Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Having It All? (End of Year Re-Run)

It's something I think about a lot, and it spawned some good discussion last time, so I thought we should revisit Mandi's Post (from June 26th) about whether women can have it all...  

P.S. And speaking about having it all... Please get well soon, Hillary.  P.P.S. Please shut up everybody who is dogging Hillary while she's ill.  Get a life.  Now without further ado -

I thought it was a good time to chat about the article that has been making waves around the internet recently, the Atlantic article on why women can’t have it all.  This type of article, in various permutations, has been coming out yearly for a while now.  In the beginning, it was penned by men, then by women.  Either which way, someone is always willing to wag their finger in women’s faces and admonish them for thinking that they “can have it all”.

I confess I’m not sure what that means. 

Does it mean having a career and family?  Because given that 71% of women who have children under 18 work, plenty of women “have it all.”  Is it not feeling frazzled, making trade-offs, and not knowing if what you are doing is the right thing?  Because if that’s the case, no one “has it all.”  

I admit, I cringed when I read the article.  It just seems so childish.  Did she really think it was possible to move 4 hours away, leave her kids behind, and still think she was going to be involved in the day-to-day of her kids’ lives?  She had some hard decisions to make, like turn the job down, move her kids with her, or be resigned to knowing she wasn’t going to be as hands-on as she would have liked with her kids.  

She chose the last option, didn’t like the results, and decides to blame feminism for the whole enterprise not working out.  But the thing is, a guy in her shoes would have had the exact same options to choose from, and may have felt the exact same way about being so far from his children.  Is that also a failure of feminism?

If modern feminism is about choices, there is still no guarantee that a person is protected from feeling regret, sadness, or anger when they exercise their options, and things don’t turn out the way they would prefer.  It isn’t feminism’s job to shield you from the consequences of your own decision making.  Life is about the road not taken, and by trying to have it all, whatever that means, is trying to immaturely going down both paths simultaneously.  In the real world, that simply can’t happen, and it’s better if more people recognize this.

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