How Serfdom Saved the Woman’s Movement

How Serfdom Saved the Woman’s Movement is a masterpiece written by Caitlin Flanagan, an author and an editor. The most outstanding issue in this writing is what happens when a mother works. According to Flanagan, “…because it reveals the unpleasant truth that life presents a series of choices, each of which precludes a host of other attractive possibilities—is that when a mother works, something is lost” (Behrens & Rosen, 309). Flanagan has gone to extend of expounding this and to state exactly what is lost when a mother works.

One of the most important things that are lost in this case is the relationship between children and their mother. Flanagan states that, “…small children develop an immediate and consuming passion for the person who feeds and rocks and bathes them every day. It is in the nature of the way, they experience love” (Para. 20).

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Therefore, as mothers become absentees, children tend to channel their affection to the nannies. Even though some people try to refute these claims, Flanagan states that it is natural that children will try to develop strong chords with the people who take care of their physical needs and spends more time with; talking, laughing and sharing their trial and tribulations.

All working mothers lose freedom and they share one thing in common, oppression, regardless of whether they are professional or not. The nannies themselves feel oppressed because they cannot give enough time to their own children, while the working professionals suffer the same brunt of not spending quality life with their children. “All working mothers, let us remember, are oppressed, and the oppression of the wealthiest is somehow more important, more urgent, more remarkable, than the oppression of the poorest” (Flanagan Para. 63).

Studies show that some women go to work out of duty, not that they love what they do. In this case, they lose the worth of living. Instead of living, they start surviving. A study carried out to determine to what extent women wanted to work revealed that most of them would really love to stay at home and tend their children.

“All three of the factory workers said they’d wanted to stay home with their children when they were small (and one of them, whose teenage daughter became pregnant, fervently wishes she could have been home during the girl’s adolescence). However, perhaps these wish were better left un-granted” (Flanagan Para. 126).

Nevertheless, the writer of this article does not totally agree with Flanagan. To some extent, Caitlin Flanagan is right to claim that something is lost when mothers work. However, Flanagan raised some critical issues in this paper, which we cannot look. One of the books quoted by Flanagan states that “Indeed, becoming a mother is the single best way a woman can elevate her risk of living in poverty” (Flanagan Para. 138).This notwithstanding, mothers who work and employ nannies to look after their children are providing a form of employment. Given the current economic situation, for a mother to work is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

Studies also show that working part time reduces the stress that comes with motherhood. Therefore, even though Flanagan maybe right in her claims, the writer begs to differ on some matters of principle as mentioned above. After all, working is fun and it is secure to work. Given the fact that under traditional marriage the father takes away all the benefits after divorce, it is advisable for mothers to work especially in these times when divorce has become a common place in our society.

Works Cited

Behrens, Laurence, & Rosen, Leonard. “Writing and Reading across the Curriculum”.

New York: Longman. 6th Ed. 1996.

Flanagan, Caitlin. “How Serfdom Saved the Woman’s Movement.” The Atlantic. 2004.

Web. 10 Feb. 2010.


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