Ooh, A Little Tuesday Afternoon Controversy

ollie_small4I have a confession to make- I’m pretty sure my time with my Elle subscription has come to an end. The last issue’s cover of Jessica Alba may have something to do with it. And Kate Hudson before that. Or maybe it’s the mish-mosh layout. Or the fact that I can no longer imagine Nina Garcia in a conference room, shaking her head at a spread and saying, “I’m confused” in that timeless Project Runway, erm, way of hers.

But that’s not the controversy I’m talking about (unless you’d like to defend Alba as more than just a bland, sweet face. Go right ahead.) What I’m talking about is an interesting little piece in this month’s Elle. Nancy Hass’ article “Die, Mommy, Die!”  creates an issue out of chatty working mothers by asking, “Why do so many successful women feel the need to blather on about their children in the workplace?”


It isn’t an easy one, that’s for sure.  Hass says it can be political (the CEO talks about her kids to make herself seem more approachable and get on an even keel with her subordinates) or emotional (just straight up guilt). Her husband, for one, thinks she’s overreacting (it’s just water cooler talk, a way to connect with people).

In my own family, I see both sides. I have two sisters, one of whom is a working mom and the other a stay-at-home mom. Do I think my working sister sometimes feels guilty? Yes. Do I think my stay at home sister sometimes misses adult interaction? Sure. I, myself, am one of those “young, unmarried women in the room” Hass says would find such conversation tedious. And yet, I’ve been out of an office environment for almost a year and even before that the company I worked for was filled with young, unmarried people in the room.

Still, is it about the subject matter at all? Or are we just more open these days than we should be (hello, blogger party of one)? Or does your children’s antics just fall into that category of “topics that make people feel uncomfortable” such as money and a detailed account of your colonoscopy? Is it the same reason I try to refrain from talking about my dog? Or is it something Hass is just blowing out of proportion?

Elle has been generous enough to post the full article here. Read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. I’m especially interested in how other bloggers feel about this, considering a huge majority are women and mothers to boot.

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3 Responses to Ooh, A Little Tuesday Afternoon Controversy

  1. Anon says:

    I got an earful about the actual birthing process at a lunch the other day. AT A MEAL. I don’t have children, and sometimes I feel that women who do have kids feel that kids are the one topic that they can blather on and on about. I wouldn’t sit there and blather on about Obama’s new foreign policy team because I know that the women seated around could not give a rat’s tush about it. I consider my company. But if you do not want to hear about kids, then you have a malfunctioning uterus.
    So the rule I would use is, when in the company of people not related to the kids, talk about them like you would any other job/hobby that they know nothing about. A story or two will suffice, then move the conversation along to the other person’s interests.

  2. nikki hardin says:

    I work in an all-women office (skirt! magazine) and some of us have kids and some don’t, but we generally talk about a wide range of topics ( including kids, fucked up brothers, dead exes, housewives of NY–Kelly Bensimon is a particular irritant, what books we’re reading, food we’re cooking, what our shrink/psychic/UPS guy said, etc). I’m leaving Elle for a different reason–I just don’t get the new design. It’s full of postage stamp-size clothes and so many accessories I feel like I’ve eaten an entire chocolate cake when I’m done. Ugh.

  3. thecreme says:

    Nikki – I haven’t seen RHNY since I moved to Japan but I’ve heard that Kelly Bensimon was on there. It’s such a shame – I used to watch her host Style.com videos behind the tents at fashion week and at least then I had an image in my head of a normal, successful woman. Why oh why any woman would want to join that show is beyond me.

    I hadn’t heard of skirt! until now and I’m in the middle of persuing it…. very interesting! Sounds like you work with some cool chicks – and I hear ya on the f’d up brothers, food/book chit chat. It makes me miss working in an actual office with actual other people. Thanks for the comment!

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