Stay-At-Home Moms Are Prostitutes & Happiness Isn’t Real


Elizabeth Wurtzel filed a long, rambling confession over at New York this week, entitled Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One Night Stand of a Life. You’ll have to read it if you expect to follow along, but the gist is this: Elizabeth Wurtzel 1) had a crazy landlord this year, 2) women who don’t pay their own way are prostitutes and 3) there’s no such thing as happiness (?).

Peppered throughout are reminders of the Ivy League schools she’s attended, successes she’s enjoyed as a published author, fancy designer bags she’s purchased, and the assurance that her body is as firm and taut as it was in her teens… and yet, she asserts, happiness is an untruth. Convention is a lie we tell ourselves.

Editors Jennifer Wright and Ashley Cardiff will now try really hard to parse this.

Jennifer:  So, Elizabeth Wurtzel’s piece seems to spend a very, very long time talking about how she is unhappy before concluding: “But this is it for me. I am a free spirit. I do not know any other way to be. No one else seems to live as I do. In a world gone wrong, a pure heart is dangerous.” Whereupon, I laughed out loud. What about the fact that you don’t want to hold down a job or a relationship qualifies you for a pure heart badge?

Ashley:  Maybe she means buying a $10,000 handbag?

Jennifer:  Oh, yes, she bought a Birkin! That’s right. That was pretty pure. She also seems to spend most of the day Googling herself, which seems very brave.

Ashley:  I’m sorry. I still have no idea what I just read. Can we step back a second and you can, maybe, explain it to me? At first glance, it seems like it’s about her being harassed by her landlord (who stole the aforementioned $10,000 handbag) but then it’s about how happiness is a lie? I don’t understand what’s going on, Jennifer. And at first I was really excited, too, because I love a good crazy landlord story.

"I'll show you and your law, you disgusting little whore!"

“I’ll show you and your law, you disgusting little whore!”

Jennifer:  I know, but that didn’t happen, did it? Not really. That would have been a story. Maybe one with some chuckles in it.

Ashley:  How does she know that her landlord stole her Birkin? What does this have to do with her being unhappy, but also free?

Jennifer:  So, in essence, Elizabeth Wurtzel is unhappy. Frankly, I think everyone but the village idiot suffers from a deep unknowable sadness, so I don’t think this makes someone a terribly unique little snowflake. Honestly, I assume everyone around me is depressed. It seems like a rational response to the human condition. I do not think that this is particularly brave or interesting, but, fine. I would probably read piece about being sad. Maybe I will write a piece called “Sadness.” You know what I think is brave?

Ashley:  I can guess.

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    • Princess Paisley

      This is taking First World Problems to a whole new level…Elizabeth Wurzel is an over-indulged, pampered, spoiled and privileged young woman who is little more than a thinking woman’s Paris Hilton. Prozac Nation might have been ground-breaking at the time of publication but her subsequent works are little more than the self-indulgent Sylvia Plath wannabe ramblings of a teenage goth! In an era where many people are struggling to feed their families, secure employment and hold onto their homes she comes across as a woman who needs a swift reality kick up her rear end!

    • JennyWren

      There are two things about the whole “staying home with the kids is prostitution” thing that bothers me; 1) it really devalues the nature of childcare. I mean, I personally am absolutely crummy with kids, so I have nothing but admiration for the people who can repeatedly clean sticky noses and listen to inane tantrums about jello or whatever without simply resorting to spraying said child repeatedly with Febreze, with a defensive mimosa clutched in the other hand. If Wurtzel was really as much of a Feminist as she claims to be, she would be trying to build up the image of childcare so that we didn’t label men who want to work with kids as “gay” or perverted, and so that women who work with children get given decent wages. Which brings me neatly to my next point:

      2) If mothers aren’t supposed to stay at home and care for the kids, who is? Forgive me, but I don’t think there’s anything innately feminist about passing the responsibility along to some other woman who is willing to do the work you find so denigrating in exchange for a pitiable wage because you don’t think it’s real work to begin with. If you truly feel like you’re healthier and happier at work by all means invest in decent childcare (and of course there are a ton of women who simply don’t have that choice, whom forces dictate must go back to work when they really don’t want to), but if you want to stay at home that’s just as important and you shouldn’t be made to feel bad. Are the nannies and au pairs and the staffers at daycare prostitutes too?

