— Debora Spar, “Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect”
And so she goes right back to basics. “What do you think feminism is, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? ‘Vogue,’ by Madonna? Jeans?” Were the respondents, she wonders, “just drunk at the time of survey?
— from Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman and the New York Times
The Having It All Debate. Moms: Feminism Is In Our Hands
Note: This article was excerpted from a piece written by Sabrina Parsons for Forbes Woman.
I have quietly watched on the side lines as the debate over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic article rages. Women declaring it great. Women declaring it terrible. Women having problems with everything or just some of what Slaughter says. Younger women declaring that their choice not to be “as ambitious” is exactly that – their choice.
I feel like I am not hearing a lot of people say what I think is the best thing about her article: she calls out employers for not valuing child care as highly as other “interests” employees might have outside of work. She compares how an employer may look at a marathon runner vs a parent:
The discipline, organization, and sheer endurance it takes to succeed at top levels with young children at home is easily comparable to running 20 to 40 miles a week. But that’s rarely how employers see things, not only when making allowances, but when making promotions. Perhaps because people choose to have children? People also choose to run marathons.
Women need to stop apologizing for having kids, and just kick a** at work while also being primary care givers for kids. Who cares if you go home at 5:30 for dinner (like Sheryl Sandberg does) if you get everything done at work, and then some? Who cares if you finish your emails at 6 or 7pm at the office, or at 10 or 11pm at home after kids are in bed? I think that it is time to stop pretending that women need to act like men in order to be successful and powerful. Lisa Belkin, writer for Huffington Post, writes about Slaughter’s Atlantic article and offers this opinion:
Changing the culture of work would benefit both sexes. Men don’t “have it all” either, at the moment, Slaughter reminds us. Not a one of us can unless this stops being a discussion about women and becomes one about work, stops being a conversation about one family’s problems and becomes one about society’s responsibility.
I couldn’t agree more with Lisa, and in many ways with Slaughter as well. It is time for the working world to acknowledge that some of us have kids, and that taking care of our kids does NOT mean that we are slackers. In fact, I believe that Slaughter is correct – the discipline, focus, organization, and sheer will power it takes to be a working mom is a skill set that employers want from the best of their employees. It’s time to take the next step in feminism: stop trying to fit into the existing corporate world that defines success in a certain way (a traditional male definition), and bring the reality of parenting and career into the forefront. Admitting that we have children, and that we want to parent them well does NOT make us cop outs or people who work less. Having children should never “mommy track” anyone.
More women in power have to pave the way and speak out to make flexibility and transparency for working mothers the norm. Why hide when we go home to eat dinner with our kids, especially when we know we will be back to work after the kids are settled? Does the actual hours in which the work gets done really matter? Isn’t it more of a personal choice for each woman to determine how much work she wants and is willing to do? Why not demand that we have the flexibility and hold our employers to judge us and critique us on work product and results, and not on face time in the office.
This is my call to all working mothers to stop apologizing for having children and wanting to be good parents, while still having great careers. It’s time we demanded the flexibly and support that we need to kick a** in the working world. The work can be done, and done well. It will be hard. It will take a certain amount of tenacity, structure, stick-to-itness, smarts, and plain old hard work. We will be tired, and we will be pushed hard. But if we want to, we can put in all the time and then some. We just need to be able to manage our schedules and have bosses and a working culture and society who understand the value we bring to the table. If we get more women in power positions, we can make the can make these types of changes happen in the organizations we run. We will not have to ask the men who currently hold the majority of the power positions to make any concessions. We will instead pave our own way. The new feminism is here. We are moms, hear us roar!
— Courtney Martin hits it right on the nail.