Go to work, come home, cook, clean, wash the children, help them with their homework, make love to your significant other, then wake up and do it all over again; in that order.
As women, we inherently hold a lot of responsibility. As black women, we have that much more on our plates with which we deal. At times it can seem unbearable and having “it all”–unattainable.
By “all,” we mean a successful career, a full family (including a satisfied husband and well-rounded children), time for yourself after an exasperating bout at the office and your childhood dream of being swept away by a shining knight on a white horse.
A recent article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” in The Atlantic, questions this very theory. The writer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is an established women. She is a well-educated and mingles amongst other prestigious women, who too find it hard to balance a family and occupation. She writes:
When people asked why I had left government, I explained that I’d come home not only because of Princeton’s rules (after two years of leave, you lose your tenure), but also because of my desire to be with my family and my conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible.
Though this only Slaughter’s opinion, it has generated a world of response and controversy.
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“We should immediately strike the phrase ‘have it all’ from the feminist lexicon and never, ever use it again,” says Rebecca Traister of Salon.com. Agreeingerspectives perspectives point out that Anne-Marie is wealthy. She does not deal with the same issues as the “working class.” Every woman can’t just quit her job and stay home with her kids to catch them when they fall from the jungle gym.
It is true. In this climate, not-working isn’t an option for most. Resources are limited and there is no livelihood in hunger. You must do what you have to in order to survive and so many times, women sacrifice their sanity, creativity and freedom to support a household. Evidently we aren’t all as fortunate as Anne and weren’t afforded the same opportunities as she but women have been “making it work” for centuries.
What we have to do is, weigh our values. No one can “have it all,” but you can have the things that you feel you need the most. To “have it all” would symbolize perfection (and we all know there is not a perfect being canvassing this earth). Women have to let go of this “superwoman syndrome.” Trying to have it “all” wines up being the exact thing that drives us into an early grave.
We agree with Rebecca, erase “have it all” from the female vernacular and add “have what I need to be happy!”
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