NO MORE OP-EDS BY MARIE ANTOINETTE, PLEASE by Lisa Duggan

Ann Slaughter’s June piece in the Atlantic entitled by the editors as “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” — undoubtedly to appease the PageView Gods — has generated more Google Juice than Kim Kardashian’s love life.

But I’m not going to let that stop me from weighing in:

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My thoughts’ on Ann Slaughter, and “Having it All”:

One could summarize Slaughter’s piece as her “Is that all there is?” moment, the mid-career crisis written about, talked of, and divorced over for, by men for centuries. Her “Cat’s in the Cradle” swan-song. And in choosing that view, we can see Ann’s turning point as an achievement — women now experiencing the same existential low-point reached by countless fathers before her, who only lifted their heads up from their desks as the kids were leaving for college.

I don’t begrudge Ann her insight — but writing from that POV when stepping down from a government position, a JOB — in a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans remain unemployed for 2+ years, and/or facing foreclosure — is, in the least, in poor form.
Ms. Slaughter’s caveat to privilege is inappropriate, here. She had the opportunity to see her personal struggle as the same, collective struggle of working mothers and fathers everywhere — and moreover, to recognize that she had both the power and responsibility to advance positive change for all families, at a high level.

Enough Op-Eds from Marie Antoinette. No more crying in our champagne glasses. Let’s work on the problem of redesigning our public institutions and policies to reflect the change in our culture. Women work. Men work. Children need care. The era of guaranteed, unpaid childcare done by women is OVER. None of us will advance — not as individuals in pursuit of success, or this country as a world leader — until we acknowledge that reality and do something to address it.

4 thoughts on “NO MORE OP-EDS BY MARIE ANTOINETTE, PLEASE by Lisa Duggan

  • July 18, 2012 at 3:13 am
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    Hear, hear. I agree. The conflict between work and motherhood is something many of the women I've interviewed from across the States mention. I'll be exhibiting stories of mothers whose children suffer significant health disabilities at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke later this year, but hope to organize another exhibit on motherhood and work, which adequately represents all mothers rather than a selective few. Some of this work can be seen here: http://www.howmotherhoodchangesus.com/

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  • July 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm
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    hi Liisa,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love your project, great stuff. I run a web project called TheParentduJour.com — we publish the stories of a different mom and dad each day. Take a look. Perhaps you'd like to be feature? You can contact me at lisa@theparentdujour.com.

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  • July 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm
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    It's so refreshing to hear someone say, you know what, you will have to make sacrifices if you wanna make it in this market aka, your family or career. I've always had my career but now my family comes first. It's nice knowing that I haven't missed or lost out because I've chosen one over the other- I'm human, not super mum!

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  • August 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm
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    Hi Claire,

    It is good to tell the stories of real conflict — to acknowledge that one person can't be in two places at once. I agree with Ann-Marie on that point. But I think she was missing the larger picture, and an enormous opportunity, to connect her personal struggle with moms and dads across the country. She was in an unique position of authority to work towards changing our public institutions to offer real support to American families, and that was my main criticism.

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