I claim the right to participate in the labor market as women, not as men in skirts. Up until now, we have insisted that women change their fertility in order to accommodate the labor market. I say we should take women’s fertility as given and change the labor market to accommodate our bodies. I claim the right to get married and stay married, not the right to raise our children alone, and to spend larger and larger portions of our lives alone.
I have had women students applaud at that line. But the audience at Harvard was rather subdued, in comparison with my normal student reactions.
However, I discovered that part of the reason Harvey Mansfield invited me for this particular panel was that his assistant had seen my review of Hirshman's book on the Weekly Standard. Unbeknownst to me, this particular assistant has a doctorate, but is raising two children, and so is working part-time for Mansfield. Also unknown to me, she had invited a bunch of her friends in similar situations. After my talk, and at the dinner later, several different women came up to me and told me how much they appreciated my message and my support for their decision to stay home with kids. These women had doctorates, MA's or were ABD (All But Dissertation) in a variety of disciplines.
I don't think they realized how numerous they actually were. If they had known how many other women were in the audience, maybe I would have gotten some applause! :-)