Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Physician, heal. . .

There's a fascinating review on Salon of Caitlin Flanagan's new book, To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. I had never heard of Flanagan before, although as a New Yorker subscriber, I've almost certainly read her, but Salon's reviewer, Joan Walsh takes Flanagan to task for claiming to be a stay-at-home mother and praising the virtues of such a life for everyone involved, while simultaneously pursuing a full-time career as a writer for Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker. (Which meant, by the way, that Flanagan employed a nanny until the children entered preschool, and still has a housekeeper.)

The lesson I walk away with is one that I've seen before: it's extremely dangerous to posit yourself as the embodiment of the virtues of any sort of choice or lifestyle. The world is too complex, and we all have too many faults. It's one thing to say "this lifestyle is good because it tends to promote x and y and z," but something else entirely to say "look at my life, which proves it."

(The NYT Book Review ran a much friendlier review of Flanagan's book.)

No comments: