November 16, 2006

Opt-Out Revolution Writer Finally Pays Attention, Still Misses Point

It was like the Mommy War equivalent of shooting Archduke Ferdinand. A 2003 NY Times Magazine article about "The Opt-Out Revolution," where some MBA wives with MBA husbands decided not to go back to work after having kids, set off a storm of discussion, criticism, and research about the challenges women face with work-life balance.

Now, after three years of being told she was either wrong or unhelpful to the cause of women's rights, and after a new work-life study titled "Opt-Out or Pushed Out?" sets her up as the straw woman argument, writer Lisa Belkin's had enough. Please leave her alone, she says, she's just the messenger. And anyway, no one even heard the original message correctly.

Unfortunately, Belkin still talks about work-life issues entirely in women's terms, not parents' or families'. Even though the study's findings are about how gender stereotypes and inflexible workplaces affect both men and women equally, if differently.

The funny thing is, this is at least the second study put out this year by UC Hasting's WorkLife Law Center to debunk or criticize Belkin's "Opt Out" meme. The last one barely got any press coverage at all, so I guess it's good that the Times bothered to notice this time 'round. Even if Belkin does seem so concerned about herself that she misses the studies' entire point(s).

The Pushmipullyu of the Life-Work Conflict [nyt]
the report: "Opt Out" or Pushed Out?: How the Press Covers Work/Family Conflict — The Untold Story of Why Women Leave the Workforce. [uchastings.edu]
Previously: Family Values My Butt: UC Study Shows Working Class Parents Get Screwed

1 Comment

She not only misses this isn't just a woman's problem, she is still claiming it is ok she only focused on Princeton graduates. Its not, whatever her weak claims are. Upper Middle class women do not have the most interesting or important problems amongst working parents.

[I agree with your second statement, but while I have to go back to the original article and see how far she extrapolates, I think Belkin's defense that she focused on "the professional stratosphere" is fine, if ultimately limiting. -ed.]

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