Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Assumptions of Linda's Hirshman's Get to Work and Also Some Questions
Carl Larsson's painting of himself and his family. What is the family for, after all?
Thanks so much for the comments to Get to Work. As you can see below, I have asked a lot of questions, so there is plenty of room to say what you think and contribute to the discussion. Also Suzanne noted that there are a lot of comments on Amazon on this book.
Below are what I came up with as assumptions and/or arguments of Get to Work and questions related to some of them. These are questions for Linda Hirshman but also just for thinking about men, women, and families. Please feel free to add to this list, or challenge it. I hope we can have some fun.
Assumption 1: Men and women should have the same roles because the natures of women and of men are exactly the same. Is this true?
Question: If it is not true, then what are the different natures of men and women and what are their roles?
Assumption 2: Only women assuming the same roles in society as the ruling men represents “a flourishing life.”
Question: What is a “flourishing life”? (Hirshman never defines this.)
Question: Is it impossible for an uneducated woman to have a flourishing life, in the same way that no woman who decides to stay home with her children can have a flourishing life?
Assumption 3: Household work is degraded work, and women who choose it are degraded.
Question: What about women who do household work for a living? Are they automatically degraded? If so, should paid household labor be made illegal, like prostitution? Should all jobs involving solely physical labor be prohibited? Is there a job that involves only physical labor? Does doing a physical job well involve any intellectual effort or is intellectual effort irrelevant?
Hirshman thinks it is: “Certainly it’s not using your reason to do repetitive, physical tasks, whether it’s cleaning or driving the carpool.”
Question: Is reason man’s single most important capability?
Question: The work of a woman in the home is not defined by Hirschman but merely denigrated. What is the work of a woman in the home? What is the mission in the home?
Assumption 4: The United States is ruled by a ruling class.
Question: Does anyone else have power besides this ruling class? What constitutes membership in the ruling class?
Assumption 5: Society is ruled, not governed. Therefore, for women to be represented, women must seek to become part of the ruling group (glass ceiling argument).
Question: If women have to be part of the ruling group (in order to represent their interests qua women), how are children’s interests to be represented? Should children be part of the ruling group also?
Assumption 6: Women’s interests are strictly their own interests as individuals; the interests of the family are either irrelevant or in contradiction to the interests of women.
Assumption 7: Because women are robbed by their roles in the family household of realizing their talents to the fullest, the family is a moral obstacle to maximizing societal good. Is this true?
Question: The family is not defined except as a patriarchal institution and implicitly, a logistical arrangement. Therefore, the question is raised: What is the family and what is its mission or purpose?
Assumption 8: Because the family is a smaller institution than the institutions of the society at large, concentrating on one’s own family is limiting.
Assumption 9: Because the interests of society as a whole are more important than the interests of a mere family, concentrating on one’s own family is selfish.