Money, romance, children, a happy marriage? Add a career and that might be "It"
The recent resurgence of post feminism with movements like Slut-walk and efforts to break through the glass ceiling has brought about a backlash of sorts from the very same women who were leading the effort to show that women can indeed have "It" all.
What is "It"? That is indeed the definition of this ubiquitous statement which still remains somewhat contentious. The women who view this statement with contempt are almost opposite of those women who understand the statement as is pertains to their situation. While women have been able to hold onto higher office, well paying positions of authority and power, a large number still leave to focus on their families. While this is a choice that is made, women who have variously been described as "Powerhouses" such as Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor at Princeton University, who was the Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department from January 2009 until February 2011. Her cover story in the Atlantic magazine was very clear about how women can't have it all.
Leaving the State Department to be with her sons. Is she a traitor to her gender?
Her story recently saw her leaving the State Department and her boss, Hilary Clinton, to return home to be a mother to her two young teenage sons and assume a tenured professorship. Her current position would suggest that she still has whatever we would define "It" as, yet Ms. Slaughter made it very clear that she suffered the heart-break and torment of being at international events while still worrying about her children. She remains very complimentary of her husband and his devotion to her career, which originally required that she remain in Washington for five days a week, returning only on the weekend to assume a more traditional role of parent and mother.
Another recent row was created by a very similar discussion about whether women should even care about having "It" at all. The definition included having romance, intimacy, money, a faithful husband and healthy children. There was often not much of a discussion about a career, which only began to be important to our North American culture beginning in the late 1960's and early 1970's. As women started to enter the work-force in greater numbers and break through the glass-ceiling as well as create their own businesses, while building families (women still do have the pleasure or not, of giving birth), many began to realize that they could attain all of their dreams.
Is venom being directed at successful women or at men?
Yet, to have this dream meant giving-up or trading-off certain things that seemed to be more easily optioned by men. This is the specific argument that Ms. Slaughter presented in her cover article in the Atlantic Magazine that has brought so much venom toward someone who once gave speeches to women specifically about the fact that they should aspire to achieve their dreams, no matter how unrealistic and exceptionally difficult they may be.
Why the discussion is even being had at this point in the development and evolution of women in North America is strange in and of itself. Women today are graduating at greater rates than men from higher education. They are now almost equal in numbers to men in most professions, while still suffering an almost 20% lower level of salary. Can it be that this number is because women ultimately, in many cases decide to leave their profession to support and grow their families. Do they choose to leave a career because their priorities are different than a man's? These questions are still left up to the experts to decide and have yet to be researched, but it would seem that certain women such as Ms. Slaughter have made these choices and remain with "It" whether they want to admit it or not.
Should the female gender be insulted or outraged because a professional chose to write an article about her own journey back to be with her family? It is unlikely that this same choice by a man would have raised even an eyebrow, yet the suggestion is that women who make this choice give up on their gender and all of the significant strides that have been made for women in North America in the last half-century. Frankly, that is preposterous considering the plight of women around the world. The minutiae that is being taken apart within women's relationships is a testament to the strides that have been made.
For Ms. Slaughter, her personal journey brought her back to her family. She was fortunate to have made the successes that she did in her career and to have a marriage to someone who was supportive and understanding. Regardless of the gender, to have communication and the commitment to a relationship that she had, is not something that anyone should take for granted. Unfortunately, these important elements bring her article and contention an level of detachment to what can now be referred to as the 99%. While many women might find it extremely difficult to balance all of the responsibilities that come with whatever the "It" definition would be, having family, money, a network and education make for a substantially less difficult road to having it all.
Is the whole discussion disingenuous and narcissistic?
Is Ms. Slaughter being disingenuous and narcissistic in her contention that women can't have it all after she herself continues to live a very successful life measured in money, education and her marriage? It would seem so, yet we don't know the situation with her children, intimate life and other details that might be important to others who wish to measure their success as a women in today's North America. This very important aspect of any relationship was not discussed, not does it need to be as it is private. yet, when we talk about these issues and their importance to our society and culture, wouldn't it make sense to consider these important aspects to any relationship and life?