June 26, 2012

Some Women Can Have It All

When my new ” Atlantic” came with the “Why Women Can’t Have it All” article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I predicted this would be all the rage between Those Who Have and Those Who Have More.
Slaughter was featured media sites on MSNBC and NPR, and I suspect others. Andrea Mitchell said on her noon show that Slaughter caused a firestorm. Her article is one of the most liked articles ever on Facebook.
Yes, we’ll have this discussion again.
Yes, I’ve weighed in on it often for the last twenty-two years since I became a mother who works outside the home. (I refuse to use the term “working mother” to describe someone who is paid for her work.)
But this entire incarnation of the discussion from Slaughter’s perspective entirely misses the point.
Yes, I understand her anguish. Slaughters has a husband who is an educator (as do I). Slaughters felt that working in DC and coming home on weekends was not meeting the needs of her two sons.
Well, duh.
I think it is impressive that she served our country and made a contribution. Of course a woman with her cache and education could and will do better in the private sector.
My point is that her article is unquestionably about choice, and choice is what most American women do not have.

Frankly, many men don’t have choices either. Feminism isn't necessarily all about women. That is another topic for another day.
According to College Times, “Women account for 46% of the labor force, but 59% of workers making less than $8 an hour. What does it mean? It means that many women are taking on jobs that pay well under a living wage. With nearly 16% of U.S. households having women who are divorced, widowed or never married as the sole providers, this leaves many women at a distinct disadvantage and struggling to make ends meet as they dominate jobs in low paying fields.” http://collegetimes.us/10-surprising-statistics-on-women-in-the-workplace/
When my only child was young, I was climbing up a corporate ladder. The year he entered college, I was thrown off the ladder along with 4,000 of my closest colleagues during the worst month of “The Great Recession.” Say good-bye to the Six-Figure Job, fleet vehicle and Rolls-Royce insurance plan.
Do I have regrets about my choice to climb the ladder? Maybe.
Did I have choices? Yes.
While it would have meant a marked decrease in the way we lived, technically I could have stayed home with my child when he was younger. My contribution to our family savings kept us out of difficulty when that gig ended.

Most people do not have these choices.
I think Slaughters’ article is disingenuous and she speaks for a very small segment of our society. Ask the woman who works at the local dry cleaners if she has a choice? Unless she owns the business, I’m guessing she doesn’t.
Let’s not waste time on this debate. Let’s put our efforts toward improving health care access and educational resources that lift everyone up.