My standard response in reading a David Brooks column is, “Has he ever–?” As in: “Has he ever meet/seen/experienced the person, place, or thing upon which he is opining?” His Sunday column, replete with the usual strawmen (or more accurately, straw-women), does not disappoint.
First, she’s wrong with her astonishing assertion that high-paying jobs lead to more human flourishing than parenthood. Look back over your life. Which memories do you cherish more, those with your family or those at the office? If Hirshman thinks high-paying careers lead to more human flourishing, I invite her to spend a day as an associate at a big law firm.
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Her third mistake is to not even grapple with the fact that men and women are wired differently. The Larry Summers flap produced an outpouring of work on the neurological differences between men and women. I’d especially recommend “The Inequality Taboo” by Charles Murray in Commentary and a debate between Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke in the online magazine Edge.
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Hirshman has it exactly backward. Power is in the kitchen. The big problem is not the women who stay there but the men who leave.
Brooks’ main schtick, as Amanda puts it, is “(talking) up the virtues of the peasants from his his little New York enclave that protects him from actually having to mingle with them.” (He’s actually a DC guy, but you get the point.) According to his bio, Brooks is married with two children — which raises a few questions:
Does Mr. Brooks find fulfillment in the pursuit of his career?
Does his wife work, and if so, why? Does the Brooks family simply need the income, or does his wife — as much as she may love her children — also find fulfillment in pursuing her career?
Does the Brooks family employ a nanny to help raise their own children?
And finally, along with Amanda, I wonder how soon David Brooks will be quitting his job to stay home as a full time dad?
Afterthought…I am reminded of this Brooks column from last year, in which Mr. McBobo expresses a similarly obtuse view of women in the workplace:
This is not necessarily the sequence she would choose if she were starting from scratch. For example, it might make more sense to go to college, make a greater effort to marry early and have children. Then, if she, rather than her spouse, wants to stay home, she could raise children from age 25 to 35. Then at 35 (now that she knows herself better) she could select a flexible graduate program specifically designed for parents. Then she could work in one uninterrupted stint from, say, 40 to 70.
This option would allow her to raise kids during her most fertile years and work during her mature ones, and the trade-off between family and career might be less onerous.
Because, you know, there’s nothing employers value more than someone starting their career track at the age of 40.
Apparently, to Brooks, women are to be viewed as baby-making machines first, and as human beings secondarily at best.