Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cherie, Michelle, and Trofie Wife

Not that I’m presenting Martello as design’s little lost Laborite (with decidedly large ears) or Democratic savior/messiah (also with large ears…hmm, is there a connection between ear circumference and prestige? Maybe I should more closely examine Martello’s ears, not to mention my own), but reading the following New York Times article on the transition from power player to (less) power(ful) wife, I found cause to ruminate on my own situation here as Trofie Wife:

Via an article in the Times of London, Attorney (and former British First Lady) Cherie Blair told attorney (and First Lady-Elect) Michelle Obama, “‘You have to learn to take the back seat,’” as your husband will be the focus as long as he holds his title. The New York Times reporter continues to discuss various ongoing debates regarding Michelle Obama’s decision to resign from her own prestigious position in order to support her husband, first as a candidate, and now as president-elect and ultimately, president. The question is whether or not she truly had a choice in the matter and if so, if such choices are dispiriting or empowering for career-minded women. Some activists argue that Michelle Obama will gain a new soap box as first lady and perhaps be able to accomplish even more in this role than in her private-sector career trajectory. Obama remains convinced that she can return to her old career or a new one once her husband’s term(s) of office end(s).

Yes, Martello wasn’t elected the leader of the free world, and Trofie Wife had not yet risen to the professional stature of one Michelle Obama. But there are parallels. Trofie Wife is certainly taking a backseat to Martello at the moment, with her professional options limited to those that can be undertaken from afar on her trusty computer, as determined by open-minded employers. Just as any spouse (though in heterosexual couples I’m pretty sure women more frequently than men) must make tough decisions when their partner is offered a position far away from their current home, Michelle Obama and Trofie Wife found themselves in this same boat. While commuter marriages (or relationships) may work for some period of time over a manageable difference, at a certain point they are no longer feasible, especially, as in Michelle Obama’s case, when the family extends beyond the couple to animals and/or children. Becoming Trofie Wife and coming here was certainly a choice, and being with dear Martello in such a lovely location sure beats any administrative role. (I’m not sure if Michelle Obama will feel quite the same way about swampy Augusts in D.C., though I know nothing of Chicago summers, so maybe it’s not a major change.) Still, in the “dispiriting” corner, it’s unfortunate that one person’s career opportunities have to be sacrificed on the altar of another’s (here’s where the case for finally working out teleporting comes in).

Yet in the “empowering” corner, by tagging along with Martello, Trofie Wife has most certainly found a new platform—this here blog. In fact, it had been quite some time since she had written extensively outside of academic pursuits, so Trofie Wife has plunged head first into the opportunity, indulging in the writerly life complete with e-mail and online procrastination, constant revisions, and all together too many cups of tea. The ultimate question is what will become of Trofie Wife’s career, left behind on distant shores. Only time will tell if she will be able to transition back to the work force without skipping a beat, or if her “gap year” will be derided by employers in this increasingly dismal economy. While “First Lady” of the United States looks pretty good on the resume, Trofie Wife just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You raise important issues, Trofie Wife, and when there are children they will get even trickier. Best of luck!