Motherhood and Success

LikeMelissa, the first couple of times I readRichard Cohen’s latest I thought it was a joke, too. The guy is a creepy sex pervert, the sort of “jokey” asshole you wouldn’t want to get too close to at the office party because you’ll spend all your time fending off his sad middle-aged advances. The reasons “there is no female Tiger Woods” are numerous and include “because … oh shut the fuck up, who cares, in case you haven’t noticed the earth is kind of caving in out here so Tiger is welcome to whatever skanky poon he wants so long as it’s consensual and his marriage is none of your business nor mine so stop asking me to have an opinion on anything.” And by the way, this is the most idiotic part of the whole idiot thing, the thing that wouldn’t leave me alone in my head most of yesterday:

But it could be that the urge to get closer to cocktail waitresses
and denizens of dimly lit hotel lounges is in some way linked to the
drive to conquer, to prevail — to succeed. It could explain why all
this time into the Age of Feminism, years after women were liberated,
women make up less than 20 percent of Congress and only 3 percent of
those top CEOs.

The reason the Glass Ceiling has not broken is that women have other priorities — maintaining relationships and being a mother.

First of all, dickface, the Age of Feminism began sometime around when the first female hominid stood up. Feminism isn’t a singular event, it’s a contiuum, and we can argue all day about who had the bestest feminists ever in their graduating class, but let’s not pretend women weren’t fighting for their lives from day freaking one, and aren’t still doing so. If we’ve crossed some sort of finish line along the way, certainly nobody’s told us.

Second, and this just trips something in me about discussions of parenting and having kids anyway, since when do mothers not want to be successful? Women prioritize babies and “relationships” over success? Since when is motherhood de facto an unsuccessful life? I had no idea you couldn’t want success once you’ve bred. I had no idea it automatically sucked all ambition right out of you. Does it happen instantly, like at conception, or does it kick in during the third trimester? Can someone who isn’t a childless whore chime in and tell me when the sudden evolutionary urge to suck begins?

(For the record, yes, I know relationships and babies do limit people. I’m not talking about any mythical work-life balance or the very real choices people with children do have to make about where they spend their time. I’m talking about Cohen’s idea of the drive to succeed, which in his mind is incompatible with pushing a kid out of your vagina and disappears entirely from your emotional makeup once you attach the little niblet to your nipple. Dear all my breadwinning female mom friends: I had no idea none of the work you did meant anything to you!)

Yeah, everybody has that twitterpated second cousin lifing them at Christmas about how nothing that used to be important to her matters anymore because she has a baby, and that’s probably who Cohen is talking about, but even that chick is trying to succeed at her own life. It’s not like she suddenly wants to be a failure personally or professionally just because she has a mewling little excuse to shove it off onto now. Redefining success doesn’t mean you’re forgetting about it, and to say it’s all one thing or all the other is to tell even people who do have choices that they’ve already made one and might as well surrender to a life that doesn’t include “success.”




11 thoughts on “Motherhood and Success

  1. I’d like to suggest we send Serena Williams to drive, conquer, prevail, and succeed upside Richard Cohen’s head.

  2. How’s the bumper sticker go? “Feminism: The radical idea that women are people, too.”

  3. Wow. I admit, I do often feel driven to conquer. I think it’s more because I’m kind of a prick than because I have one. I know plenty of men that aren’t driven to do much more than play X-Box and drink Mountain Dew. How does that fit in this paradigm?

  4. This is genius. I’m going to start all my arguments “First of all, dickface” so there’s no confusion about my rhetorical positions.

  5. That twitterpated second cousin just wanted to have the excuse to claim that nothing else mattered after she had the sprog; the truth is, nothing else but having the sprog matteredbefore, she just felt like she had to lie about it. I kinda understand that, in a sort of anti-understanding way — I am completely hostile to the notion of sprogging in the first place, and I’d be hideously angry with someone who suggested (as Cohen seems to) that the only success Ishould ever want in life is to crap a watermelon out of my pelvis…

  6. Mothers aren’t driven to succeed? The curses haven’t been invented yet for the idiotic opinions this guy has of mothers…but I’ll just start with: he can shove that up his ass sideways with a chainsaw. He hasn’t met the mothers I know, thanks, including me. HIS mother is probably tsk-ing over what a failure HE turned out to be, then getting on with her OWN life, which is good. Be a good parent and let that asshole go.

  7. Casein and lactose are famously ambition-inhibiting, and when present in the body on a continual basis for as short as fourteen days can kill it entirely.
    This is simple biology; don’t kill the messenger.

  8. I am not a childless whore (I was for years, but I’ve reformed) and ambition simply becomes more complex after one has bred. Having ambition hurts me more than it did before I became a mom because I feel compelled to put it aside (a bit) while the kids are small. That means not taking some hot jobs (although I am still working outside of my home to further my career) and it means drawing some limits on my work life balance (which I probably needed to do anyway). For a while.
    Men have historically been “free” to be “ambitious” because women have been/and are still willing to coordinate that “ambitious” man’s domestic life while he leaves the house every day to go be “ambitious.”

  9. It sure is a good thing for Cohen that men never have any involvement in raising children other than the momentary spasm of sperm donation. Otherwise their ambition might be limited too.

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