The Conversation

Responses and reverberations

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 TheFrisky.com 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.

#HAVINGITALL

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.

In Canada, couples with a baby may sequence six-month leaves of absence at up to 90 percent pay. In the Netherlands—the best scenario I have seen yet—families can take a day off each week, and the government subsidizes full-time day care. This solution was not framed as a “women’s issue,” but as a family benefit. And Dutch women have simply moved on, focusing on other interesting goals in their personal and family lives.

In America, by contrast, the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests lobby hard to keep politicians from ever proposing such solutions. They know that billions of dollars are made from hiring women at lower income levels than men, and then ensuring that a work-family conflict derails women’s careers before they become too expensive to compensate fairly.

Naomi Wolf
Excerpt from a New Europe blog post

While family life has been completely revolutionized by women’s entry into the workforce over the past half century, our economy hasn’t done the same …

While it’s become increasingly acceptable for women to work, it still hasn’t become acceptable for them to step back from motherhood. And that battle over what takes precedence plays out in women’s lives in harmful ways. Women are often putting in more hours than men: a recent survey of over 5,000 full-time professionals found that more than half of women work nine or more hours a day compared to just 41 percent of men, plus 11 percent of women work six to seven days a week while only 7 percent of men do. One would hope that as women dial up the time they spend working, they could dial down the time they spend on parenting and home labor by off-loading some of it to dad. Yet that’s not happening. Insure.com calculated that the value of what a father contributes to his household in labor, if paid at the going rate for outsourcing those tasks to someone else, would come to $20,248 this year—actually down since 10 years ago, adjusted for inflation. When it did the same analysis for what a mother contributes, it found [her work to be worth] $60,182.

Bryce Covert
Excerpt from a Forbes blog post

I knew early on that the workplace was not structured as I needed. When I was in my late 20s, I decided to stay home to raise my children. This was not an easy decision, and I often felt as if I had betrayed all of my feminist heroes. I actually canceled my subscription to Ms. magazine because I couldn’t take the derision routinely heaped on women who chose to stay home with their children. I returned to my career when my kids were in middle school, and finally reached what I really wanted this past year: I became a principal. If you looked at my career path, you would see many twists and turns, but I have no regrets. No career attainment could replace the years I spent with my children. Thank you, Ms. Slaughter, for having the courage to say what I recognized 30 years ago.

Georgia Becker
Milwaukee, Wis.

The Atlantic has made this 27-year-old woman depressed about her lot in life. First you tell me that my generation is at a permanent disadvantage from entering the workforce during the recession. Then it’s that there are no quality men for educated, ambitious women, and I should kiss my hopes for getting married goodbye. Now it’s that even if I can move ahead in my career and find a decent guy to marry, I’m going to be strung out and unfulfilled.

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