Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Kathleen Parker is just filled with all sorts of antiquarian ideas, all sorts of archaic, Victorian notions about what a family is and what women that have children might actually be called upon to do from time to time. It’s called motherhood. Again, I’m down with this whole fashionable admission that there are differences between the genders. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: “The mommy war that no one will win,” writes Kathleen Parker.
Excuse me while I roll my eyes over the latest “mommy war.”
It’s not that I don’t care about the substance. It’s because I’ve lived long enough to know how this turns out. Some wars can’t be won, because to the victor go spoils no one really wants. And the children always lose.
The most recent skirmish is taking place at the great and once-powerful Yahoo under the leadership of new chief executive Marissa Mayer, the fifth in five years. The preceding sentence should be read as: “OMG, do whatever you have to do to fix this!”
Thus, Mayer issued orders that telecommuting employees start showing up at the office. You’d have thought she had called for the sacrifice of everyone’s firstborn. What kind of woman does such a thing? Doesn’t she know that balancing work and family was a joke until technology made it possible to work from home?
Mayer was already familiar with the fallout that comes from acting as an individual rather than as a member of the collective. When she appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine last fall as one of the 50 most powerful women — looking a little too svelte for someone who had just had a baby — the blogosphere lit up. Apparently, Mayer’s critics wanted her to have been photographed while pregnant, conveying the message that pregnant women are also strong and powerful.
Everything is about messaging these days, except when one doesn’t like the content of the message, such as: Hire a babysitter and get to work. Business is business, after all, and nothing is less sensitive than the bottom line.
I am not as tough as I sound. No one is more sympathetic to working mothers than I. (And, no, sorry, most fathers are not tending the young the way mothers do, and this is because they are not mothers…)
Mike: Ms. Parker, you are not allowed to say that. You are not allowed to say that there are biological differences between the genders in 2013. There is no difference other than innies and outies, and that’s not gender specific. You can change that. That’s just physiological. That’s an appearance difference. There is no difference, madam, and you should stop implying that there is.
My sympathy stems from having decided long ago to work from home upon realizing that my child needed me more than my employer did. But I am fortunate. Mine is the sort of work that can be accomplished from home — and, most important, I have a husband. Highly recommended. [Mike: Kathleen Parker is just filled with all sorts of antiquarian ideas, all sorts of archaic, Victorian notions about what a family is and what women that have children might actually be called upon to do from time to time. It’s called motherhood. Again, I’m down with this whole fashionable admission that there are differences between the genders.]
It is thus understandable why Yahoo workers are dismayed, and why others who hoped for such civilized options for others are disappointed. Adding to the insult is that Mayer has built a nursery for her own child — out of her own pocket — next to her office.
Such tidy solutions obviously are available to few, and the fear is that all women now will be held to the impossible standard set by Mayer.
Let’s be clear: Mayer is one rare bird. But should she be? Aren’t we supposed to say “more power to her” right about now? By what dictum must Mayer conduct her life — and her company — to please others? She crashed the glass ceiling, and we’re upset that she made a mess?
This is how mommy wars get started and why they’ll never end. There’s no winning because, except for the best-educated and wealthiest, it isn’t possible to reach the top of the corporate ladder and also take care of babies. In a saner world, we wouldn’t try. [Mike: “In a saner world, we wouldn’t try.” What do you think about that, ladies? We used to have female callers from time to time, and listeners, on this program. I remember back in the day.]
Meanwhile, Mayer is doing what is right for her and what she thinks will improve her company’s performance. She clearly believes that making her talented workers convene in the same physical space is crucial to improving performance.
Why not build a state-of-the-art day-care center at Yahoo for all those employees who, though their minds may be present, will have left their hearts at home? Mayer, who obviously sees the benefit to her own child, could send a long-overdue message to corporate America: Having children nearby makes workers less stressed and more productive. Call it “The Bassinet-Bottom-Line Initiative.”
If innovation plus compassion leads to profit, who knows? We may finally declare a truce after all.
Mike: I do not see a day in which there is corporate-provided daycare centers that are attached to workplaces. If the admission is that children need to be near their mothers, especially in their formative years, and not off trying to climb some illusory ladder that at the top or close to the top rung as the ceiling made of tempered glass that women continually butt their heads against, if there’s an admission that it’s actually in the best interest of the child that the mother be close to said child, I have to ask the question: If you’re going to concede that — I’m shocked that Kathleen Parker is willing to partially concede it. If you’re going to concede that, what kind of person or what kind of a mother or father allows the mother to then contravene it and ignore it? Aren’t you saying: They may not turn out as well as they could have, but we did the best job we could? Really? Those are some very serious questions that are being asked.
End Mike Church Show Transcript