I've posted a couple of traditionalist replies to this, but how would a feminist respond to Kate Bolick?
Jessica Mack is a feminist who is critical of Kate Bolick for suggesting that women can't have it all: Mack insists that you can have intimacy without compromising autonomy. But what exactly does this mean? How can you retain a freedom to choose however you like whilst still committing yourself to a relationship?
Mack offers several suggestions. First, she thinks one option is to have open relationships:
Sex columnist Dan Savage has written for decades about the pragmatism of non-monogamy in making marriages work. Feminists often, and rightly, decry the double standard that men can sleep around, while women cannot. Savage suggests that rectifying this is not about confining men to fidelity, but rather encouraging women to break out and explore. I may be out on a licentious limb here, but I would argue that the concept of non-monogamy will be the biggest relationship issue we will grapple with in our time.
I wonder if Jessica Mack would suggest this if she weren't 28 and childless. If she were 38 with a few children in tow she might not think giving her husband/partner free rein to roam such a good idea. Anyway, open relationships might well preserve a measure of choice, but most likely at the expense of intimacy.
Jessica Mack's second suggestion is even more noteworthy. She thinks that polygamy might extend autonomous choice, presumably by not limiting us to just one spouse:
Disruption is also afoot in the west of the US where Kody Brown, a friendly polygamist, is filming a reality show about his life with four wives and 16 children. Brown recently launched an historic lawsuit to challenge Utah's bigamy laws. Earlier this summer the Browns' lawyer penned a stellar op-ed laying out a logical and nearly irresistible argument for polygamy as a viable relationship model.
So Jessica Mack the feminist believes that the argument for polygamy as a viable relationship model is "nearly irresistible". I wonder what the average married woman thinks of this and whether feminists like Mack really represent their interests.
You can see why polygamy is connected to autonomy - it means that we aren't limited to marrying one person. But from reading feminist commentary elsewhere, there's possibly another reason why polygamy appeals to some feminists. If you aren't committed to being a wife and mother, then those roles might seem too demanding. You might think that having more than one woman in the house to share the role would lessen the burden and allow you to do other things. But here too greater autonomy is still at the expense of intimacy - it is motivated by a lesser commitment to the relationship.
Her third suggestion is the usual liberal one of replacing a single form of marriage with a plurality or diversity of forms, so that you get to autonomously choose which one to participate in. Each form is thought to be equally valid:
Young women need to know that intimacy doesn't have to be a casualty of autonomy, and that sometimes it actually develops as a result...In order to move forward constructively, we need a multiplicity of relationship models to inspire and reassure us. We need trans couples on TV, we need non-monogamy champions, we need people married 40-plus years like my parents, and we need Stevie Nicks who, at 62, is purposefully single so that she can "always be free".
Note though that it's the purposefully single Stevie Nicks who gets to claim the mantle of freedom fighter. I wonder too if Jessica Mack really understands the commitment it takes from a husband to remain monogamous. A traditional marriage like her parents isn't a likely outcome in a society which champions non-monogamy. Chances are that Jessica Mack is helping to take away the one choice that most women really want to have.