Saturday, December 4, 2010

Women 'Pushing Back' Against Their Own Choices

From the New York Times:

Frazzled Moms Push Back Against Volunteering

An interesting take which happens to coincide with the feminist worldview - women must always be 'pushing back' against something, must not they? Even when what they are 'pushing back' against is what they chose to do.

The tone of the piece suggests that women are oppressed by the sheer amount of volunteering they do ...

Around the country there are a number of altruistic, devoted and totally burned-out mothers just like Ms. Lentzner who are becoming emboldened to push back against the relentless requests from their children’s schools for their time. What started out as an admirable civic gesture somehow snowballed into an inability to say no to any committee assignment or project request, and spiraled into night, weekend and after-school commitments, middle-of-the-night e-mail exchanges, as well as frozen dinners, takeout pizza and baby sitters at home.

An 'inability' to say no to such requests?

The article goes on to discuss some seriously questionable propositions by certain schools which would make it mandatory for the families of students to do some volunteer work on the school's behalf.

Now, that certainly is ridiculous, not least because 'mandatory volunteering' is an oxymoron.

But then, women's victimhood in all this turns out to be overblown, as usual. Spot the cognitive dissonance:

Part of the burnout stems from the fact that in most schools a small number of volunteers shoulder the vast majority of the work.

Ms. Jones is a mother of two in Keller, Tex., who works part time as a booking manager for professional speakers. This fall she was co-chairwoman of the Scholastic Book Fair, a commitment of five full days on top of the multiple meetings required to organize the event. And the decorating.

This year’s theme was superheros, so Ms. Jones made the sign with Superman saying, “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a book fair!” She made tall buildings out of cardboard boxes. She stuffed the Spider-Man costume that she had found and bought herself. When it was over, she helped pack everything up and take the money to the bank.

In the real world of work, people do more than make buildings out of cardboard boxes and take trips to the bank. These are the trivial non-tasks that employees are likely too overstretched to spend time on. The idea that volunteering mothers "shoulder the vast majority of the work" at schools because they make signs and help with the decorating is preposterous.

What goes unspoken in this article is the role of men, although it is implied that they are just too damn lazy, since, you know, it's women doing all this non-work.

Ms. Christensen declared herself off-limits to all school volunteer requests. “I said: ‘I’m done. I quit. Don’t call. Don’t e-mail.’ I said I have given so much of myself. I’m spending 50 hours a week working on a volunteer position."

It's more likely the case that the husbands of these women simply don't have the time to tag along on school field trips, because they are doing real work for 50 hours a week.

After all, men don't have the choice to just quit working once the first kid comes along; they don't have the choice to idle their way through the chores deemed less important by those who are actually employed in the education system.

Nor do men have the choice to quit and indulge in "a little me-time" while supported financially by the spouse.

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