Women At Work, At Home, & At Rest — JK, At Work Again

There’s a kind of heartbreaking story in Slate about a hetero couple driven apart by differing assumptions of the importance of the wife’s career. Here’s wife Caitlin’s perspective:

I said, “I want to apply to law school,” and he said, “Absolutely not. You have no job. We have no money. You need to move home. I know you said you have career ambitions, but it’s best to focus on my career for now. I can support us. I can give us the life we want, and that’s not your responsibility.” But it wasn’t about my responsibility; my work was fulfilling to me. I got a full scholarship to law school here in Washington, so I decided to stay. He decided to stay in Richmond, and that was that. …

Nobody anticipates a second advanced degree. But I also anticipated having the freedom to make that decision if I wanted to. 

My father always encouraged me in whatever educational goals I wanted to pursue. He was one of the first in his family to go to college and the first to go to grad school. He’s a health care executive. He joked that he wanted a doctor for a kid, and I said, “I’m not getting a Ph.D., but how about a Juris Doctor?” He wanted me to rise to whatever pinnacle I could. My mother didn’t finish grad school and was a nurse for many years. She comes from a very conservative religious family, and for her it’s always been: You need to make concessions for your husband because his career is going to earn more. You need to make sacrifices if you’re going to get married. You need to focus on your children, because that’s how you’re going to be the best mom.

I know it’s Women’s History Month; is that why the Internet has recently exploded with essays and thought-pieces on Gender Trouble? Because, to point out merely two examples, there’s a fracas at the NYT about whether being a stay-at-home-mom is a “luxury” and an investigation at Fast Company into why more women go freelance. 

Five Women

After doing the quintessential work of babysitting and accompanying choir soloists at auditions, Cheryl is my first real boss at my first real job—obnoxious state taxes, name tag, and all. The first weeks I am deferential and easily spooked by weekend rushes, realizing that I will always be battling to show up on time in the mornings.