Skimming the reader's guide at the back of a book, I read one question and I halt. Here:
"You've managed such an extraordinarily successful writing career along with being a full-time father. What has it been like to juggle the two?"
Yes, what has it been like? Because I change the gender. I can't imagine this question being posted to a male author. The layers and the sexism in this question are spectacular.
First of all, what is a full-time mother? Does it mean one who is "home" with the kids? Not working "outside" the house. Maybe we should call it at work with the kids if it's full-time. If she is a writer is that work but it's not work if she is a housewife? Is she a "full-time" mother with a writing hobby unless it's successful and then it's actually a successful career? How are they defining success?
What is a full-time father? Does it mean the same thing?
Are there part-time mothers? Is a mother who goes to work outside the house a part-time mother? I work. My husband was the househusband. We also had some daycare. Was he a full-time father? Was he a slacker because he took care of the house and the kids and played golf? Our son was six months old when I started my family practice residency. Was I a part-time mother?
It's easy to see the gender discrimination and devaluation of both genders if the question is ludicrous and makes no sense when I reverse the gender of the question. A woman who is a "full-time" mother AND a successful writer, wow, that is made noble. But I have never heard a man called a "full-time" father or any questions of a successful man about how he juggled his fatherhood and his career.
It remains infuriating.
The book is Anna Quindlan's every last one, Random House, 2011 and the Random House Reader's Circle asks the questions.
Well, gentle readers? Are you a full-time or a part-time parent? Why? Was your father a full or a part time father and was your mother full or part time? And do they mean the same thing?
I have to admit that I would want to deck anyone who called me a part-time mother.