Monday, April 23, 2007

The "Have It All" Myth

A couple of days ago, I found an interesting article through LAF. The article is a bit long, so for those who don't have time to read it all, I'll explain briefly: a group of feminists protests against the simple fact that many top positions require insane hours in order to be successful. Their solution – instead of acknowledging that not many women are ready to sacrifice everything else in order to reach the top of the ladder – would be "creating a field that allows them to score the same number of points while spending less time in the game".

I liked the article, but even more, I liked a comment that was made by a reader who described herself as an "old-fashioned feminist". It was long and elaborate. Here are a few parts of it:
"Personally I think it's about bloody time that women woke up and realized that you can't ride two horses in two different races and win them both.
As an old fashioned feminist, I long ago realized that a high-pressure, long-hours, irregular working day business is something that is suitable for men and for women who are willing to work like men. I choose to work like a man."

When I compared myself with this woman, I thought we are completely different on many things – our aspirations, ambitions, hopes, ideals, decisions, choices, way of life, and the list goes on. She chose to work like a man. I refuse to do that – because I don't want to, because I don't think it would be good for myself, my household or my family, because that wasn't God's design. Even if I never have a husband and will have to work to support myself, it won't be a time-consuming, competitive career that will require me to work and behave like a man.
But we do agree on one thing. I, too, think it's impossible to "ride two horses in two different races and win them both". A career woman who keeps her home reasonably clean and supplies meals on time might proudly claim she "has it all", but is it true?

In her comment to my post, "Living on One Income", Candy wrote:
"And how in the world do they keep up with their homes and meals? I always wonder that.Because if I had to work, I would have to hire maid service to keep up my home. I don't know… unless they are supermoms or something, I just don't get it."

I replied:
"I believe it is technically possible to deal with cleaning, provide meals etc, while working full time. A woman COULD come from work around 6 or 7 pm, rush through the house with a vacuum cleaner and mop and pop some convenience food into the microwave. But that doesn't equal the time and effort a homemaker puts into making her house a home. When I visit, I can tell the difference between a house that has peace and order, that has been lovingly arranged and which smells of fresh cookies, and a house that has been grudgingly cleaned when the woman is exhausted and frustrated."
I'll say more. Hiring a cook and a maid can turn a house into a perfectly clean hotel room. A homemaker is something completely different – her loving presence, her sense of creativity, her attention to the family's intimate needs nobody but her could know – all those make the spirit of her home. In the past, rich ladies had maids, cooks, nannies and private teachers, and they didn't feel they have nothing to do at home. They occupied their time by managing and organizing their household, being there for their family, pursuing feminine arts; many of them could play the piano and spoke several languages (no brainless doormats here!). And nobody asked them what they "do". Their presence was what mattered. Without it, we don't have a home. Money can supply elaborate meals, squeaky clean windows and professionally decorated interior. But not a place we can call home.


Tracy said...

Oh, but I DO have it all... a loving husband; healthy, happy children; food on the table; a warm, clean home; and my faith!

This was another excellent post, Anna. Women have bought into the lie that by staying home they are somehow inferior to men. Not true! My husband praises my *work* constantly. What a paycheck!

Anna S said...


I always enjoy so much visiting your blog, seeing pictures of your lovely home, reading recipes you make; I also like visiting your husband's and children's blogs and reading their thoughts. It really feels you are all close to one another, and there is peace and order in your home. I really don't think it would have been possible unless you worked on it - full time.

I know young ladies who don't reject the thought of family and motherhood; on the contrary, they state how important it is to them. Yet they plan for time-consuming studies until their late twenties/early thirties, then career, then "everything else". AND they want to have a glorious family life AND invest time and energy in their children. But when?! And who/what will get the bigger and better part of their time and effort?

Candy said...

EXACTLY me feelings!!!! Thats why I chose to be a full time home keeper!
I have a friend that is has started to read our circle of friends blogs. She works full time out of the home and is struggling with that for lots of reasons I cant explain here (incase she's reading this hahaa... I dont need to be the one listing all her issues) But she is really struggling keeping up the home and working full time.
So Im glad your talking about this. I ve already sensed that she could be realizing that its OK to chose to be a full time homekeeper.

Love Candy

Anna S said...

I grew up with a working full-time single mother. I remember our apartment was always... well, not spotless, but in decent living conditions. And we had simple home-made meals she cooked in bulk once a week.
BUT she was always so exhausted and frustrated! Weekends were spent cleaning and scrubbing, in a frantic attempt to catch up on housework. She didn't have time to stop and breathe fresh air, or to enjoy the results of her work, or to really invest the time and do it well. She was always cranky and overwhelmed with the amount of work she had to do.
Mom didn't have a choice, since she had no source of financial support. But many women do have a choice.

Tracy said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments!

Christie Belle said...

I agree with you 100 percent, Anna. This was a great post! A house and a home are not the same things and I can tell the difference the second I walk in someone's door too.

Candy said...

I did type "me feelings" LoL
Sorry for the mistakes in that comment. There are a few I see now hahaa.
"my bad" (as my son would say) :)