Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Feminism, Parenting, and Careers

I'm spending time today doing research for a project I have in my Work in Contemporary Society class and it's taken me deep into the depths of feminism and the myth that "women can have it all".
I am saddened that there seem to be two opposing forces, mainly in the form of Anne-Marie Slaughter and Sheryl Sandberg.
Sheryl Sandberg is a highly successful woman who has, almost magically, been able to balance her high profile career (she is the COO of Facebook) and raise a family.  She has published a book (Lean In) that teaches the method of her success.  The problem with her program is that there are an armful of requirements that one must either have or achieve in order to have the same success and Ms. Sandberg. Least of which are dual Harvard degrees, dual stock wealth (from Facebook and Google), as well as a small household staff who manage everything else.
Anne-Marie Slaughter looks at that and asks how it benefits the average woman?  Who might be struggling to even think about affording the help of a nanny?  Ms. Slaughter spent time as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department.  It required long hours (weeks even) away from her young boys and husband.  She wrote an amazing article published in The Atlantic about "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" it, much like Martin Luther's 94 points, disassembles Ms. Sandberg's argument that you can have a high profile career and a family, and for many logical reasons.    (Jodi Kantor, a reporter for the New York Times likened the relationship of these two women to the relationship of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem.)
I agree strongly with Ms. Slaughter's points of her argument because I associate with them.  They are many of the same problems I am facing as a young woman coming up rapidly on my 30's with an uncertain career ahead.  Like many women of my generation, I was spoon-fed the social idea that I can have a career and be a good mom to my children.  Now at 27 I am not so sure those things even exist any more.  Being a good parent takes time and energy, something people who work part time or not at all have more of.  Being good at your career also takes time and energy and a certain amount of honing your craft.  Combining those two takes minor amounts of insanity, sacrifice, and careful choices.  No mother (or parent) can maintain their fast paced career without the aid of any combination of the following: a devoted spouse who can help solo-parent, mountains of money, household staff, exceptional child care, and/or a live in nanny.  So you can have your career and be a parent as well as long as you do not expect to be able to raise that child yourself.  As long as you are totally okay with allowing that child to get 90% of their care from someone you pay to substitute for your parental care.

Whew!  That's a lot.  I am not condemning those people who live that way.  It's their choice.  I reserve the right to feel bad for their kids, and for the parenting experience they are missing out on, but again, it's none of my business.

I pray and hope that I can aim for something in the middle of this societal "mommy war".  Call it No Man's Land if you will.  I aim to be like many of the DIY and homeschooling mothers I read about in their daily blogs.  Mothers who maintain farmsteads, write books about parenting, and still take their broods off to ballet practise, and baseball practise.  Oh, did I mention they homeschool, too?

Amanda Soule of Soule Mama is one of my personal heroines.

Katy Dill balances a beautiful brood of 6 and still maintains her position in the Mama-Blogisphere.

Naomi and her sweet husband Josh chronicle living in NY with two wee ones.

Miss James and her husband Aubrey raise 4 children in Nashville

Anna raises two daughters in Australia and does graphic design on the side.

Claire maintains her photography business and parents 1 &1/2 children in Sydney, Australia

All of these women (and their spouses) live a life that pursues passions, dreams, and a creative life.  They all strive to blog about current issues, personal moments, homeschooling support, and parenting in our modern and changing world.  They give me hope that I can have a costume studio, raise two babies, and homeschool them.  Oh, yes, and pay the bills!

Lots of thoughts today.  Nibble slowly and process carefully darlings.