work life balance

Stop telling me I want it all because I’m a woman!

I’m a lover of Twitter (@DianneUCLan if you want to follow me) but I opened my twitter feed this morning and became rather irate. This has been building up for some time mainly due to a couple of followers I followed back out of courtesy and now have unfollowed. I know I should have taken this action before I became irritated but heigh ho we all make mistakes right? Plus this isn’t just on twitter, whenever I open a paper I’m faced with the “Women Want it All” message.

Do men not “Want it All” too? Or do they feel they “Have it All”? I very much doubt it’s the latter.

I actually find this message quite sexist because it implies that as women we’re incapable of figuring out that we make choices which have consequences in the same way as men do. Most people I know regardless of their gender try to strike a balance between work, family and self which works for them. As a woman I am no less capable of figuring out that if I concentrate on my family, as I did when my children were little, that I won’t be able to push my career as energetically as I would like. Or that if I focus on my career I may sometimes miss out on some parts of family life that I’d like to be there for. Men do the same so why does the media persist in only referring to women with this message?

Is it because women still do the majority of the housework in most households? Well that’s because, again, we’re making a choice and we should realise that. The division of labour in our household tends to fall along traditional gender lines. I do most of the housework & cooking with some help from my husband, he tends to do things like decorate or fix the front door when big gaps appear in it (it’s a very old door) Yes I occasionally moan about it but in the end I’m better at cleaning that he is & he’s better at fixing doors than I am. Yes I can hear the shouts, I know that’s because we tend to have been taught these things as children but that’s fine, the new generation are being taught differently. My sons cook as often (if not more often) than their partners & help more with the housework because they were brought up that way. Change comes slowly but it does come. I know that I am quite capable of leaving the housework if I was prepared to live with the consequence of that, the consequence being a less clean house. I make that choice myself.

I actually think this message we’re constantly exposed to as women does us more harm than good. Not only does it put us under pressure to believe that somehow if we were good enough we would be able to juggle these balls and have it all but it undermines us by implying we’re not in control of our decisions and their consequences.

What do you think? Do you agree that this message is bad for women? Or do you think it’s a good message?

  • This all goes back to the ‘old days’ – when we found ourselves on the wrong side of a consumer boom. We had no thick hide, no fangs and no sharp claws. In order to remain a force in the market we formed ourselves into large groups (on the basis that the consumers would pick up the cheap bargains round the edges).
    Groups need leaders – leaders need followers. For a long time, a change of leadership involved a fight to the death. This made leadership a nervous occupation. Most people opted for the easy life of a follower.
    This system worked well for us for several tens of thousands of years, but recently, the last couple of thousand years or so, something has happened. Perhaps, the fact that we had achieved total dominance of our environment – leaving us no one to fight with but ourselves – has created a low level, species awareness – that we could easily push ourselves to extinction. Perhaps the awareness grew among leaders that it would be nice to live long enough to spend your pension.
    We have been slowly breeding ourselves into a more intelligent, independent and individualistic race. This is a raw, brutal process and is responsible for most of the problems in the world today.
    But it is happening, we are moving towards a time when the majority of people will see themselves as in charge of, and therefore responsible for, their own lives.
    So Dianne, I hope you are pleased to find yourself at the leading edge of the evolutionary wave and to know that you are definitely heading in the right direction!

    • dianne

      I think my mother’s generation had to fight so hard & don’t get me wrong I think there’s still a journey to make but certainly in the UK things are so much better for my generation. I’m watching the next generation really adopt a different culture which will pay dividends I think.