presents the matter of motherhood and career-building as mutually exclusive. The central axiom of feminism is still choice.
We strive for equality, which occurs when all have opportunities, men and women alike, to choose that lifestyle which suits them best. Feminists are not anti-family, nor are they militants who seek to force their points of view on others. Quite the contrary, feminism is for the creation of equilibrium between the sexes by establishing trust and respect for each man and woman who chooses a path in life that is not socially expected or condoned.
With that said, I, as a feminist, have a word for stay-at-home mothers: there is nothing more valuable then a well-read, well-versed and intellectually competent mother raising the next generation. But conflict arises when we state that being a good mother and having a career are mutually exclusive.
We ought to be considering why it is especially difficult for women to do both, if that is their desire, while in nations such as France, 80 percent of women work and in fact families in which both parents are employed have more children. They receive benefits such as free access to day care in all primary school institutions as well as the mother receiving 100 percent of her earnings six weeks before birth and 10 weeks after for the first two children. For the third child her earning increases. This is choice.
Let us also not forget that The New York Times article entirely excluded men from its research. There are men who would choose family over career, yet their voices have been either ignored or silenced by the narrow nature of the article. They who choose the path of fatherhood do not follow tradition or social expectation — should these men be disregarded or even perhaps ridiculed for their differences in viewpoints? Feminism also stands up for the right of men to choose alternative lifestyles.
The writer should have attended the Women’s Center NY Times article discussion on Sept. 30; he would have found that those “self-righteous” feminists were much more in line with his views than he might have expected.
Elizabeth St. Victor ’08
Oct. 5, 2005
The writer is the public relations coordinator for the Yale Women’s Center.