October 25, 2010

Mommy Steps: Lisa Belkin's Slowly Coming Around

Whether it's a couple of years of intensive parentblogging, or the shifting economy, finding the right research, or whatever, the NY Times' Lisa Belkin is finally seeing work-family balance issues as a parents' problem, not just a moms' problem. From a column in this weekend's Times Magazine:

Men today are at the turning point women reached several decades ago, when the joint demands of work and home first intensified. In her new book, "Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter , Joan C. Williams describes how men find themselves caught between meeting cultural expectations and a growing dissatisfaction with the constricted roles shaped by those expectations. "You have to ask why, if women are asking men to change, and if men say they want change, it hasn't happened," she says. "Either they are all lazy, or they are under tremendous gender pressures of their own."
Aha, it's just a new book. By the founding director of one of the leading [i.e., only leading?] research organization that focuses on the topic, the WorkLife Law Center at UC Hastings Law School. But whatever, we'll take it.

And from my experience writing for the Times, I will assume that the retrograde headline was not Belkin's choice, and that if it was, she'll come around on that, eventually, too.

Calling Mr. Mom? [nyt]


About 5-6 years I attended a panel discussion sponsored by the law and business schools of a pretty major university (a discussion where my roommate and I were the only two men in an audience of a couple hundred female law and business students). Ms. Belkin was a participant and she seemed very aware at that time that society's expectations for men played a major role in work-life and gender equality issues.

that's nice. and familiar-sounding. A male business school classmate and I were literally told to leave one investment bank's work-family balance recruiting reception because the bank was only using it to find female candidates--but they couldn't legally invite only women.

As for Belkin, I've been intermittently badgering and praising her in a process that continues to give her too much blame and credit for changing perceptions and awareness of the issue.

But it's alright, because I'm aware of it, right?

Apr 2009: "The NY Times' Lisa Belkin has never been more right than when she completely agrees with me."

Nov 2006: "Opt-Out Revolution" writer finally pays attention, still misses point.

The 2006 post, from when I was a newer one-kid dad, and a bit more zealous about revolutionizing the mom/dad, work/life imbalances, still holds up, I think. UC Hastings was trying to make the parents vs. moms point, and was also trying to correct the skewed perspectives of work-life issues that Belkin caused with the privileged myopia of her Opt-Out Revolution article. And no one in the media was listening at the time, least of all Belkin.

I've long since stopped crusading, but it's useful to be able to track the changes. FWIW, Joan Williams' bio now quotes Belkin calling her a "rock star," so I guess we're all good.

that title mr. mom really rubs me the wrong way.

regarding your comment about being asked to leave:

i keep wondering what they will do to me or my car when i park in the new and expectant mothers parking stalls when shopping.

as a stay at home dad with two kids- and all that gear, i need the space and don't want to trek through an aggressive parking lot with two children. that is what the stalls are set up for aren't they?

there is a bit of an imbalance there for stay at home fathers - - but i guess it is a fairly (and somewhat) new phenomenon

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