A reader writes:
The gist of that reader response, as I understand it, is that while women have a socially acceptable outlet (and a political movement) in which to express their displeasure with the wage gap, the glass ceiling, and the various sacrifices women must make in order to have a family and succeed at work, men have nowhere to turn when they must suffer the "emotional toll" taken out on them by the "unexpected focus on their career."
But men do have somewhere to turn when they feel that they are unfairly expected to sacrifice all in pursuit of a career: feminism.
For example, feminism has been behind the push for parental, rather than maternal leave, because feminists believe that both parents share responsibility for their child, and should have a chance to enjoy close personal and familial bonds. Both men and women must make the choice whether to focus on career or family, and whether to focus on only one. Men are expected to choose their careers, women are expected to choose motherhood. Neither expectation is fair.
Feminism is attempting to change that, and if your reader is really upset about what is an actual injustice toward men, I would recommend that he become involved with a local feminist organization that works on the issue. Because in an ideal feminist world, both men and women would be able to make independent, informed decisions about what their career-life and/or family life would look like, without any societal pressure, just independent self-determination.
Your commenter feels inadequate for not having casual sex? Well, sounds like he’s being ridden by traditional male stereotypes that survive from the more unambiguously-patriarchal past. That’s who he can officially blame, if he dares.
Apologies if this email is not as coherent as I’d like it to be, but I am writing quickly from my own 70-hour-a-week finance job to respond to the reader who so ineloquently attempted to defend the persistent wage gap in this country. I won’t take the obvious bait from his first line on “call me a misogynist asshole,” but this reader is very much missing the point.
Having recently graduated from a top undergraduate program, I can assure you that the same pressures to “earn lots of money” exist for young women. Young professionals of both genders are equally compelled to get their footing in their careers early and ascend the corporate ladder as rapidly as possible. The difference is that young women have to overcome “mommy track” expectations almost immediately. It is still immediately assumed that we will one day check out to raise kids, or that if we marry and stay at work we’ll still be the second earner in the household, the one who misses meetings when the kids get sick, etc.
The alternative is to be the “stereotypical female executive no kids, no husband, singlemindedly focused on her career. Contrary to his assertion that women treat the workplace as separate from life, I think many women of my generation already see that the two are fully intertwined, and it is nearly impossible to optimize for happiness, or even more “success” by any traditional definition, in both.
Young women aren’t asking for sympathy; we’re asking for the opportunity to pick any one of these paths without being at a wage disadvantage from the start. This reader still has every chance to be a high powered Hollywood executive and eventually find another girlfriend, marry and have kids. Or he could choose an entirely different lifestyle and be a successful male professional. Why should he earn 25% more than I do for having those same alternatives?
Wait. This guy was born in the mid 80s? He's like 25 and all "I gave up blah blah for a career!" Come back in ten years, then you can whine about it.