Responses to ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All’
Leslie Fields discusses how Slaughter’s article applies to women in the church:
We Christians also tend, at times, to view women who are confident and successful in the workplace as less feminine, less submissive, perhaps even less godly than women in more traditional roles. As both sides run to Proverbs 31 to proof-text their choice, we must all admit that the virtuous woman is almost obsessively industrious, leading and serving inside and outside her household walls—as did Deborah the judge, Miriam, and Queen Esther, among other pillars of the faith.
Christian women need to be empowered to follow their calling and their gifts. As Christian women, we can have it all and we should: which means, we must be full participants in the creation of a healthy, vital culture where work is honored, God is served, and families are loved and secure.
Lori Gottlieb, also on The Atlantic, responds to Slaughter’s article by closely examining some of the presumptions and premises that Slaughter operates on. Specifically, Gottlieb notes in detail how Slaughter’s experience and demography is atypical for most women and that the problems Slaughter discusses isn’t just a wife/mother/female issue. Like Slaughter, Gottlieb puts forth a very compelling argument, albeit from an opposing point of view. In any case, it’s an interesting read:
This isn’t a feminist issue. This is Life 101, something all people learn as kids — until they grow up to be a high-level government official who has to choose between one six-figure job near her kids and one far away, and can’t accept life’s inherent limitations.
Rather than accept the very basic childhood lesson that choosing one option might impact the feasibility of another, Slaughter blames the government, men, society, feminism, cultural attitudes, the workplace and other externals. If you choose Harvard because you like Cambridge better than New Haven, you have to give up Yale and your love of its drama department. If you order the salmon entrée at your favorite restaurant, you have to forgo ordering the steak entrée that night. If you choose to have kids, you have to give up a certain amount of your freedom for the next 18 years. Not just career freedom, but marital, economic and social freedom as well. Order up what you want — Harvard, the wild salmon, the kids — but know that there’s no such option out there called “having it both ways.”
The real problem here isn’t about women and their options. The real problem is that technology has made it possible to work 24/7, so that the boundary between work and our personal lives has disappeared. Our cubicles are in our pockets, at the dinner table, next to our beds and even next to our children’s beds as we’re tucking them in. In many households, one income isn’t enough, and both men and women have to work long hours — longer hours than ever before — to make ends meet. The women Slaughter cites as being efficient – who wake up at 4 am each day, who punch in 1:11 or 2:22 on the microwave rather than waste the millisecond to punch in 1:00 or 2:00, who put their babies in front of the computer while they type rather than savor that tiny infant in their lap – made me want to cry. How terribly sad those lives are. But to make this about women misses the point. The problem here is that many people work too much — not just women, and not just parents.
The weak job market is part of the problem, but not all of it. They like the safety of school and fear the independence of adulthood. They’d rather stay on campus.
When students love the college atmosphere so much that they don’t wish to depart, colleges should take it as a sign of their own failure. Higher education hasn’t fully accomplished its personal/social task. After four years of coursework and social stuff, students should be eager to go. They should feel educationally qualified and personally impatient. When they feel the urge to get the heck out, in fact, college has succeeded.
Better to be productively tired than inanely restless. On a side note, when Tim Kreider mentions “idleness” it seems he’s referring to solitude or, at the very least, some form of an uninterrupted/peaceful/quiet time of reflection. Great article:
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.
Perhaps the world would soon slide to ruin if everyone behaved as I do. But I would suggest that an ideal human life lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s endless frenetic hustle. My role is just to be a bad influence, the kid standing outside the classroom window making faces at you at your desk, urging you to just this once make some excuse and get out of there, come outside and play. My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.
The various ways that Christians around the world have been persecuted. As always, much prayer is always needed.
On a Lighter Note…
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with doing it. In fact, we all do it because, well, everyone does it – it is what it is! Nevertheless, I suspect this open letter puts into words many of our own thoughts and feelings on the subject.
Derek Thompson with a quick take, with Buzzfeed as the main illustration, on how “going viral” works and the premise of “if it worked before, it will probably work again”:
One week ago, BuzzFeed’s Jack Shepherd pressed the publish button on “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity,” an undeniably faith-restoring collection of inspiring pictures that I read and shared, along with more than 7 million other people. For those of you who don’t dream in traffic numbers: Seven million page views for one post is astounding. It’s the Internet equivalent of “The Hunger Games,” or a walk-off Game 7 grand slam.
Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo was one of the 7 million. He was also curious: How does the Web’s hit-maker make its hits? Over the last couple weeks, he “spent many hours and opened hundreds of browser tabs in an effort to reverse-engineer posts I found on BuzzFeed.” What he found came as a disappointment. BuzzFeed’s writers weren’t baking from scratch. They were hunter-gathering. “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity” was basically a long riff on a shorter post at NedHardy.com. Every big hit at BuzzFeed seemed to follow the same template, Manjoo wrote. A writer would find popular stuff somewhere on the Web (“most often at Reddit”), find other images and examples from the rest of the Web, and publish a more comprehensive piece.
“The secret to [BuzzFeed’s] viral success is to find stuff that’s already a minor viral success and make it better,” Manjoo wrote. “Repeat the process enough, and you’re bound to get a few mega-hits. That’s not genius. It’s a machine.”