I know that women in the generations above me paved the way for the world I live in today, which is markedly different for women than it ever has been in history. And I am very grateful for that.
But I’ve also always argued that the workplace that men built for themselves—a corporate world—does not work for women, not unless we are young, unattached, and without children. Why would I want to be equal in a structure that was never intended for me, doesn’t suit my needs, and is basically designed to crush individuality out of my soul?
When I first started reading the most recent “let’s try to sell some magazines” article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I was predictably kind of annoyed. Slaughter, from what I gleaned, was an academic—no complaining allowed with that lifestyle—who took a high-level foreign policy job in the government. Eighteen months in, she realized she couldn’t do her job, and raise her sons without compromising both.
She seemed to be leaning towards making the age-old argument that women who think that they can “follow their dreams” and also have a family are fooling themselves. Not in a pioneer women, “I want to start a strawberry jam business” kind of way. But in the sense that you cannot be a Fortune 500 CEO, and do right by your teenage son. I think that is probably very correct. But the same sacrifices, I assume, in this world, are made by men.
But then she said this:
“The best hope for improving the lot of all women, and for closing what Wolfers and Stevenson call a “new gender gap”—measured by well-being rather than wages—is to close the leadership gap: to elect a woman president and 50 women senators; to ensure that women are equally represented in the ranks of corporate executives and judicial leaders. Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone.”
I mean, that would be awesome. And that’s closer to the sort of revolution I think would be necessary to make our society as a whole better. It’s obviously not going to happen. Or maybe it will after the apocalypse.
In the meantime, I’m going to finish Slaughter’s article which is, like many things in The Atlantic, meandering and a little bit boring. But I do like her tone, and I’m sure eventually, when I wade through it, I’ll find it will make one or two arguments about something.
What I wish someone would write? “Why you so stupid?,” an exposé about women who climb the corporate ladder only to discover that at the top, all of the men are robots. Now they have to make the choice between their families or filling their bodies with titanium in order to keep their jobs.