The Conversation

Responses and reverberations

Karen Kornbluh
Then–U.S. Ambassador to the OECD
Excerpt from a
Current Mom interview

When I carry a naked baby in my briefcase, I get in trouble. But it’s okay for a woman to do it. That’s something you have that men don’t have.

Stephen Colbert
The Colbert Report with Anne-Marie Slaughter, July 16

It was a great victory for gender equality when people finally stopped routinely saying “She’s awfully good at her job—for a woman.” The next big step forward will be when people stop saying, “It’s awfully tough to balance work and family—for a woman.” It’s tough for men and women. We need to push for work-family practices and policies that allow individuals to customize their work lives according to their changing individual preferences and family obligations, not just their traditional gender roles.

Stephanie Coontz
Co-chair, Council on Contemporary Families Excerpt from a CNN blog post

Women like Slaughter are welcome to do what many high-­achieving men have always done: marry a partner who will stay home to take on the burdens—and the joys—of family life. Climbing the ladder has always required sacrifice. Now that it is women who are making those sacrifices, there are demands that the system change to better meet their needs and desires. And this is sexist against whom, exactly?

Tom Paynter comment

While I too dream of a society where women, and men, can have it all, I see nothing unjust about conferring the top jobs on those willing to sacrifice parenting, hobbies, and other pursuits to attain their goal. The notion that women and men fail when they moderate their careers to spend more time parenting is the saddest and most preposterous premise occupying this whole debate.

Richard Hetke
Hinsdale, Ill.

Maybe I’m naive to think that if more women were in positions of power, there’d be a wave of family-friendly policy following—maybe the kinds of women who are gonna make it into the absolute highest positions of power and stick there are, by definition, high achievers who don’t give a shit about anyone’s family. But it couldn’t hurt!

Dan Kois
Excerpt from a Slate roundtable

I am in my late 20s and am the daughter of a high-powered woman who was in the Clinton administration. The story hit close to home. My mother exemplified the idea that a woman can do anything she sets her mind to, even in a field dominated by men. When I was younger, I struggled with the fact that work was my mother’s first priority. But now that I am embarking on my own career, I realize that I could never have asked for a better role model. Work was the norm for my parents (particularly my mother), and I have ended up stronger for it. I couldn’t be prouder that I am my mother’s daughter.

Mari Cohen
Washington, D.C.

Being able to ask if “you’re having it all” comes from such a place of middle-class privilege it makes my head spin. It presumes that you have the choice not to work. That you have the choice to stay at home with your kids instead of going to the office if you simply can’t hack the dual pressures. And it presumes that you have a partner that is willing to (a) pick up the slack if you choose motherhood over a career, and (b) be emotionally and financially supportive of your desire to have both. The vast majority of working women aren’t Anne-Marie Slaughter—a highly educated, well-employed woman with an extremely supportive husband in academia—and she readily admits that. But for most of us, working is a necessity—and for those of us who want to have kids, there will be no debate about “having it all”—because it’s a foregone conclusion that work is part of our personal and financial equation.

Julie Gerstein
Excerpt from a blog post

My solution for the author: raise a better generation of men. You have two sons. Think of the impact you can have on society.

Carol Levin
Boston, Mass.


The Twitterverse exploded with conversations about @SlaughterAM’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

Shed a tear of frustration & one of relief while reading @SlaughterAM’s #HavingItAll piece in @TheAtlantic. Feeling new hope for my future. @MelodyRowell

reading people’s thoughts on @SlaughterAM’s piece, amused that many echo same sentiments but frame it in a neg attack first. #havingitall @Semhar

Thx @SlaughterAM for #havingitall piece in @TheAtlantic. 1st work/life balance piece I’ve seen that addresses tradeoffs. Also only one I like. @SamanthaLasky

Can there be two Career Type AAA in one family? Someone has to give, right? #havingitall @stevebeste

Can’t stop thinking about @SlaughterAM article. Do men ever think about the work/family/kids balance as much? #havingitall @RashaKash

Talking #havingitall with my mom & our perspectives are almost identical. Wonder how much your take on it ties into generational values. @meghan_frick

What @SlaughterAM’s piece really shows is that we have normalized an unhealthy way of living & wanting, in our quest for #havingitall @AmeenaGK

They should just retitle The Atlantic as The Magazine From Which Your Mother Sends Articles To Scare You. @rachsyme

The real question is not whether “women can have it all.” Rather, it is how a sophisticated foreign-policy professional can write as if countries like Canada and the Netherlands simply did not exist.

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