Saturday, July 08, 2006

Working . . . With Children

Why do interviews with working mothers usually involve questions about their children?

A particularly annoying, self-aggrandizing Slate podcast brought this to my attention. The new Washington Post radio station (really? do we need this?), did an hour-long program about Slate writers, featuring interviews with several columnists and editors (the Washington Post owns Slate). After an interview with a male writer, who is also a father, in which his children were not mentioned, a female writer was questioned repeatedly about being a working mother. How does she do it? What happens to her kids when she works? The bulk of the interview was about the trials and tribulations of balancing motherhood and work. To be fair, my aggravation was augmented by the fact that the interviewer was ridiculously energetic and a horrible speaker. She mis-pronounced names and mixed up facts on more than several occasions.

Alright, so one interview. Annoying, but no big deal. But the next day, I listened to another interview with a female writer. Almost half of the interview was about her children and (yet again) the "balance" required. Both interviewers were women as well.

I know mothers and fathers have different roles in their childrens' lives, but this is ridiculous. Though some people still do not accept that women can work with kids at home just as well as ment can, it has been a fact of life for more than three decades. I wonder if, during World War II (when the government wanted and needed women to work, thank you Rosie), there was such a big fascination with a working mother. Sure, it was a novelty at first, but women were expected to work, to serve their country. Now, it comes across as a choice.

Though it may come from admiration, by asking these accomplished women about their children and the "balance," these interviewers are perpetuating the idea that this working mother thing is still a novelty. It's been going on for awhile now. I think they know what they're doing. It is a decision, but it's a decision fathers make as well.

Maybe even more importantly, the answers these women give to questions like, "What's it like being a working mother? How do you balance your work and your family?" are pretty boring. There's nothing interesting about a regular, modern woman doing her job and loving her family. Just as there's nothing interesting about a regular, modern man doing his job and loving his family.

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