Did you guys really think you wouldn’t hear from me about the Anne-Marie Slaughter article? I don’t have much to say about the article that hasn’t already been said. Slaughter’s version of feminism is one that neither myself or the women in my family can relate to. It reeks of white class privilege. And although I’m white, I don’t come from any type of privilege. Slaughter’s feminism is reminiscent of the early feminist theorists who were rich white women who were at home caregivers and demanding to be able to work like their husbands. Which is fine. I get it.
However, I come from a lineage of women who would have given their left arm to be able to stay at home with their children. Instead, my grandmothers worked in factories where they received 12 cents an hour. Women in my family work. Hard. Because we have to. I went to graduate school with individuals whose parents paid for their rent for the houses they lived in, paid their car payments, and sent them weekly allowances. Meanwhile, I hoped my scholarship and student loan money would stretch to the next month while I checked out the latest deals on Ramen noodles.
Yet, that’s not my biggest issue with Slaughter’s article and the articles that have followed since its publication. My problem is the assumption that men can have it all whereas woman can’t have it all. Yes, you did read that right.
When it comes to having children and being a parent, men can’t have it all either. The assumption that men are able to have these wonderful career dream jobs while still playing an active role as a father is simply not true. Men make just as many sacrifices when it comes to parenthood as their female counterparts. At least most of the good fathers I know.
For example, I can’t count the number of fathers I know who have given up the career they would have liked to have and had to settle for a job that paid the mortgage and next month’s tuition. One of my fellow Dad friends played in a successful band for years and now works in an office job. Do you think if he had his choice he wouldn’t love to still be playing music? Or my other Dad friend who always wanted to be a successful stand up comedian and now he manages a cell phone store. Do you think he really wants to wear a suit and tie everyday? Or another fellow Dad who gave up his law career to sell insurance. Do you think he really wants to sell insurance? Really? I could go on with the list of career sacrifices that I have watched all of the good fathers make around me, but I hope you can see where I’m going with this.
I just don’t think we live in a world anymore where we can have it all. Anyone. Male or female. Maybe this world existed at one point, but it doesn’t anymore. None of us get to have it all. And honestly, it’s a bit selfish to think we can.
If we have kids, we have to pay for kids and this requires all kinds of versions of the American dream. So we make sacrifices. All of us. Big ones. We give up some of our dreams. I gave some of mine up. And Yancy gave some of his up too. We all do. We give them up so that we can make our kids’ dreams come true.