Encouraging Women To Do The Wrong Thing

First, full disclosure. Years ago, a journalist from Vanity Fair called me. She was supposedly friends for 20 years with my then-chief of staff, and wanted to interview me. And having some brains in my head (I don’t trust this stuff), I asked my associate about her, and she said “Y’know, she’s been a friend of mine; I’ll vouch for her.” So, I said ‘OK, I’ll call her, feel it out, and then make a decision.’

I called her, and she gave me a line of lies (that I found out later were a line of lies) about how I was a cultural phenomenon and she wanted to study this sociologically, and understand the points of view about how they became popular (but they weren’t), and she gave me this whole line, and I thought “OK, I like the point of view; she’s supposedly friends with my chief-of-staff who has known her and says she’s a decent person,” and I agreed to do it.

Meanwhile, my editor at HarperCollins said “Don’t. Trust me on this. Don’t. Trust me on this. Don’t. Trust me on this. Don’t.” Turns out (I’m going to go back and forth in history a little bit), after the article was out, my editor, who was protecting her source who was a dear friend who worked at Vanity Fair, said “I couldn’t tell you because I promised” – don’t you hate those? — I couldn’t tell you, because I promised, but that Vanity Fair , according to my source (a male who works there, whose name I do not know, or I’d give it right now) said that they actually had a planning meeting to set me up and do a hatchet piece.

I’m telling you this because I want clarity that what I’m about to say is not vengeance. You’ve heard me say I love vengeance….I love it. Justice, vengeance – all one thing to me. I love it! And you’ve also heard how I want you to go get it, usually by being really nice (’cause that kills the bad guys) and being happy and successful.

That woman from Vanity Fair came for the first meeting with me and I knew I was in trouble, when I came in and sat down, and she took a look at my figure and disdainfully asked me if I was a size zero, while she was somewhere between fat and obese, and I was trying to get her an appropriate sandwich, but she wanted to eat something with a lot of mayonnaise – I knew there was a problem from that point on, to be honest with you. And I was right. It was just a nasty hatchet piece of people saying gossipy stupid things and it was really mean. The writer’s name is Leslie Bennetts. Really mean. But I found out way too late that that was Vanity Fair ‘s plan – it was their little editorial meeting, according to my editor at HarperCollins who’s not there anymore and not related to this. But she didn’t tell me in time. She said, “Well, I warned you!” A little more information would have been more helpful.

The reason I’m bringing this up as disclosure, is that this same person is coming out with a book pretty much telling women not to stay home with their kids. Now, let me say something about women’s magazines. By and large, women’s magazines completely ignore me. “I am my kid’s mom.” You’d think one year in 31 years that I’ve been in the media – that one year I would have been made “Mother of the Year” in one woman’s magazine. A couple of years ago, we tried to have a women’s magazine “editor and publisher” luncheon with me when one of my new books came out. HarperCollins was going to pay for the lunch, I was going to appear…everybody eats, and I’d do a Q&A. They had to cancel it – nobody would come. Whenever they do articles like on mothers staying home, who do you think in the entire United States you would really think they’d ask for a quote, besides me? It doesn’t happen. Okay?

So, I want you to know that I’ve been getting e-mails from you folks about Ladies Home Journal and Glamour magazine doing a little one-page on this book which is encouraging women to do the wrong thing and be paranoid. Let me just share with you two of these letters. This one is from Christie:I was appalled today when a friend e-mailed this to me from Glamour magazine. The article tells stay-at-home moms that they will become dependent financially and lose themselves. I’m a stay-at-home mom to a beautiful six month old baby girl. I am a wife to a Navy officer (my warrior!), and I am dependent on him. Yet, I know that my family is dependent on me! My husband and child NEED me to do the tasks that make our home run smoothly in order to feel safe, secure and loved! I thank you for reminding your listeners on a daily basis the importance of being dependent on your spouse in your marriage both ways, and to be your kids’ parents. Yes! That’s the part Leslie doesn’t seem to get! I don’t know what her home life is like, but mutual dependency is a good marriage. This is from Jennifer:

