Caitlin Flanagan has issues—with you
by Caitlin Flanagan
Reagan Arthur Books
$25.99 List Price
God bless Caitlin Flanagan. Without her, who else would give voice to the sorts of anxieties that make upper-middle-class women break out in hives? Whether she’s wringing her hands over the prevalence of sexless marriages, the costs of overscheduled children, the depravity of hookup culture, or the advantages of stay-at-home mothering, Flanagan is never afraid to take a sharpened stick to the hornets’ nest, just to see what trouble she might stir up. Curiously, though, once the hornets are circling, mad as hell, and everyone is shrieking and running for cover, Flanagan is already safe inside, sipping on an ice-cold cosmopolitan and enjoying the show. These problems that she insists belong to all of us? Well, they’re really just your problems, not hers.
In her first book, To Hell with All That (2006), Flanagan rhapsodized about the joys of child rearing and housekeeping, berating feminists who would dare to quibble over housework with their husbands (how unattractive! what a waste of time!). In the same pages, she repeatedly asserted that she had depended on a nanny, a housekeeper, and a professional organizer for years. Even while confessing her own shortcomings, Flanagan was happy to outline precisely how modern women fail their children, their spouses, and themselves in almost everything they do. These themes also dominate her entertaining cultural criticism in The Atlantic and the New Yorker, where she can never seem to resist a dangerous mix of the personal and the prescriptive—and where, conveniently enough, Flanagan is invariably getting it right