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I Wouldn’t Say the Battle is Won but it isn’t Lost Either

This article by Anne-Marie Slaughter has been doing the rounds on the internet and I’m sure you’ve already seen it somewhere else.

It’s an interesting article. The author is clearly surprised that she wasn’t able to juggle teenage children and working at a very demanding job in another city. This was because she had always been able to manage children and a demanding job before. Personally, I think it was really the commute and time away that killed her. She’s clearly very clever and ambitious. I think her thesis is, if it can’t work for me, then it can’t work for anyone. But, ironically, it is working for her. She has an important, influential job as an academic. Yes, she gave up an even better and more influential job and she is annoyed that she couldn’t make it work. I think it is true that she would have been less likely to give up, if she were a man but I still think that feminism has brought us a long, long way. So, I wouldn’t exactly call it a good news story but it isn’t quite the disaster for feminism that that she’s painting.

While my own work-life balance isn’t perfect, I can see it is far better than my mother’s was. I enjoyed paid maternity leave after my babies were born. I don’t work in a world where children only get sick on weekends or one where only their mothers can take them to the surgery. I have a job that is interesting and that I enjoy. I am also going to take July and August off work in a combination of unpaid parental leave and holidays so that I will be with my children for a very long summer break. Also, today my boss of bosses summoned me to his office and said, “You do a great job. We don’t say that enough here. You deserve your break. Enjoy yourself.” Hurrah for work. Hurrah for feminism. Hurrah for my summer holidays also.

6 Responses to “I Wouldn’t Say the Battle is Won but it isn’t Lost Either”

  1. Working and Raising a Family « Charlotte's Web Says:

    […] lovely Belgian Waffle, now of Ireland. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  2. Ken Says:

    ThaNks for linking to that interesting article. I can’t understand why she provides so much evidence without drawing the to my mind obvious conclusion that having it all is a pipe dream. She explicitly says both men and women can simultaneously have it all if only we can get the system right. Actually, the idea that anyone, but in practice women, can have it all is something of a bugbear of mine, speaking as an unemployed stay at home dad. It’s obvious if we take a flatfootedly literal approach to the metaphor that if one person has it all, that leaves nothing for everybody else. It seems equally likely that in terms of the metaphor, some people having it all means that others have less than they need to have a fulfilling life. I am sore that I’m not in work (because that’s the kind of guy I am) and no amount of counting my blessings for my time with my kids is going to completely alleviate that. I have contempt for the sweet ambitious, middle-class 30 something women who think having it all is their right or the system has failed them. No they cannot have it all. Some of us just want some. It’s grotesque that they think they’re entitled to it, but they’ve had a strong sense entitlement their whole lives.

  3. Ken Says:

    P.s. maximum respect to you for posting every day this month. Was it a nablopomo thing?

  4. admin Says:

    I think that is true – almost nobody can have it all. For 99% of people, something has to give. For men who succeed, that tends to be family life, and that is perfectly socially acceptable still. It’s not really socially acceptable for women to act in the same way. This explains why the most successful women I know don’t have children or only have one child.

    I think you’re a bit harsh on the 30 something women. It is galling to find that despite all of the support systems put in place [and I work in a very supportive place], somehow when you have children for a whole range of reasons, it will put a halt in your gallop. It’s not that you don’t know this in your 20s but you don’t believe it. I think that until you have children, you have no idea what it’s like. I wonder how it will work out for the next generation. I would love to see more women in local councils, in the Oireachtas and in cabinet, as secretaries general of government departments, as CEOs, on the boards of companies and at the top of the professions. I’m not exactly holding my breath though.

    I can’t really explain why I posted every day this month. I just seemed to have a lot to say. Baffling.

    And finally, I hadn’t realised you were out of work – very best of luck with the job hunt. I remember being home with small children while looking for a job and I did not enjoy it.

  5. Oonagh Buckley Says:

    Hah! Enjoy that time off, said a fellow cs. I am just hoping to fall over the finishing line that is the Dail closing
    Seriously though, any time I get bitter about parents availing of worklife balance arrangements I remind myself of (a) the sound of a crying child and (b) the fact that the children of today will be paying my pension in future. It’s very settling.

  6. admin Says:

    Well done. This is all supposing that there are pensions. I rely on you to make sure that this happens. No pressure now.

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