Thursday, October 4, 2012

Women and perfection

I recently read a fascinating article in Newsweek magazine titled"American Women Have It Wrong." It attempts to move beyond the myth of women "having it all," a topic about which I wrote a blog in July.

The author of this article, Deborah Spar (president of Barnard College), says that men must help if the "women's problem" is ever to be solved. And by women's problem, she refers to women trying to work a 60-hour-week and also spend a 40-hour-week doing family care: housework, child care, and shopping. In other words, "having it all." She says, "If women want to have both families and jobs; if they want, even, to have fast-paced jobs without children or fast-paced children without jobs, something has to give." Her concern is that modern women are falling for the myth involved in the quest for perfection: trying to be perfect wives, moms, employees and perfect everythings!

Spar acknowledges that many husbands and fathers are stepping up to the plate more than ever before. Even so, she cites statistics that women devote 40 hours a week to family care while men spend 21. Men don't always know "how to make the right changes," she says, and women "are scared of raising the topic of gender with men, thinking it will brand them as radicals or troublemakers...."

She doesn't let us as women off the hook either: Women also need to work together, she says. "Rather than supporting other women, we tend to attack instead, arguing endlessly over who is raising better children and getting less sleep." We've all heard the debates between stay-at-home moms (who are working moms, by the way!) and moms who work outside the home. That's not helpful. We need to support one another in our choices.

Hmmmm, it's all good food for thought. I've raised my three sons already, though I try to be as active as possible in engaging with my grandchildren. But I do care deeply about how the world is for my daughters-in-law and how it will be for my granddaughters—as well as for millions or women around the globe. There must be a way that we can create a world that's better for all: women, men and children. What do you think?

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