Friday, May 11, 2007

Dispelling the Opt-Out Myth

From feministing, I found this interview with Pam Stone, the author of "Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home." She is dispelling the myth of the "Opt-Out Revolution," articulated in the infamous Lisa Belkin trend story from the NYTimes.

It is interesting how Katie Couric leads the interview with reference to the "new trend" of opting out, which Stone quite deftly shows is not a "new trend." In fact, it is not a "choice" in the full sense of the word at all.

I find myself regularly drawn to this debate precisely because I have many students, who take my Intro WS course, who want to be stay at home mothers. We have students interview women in careers that they would like to go into and analyze the race/class/gender dimensions of their choices as well as the obstacles. While every year students interview stay-at-home moms they almost always neglect the fact that these women were in careers before they became stay-at-home moms and therefore do not explore the reasons why they left the careers they did. The students, who are from very elite families in affluent suburbs, focus solely on the "career" of being a stay-at-home mom.