Can we really “have it all?”
With almost 9,000 comments, 375,000 recommendations, and 11,000 tweets, Amy Chua’s lengthy diatribe against American-style parenting might be one of the most-read articles on the internet. A recent piece in The Atlantic however, seems to be giving Chua a run for her money.
In a record-breaking, 15,000 word article about the hardships of maintaining a decent work-life balance, Anne-Marie Slaughter asks “why can’t women have it all?”
I ask, “who the hell can?!?”
Slaughter's background of 100+ hour weeks, no vacations, and looking like someone on bath salts should be familiar territory for a lot of people here. The kicker however is that she decided to leave her teenage children with her husband in Trenton, NJ while she spent the weekdays working in D.C.
That's when things started becoming tricky:
BEFORE MY SERVICE in government, I’d spent my career in academia: as a law professor and then as the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Both were demanding jobs, but I had the ability to set my own schedule most of the time. I could be with my kids when I needed to be, and still get the work done. I had to travel frequently, but I found I could make up for that with an extended period at home or a family vacation.
My workweek started at 4:20 on Monday morning, when I got up to get the 5:30 train from Trenton to Washington. It ended late on Friday, with the train home. In between, the days were crammed with meetings, and when the meetings stopped, the writing work began--a never-ending stream of memos, reports, and comments on other people's drafts. For two years, I never left the office early enough to go to any stores other than those open 24 hours, which meant that everything from dry cleaning to hair appointments to Christmas shopping had to be done on weekends, amid children's sporting events, music lessons, family meals, and conference calls. I was entitled to four hours of vacation per pay period, which came to one day of vacation a month...
In short... I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be--at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office--at least not for very long.
earth-shattering discovery, she started to hunt down the culprits, eventually pointing her fingers at government, gender equality, and workplace culture as the roots of the problem before proceeding to map out how this could all be fixed, like:
• changing the culture of face time – the “time macho,” workaholic culture we have going on needs to stop so that parents can see their kids more. The ability to bring work home for example could make women more efficient, even able to work 24/7.
• redefining the arc of a successful career - women should think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular stair steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation, etc.
• Revaluing Family Values – Many people in positions of power apparently place a low value on child care in comparison with other outside activities, oftentimes ignoring how hard it is being a mother. Slaughter wants this addressed.
And so on and so forth.
I understand where she’s coming from, I just found out that I’m gonna be dad and naturally, I plan to spend a lot of time with my son or daughter when he or she comes into this world. But seriously, can anyone be Mr. #1 dad while trying to be Mr. #1 Alpha BSD at the same time? No. What Slaughter doesn’t seem to realize is that life is about making choices and that you can’t be two things at the same time. Compromises have to be made. Every grown man and woman knows that. How she didn’t even realize this before she took the job is beyond me. Come to think of it, it's kinda childish of her to scream justice! for this.
Another thing she doesn’t seem to get is that this isn’t a problem solely for women. This shit is just as true for men. Just take a look at your MD’s, they're all rolling in dough but you’d be hard pressed to find one who sees his or her kids more than an hour each day.
There are a lot of things to nitpick here but I think it's best to leave that to you guys. I am wrong here? Can we really “have it all?” Why would you want to have it all anyway? And for the ladies of WSO, what do you think of Slaughters proposals? Do you agree with them? Do you think they'll work? Do you think moms are victims of prejudice in the workplace? And for the dudes, what would you do if your girl was like this? Haha. I think Tiger Mom Chua might've been easier to handle. You?
Curious what you guys have to say.