Real Radicals

"Sleep around all you want," the lawyer said, "but don't get married." Incredibly, the lawyer was talking to a group of seventh-grade girls. The occasion was a panel discussion at a Milwaukee school celebrating Take Your Daughter to Work Day. One panel member was attorney Debra Koenig, who advised the class of 12-year-old girls not to get married until they finish college. "I knew some women who were married in school and they were really held back," Koenig told the girls. Then she added, "Frankly, sleep around all you want, but don't get married." Apparently it dawned on Koenig that her comments were not quite appropriate, because later in the discussion she added, "About the sleeping around thing-you girls are only 12. Well, that's still very young." Not exactly a retraction; Koenig makes it sound as though promiscuity is O.K. as long as you're a little older-say, 15 or 16. Predictably, her comments generated a flurry of angry calls from the girls' parents. Koenig's law firm felt compelled to issue a press statement to apologize. But the statement ended with an astonishing sentence: "The firm, including Mrs. Koenig, believes strongly in family values and appropriate conduct." Family values-?! Be serious. Is it family values when someone tells a group of adolescents, Don't get married, it might hold back your career? Is it family values when someone says, Sleep around all you want, just don't get married? Of course not. But it is stock feminist ideology, where marriage and family are grudgingly accepted as long as they adapt to the demands of a career. The same Debra Koenig told the class she chooses to work full-time even though-in her own words-her "heart breaks" when her 3-year-old daughter begs for more time together. Ironically, Take Your Daughter to Work Day helped a lot of other mothers realize they don't like having their hearts break. Several letters to the editor said what was most striking about the day was how nice it was to spend more time with their children. In fact, what most mothers really want are opportunities to earn an income if they need to without being separated from their children all day. Feminists like Debra Koenig strike a radical pose, but they're not really so radical: They have acquiesced to modern business practices that put work and family in conflict. If we truly want to be radical, forget feminism. Instead, we ought to refuse to accept a system that creates work/family conflicts for parents. We should be pressing for family-friendly policies in the workplace that allow both mothers and fathers to integrate their work and family life with less stress. Christians ought to stand against a radical feminism that exalts careerism. But we cannot only criticize; we also need to find practical ways to relieve the conflicts of family and career so parents don't feel forced to choose between them. Christian businesses and ministries ought to be on the forefront in forging biblical principles for the workplace. So let's not take one day a year to Take Your Daughter to Work. Let's use every day to keep our family priorities straight.


Chuck Colson


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