Anne-Marie Slaughter Answers Her Critics

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From the title of her story to whether she got her son's permission before writing about him, the Princeton professor answered some of the questions everyone's asking about her provocative piece.

Princeton Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter answered some of the most frequently made criticisms of her explosive Atlantic cover story "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" in a wide-ranging conversation with Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival Sunday morning. Here's what she had to say about some of the questions many have raised.

On the title of her story:

I think if I had an absolutely accurate title it would be "Why working mothers need better choices to be able to make it to the top."

On the idea of "having it all":

The reason I used "have it all" ... is that in my generation, I graduated from college in 1980 ... having it all just meant having a career and having a family. And that's why it became the mantra that it became. It's clear to me that many people hear it differently now. They think it means having everything you want. None of us have everything we want -- men, women. And frankly everybody in this room has far more of what we want than 99 percent of the people in this country.

Notes from the Aspen Ideas Festival — See full coverage

On privilege:

Given all the privilege that I have, and the kind of job I have, I knew I was, as I said, I was writing for my demographic. There are many problems in this country.... I focused on one problem, and it's the same problem Sheryl Sandberg focused on. We have all these women, we have 50 percent of women entering the workforce, more than 50 percent of women coming out of top schools and yet as you go up, you have 20 percent in board rooms and CEOs and in government and legislatures.... So if you say the problem is not enough women at the top, you gotta write for the women who could make it to the top.

On the risk of being discouraging to women:

If I thought what I was writing would make women opt out I would never have written it.

On "opting out" and "dropping out":

I would like to abandon those words. They suggest failure. C'mon: I haven't opted out or dropped out. I've just taken a different path so I could be a parent and a career woman.

On her getting her son's permission to write about him:

Of course I would not have published any of this if he were not OK with it. Of course I showed it to him, I asked him, we debated it. He was perfectly cool with it and I would never have done it otherwise. And frankly right now, you know, every girl he knows is Facebooking this, sending it to him, calling him "rebellious teenager." He's having a great time.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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