Monday, April 09, 2007

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

The National Organization of Women seems to be roaring with great concern. They are concerned about the Opt-Out Moms. This is not group of fascist terrorist women, though I get the impression that NOW would actually defend their participation in terror for the sake of equality. No, when you go to the NOW website you will a great deal of editorial applied at "debunking" the Opt-Out Moms.

What is an Opt-Out Mom? The New York Times identifies this as a group of highly paid, well-educated professional women who are opting out of corporate America and going home to raise a family. This is not yet a "tsunami" movement that threatens to flood the landscape of America, but NOW definitely seems worried. What do they know that they are not sharing? Better yet, what does an organization dedicated to equal, reproductive (abortion) and gay rights have to be concerned about a few women who choose to leave the workplace for the home-front?

NOW's concern may be rooted in the fact that 26 percent of women at the cusp of the senior-most levels of management are “opting out” of the promotion. Fortune Magazine found that of the 108 women who have appeared on its list of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women over the years, at least 20 have chosen to leave the corporate world for something they deem more fulfilling. NOW's anxiety is fueled by some highly recognizable women who have stepped out of the limelight for the home-fires. President Bush's adviser Karen Hughes left the White House for the benefit of her teenage son. Brenda C. Barnes, president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola left to go home to Illinois with her family. Wendy Chamberlin, ambassador to Pakistan resigned to spend time with her two young daughters. Why don't these women want to run the world? Maybe they have seen power and discovered where real power resides; not in the boardroom, but in the family room.

The NOW website lists several reasons its faithful followers need to debunk this "myth" of the Opt-Out Moms. They are pulling out all the guns to keep from losing ground. They use emotional appeals, deny the research that indicates a real trend is emerging, and seek to intimidate these women into submission. They do this by suggesting that if these women could be interviewed fifteen to forty years from now, they would be very sorry for their choices when they try to live on "skimpy retirement incomes." The NOW material says, "You might hear a more jaundiced view of their “choices.” (

The perspective of the Opt-Out Moms is refreshing. These women who have actually been to the high places of Cooperate America are finding that they don’t want to take time from their family in pursuit of success. Instead, women are redefining success. And in doing so, they are redefining work." (

While I think this trend is promising, it is not altogether encouraging. I believe the church needs to challenge these Opt-Out-Moms to consider the claim of scripture in the 127th Psalm.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Like these bright, well-educated and honorable women, we would do well to rediscover the truth that real power is found when the Lord builds a home.

Ed Litton