Perhaps you’ve heard of Anne-Marie Slaughter? If, perchance, you’ve been too busy canning strawberries or working two jobs to put food on the table and haven’t heard the latest hullaballoo, Slaughter is a former high-level State Department employee who left to go back to being a professor at Princeton. She recently wrote an article in The Atlantic entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” (Arguably, being a Princeton professor and a parent could fall into the category of having it all,” as Slaughter acknowledges.) There’s been quite a stir about Slaughter’s article, all sorts of articles and blog posts about the gender gap in higher echelons of companies and who we should blame. Today’s New York Times featured a front-page article contrasting Slaughter’s article with the preachings of Sheryl Sandberg, a Facebook executive.
People, I’m just going to come out and say it. I don’t give a shit how many women are running Facebook. I just don’t. I consider myself a feminist, I really do, but I don’t think the question of whether a few elite women are able to have it all even matters. You want to talk about what matters to me as a feminist? Fistulas, FGM, rape, slavery, prostitution, domestic violence, healthcare, living wages, and maybe a bit of clean drinking water. Not whether some woman at Facebook thinks I should be holding down a full-time job.
Why are we measuring the success of women (and men, by the way) on their jobs? Why are we making the question about corporate executives? Life is what matters. You live once. ONCE. Running Facebook just doesn’t matter. Strawberries matter, children matter, entire countries starving matter. Let’s stop focusing our discussion on elite women’s work schedules. Let’s talk about things other than work altogether.
If I tell you that power and money are not the secret to success in life, can we stop making our discussion of “having it all” about career?