Even though I’m still young and don’t have a potential baby daddy on the horizon, I’ve been contemplating children lately. How many I want, whether they’ll be biological or adopted, and how I’m going to handle (a) tiny human(s) demanding my attention 24/7. I just don’t know how parents do it!
In this day and age, with the rise of the stay-at-home dad, it’s not always the mothers’ responsibility to look after the home, the family and her workplace.
I Don’t Know How She Does It would have you think otherwise, though. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Kate Reddy is a high-flying investment banker who has a nanny during the day, but tries to spend as much time as she can with “the cutest guy she knows”, her husband, played by Greg Kinnear, and her two kids. I got the feeling that she never slept (the constant list making in bed at all hours of the night probably lent itself to this), was a walking zombie, spent minimal time with her husband and kids, spent her weekends hosting kids’ birthday parties and never had a spare moment for herself. If this is what motherhood and family life is like, I’m withdrawing my application.
But it’s not just the “out of touch”-ness of IDKHSDI, as Dana Stevens called it in her Slate review (my friend, Tess, who I went to see the movie with, drew ire with Kate’s “chronic over-apologising” and “persecution complex”, and I have to say I agree), nor the unrealistic and polar opposite portrayal of stay-at-home mums (Busy Phillips’ character, Wendy, attends the gym from 8am to 2pm every school day. My mum was a stay-at-home one and I can tell you THAT JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN! I’m insulted on behalf of housewives everywhere.) that infuriated me. It was the blatant pro-life message the film pushed.
Kate’s junior co-worker, Momo, played brilliantly by Olivia Munn, was all about work, with some occasional no-strings-attached sex to balance it out. Momo is socially awkward, hates children, and thinks Kate’s family compromises her ability to do her job.
So when Momo finds out she’s pregnant and tells Kate she’s going to “take care of it”, Kate launches into a “creepy pro-life proselytisation”. In the next scene, Momo is keeping the baby. If that’s not a unabashed punishment for a young, attractive woman enjoying sex without commitment, I don’t know what is.
As Irin Carmon puts it, “… Why, if having a choice was so awesome, the young woman in the movie couldn’t have made another one. You know, the one she convincingly would have wanted to make.”
*Blanket spoiler alert.
Elsewhere: [Slate] I Don’t Know How She Does It Reviewed: Sarah Jessica Parker Rides the Rapids of Upper-Middle-Class Parenthood.
[Jezebel] My Group Therapy Session with Sarah Jessica Parker.
Image via BoxOffice.com.