      When it comes to women without kids who don’t want to work, I think it’s a risky choice to rely on someone else’s feelings for you to provide you with a living, because people can and do change. Opting out of the job market for a number of years is always risky. But if everyone is happy with situation what business it of mine or Wurtzel’s or anyone else’s?

    • Peapod

      Wurtzel makes Cat Marnell look like Katharine Hepburn.

    • Eagle Eye

      Thanks for making sense of that article, I followed the link over and…then I had no idea what was happening or why I was supposed to care.

    • Katya

      I was reading this piece (Wurtzel’s, not your hilarious dissection) with my jaw hanging open the entire time. The only other thing I’ve read of hers was something a while back (which was also about how her body hasn’t changed since high school and women who don’t have their high school bodies have let themselves go?). Basically, this woman is insufferable.

    • jamiepeck

      I haven’t read this whole Liz Wurtzel thing yet and I feel like it’s going to give me a headache…but you did make bourgeois wives sound like a special and enhanced kind of sex worker not too long ago, Jen. Which is coincidentally what Marx thought they were as well. MARXIST!

    • Jennifer Wright

      Katie Holme’s bag is like a cartoon prop.

      • Ashley Cardiff

        She could fit a shetland pony in it.

    • Alle

      Dudes. I am totally going to remember this piece as I feel shitty about myself/my life in general. Yes, I am working 12-14 hours today, yes that is hard, yes I am constantly dealing with bogus family stuff, yes I am also emotionally/financially stretched to the limit because of said stuff. But you know what? I could have enough free time to google myself for entire afternoons, and enough money to spend ten grand on a bag that doesn’t even have pockets on the inside (so all my stuff would just roll around inside it like unsecured baggage in the hull of a ship), and yet that’s STILL no guarantee that I’d be happy. I mean, this woman doesn’t seem happy at all, and yet she has things that I’d probably cut off a foot for. So, I guess…lessons?

      • Ashley Cardiff

        Wait. Birkins don’t have interior pockets?

      • Alle

        Nope. My friend has one (not as big as Katie Holmes’ but it’s the real deal) and it has two little “flap” sections along the front and back walls when you open it up. They don’t zip or snap closed and they are narrow but deep, so your phone falls all the way to the bottom and then you can’t fit your hand in to get it out again, and it bangs up against your keys and the screen gets scratched.

        I’ve heard that you can customise the interior of Birkins, but it probably costs a damn fortune. And even then, you still have to either carry it in your hand or wear it over the crook of your arm, and seriously who even does that.

      • Ashley Cardiff

        This is astonishing. One of the few (and no less ridiculous) arguments for the Birkin is that it’s “practical.” I mean, obviously: LOL.

      • Alle

        It’s my secret belief that this bag was designed to be absolutely impractical and given a ridic pricetag deliberately, just to see who would be silly enough to buy one. Pretty sure there are a couple people at Hermes who are laughing themselves hoarse right now.

      • insanelady

        I really don’t understand what the appeal of a birkin actually is. Simply a status symbol or what?

      • Alle

        Basically, yeah. They are also very beautiful, but so are racehorses, and I wouldn’t carry one of those around with me all day.

    • katie richardson

      I feel like this piece reveals her to be an extremely unreliable narrator – I didn’t take a lot of it seriously, I felt like it was more a window inside her mental illness and how that has shaped her perspective on things, and it’s clear she’s not out of it yet.

    • Chris Roberts

      Woe is me…me!! Why I can’t have pretty days? Oh, because memoirs aren’t a genre but a protracted bowel movement best aired out alone.

    • CMJ

      Woo boy. Her paragraphs are so fragmented I can’t even tell what she’s writing about. One minute she tells everyone to forget serious journalism and the next minute she says that publicly funded universities are the “next frontier of unnatural disaster.” I don’t understand.

    • Johnny Medina

      Feminism at its most agro.

    • TheGrandPoobah

      This chick’s a clown. My wife is a homemaker, and if she worked my house would look like a tsunami came through. She works her ass off keeping the system running smoothly. Ten bucks says that any guy who goes on a date with this train wreck gives up halfway through and leaves. We have a name for people like Wurtzel, and that is Asshat.