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How Should I Respond to Sexist Co-Workers Who Think I Should Be a Stay-at-Home Mom?

How Should I Respond to Sexist Co-Workers Who Think I Should Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

Dear Care and Feeding,

I am mom to a 7-month-old. We live in a pretty conservative area, and I work in a male-dominated industry. In fact, all of my co-workers are men who have or had stay-at-home wives. When I was pregnant, several of my co-workers did not expect me to come back to work. Though I told them we planned on using day care, I guess they assumed some maternal instinct would come over me and I’d quit. They said terrible things to me, like how they’d be worried day care would let their child cry all day.

I need a script for when people express their condolences about our child care. I get comments all the time: “We were fortunate and my wife didn’t have to work.” “My sister-in-law ended up having to work. It sucks.” They assume I’m working because I have to, not because I want to. It’s 2019! Some moms want to work!

Perhaps the reason I haven’t come up with a witty rebuttal is I don’t want to be working—only it wasn’t financially feasible for me to stay home. These guys think moms only work if they have to, when many moms work because they want to. As the only liberal feminist around, I feel responsible for representing that point of view. But I feel weird feigning a passion for work that I don’t have. My husband is in the same boat—he’d love to be a stay-at-home dad, but no one says it’s unfortunate that he has to work.


—Reluctantly Working Mom

Dear Reluctantly Working Mom,

First of all, everyone should be banned from saying terrible and stupid things about day care. Especially, you know, to parents who rely on day care. The jerky things people feel comfortable saying never cease to amaze me.

Anyway. I’m sorry you’re stuck at work when you’d rather be home, and I’m sorry that as an added bonus you have to run around defending the rights of women everywhere to devote energy to their careers after becoming mothers.

You know, of course, that you don’t have to do that. But you’re taking a noble stance, and maybe that fact will make you feel a little better about being at a job you’re not wild about—you might, by example, be making a difference. I think you can address these comments without outright lying: “Well, it’s not so bad and remember: Some moms want to work,” or “Every family runs differently, and this arrangement works for us.”

I’m unsurprised that no one ever says such things to your husband. And I’m realistic about your ability to change minds. But if it’s important to you to defend the rights of all women to choose work as well as family, give it your all! You’re not doing the job you love, but you are still fighting the good fight. 

from Human Interest - Slate Magazine 

How Should I Respond to Sexist Co-Workers Who Think I Should Be a Stay-at-Home Mom? How Should I Respond to Sexist Co-Workers Who Think I Should Be a Stay-at-Home Mom? Reviewed by streakoggi on December 31, 2019 Rating: 5

Work from home 25-35$/H

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