Hollingworth and Walzer

Sarah Wills

I found Hollingworth’s article very interesting. She compares women to soldiers in the sense that “it is necessary for tribal or national existence; it means great sacrifice of personal advantage; it involves danger and suffering, and, in a certain percentage of cases, the actual loss of life”. This quote struck me because I had never compared these two roles before, however this description fits both titles. People must reproduce in order for human life to continue, yet offspring puts significant strain on the family. In a different sociology class, I learned that married couples are more satisfied with their marriage if they do not have kids. I don’t think the strain or sacrifice of having children acknowledged by many people. However, just as Hollingworth stated, “normal” women should want to and do reproduce. Another quote from this article that stood out to me is “Normally woman lives through her children; man lives through his work”. This was quoted from the New York Times on September 15, 1915. Although this quote is from almost 100 years ago, it still made me wonder if people still feel this way. I feel that there are many more working moms nowadays than in the past, however I do think that if women go back to work too quickly after giving birth and leave their new born with care takers that there is a sense of guilt thrown at them. Yet, if men do not take paternity leave, they are not scorned for it. So, this quote could still have some truth to it even though there are more working moms out there.

I really enjoyed reading Walzer’s article because I found it so applicable to many of my own personal experiences. First off, it made me think of my mother. When my mom had me, she had a nanny all lined up to take care of me after her maternity leave ended so she could continue her career. She was very motivated and successful, however, after two days of returning to work she decided to quit. She told me she felt the worst guilt and selfishly wanted to be with me. It is such a sacrifice for her and many other women to make. Just like Walzer said, women worry more than men about their children, which is considered normal. Men actually considered spending time with their children as a waste and unproductive. This is most likely due to the fact that men are more focused on the economic burden of the family rather than child rearing. Another point that I found very interesting was how Walzer pointed out that women are the delegators in the family. Although most women admit that their husbands are very willing to help, they must be prompted by the woman in order to help. The men seem to be unaware of the baby’s routine and constant needs. This burden is also placed on the women. This reminded me of a family of four that I babysit for. Usually when I first get to their house, the father is making dinner for the kids while the mother is getting ready. While making dinner, he always asks me to check with his wife about how much food to give each child, which utensils they should use, and how much milk they each get. It is obvious that dinner preparations are not usually his duty when he is at home. I find this particularly surprising because both parents have full time jobs, yet the mother is so much more in charge and aware of her children’s needs instead of the father.



4 thoughts on “Hollingworth and Walzer

  1. Carly Ozarowski

    Sarah, in terms of maternity leave vs. paternity leave many companies offer paternity leave but some fathers choose not to take it because they do not want to miss out at work and be behind. While women are expected to take the maternity leave for the full time, they still are penalized for missing important things at work- this can be very hard for a women to have to choose. I too find it interesting that among many families with both working parents the mother is still expected to keep up with the child rearing and household works. Even though the mother is working just as much as the father, they are often socialized to believe they are the only ones who can truly take care of their children.

  2. Sarah, you mentioned the “old-fashioned” idea that a women lives through her children, whereas a man lives through his work. As you said, this quote is from about 100 years ago, but as much as we all like to believe that things have changed these articles show that these ideas are still very much rooted in the development of our concepts about motherhood and fatherhood today. Although we do see a lot more women in the workforce, there is still a large difference in the number of women who make changes to their work schedule or quit altogether in order to raise their children compared to men. In Walzer’s conclusion she says that we construct our social identities as women or men by either doing or not doing “women’s work.” So, there may be more women in the workforce today, but there are still far more women than there are men staying at home, raising their children, and doing “women’s work.”

  3. Like Sarah, and many others, I immediately connected Walzer’s articles to my own experiences. While my mother was already a stay at home mom by the time I came around, my dad was actually the one to change his job because of his lack of involvement with me and my brother. My family lived in New Jersey but my dad would commute weekly to Atlanta for his job leaving him only home on the weekends. Because I was so young, I wouldn’t remember him when he came home on Fridays and it took until the end of the weekend for me to love having him around as my dad again only for him to leave again. My dad hated this and ended up leaving that job for something else so his kids would actually be able to know who he was. Yet he never once considered leaving his job for good and taking on the amount of work my mom had on her plate as a stay at home mom. While I definitely appreciate the sacrifices he made, it still doesn’t mean my parents had equal distributions of work when it came to parenting

  4. Speaking to the comparison of the mother to a soldier, most people probably do not give mothers nearly the same credit. This is because they take a much lesser risk and mostly because they are doing something that is considered natural and they are expected to start a family. Women are meant to get pregnant and have children lead the family, cook and take care of the home. While men and women who go into the service are acting bravely for the country, mothers are not viewed in the same way. It feels as if we now take the act of having a child and then proceeding to raising that child much more lightly. Since it is expected for nearly every woman to have children it is not something not worthy. However this is still a brave endeavor because of the amount of responsibility and work having a child takes.

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