Ruth Marcus’ column today in reaction to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic about the career perils of mommyhood got a whole bunch of underpants in a knot today, comments-wise. Surprisingly to PostScript, a lot of those underpants are boxers and briefs.
Men, it seems, feel left out of this argument.
Slaughter writes that she is incredibly lucky to have “having it all” within reach, but she was disappointed that she couldn’t make it work to her satisfaction. It All = both a work and a home life that she finds maximally fulfilling. If Slaughter — who has several flexible, high-paying jobs, with a husband in a similar situation — can’t make it work, is there any point in “It All” existing, even as a goal?
Marcus gently points out that yeah, Slaughter does have It All — or at least as much of It All as anyone could reasonably hope. Angelina Jolie also probably wishes her most bankable working years were not the same as those when her children are small. It’s probably quite difficult for her. But it’s neither a problem for society nor an overwhelming tragedy for A-Jo herself.
Commenters basically agreed that Slaughter is an atypical (and far from dire) example of a problem that does, nonetheless, exist. The problem is either the very idea that any kind of It All is possible, or that, if it is, not enough people have the work flexibility and/or resources to make it work. Neither of those problems is particularly female.
luxembourg1 disputes that not having It All is a woman thing:
There is a misconception among some that men can have it all. I recently retired from a very good job at one of the largest US companies, and while I was there, I interacted with many senior executives. Most of these execs, and most of them were male, hardly had it all. They made lots of money, to be sure, but they had no time for personal lives, they had very poor relationships with their teenage kids (even worse than the rest of us), and their marriages were hardly close.
sovine08 exemplifies why the people having this discussion might not be as naturally sympathetic to men:
I wonder what would happen if a man wrote an article titled “ Men can’t have it all.” With the guy saying he wants to be married and have kids BUT also (like many of our politicians) wants to also be able to sleep around with other women. Somehow I believe that “can’t have it all” wouldn’t get the same level of sympathy.
two-cents says that the real luxury is having It All to choose from:
Many of the women in my family with advanced degrees have opted out of the workforce to care for their children. Fortunately for them, they married men with incomes that can support a one-income family.
The women without college degrees, of course, generally have no choice but to work. Their income is vital to their families.
And if choice is the real prize, ScrumMaster1 argues, women have it much more than men:
What women DO have over men is more choice. If a man told his employer that he is leaving to spend more time with his family (and to be a better father) he’d be a laughing-stock. And would probably seriously hurt his career.
imsospiraleyes is the only one with real hope for the future:
Eventually we’ll have artificial uteruses and women will be biologically obsolete as men are now.
We in the PostScript bunker like this vision of the future, where we wouldn’t even have to choose between career and being a stay-at-bunker parent, because by then robots will have all the jobs. And uteruses.