As I mentioned last week, two of our Mentor Editors were contributors to the groundbreaking Shriver Report, A Woman’s Nation, which was released last Monday. Michael Kimmel and Courtney E. Martin both also sat on a panel at the conference that accompanied the release of the report; the panel was called “Men and Marriage,” and Kimmel and Martin were joined by Marcia Greenberger, the Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center and noted historian Stephanie Coontz. My spies at the Center for American Progress tell me that the panel was fascinating, and that all Coontz, Greenberger, Kimmel and Martin all offered fascinating insights into the discussion about the state of manhood and marriage in 2009.
Today in her regular column at The American Prospect, Martin continues her discussion of manhood and marriage, this time taking up the issue of “work/life balance,” a term that, she claims, has come to be code for “stressed working moms.” She argues that far from being a “women’s issue,” work/life balance is an issue in which men have a huge stake, too. She writes:
Anyone who hopes to be a balanced person with relationships and passions outside of work has a stake. Want to be an active part of making your neighborhood a more livable, communal place to live? Want to go on a trip with your friends every once in awhile? Want to have some job security even if you get sick or injured? All of these interests require a reasonable and consistent work schedule, a living wage, health care, vacation time, and sick days. And, of course, sons who have become caretakers of their aging parents, an increasingly common trend, also have to take these issues seriously.
In the same way, the fight to get more women’s voices onto the op-ed page isn’t just a “women’s issue.” It’s about changing the public discourse so that it’s more representative of a public that is over half women. It’s about making sure we’re hearing and debating the best ideas about how to make policy and make change, and recognizing that some of the best ideas will come from women. Like the work/life balance issue, getting more women onto op-ed pages is about equality and equity, but it’s also improving the quality of American life. And that’s something in which each and every one of us has a stake.