Liza Mundy has a post up at The Atlantic about the academic feminist establishment — which she has “begun to think of as the Fempire” — that can’t handle the truth. I appreciate her perspective, and her description of us as “on the same team.” We want gender equality. So that’s all good.
After mentioning Stephanie Coontz, Nancy Folbre and me (a list I cherish), she writes about us:
Why look only at the half-empty part of the picture? Part of this, of course, is a real concern for women’s struggles. But you could also argue that there is an institutionalized mindset that sets in when you become an institution. A certain investment in your historical argument. Certain currently popular theories—that the gender revolution has stalled; that marriage squeezes women out of the workforce—have a hard time embracing situations where there is no stall, and where married women have a strong incentive to work. … You could also argue that in the months prior to the recent election, the Fempire wanted to keep women’s issues in the headlines so that people would vote for, you know, the right guy.
It’s a shame I have to suffer this criticism, even as I still get grief from other feminists for exposing the “women own 1% of world property” meme as a myth. If the Internet had a longer attention span maybe I’d only have to be tarred with one of these brushes at a time.
Anyway, since she comes close to impugning my motives — which is fine and reasonable, of course — I feel permitted to offer just make a little dig in return.
In the post, Mundy writes, about her book: ”I argued that female breadwinning could someday become the norm.” Wait a minute, could someday? In the book, on p. 6, it is: “women will become the top earners in households. … that Big Flip is just around the corner.” I should mention (she doesn’t) that the subtitle of the book is, “How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family.”
I hate to impose cynical motivations on Mundy, or on Hanna Rosin, who has also distanced herself from the title of her book, saying, ”The End of Men seems to be a provocative title. It’s the one that was given to my Atlantic piece not by me but by my editor…” But it is almost as if one can walk back the the title and overreaching claims after the book is on the market, and not worry because they don’t have to be “true” for the book to be good.