IT'S JUST AS TRUE FOR MEN
It's interesting that men -- who, as Hanna Rosin writes in her forthcoming book, The End of Men, nowadays have far fewer choices than women -- don't seem to ruminate over life's inherent limitations in the same way. Would a man be taken seriously if he wrote a 15,000-word article stating that he's entitled to both marriage and the freedom to have sex with any woman he wants? Or would he be told to grow up and get real? In today's society, he can choose marriage and the compromises that come with it -- sexual commitment, financial commitment, emotional commitment, along with a bevy of childcare and Mr. Fix-It commitments -- or he can choose to remain single and maintain his freedom but give up the joy that marriage and raising kids might bring him. He might dearly desire both situations, but he can only have one.
Men know that you can't be the married guy and the single guy at the same time. Slaughter, on the other hand, wants to be in a high-powered job and also at home making pancakes and doing school pick-up in another city. And merely because she wants this so badly (gymnastics or Rosie's party: I want both!), she believes she deserves it. Why? If her job requires her to be present with colleagues and she wants more time with her kids, she could simply consult from home, make a lot of money, and still influence policy, rather than take an in-house position.
Voila! 15,000-word dilemma solved.
If her greatest passion were to be an astronaut, would she ask to work from home, too? Or would she say, "I'm not willing to be in space for months on end, so I'll take a scientist position on Earth instead"? If she wanted to be a surgeon, would she also ask to work from home -- have the hospital set up an operating room in her guest house to accommodate her desire to see her kids? No, she would either choose to be a surgeon and work those hours at the cost of seeing her family less, or she would pick a medical specialty like dermatology or radiology that allows the stability and flexibility she seeks. (Many female physicians choose these fields specifically because they afford decent and predictable hours.)
If she wanted to be the president, would she propose that the presidency create a flex-time position with half the travel and half the "face time" with world leaders to make it "fair" for women? High powered jobs come with high-powered workloads, high-powered commitments and, often, high-powered salaries. If that's what a person -- male or female, kids or no kids -- chooses, trade-offs will always be involved, whether you're trading your sleep, your health, your leisure time, your social life, or time with your kids.
The big, newsworthy, cover-story concession for Slaughter? She went back to her prestigious, lucrative, flexible and fulfilling career at Princeton, which includes teaching a full course load, writing a book and giving 50 speeches a year to interesting and influential audiences, while also being able to see her kids. Is this so awful?