Sunday, December 11, 2005

total180 magazine interview on

Rebecca Traister (who admits she has no kids and is not even married) has decided to take issue (for I don't know what reason) with a new magazine geared toward professional women-turned-stay-at-home Moms. The magazine is admittedly designed to appeal to upper middle class women, and it promotes traditional gender roles. But other than that, it sounds like (I haven't had the chance to read it yet) it does a pretty good job of trying to talk about the realities of life at home with children.

Traister is understandably concerned by the lack of evidence in the magazine that the feminist movement ever occurred. But she's obviously talking about something she doesn't otherwise understand. For instance, she was disturbed to read that moms might be witholding sex for various reasons. And she wants to know, "don't moms want sex too?" And the answer is (I'm sorry to further frighten her from the prospect of creating a family some day), no, they usually don't. Sometimes for a few years even (if they've had more than one child). And this is a real (and important) issue for couples with young children. Since when is it not in the spirit of feminism to talk about this collective experience?

She's further disturbed to hear that men don't lose their sex drive as a result of changing poopy diapers and making bottles. (pause for collective giggle) Note to Rebecca: It's mostly a hormonal and biological phenomenon for women, and male hormones are not involved past the point of conception.

Too bad someone else at Salon didn't conduct this interview. I would have really enjoyed a critique from a feminist who actually has a clue what the hell the editors at total180 are talking about.


Anjali said...

I've read the magazine, and I have to say, I was a bit appalled by it. It offended me on several levels. Having said that, I was as equally appalled by the Salon interview. Traister clearly had an agenda, and did a good job of simply backing the editor into a corner. At the very least, Salon could have had someone with motherhood experience do the interview.

MommyWithAttitude said...

Thanks for posting Anjali. I'm looking forward to reading it so I can judge it for myself too.

Darla Shine said...

Hi from Darla Shine

Total 180 magazine and my book, Happy Housewives are humor based. Both are intended to make women laugh. We are not telling career women not to work. Our target audience is the woman who is home, who wants to be home. We are not trying to set women back fifty years. My book and the magazine is all about empowering moms. Why does that offend anyone? And, we were joking when we wrote how we were lucky our husbands let us out for pizza night. Where is your sense of humor ladies?

Christine D. said...

What Rebecca Traister doesn't seem to understand is that sometimes mothers, whether they be stay-at-home moms or working mothers, just need to laugh, cry, and lament, with other moms who feel the same way and live the same experiences. Who wants to take themselves so seriously all the time, whether they have children or not? I have not had the opportunity to read Total 180 yet but one look at their website homepage tells me the editors' message is one of humor-based understanding.

Traister is horrified -- sorry, petrified -- by Total 180!'s "vivid depiction of the inequities of domestic life" including the task of doing all the holiday shopping for both sides of one's family. I was married for five years before I had a child, and every year I do all the shopping for both sides of our family. Does this make my husband a Neanderthal? I really don't think so. He just doesn't like shopping and, quite frankly, he isn't that good at it. By doing all the shopping, am I somehow undoing all the work of my feminist sisters?

When it's time to drag the Christmas tree out of the house and bring it down to dump (or whereever the hell it goes), I leave that to my husband. It's called "give and take." Unfortunately for some, it falls into the realms of stereotypes, but guess what, it works for me. Maybe next year I should try break down those domestic "inequities" and stereotypes and let my husband do all the shopping while I chop down the Christmas tree. NOT.

Staci Carsten said...

Darla, I got the pizza joke. I don't think someone without kids could fully appreciate how they tie you to the house, so I'm not surprised that Traister didn't get it.

Christine, I think the same is true for Traister not being married. She doesn't have a clue how that works. If I'm a bad feminist for not wanting to be the one who puts air in the car tires, oh well... Before having kids, it's easier to divide things equally, but since I wanted to be at home with the kids, why wouldn't I wash the dishes while I'm here all day???? I just don't think she "gets" it.