Via the New York Times:
Are women bad at setting goals for themselves — or setting themselves the wrong goals?
The standard I-want-to-lose-weight resolution of my female friends is indicative of a common misconception, and I am as guilty of it as any of the ambitious alpha-females I’ve come across in my generation. We were raised to believe that we could actually have it all: A stellar career, a happy family and time for a social life and that crucial workout.
Ambitious men tend to be more focused: They want that stellar career.
Heather McGregor, aka Mrs. Moneypenny, an entrepreneur, broadcaster and columnist at The Financial Times, has just published what might be described as a self-help book for would-be successful women titled “Mrs. Moneypenny’s Careers Advice for Ambitious Women.”
Asked recently to sum it up in a phrase, she said: “You can’t have it all.”
First, what the fuck is this mysterious “it all”? Sure, we could list a bunch of things that people, individually or in groups, might decide to lump into the two-word phrase: a career, a family, good health, a home, etc., and so on. But already, we’re on ridiculously shaky ground when we decide to pinpoint what that means for every living human who sets eyes on this article.
But “it all” seems to also mean=all the stuff that men have that women don’t seem to have, or aren’t as able to get, as easily. But why do we always, without fail, throw this “it all” rhetoric specifically at women, instead of looking at the possible reasons: the basic facts of inequality in the workplace, at home, and in the culture at large?
No one is asking groups that are more obviously prejudiced against why they don’t “have it all.” When was the last time you heard someone ask a Latino man, “hey, why don’t you have it all?” Or, when was the last time you read an article about how a gay couple “just can’t seem to have it all”? That question can answer itself: racism, homophobia, hate, discrimination in general, an unfriendly legislature, the list goes on.
Here’s a newsflash: the human condition is one of constant want. If asked on the street, most people would love to have “more,” of something they already want. We are not all toddling monoliths that can Hoover everything in mouth-range like a Stay Puft marshmallow man, so the idea that anyone in reality could “have it all,” man or woman, is a delusion. And whether or not that’s what the phrase literary translates to, it’s setting up every single person who prescribes to it for incredible failure.
To me, it seems that the image of juggling, and telling women they either should or shouldn’t hope for “it all” does nothing but distract everyone, and somehow makes women less equal. No one (or at least, far fewer people) asks a man who acquires all the conventionally impressive accomplishments how he “does it all.” He just fucking does what he likes, and has fewer barriers than women to do it. And guess what, he probably still wants a ton of other things he doesn’t have.
**Also, ten bucks to the first person who manufactures or finds me a t-shirt that says “I wanted to have it all, but all I got was this stupid t-shirt.”