I must too.
1. I think the most ridiculous part of the piece is the fantasy of mothers that somehow they impact their children to such a degree that it is important for them to forego their own lives, their own importance, their ability to impact the world.
I smirked when I read that she thinks she’s going to impact her rebellious teenage son by just being around more. Oh I so doubt this is true.
It’s an American idea of mothering, and often results in spoiled, maladjusted children.
The most well-adjusted, nicest, quite brilliant, very accomplished, happiest, and most confidant person I know had a mother that conceived him during an orgy. He has no idea who his father is. She raised him as a single mother, was poor, held marginal jobs, he was alone a lot as a child, and he turned out truly dazzling.
The second most well-adjusted person I know had a mother that intensely wanted him to succeed, and put an insane amount of pressure on him. She worked as a high powered biotech executive. His father was an immigrant from a Eastern European country where he was a famous filmmaker, but when he got to America he could no longer get funding for his films (in Eastern Europe all his films were funded by the government.) He was depressed and a failure his entire life. Their son turned out incredible, with no bitterness towards his parents, and is successful, brilliant, and very happily married.
I know a mother who has been a stay at home mother her whole life, is wealthy, a wonderful person and quite involved in her children’s life. Her son is lazy, bored, and entirely without passion.
Richard Branson’s mother was awful, perhaps borderline abusive: she used to do things like drop him off a mile from their house and make him walk home. He turned out well.
My own mother worked full time, was the primary breadwinner in the family, and raised one maladjusted child (me) and two well-adjusted children (my sisters).
So the idea that children need their parents to be perfect and at home is a bit silly. And even by being away the children might miss her, but she’s teaching them other values: the importance of public service. Plus, she can talk to her children every day: email and text them and Skype them.
To give up a high-powered job just because she thinks her teenage boy needs his mummy is insane. And a ruse I think: she really gave up her job because she’d lose tenure at Princeton! And because she wanted to (meaning she wasn’t really fit for a high-powered job). High-powered jobs are hard, and not everyone can handle them. Not everyone is brilliant enough for them. And the Peter Principle means that a lot of people will be promoted into high-powered jobs that really can’t handle them. Family is an easy excuse instead of admitting this to yourself.
Sheryl Sandberg is a wonderful mother and one of the best executives in the country. And she leaves work at 5:30pm.
2. The work world is not structured for women. But it could be. However, it won’t be until enough women make the sacrifice to get into the high-powered jobs where they are able to make these changes.
It’s why almost every Fortune 500 company has a gym, and only a few have childcare. The executives are 50 year old men, their doctors tell them they will have a heart attack if they don’t exercise, they invest in a gym. It will take a woman to do this.
Workplaces were structured for a family unit where the men worked and the women stayed home. The world is no longer like that, and they need to be restructured. It will make corporations more efficient too. A few months ago I started a job where I telecommute unless I have a meeting, and I cannot believe how much more productive I am at home than the office. Also, how much it has impacted the quality of my life. And not only because i’m not spending 30 minutes to 2 hours commuting every day. I do my work when I feel like it, and I meet every deadline. And I’m happy.
Feminism is when you take action in a way that makes the world better for all women, in my definition. And every woman should take responsibility for this in her own way.
But women, the collective lot of us, need some women to be high-powered. We need women who won’t quit, who will go the distance.
I find it disgusting when a woman that has gone to Harvard or one of the other world’s best highly competitive universities designed to train the powerful quits and becomes a mom. She took a space where another woman that was going to go the distance could have improved her career.
3. If women want to “have it all”, like men supposedly do, then they can become like men. Marry a Mr. Mom. Have the best of both worlds. Sure, you can’t get over the pregnancy and the breastfeeding period, so the workplace must truly accomodate this, but other than that men are perfectly able to take care of a family full-time.
In fact, if a woman wants to be high-powered, I think the best move she can make is to marry an unemployable man. A woman I know was in a relationship with a man that got fired from 3 barista jobs, a door-to-door political organizing job, and a few others. (Note: he is gainfully employed in a telemarketing sales job now that he’s kept for nearly a year.) I saw her situation propel her in her career. She took powerful jobs, she climbed the latter, and she negotiated her salary because she was supporting him. Women that marry wealthy men just aren’t as driven.
The truth is that men never “had it all”. Being the sole breadwinner is stressful; they did sacrifice time with their children. Men in high-powered positions sacrifice a lot. If women want to be in these positions, then they have to be willing to sacrifice too.
4. Ah, now this post is as long, wordy, and as poorly written as Anne-Marie’s.