There has been some lively debate centered around an article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter called "Why Women Still Can't Have It All". Slaughter talks about leaving a high responsibility government position for a job at Princeton so that she could spend more time with her teenage children. She talks about how quite often women who have dependent children are seen as "less professional" by male counterparts because they are unable to stay until midnight working on a deadline when there is an orchestra performance/soccer game/family dinner awaiting. She says:
"A female reporter wrote to me after reading the article yesterday and said, 'For almost 30 years, I've been feeling guilty for leaving at 6 to try to catch that last inning of my son's baseball game, and my editors think I'm just not as committed to my job as my male peers, but the other parents think I'm not that committed to my child, and I feel like a failure in both places,' " she says. "Whereas if you let women work when they need to get the work done — when they leave the office but then go back to their computers later, they'll get the job done. But they'll do it when they need to do it, juggling what's most important."This is the dude centered construct that women with high profile careers are forced to navigate often resulting in sadness, anger, and perceived defeat. The issue is of course as complex as the next and warrants the question "Well, what if your definition of having it all is different?"
Third wave feminism was centered around many issues, one of which was redefining feminism. Redefining as in: allowing women to choose what it personally means to them. I love this because I believe that a Feminist isn't necessarily a woman who acts in a traditional male role (though some choose this and that's rad)... but a woman who is empowered to choose what she want her life to look like. Whatever that may be.
I don't have all the answers and I certainly don't have them for you. Every person is individual and has their own set of needs to fill. Right now I am choosing to build a career and be a kitty mom. This could change in 10 years and I may decide that a family is what I want to invest my time in, I don't know. I hope that if that becomes my priority, society will have evolved enough by then that the option of doing both will be available if I want it. This economic shift is causing more women to work for ends to meet, so maybe it will. Who knows?
As for right now, it's still a man's world and goddamn if that doesn't suck. Lets fix it, okay? Until then, try creating your own world by making the personal decision of what "having it all" means to you. Then make it happen. Find that pearl in the grossly deformed oyster ladies... I know you can do it.
Read more of Jes's writing over at her blog The Militant Baker.