By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Talk about emphasizing and reinvigorating differences. I give Olympic Gold to one Peter Beinart, who argues on thedailybeast.com that not only should President Obama appoint another woman to the Supreme Court, but he should appoint a woman with children. Beinart argues that too many women without children are appointed to high level government positions, and so Mr. Obama's next Supreme Court appointment should be a mother, not just a woman. He also refers to the 20 percent of Americans over 40 with no children as "childless," as if we are lacking something, instead of as "child free," which is what we are.
Obviously his opinion annoys me. It's also dumb. Why should he separate out child-free women from women with children? There are already enough sore points between the groups when it comes to such things as family leave time. But the fact is, women without children achieve, on average, more in their career lives because they spend more time at work than those with children to raise.
My suggestion is that women who want kids marry men who want them equally. Women should require their spouses to share the child-rearing equally. They should refuse to become the "single mothers with spouses" that most married women with children become.
I had this very discussion last week with a graduate school friend who visited from the other coast. She had an Ivy League degree and a promising career before she had two children. Her husband wanted kids but took little interest in them when they were small. He used his time to build a fabulous career. She flushed her chance at real world success down the drain and became a willing slave to her children. Now that the kids have grown, she wishes she could have had a more rewarding career.
Women will reach parity in the success arena when men do half the child-rearing and not before. That's no reason to penalize child-free women.
Beinart also, by the way, urges President Obama to appoint a mother to the Supreme Court, ignoring the fact two of the three women who have served on the court (Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg) have been mothers. Two out of three is fair representation. There's no discrimination against mothers in those percentages.