The recent dig at Kim Kardashian trying to have it ‘all’ (http://time.com/2891358/kim-kardashian-boobs-black-tuxedo/), though a very poorly written article started me thinking. I went on to read more credible sources; opinions of women who are CEO’s, government officials and so on. The difference in opinion was vast. While one group insisted that having it all is nothing but a matter of capability, another assured that my generation of women are simply being lied to and that there is no such thing as having it all. (Links to some articles given below).I am certainly not in a position of power (unless of course you are in my kitchen), in fact I don’t even have a job. I do however have a decent degree, a baby, a strong desire to have a successful career, an extremely confused state of mind and the immense burden of guilt which every mum trying to get back to work has. So I ask myself, like every woman before me.
Can women have it all?
Yes, I certainly think so; if and only if you define your own ‘all’. It sounds extremely simple and perhaps to some, even childish but think about it – the reason we all keep having this conversation over and over again is because we don’t allow ourselves to define our own ‘all’. Instead, we prescribe to the definition set by women’s magazines and TED talks that tell us that we need to have an extraordinary career, raise five kids, look like a model, all while being a part-time concert pianist and an avid scuba diver. Every woman’s personality, education, situation, marriage/relationship and socio-economic background varies. Given that there are so many factors differentiating us from one another, how can all of us expect to adhere to one version of ‘having it all’?
Why can’t women have it all?
I remember sitting down in the front row of an international women’s day celebration, dewy-eyed, listening to a certain successful someone go on about how she handled her career, three children and so on. She did of course thank her wonderfully supportive partner. I didn’t think much of it then. Now I feel enraged at being lied to, at being misguided. They always make it look like as long as you have a supportive partner and the right attitude, you can be the next CEO super mummy too. I don’t buy it. What about all that extra help? The nanny? The housekeeper? Perhaps a partner who doesn’t work? Normal households don’t have these scenarios or luxury. It is impossible to work 14 hours a day, striving to do your best at work and yet be a completely dedicated mother/partner who does not compromise her family in any way, cooks dinners and is seen cheering her kids on at every competition. All of this while looking half her age and without paid help. Not being able to do all of this is not a matter of capability but rather the truth. No one can do all of this to perfection. There is bound to be some compromise somewhere, sometime.
Why is this such a big deal?
In the short few months I worked in a full-time job, in various part time jobs and in social settings, I always hear women either talking about how they are finding it hard to juggle work and family or younger women discussing their fears of not being able to be good mothers and have a career at the same time. However, I have NEVER come across men discussing this. They somehow are only expected to do one thing at a time and lauded for doing that one thing right. So why must we women pitch ourselves against these impossible standards of ‘having it all’ God knows who came up with? Why can’t we just take on whatever roles we are comfortable handling?
Every woman has her own priorities. We should be allowed to define our roles the way we want to, without fear of judgement. Unless women who have climbed the corporate ladder truthfully acknowledge the help they receive, share their struggles and tell us the truth behind success, there will always be this generation of misguided women, who will never have it all. Lastly, it is remarkable that women take on so many roles and carry them out with so much dedication. That effort is the most admirable and endearing quality of our gender. Let’s not lose sight of that. So can woman have it all? It doesn’t matter. Really.