Peripatetic, itinerant, eclectic musings about books, politics, history, language, culture, and anything else that interests me.
I came across this review, by Laura Vanderkam, of a new book by Megan Basham called Beside Every Successful Man, while browsing at Arts & Letters Daily. The author’s strikingly original premise is that it’s not true that women want careers:
“Ask a group of mothers if they would continue to work full-time if they didn’t have to and the answer will overwhelmingly come back ‘No!’” she writes. In her universe, women prefer to “devote hours to planning a pumpkin patch excursion or to scrapbooking our most recent family vacation.”
Basham even takes Sarah Palin to task for being insufficiently devoted to her husband’s career.
This is the first I’ve heard of Megan Basham, but I am familiar with her book because it’s been written before. And before. And before. And of course, the obvious question never seems to trouble, or even occur to these benighted souls: If it’s true that women prefer traditional marriage, motherhood, and housework to an independent career, then why does this book exist?
Basham claims that the Beside Every Successful Man approach is the “natural solution” to women’s professional dilemmas and the “third road” between unappealing assumptions that they are either “indulgent spendthrifts or lazy parasites.” But surely there are other satisfying solutions—just look at Basham’s own marriage. She writes of how she helped her husband change careers and become an on-air TV meteorologist. That required a lot of effort. One suspects, however, that writing a book, and appearing on the “Today” show and other such programs, as Basham has, requires a lot of effort, too. She could have spent that time helping her husband’s career. Does Basham honestly think she would have been happier if she had done that instead of writing? If she doesn’t think so, it’s unclear why any other woman should, either.
Maybe Basham’s next book should be called, Satisfy Your Feminine Desire to Spend All Your Time Taking Care of Your Children and Supporting Your Husband’s Career By Researching and Writing a Book, Getting an Agent, Pitching Your Book to Publishers, Editing Page Proofs, Talking on the Phone to Your Editor, Staying Up All Night to Meet Deadlines, and Going on Book Tours and Talk Shows to Promote the Book.
What? Too long, you think?