This past week, I listened to a podcast in which an award-winning author was interviewed about her writing life and most recent publication. She’s received critical acclaim for four New York Times bestselling novels and two short story collections. In short, she’s a force. Her rapport with the podcast host was energetic and his questions yielded rich content.
After a lengthy conversation, the author commented with surprise on the time. She needed to pick up her child from school. How sweet. How human.
Then came the record scratch. The host responded, “You have time.” He then continued. From his office miles away, how could he know the precise distance from her home to the school? The weather and traffic conditions? I wondered, had the author been a man who’d announced his need to dash off to a meeting, would the host have fired back, “You have time.”
The author finished the interview without indication of annoyance. Still, my thoughts return to her. Maybe the author wasn’t fine with the situation. Maybe, in spite of the stress she felt over the hurdles she’d need to clear to be on time for her child, she smiled through this what-the-heck moment as we women so often do, and soldiered on.
The host is probably a decent sort, but at that moment, he prioritized his interests over her need. He devalued a traditionally woman-assigned task—child care.
Interestingly, the author and her husband are strong feminists. They divide child care and domestic tasks in a manner that protects her writing time. Their son will grow up witnessing respect and equality. If 30 years in the future, he interviews a woman author concerned about being late to collect a child from school, I expect he’ll say, “I need 10 more minutes. Does that work for you?”
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