Upon reading Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have It All‘, I was struck particularly by these lines:
Just about all of the women in that room planned to combine careers and family in some way. But almost all assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make.
My subsequent frustration and annoyance stemmed from realisation that one parent should not be expected by society to sacrifice more than the other when raising a child. Disregarding the fact that babies are nurtured in the body of the mother, why have men never been just as at the centre of this debate as women? Why are women penalised for their priority to balance work and family whilst men are rarely subject to the question of whether they can have or do it all? This is not a feminist dispute, but a cry for equal socialisation.
The gender equality gap is sustained by traditional but often ignorant concepts that have evolved as social assumptions. The only way to achieve modernity, therefore, is to accept that this is an issue for both the mother and father of a child, because only with this approach can a true solution be found in which it is the responsibility of both parents to find a balance.
Where gender roles have been established through the mere fact that the baby grows within the woman, we have seemingly failed to acknowledge that once the baby leaves the mother’s body it becomes an individual and bares no physical attachment to either parent. Thus, child-rearing should in no way be accepted as a duty of only the mother.
Breadwinning has historically been a male dominated role, tying into historical notions of men as the hunter-gatherers providing for the tribe. But today women are ever increasingly a part of the labour market, attain better grades at school and consist of over half of graduates from university. Indeed, many young women of my generation find that in the early years of their career they are in more successful positions than their male peers. Yet this generation of women is still too often subject to the patronizing question of whether they “can they do it all” in a way men are not.
We all have to make sacrifices in life, so the compromises we make should not be judged by whether we make them as a man or a woman.