Feminism, that old whipping boy

Readers respond to articles on Erma Bombeck and female fatherhood.

Published January 14, 2002 8:00PM (EST)

Read "Are We Not Housewives?" by Sophie Butcher.

As the former lifestyle editor of a small daily paper, it was my privilege to write the headlines under which Erma Bombeck's column appeared. It didn't matter that I was a low-income single mom with a demanding job who'd chosen to let my kids live in suburban comfort with my ex and his new wife while I got on my economic feet. Erma had seen me through the early days of full-time motherhood and the hectic weekends (when I wasn't working) and school vacations (when I was) of life as a working mother. Reading her column was one of the joys of my job and a reassuring reminder that no matter what my parenting choices looked like to the outside world, I was and would always be a mom. Coming up with headlines that did her justice was the least I could do.

-- Amy Waldman

Erma Bombeck not a favorite of feminists? Where have you been? Here was a practicing Catholic who stumped for the Equal Rights Amendment. She came out to speak to a group of women law students at my law school. She still opposed abortion. But she had friends of all types. Betty Friedan may have criticized her in "The Feminist Mystique," but she was off base. Erma Bombeck was a feminist. It's evident from her writings and all women need to realize it.

-- Nora Greer

Thanks for Sophie Butcher's piece on Erma Bombeck. I started reading and loving that woman when I was in grade school and she still wrote newspaper columns.

Today, I too am a Less-Than-Perfect Mom (gasp!) and you know what? I find it much easier to forgive myself for not being perfect when I can remember Erma writing about exactly whatever sort of failing I've just displayed.

In my opinion, organizations like the La Leche League and their ilk should have to make Bombeck's books available right alongside their manuals on how to raise "better, faster, stronger" children. We'd all be healthier for it.

-- Barbara Larsen

Was it really necessary for Sophie Butcher to configure her tribute to Erma Bombeck as a slap at that ever-popular whipping child, feminism? Given that she fails to mention exactly which feminists have taken Bombeck to task for lack of political rectitude (stating only that they are "many"), the accusation (featured prominently in the piece's headline) comes off as gratuitous. Maybe this is just a sign of the new form of political rectitude in our refreshingly non-dogmatic, post-feminist age, in which "feminist" serves as a convenient shorthand for "humorless, uptight zealot." I would have expected better from Salon.

-- Steve J. Albert

Read "The female dad" by Sara Keiko Sarasohn.

I was intrigued to read the article by the woman who wanted to be a mom but has been forced by circumstances into becoming more of a dad. Well, I'm the converse of that -- a male mom.

My wife is a physician who has finally found the job she loves, so much so that it seems that every spare minute is spent either at work or working at home. Since I'm just a graduate student, without the "out" of having to go away in the morning, I'm the one that takes the kids to school, I'm the one who picks them up in the evening. I'm the one who cooks. I'm the one who gets complaints about a dirty house. And worst of all, I'm the one who has to deal with the kids asking, "When will Mommy be home?"

Needless to say, this is causing some stress in my life. Any time one is forced into an unexpected role, it hurts, no matter what sex, or what relationship.

-- Steve Beach

Finally, an article about what it's like for a woman to be a "dad." I, too, am a "female dad" -- not because I'm lesbian, but because my husband is the stay-at-home parent.

I live in "opposite world" as I often call it. The challenges that I face as a parent are more in line with that of all the "dads" that I know. While my husband commiserates with all of our women friends who are moms.

I am pleased to read that Sara celebrates her life and the role that she plays in her son's life. I am thrilled about the life that my husband and I provide for our son. Though, often I feel like I'm the only woman who faces the challenges of a "dad." It's nice to know that I'm not.

-- Julie Nelson

By Salon Staff

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