Tuesday, October 16 , 2018, 7:25 pm | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Mona Charen: Women Who ‘Have It All’? It’s an Illusion

Writer discovers the truth about mothers who don't just need to be home, but want to be

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s eye-catching Atlantic article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” is being greeted with a certain reverse snobbery. We’ve been reminded that the choices and challenges of women with advanced degrees are hardly typical and not the sort of thing that should divert us from the problems of the middle class.

Perhaps. But there are millions of women in the upper middle class, and the culture they create and reflect affects everyone.

Besides, Slaughter deserves some credit for honesty. As she recounts in the piece, when she mentioned to a friend that she was considering writing that women can’t have it all, the friend was adamant: “You can’t write that. You, of all people.” Slaughter explains: “... such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman — a role model — would be a terrible signal to younger generations ...”

Slaughter, the “first woman director of policy planning at the State Department,” had been one of those reliable soldiers in the “mommy wars” who had assured young women that, of course, they could have a satisfying career, a high income, a loving husband and 2.5 ego-gratifying, low-maintenance children whose problems wouldn’t intrude when they “sipped champagne” at a “glamorous reception” hosted by President and Mrs. Obama. But she has discovered that the “have-it-all” catechism was a lie. Even with a supportive husband who was willing to “take on the lion’s share of parenting ... (while) I was in Washington,” she found that she didn’t want to be away from her two teenaged sons, particularly when one was having trouble in school.

“Want” is the critical word here. Slaughter made a choice, as adults do. She writes, “I realized that I didn’t just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy and caring adults.”

Slaughter’s wants mirror those of other women (high-earning and otherwise). A 2007 Pew survey found that among working mothers with children age 17 or younger, fully 79 percent said they would prefer part-time (60 percent) or zero (19 percent) work outside the home. Only 21 percent said they would choose full-time employment while their children were young. This was down from 32 percent who preferred to work full time in 1997.

Despite endless repetition by Democrats and feminists, the idea that women earn less than men for the same work is fiction. Single women without children earn just as much, and sometimes more, than comparably qualified young men. Women earn less (over their whole careers) because they choose to. And they choose to because they place more value on child rearing than on money or status.

A better feminism would applaud women for this and stress the incomparable contribution mothers make to society. Instead, feminists define progress as the “first” woman this or that and the degree to which a woman’s life parallels a man’s. Feminists have been missing what’s best about womanhood for decades.

They keep up a relentless drumbeat for “better” (by which they mean government-subsidized) child care and fret that men don’t have to make the same trade-offs. But as Slaughter found, most women don’t want more opportunities to farm out our children. Slaughter wasn’t even satisfied to have her own husband be the principal parent. She wanted the kind of relationship with her sons that only time — and lots of it — can allow.

Most mothers feel that way, and unlike feminists who find this truth to be embarrassingly retro, we freely affirm that we want to be there for the first words, the first independent ride on a two-wheeler, the Little League games, the school plays, the violin lessons, and the thousand little private jokes, shared confidences and other intimacies that are some of the sweetest parts of life.

We’ve seen some of the women who are described as “having it all.” We see the glamorous careers, the attention and the prizes. And perhaps we feel a twinge or two of envy. But it’s an illusion. Something has to give. Too many exhausted women blame themselves for not being able to be Ruth Bader Ginsburg, June Cleaver and Sally Ride all at the same time. They’ve been lied to about life, mostly by feminists. Slaughter discovered the truth in time. Many don’t.

Mona Charen of National Review magazine writes for Creators Syndicate. Click here for more information or to contact her. Follow Mona Charen on Twitter: @mcharen.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.