9 thoughts on “‘Ill-conceived, crass and stupid’

  1. To clarify: apparently the aim was to show the impact of posters, by stimulating lots of debate.
    I guess it’s good if such views get challenged. But bad if they get entrenched or legitmated.

  2. If the purpose of these posters was to raise a debate, then surely it would have been better to pose the offending statement as a question rather than an assertion.

  3. I suspect that appending a question mark would effectively remove the irony, and make the message anemic. And I wouldn’t describe this message as propagandist, simply because I don’t think that even genuinely prejudiced individuals could see these ads without being reminded the view in question is generally regarded (in principle, anyway) as unacceptable.

  4. Hi Sterling. I’m afraid I don’t share your optimism that the view is generally regarded as unacceptable – but I suppose that isn’t something that will be settled without recourse to empirical data.

    There’s certainly no shortage of media peddling something like that line.
    Recent examples (discussed on this blog) include:
    And recall that some such views were expressed in the furore surrounding Dati’s return to work thi time last year:

  5. And, of course, there’s the “opting-out” that’s going on in the States, with highly educated women deciding to be stay-at-home moms. While that doesn’t mean they think career mothers are bad mothers, it hardly indicates a very positive attitude toward those of us who did/do it.

  6. Let’s bear in mind that opting out is not often what it appears. Let’s remember that opting out is really about the extremely high cost of acceptable, decent childcare, and the low pay one often receives, say, as a philosophy PHD, even one with publications and good teaching experience. Opting out is more about the lack of availability of sufficiently paying part (or full) time work, with hours and demands that can realistically be combined with being the main caregiver for one’s children.

  7. philosopher queen, I think your point is very sound in general, but I’m not sure I’d use “opting-out” for the situation you describe.

    In fact, though I was far from clear abut this, I had in mind a specific use which might be worth mentioning. It’s from “Opting Out” by Pamela Stone. Here’s a review from amazon:

    Opting out,” “off-ramping” and “following the mommy track” are all popular terms to describe professional women who leave their jobs to be stay-at-home moms. But do they describe the truth of the matter? Stone, an associate professor of sociology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, set out to answer this question after discovering that there was no research on the matter; perceptions of these women were shaped almost exclusively by the media. Stone conducted in-depth interviews with 54 women: white women who had been highly successful professionals and were married to men who could support them while they stayed at home—i.e., women who had a “choice.” What Stone found was fascinating and surprising: women quit because of work, not family, and only as a last resort: “They have been unsuccessful in their efforts to find flexibility or… because they found themselves marginalized and stigmatized, negatively reinforced for trying to hold onto their careers after becoming mothers.” These women were abandoning “all-or-nothing” workplaces where the demands were so unrelenting that, as one mutual fund trader put it, “there were days when I couldn’t get up from my desk to go to the bathroom.”

  8. jj, that is exactly my point. “Opting out” is used to cover many instances that are not truly opt-outs. When highly educated women in the US decide to be stay at home moms there are a variety of reasons, and I’d guess that only a small portion are true opt-outs where one has a great job, well paying, flexible enough, yet the women decide to quit and not work outside the home/family at all.

    It’s nice to know Stone’s research corroborates what I see in my daily life.

    I believe I’ve mentioned on this blog that I really like the book _Mama PhD_. It’s very relevant to this topic.

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