The joy of work?

The Guardian had an interview with Linda Hirshman (,,1685725,00.html), the author of the recent article on feminism and choice that irritated me so much recently. Most of it was a summary of the article, but there was one quote that was very revealing. [I’m assuming, which may be optimistic, that her views haven’t been distorted by the interviewer].

She is convinced that a truly flourishing life is impossible without paid employment. Her moments of fulfillment came in 1978, when she racked up 2,700 billable hours as a labour lawyer and in 1984 when she was part of a team of lawyers arguing a case before the supreme court.

I think this explains a lot of why Hirshman’s ideas are so stupid: she not only has a staggeringly impoverished view of family life, she doesn’t even have an inspiring view of work. What do you think a successful lawyer would say was their big achievement, assuming they weren’t stressing the altruistic side of their work in helping people? Maybe that they got to be a partner, or that they won a lot of important cases or even that they helped change the law? To have as one of your big achievements that you billed a lot of hours: that isn’t the mark of a good lawyer. That’s the mark of a mid-ranking corporate worker-bee who’s never going to get to the top because she’s got no vision beyond her immediate targets. Anybody who has such a narrow view of what constitutes personal fulfilment has no place telling any other woman what to do. The comparison of her with second-wave feminists seems to me to be an insult to them.


One thought on “The joy of work?

  1. Certainly the article portrays her as annoying and complacent and makes me wonder whether her mechanical legalism comes from her career choice or vice versa. ‘The cost of everything & the value of nothing’ has been somewhat overused but seems apt.


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