Was Christopher Hitchens sexist in saying that "women can work but don't have to" ?

Hi, I am defending Hitchens here and I basically said in a nutshell, that all he is doing, in is usual witty way, is providing for his family and that his wife can choose to work if she wants but doesn't have to. I see noting wrong with that, but would like other peoples opinion. I also added that any of these accusations about misogyny and sexism doesn't outweigh the many things he said about the fight for women's equal rights and the empowerment of women.

Here is what the guy said about this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQas34criFo 
"A man who says women's innate qualities means they are better off staying at home rather than working is simply a sexist by any definition of the term. Since modern atheism is rife with sexism, it's not surprising you refuse to see that simple fact."

My potential response would be well women are better suited to take care of children and Hitchens said before that, men often look at in awe and wonder at how a female can inherently know what to do with a newborn. And I believe this is backed up with evolutionary studies. (If anyone has citations or peer reviewed papers on this, much appreciated.) His point wasn't that the half of the human race known as female should not work ... his point was that his wife will not need to do so though she has that option.

and If he was in some sort of way sexist, he wasn't sexist in a bad way. He had an opinion that has valid arguments and points behind it and never forbid any woman to not go to work, he in fact said he would be "thrilled if they want to". If so, I can argue that his point has merit and not forcing women to do anything AND that the guy who I am debating against intentionally or unintentionally didn't clarify that Hitchens had good intentions behind that remark.. and everyone can agree it wasn't sinister and probably the mildest remark that people are throwing way out of proportion. What am I trying to say, if it is a form of sexism, it is probably too quaint and mild to delve any deeper, ya know?

Really appreciate any help to argue for my position on this and briefly on what he implied by "modern atheism is rife with sexism" :)
I don't think it is, there may have been a few remarks, often taken out of context, but as a whole it is not in any 'atheist doctrine'.. has we don't have any not like the religious who condemn women to beasts of burden. Side note: Hitchens was against women to being child bearers and slaves, in the interview above he said they can work if they want to, that I believe is advocating freedom of choice and equal rights.

Thank You

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I am really emotional about this subject.

When I was married my husband MADE me work to support him. I didn't have a choice. I have never been taken care of the way (I think) women should be.

I do not know what it is like to be given the option to work or stay home and be a mom, but I can tell you that I would give anything in this world for the chance to know what that feels like.

So no. It's not sexist. It's called being a fucking MAN and supporting the mother of your children, which is what a "good" man would do...

I have never been that lucky, or deserving, or both....Any single mom would agree with me. A good man is worth a million diamonds. Or more. Much more.

I sympathise with your position, Belle, but to take sex truly out of it it should be that every parent (male or female) should work to the best of their abilities to provide for their children (and by work I include taking care of young children at home which I know from experience is just as hard - if not harder - than a traditional 9 to 5). If it happens that the female is better qualified or intellectually endowed to provide financially than the man he should not be considered less of a man for not doing so. That is the opposite side of the coin of sexism.

To truly not be sexist people must be considered simply as people - not male or female. This is not always possible - no matter how much you socially construct the term gender, I will never be able to give birth to a baby. However, whenever we can ignore gender, we should (in my opinion).

I think I agree, Belle. With the exception being where the man is just not capable of earning to support the family. In this case, either both should work or if the woman can support the family, she should work (i.e. if the woman is college educated and capable of earning 2 or 3  times as much as the man).

Substitute "his wife" for "people" in his argument and you see the fallacy of critics calling him sexist:

"he is providing for his family and that people can choose to work if they want but don't have to."

No-one would complain about the statement above and yet just because he uses the specific example of his wife he is accused of sexism. I don't understand it. Stating that an individual should have a choice seems the opposite of any -ism that might exist. It seems to say more about the assumptions of the critic than those of Hitchens himself who was a very clear thinker.

DISCLAIMER: I realise that a lot of people, due to circumstances, do have to work - I didn't want to muddy my point with this.

his wife can choose to work if she wants but doesn't have to

This is not the same as the title of the post: "women can work but don't have to". His wife's choice is up to them to decide. Stating "women can work but don't have to" is a different matter entirely.

"A man who says women's innate qualities means they are better off staying at home rather than working is simply a sexist by any definition of the term. Since modern atheism is rife with sexism, it's not surprising you refuse to see that simple fact."

A man who says one should work with ones own innate qualities is a wise man indeed. If my innate qualities lead me to be a sewer worker, I'd be a sewer worker... because it would lead me to be happier with my life.

modern atheism is rife with sexism

No, modern atheism is rife with SJWs and extreme feminists who are perpetually offended. It doesn't matter what you say or do, there's always going to be someone there to CALL it sexist, racist, bigotry, whatever. The mere accusation of which should never be enough to say that "modern atheism is rife with sexism".

Hitchens was against women to being child bearers

That doesn't sound right... I suspect you haven't articulated your thought clearly here... because ONLY female humans can bear human children. Maybe you meant to say "Hitchens was against women being only child bearers and slaves"?

Was he specific about what he counted as a job?

Show me a pretty 18-25 year old college girl who can't get some kind of a job and I'll assume "something is wrong with this story." Servers in restaurants are disproportionately pretty young women in this age range.

All across the country coeds are trading sex and (possibly simulated) companionship for money and housing in what's called a sugarbaby/sugardaddy relationship. I doubt if very many young men—even handsome ones—could set something parallel up.

Whether what Hitchens said is sexist is a matter of opinion, not fact, though it can be a fact in the sense of how well it fits someone's definition of sexism. 

Related: This may be related to the nature vs. nurture discussion of masculinity/femininity. Some feminists pretty much attribute all general differences between men and women to culture/nurture, denying there is much natural difference beyond the obvious physical distinctions.

My immediate response to Hitchen's words was less grammatically correct than "He was drunk. A man with a need like his to express his feelings will require a lot of work from any woman who wants to get along with him."

I think that saying someone doesn't have to work, because there is enough money either way, is not sexist, if he is taking about his own wife.

Stretching it to say no woman should work is not what was actually said.

If he said woman should not work, that's sexist...and out of touch with reality.

Also, some woman are working at home.  For example, when one spouse cannot earn more than the cost of daycare...it makes no sense, economically, TO work outside the home, as the couple would lose money after paying for daycare, etc.

So, staying home with the kid(s) can provide more money than working outside the home.

That goes for guys too BTW - Friends of ours came to the conclusion that the husband would stay home with the kids, as the wife had a better job.  Its not sexism, its the economy of the scenario.

Hitchens is one guy, not an appointed representative of all men, all atheists, or all people who smoke too much, or men over 50, etc.  Reading too much into what he said, or didn't, is not that meaningful.

Over interpretation of a contextual statement is rarely productive.

Societal mores, in the US at least, impose a stigma on a male who is "the house husband".  Its "Not Manly".  Society does evolve with time though, and "Rosey the Riveter" and "House Husbandry" is more and more common, if not normal now a days...but the older the individuals, the more "wrong" it tends to be perceived as.


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