Ok – there’s a lot of debate going on amongst these two articles from The Atlantic as to whether women can have it all, or not, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon. The premise of it starts with Anne-Marie Slaughter writing about how she had the dream job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department in Washington, DC, traveling and working with every foreign minister and head of state in the world during the weekdays but only seeing her husband and two sons only on the weekends. The link is below, but be warned that the article is 29 pages long in size 12 font.http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still...
Yes, Slaughter is a high-profile woman who is a role model for a lot of woman, paving (blazing!) the path to show that women CAN have it all. Then, what she did was give up her high powered position to return home to Princeton, NJ to teach, write a book and to give speeches in order to spend more time with her family. She listed the two reactions she had to endure which were:
(1) that of pity that she had to give up her dream job and
(2) that of condescension on both fronts – that she was not a befitting parent by sacrificing her children’s needs in order to pursue her dream job and that she was a non-committed professional by…quitting.
Her revelation came when she realized that she was now on the other end of the see saw, whereas, prior, she was the one making women feel as if “they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”
Her conclusion is that women can still have it all and at the same time, but only if the way America’s economy and society is restructured. She references a speech given by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg who advised women to not “leave before you leave” alluding that women stop trying once they decide to have children, or to even think of having children. She makes reference to young female lawyers who can not find a role model whom is a female partner at the law firm, as they had “given up” so much (i.e., divorced, single, no kids).
Then, Lori Gottlieb comes along and writes this silly article starting with
I may get Slaughtered (no pun intended) for this post.
Reading her article was painful, as it was obtusely unintelligent and by having it published, she underestimated the intelligence of those who…READ. I questioned whether she was able to comprehend what Slaughter was trying to say, or whether she just made projections. She goes on to use the ill-considered illustration of Slaughter’s article by comparing it to that of a child throwing a tantrum. The example was a child who was unable to attend both gymnastics class and a birthday party because they are on the same day, at the same time, and how the child lamented it is unfair and things should change just so she may attend both. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/why-theres-no-s...
As I read her article, I sensed a lot of confidence issues and fear. She is unsuccessful in her own eyes.
THEN, I did research on Gottlieb and it all came to light as to why she would write such a hateful article. In her eyes, she was ridiculing Slaughter’s article and giving herself an clever pat-on-the-back. But it boiled down to leaving me with a feeling that she was ridiculing out of jealousy or some sort of self-imposed “trouble.” Through my research, I learned that Gottlieb suffered from anorexia as a child (self confidence issues), and then was unsuccessful at becoming a doctor (probably exasperating her self confidence issues). She was then laid off while working for an internet company and after that, wrote a self-help book telling women that if they are successful and single, it is because they are too picky and that women should settle for the “8” instead of searching for the “10” – before making the decision to become a single mother through a sperm donor.
It’s ok, Gottlieb! It’s ok to have failed because at least you have tried. It’s ok to be a single mother, because that is one of the most difficult jobs out there. And it’s ok to not do it the traditional way. In fact, that makes you a trail blazer of your own.
Going back to it not being possible to “have it all” and a child’s tantrum – I was faced with the same question when raising my own daughter when she throws a tantrum, and it’s easy for the response to be “sorry, honey, but you can’t have it all.” However, I stopped myself and did not want to place such limitations on her. Where do we draw the line between succumbing to tantrum throwing and not limiting our children’s thought process? I ask her the question as to why she thinks she deserves whatever she is asking for. If she can come up with a convincing reason as to having it all, or a solution to having it all, with reasonable compromises, then it is hers. Which is why parents should be very careful with their own thoughts and inner reflection/meditation/investigation is key.
Do we really want to tell children, the leaders of our future, that there is no such thing as “having it all?” Perhaps for Gottlieb through her own limitations, there isn’t, but not for everyone else who doesn’t place these self-imposed limitations, having it all is possible.
Gottlieb, just to be clear, Slaughter is not trying to run away from her responsibilities for her own decisions. She is trying to make it possible to help her home as well as the larger community of the world.
The “home” expands beyond our front door.
And as for those which Gottlieb described as ones who would prefer to sip tea or get manicures and pedicures while the nannies take care of the children, guess what – Slaughter’s article was meant to exemplify that there is a happier way to live – that there is much more service to be given to those that live in our “home.”
Again, the one that expands beyond our front door.
Which made me wonder – why all the buzz over what Gottlieb wrote if she is a case-study of what Slaughter exemplified in her article? There is no argument at all. No round 1.
Slaughter’s article addresses some half-truths women tell themselves to console the fact that they don’t have it all. Women do not dream big enough. And with technology where it is today, with an infrastructure that was made for the farm-to-industrialization revolution days still in place today, it is not a “tantrum” to ask for it to be changed. It is innovative! Ambitious!
Why shouldn’t we evolve the way we view work and the importance we place on “face time”? Why should women list their degrees as credentials but not the fact that they have two sons? Why not work on more creative ways to get to having it all? Why not change the view that the male-default and male-behavior is to be the ideal?
Another important statement she makes is that “having a supportive mate may well be a necessary condition if women are to have it all, but it is not sufficient.” Gottlieb is already positioned against this because of her stance that women should stop searching for the “10” and settle for the “8.” (To be fair to Gottlieb, I did not read her book so perhaps this judgment is unfair.)
Yes, parents of all sorts struggle (mothers AND fathers) and yes working and stay-at-home parents both struggle. Single parents struggle. Which one struggles more? Well, the answer is simple – the ones who do not know themselves struggle the most. And not only do they struggle, but their children struggle. So, men and women, working or not, of all ages, should all stick together and help each other and not try to measure our own self-worth by comparing ourselves to others and by another’s measurement of “having it all.” Everyone will “have it all” once they figure out who they are, TRULY ARE, inside.
And hopefully, that person inside will also realize that the home extends past the front door (yes, I know, this is the 3rd time I’ve said this).
Ending with a quote from Slaughter’s article – with particular attention to the last sentence:
I owe my own freedoms and opportunities to the pioneering generation of women ahead of me – the women now in their 60s, 70s and 80s who faced overt sexism…, and who knew that the only way to make it as a woman was to act exactly like a man. To admit to, much less act on, maternal longings would have been fatal to their careers. But precisely thanks to their progress, a different kind of conversation is now possible.
Add a Comment