I was appalled at coming across an article in Ladies Home Journal (like a rabbit, it keeps multiplying!) . It’s entitled “Why Moms Should Work.” For women who have quit their jobs to stay home with the kids full-time, here’s a reason to think twice. There’s a whole page article she writes about why you shouldn’t stay home with your kids. You have to read this! I will only tell you the last paragraph of the article. It says: “There’s stress attached to everything we do. Women need to accept that it’s fine to be a good-enough parent, a good-enough homemaker, a good-enough wife. We have richer, more satisfying lives when we do a reasonably good job at a multiple of tasks, than when we strive for this insane perfectionism in a single, limited role.” I was crushed that she called staying at home with your children a limited role. I’m my 7 year old son’s mom and the wife of my husband of 10 years. I’m certainly proud of that and firmly believe the reason my life is so good is because of women like you, Dr. Laura. You believe in us, and we praise you for that. I can’t thank you enough for your voice, what you do for your country, and thank you for the tools for a happy home. And that includes staying home with our children.

By the way, across the country, young women are jettisoning careers to stay home with their kids. According to The Wall Street Journal (printing information from the US Census Bureau), an estimated almost 6 million mothers stayed home to care for their families in 2005 – 1.2 million more than a decade ago. The trend of opting-out has been broader than previously believed, with women at all income levels taking job breaks. Meanwhile, Leslie Bennetts is paranoid about divorce, your spouse losing a job, and widowhood, as though the only answer to that was across-the-board “do not be at home, do not take care of your kids, do not be your husband’s girlfriend”….get your job, be secure, just in case something horrible happens. Well, my answer to something horrible happening is find another way to deal with it if and when it does, rather than knee-jerking, giving up on your family.

Last but not least, I’m going to close with this letter from Yvette:

Thank you so much for your hard-hitting, yet Godly (if I may say so) advice. I had considered divorcing my husband, pursuing a Vice President job within a Fortune 500 Top 50 company, until I recently took your words to heart. My dear and understanding (for the most part) husband and I have been married for over 13 years, and we have a phenomenal 10 year old son. Although I had read many of your insightful books, I still worked 60 or so hours a week. I claim only stupidity, selfish desires and adhering to the current social norm. I have recently been available to listen to your daily broadcast, which is a godsend. Dr. Laura, I am so self-centered, that I was focusing solely on my career, impressing my boss, scoring myself the bigger paycheck, and securing the coveted VP slot, that I put my marriage and motherhood on the back burner. I must say, you have reminded me of my true calling. Thank you so much. I am now about to become my son’s mom and my husband’s wife. Thank you for helping me realize that no paycheck, no status can take the place of my true calling. For the first time I can remember, I actually apologized to my dear husband for not listening. Dr. Laura, it finally occurred to me that if I don’t listen to my husband (who is, by the way, the most selfless person in the world and only has our family’s best at heart) I’ll never be blessed in the way that God desires. Of course, this occurred while I work. So I have a journey ahead. I know that sometimes we all need something from another person, therefore, please remember that, in reciprocation, I am ready to be of service to you in any way I can.

You go home and take care of your babies. That’s how you’ll be of service to all the world – a better chance of raising good kids to be decent citizens, to go out and do wonderful things in the world.

So, my comments about Leslie Bennetts’ book are not vengeance. I have gone on to be happy, functional, secure, and continue with my career. That’s my vengeance on what she tried to do. But warning you that women’s magazines, and this sort of book, do not function in the best interests of families, children, or women is important to me. Encouraging women to do the wrong thing by making them paranoid about disasters, so they should only strive to be good-enough moms when they’re around, good-enough wives if they have the time, but the work is everything, is exactly what for decades and decades women complained their men were doing. And paranoid feminists like Leslie Bennetts are telling you to go backwards in history and hurt the family… just like men who were never home and never involved did.