Last Friday, I wrote a post about Judith Warner's latest Domestic Disturbances piece wherein Warner provocatively posits that there is a dangerous resentment toward affluent and educated women brewing in our contemporary society. Though her words sparked a storm of criticism among many readers, those same words struck something in me. I was moved to do something I am actually very bad at doing -- to write a thank you note. To be honest, the note wrote itself. I just sat there, rattled, impassioned, pounding the keyboard. And when I posted said note on the NYT and then later on here on ILI, I felt a familiar breed of nausea. Immediately, I worried that I had gone too far, said something it was not my place to say. That perhaps I should have just ingested Warner's words, mulled them over, and then moved on.
The temporary existential unease, the fleeting fire of regret, was well worth it. Within hours of posting my thoughts on the matter, I had a few comments from fellow bloggers who applauded me for saying something, for starting - or rather continuing - an important and necessary conversation. And then yesterday, these compatriots continued the discussion, each on her own blog.
Lindsey of A Design So Vast bemoans our inclination to judge others based on appearance, on external qualities. She writes, "It is impossible to know, from how someone looks on the surface, what is going on inside his or her heart. I have learned enough in my life to know that with absolute certainty." And she is on to something, isn't she? Because this is what affluence and education are - superficial, surface markers of an individual that often reflect poorly what is going on internally. Thankfully, Lindsey is another curious soul who refuses to remain quiet because of her arguably fortunate life. She states, "I will not be muzzled; I believe there is too much to be gained by telling our stories, whoever we are and whatever formal education we have."
Lindsey's classmate Mama of The Elmo Wallpaper highlights an interesting and overlooked feature of the Montana mom saga, namely that this woman was so overwhelmed that her judgment was possibly compromised. Being overwhelmed, stretched thin, drained are phenomena to which all of us mothers can surely relate, regardless of pedigree or paycheck. Mama makes a number of stellar points, her arguments rooted in her own experience as "one damn lucky woman" and concludes, "An education or a privileged background doesn't guarantee us anything, and everyone has a story to tell."
I want to thank these two women, these Cheerio Compatriots, whom I've never met in real life. Yes, because they linked to me. But more because they are keeping this conversation, this fundamentally important, albeit incendiary, conversation, going. Because they are telling their stories. Yesterday was a good day; I read their words, their ideas, and through the screen their conviction was pure and palpable. I felt a surge of old school academic adrenaline and nodded and said to myself, Now we're talking.
Let's not stop now.