Friday, June 14, 2013

We're Talking About the Wrong Thing

You guys. I can't even deal. I feel like lately all I've been is a super grouchy feminist.

No. I HAVE been a super grouchy feminist. And I have every reason to be.

Have you read the incendiary article by Lauren Sandler in The Atlantic?It talks about how women writers can juggle motherhood and writing and suggests that the most successful women do it by limiting themselves to one child.

Fine. Whatever. I do not care about her opinions on motherhood and the creative life.

There have also been some interesting responses to that article from Zadie Smith and others. I don't particularly care about those either, though I agree with many of them.

What I care about is this: We keep having this conversation about what women can do in order to balance motherhood with X.

X = career, writing, art, coaching soccer, traveling the world, having time for oneself. Whatever.

We are having the wrong conversation. It's wrong because we are STILL making the implicit assumption that women must and will always be the primary (dare I say sole?) caretakers of their children.

On the eve of Father's Day weekend I find myself asking, where in this conversation are all the fathers?

(As an aside, there was a great article by Liza Mundy in The Atlantic recently about the happiness of same sex couples which skimmed over the possibility that this is because they are making it up as they go, splitting and sharing responsibilities based on their own wants and needs rather than some outdated family model that requires a Masculine and a Feminine in order to work. Intriguing stuff.)

We aren't asking how men can find ways to balance the demands of their careers with their growing desire to spend more time with their families.

Shit, there was a stupid piece on The Today Show this morning about men taking or not taking paternity leave and how it's so HARD on men because they worry about their jobs the whole time they're home with the baby. You know, totally UNLIKE the mom who is just blissed out the whole time, totally zen about being a giant living food bag and not giving a thought to her career because...motherhood = career, obviously. Oh, she's content now because she's a mom.

I don't want to hear people talk about how women can find ways to do EVERYTHING. That isn't the problem. The problem is, it's time for men to do LESS at work and MORE at home (and I mean men in a general sense, as in what society expects of them as a whole).

It's time for them to start giving something  up to make things work. It's time for them to be partners in the real sense of the word. This is something Sheryl Sandberg has been talking about with her movement Lean In

Let's stop talking about why women can or can't have it all. Let's stop making the assumption that every woman in the world is totally and completely satisfied with child rearing alone.

Let's start asking what's wrong with men. Why don't they want to spend more time with their children? (Maybe they do—obviously some do, but why are we assuming otherwise?) Why don't they want to be more involved as fathers? (Again, this is the assumption we're making as a society.) What sacrifices can they make so that their marriages are an equal partnership in and out of the house?

That's the conversation we should be having. When it gets here, let me know.

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