Why Can’t Women Have it All?

Leslie Carol Botha: We sure as hell work hard enough to have it all…. but yet happiness and satisfaction still allude women.

The Atlantic‘s ‘Women can’t have it all’ manifesto: The backlash

A former aide to Hillary Clinton sparks a passionate debate over an age-old question: Can women fulfill their professional ambitions and raise a happy family?

The Week
June 26, 2012, at 12:06 PM
Best Opinion:
 Forbes, CNN, Salon…

Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, looks back on her 18 months at the State Department in the current issue of The Atlantic, and comes to a contentious conclusion: Women definitely can’t have it all. Slaughter describes the agony of trying make the best of her “foreign-policy dream job” in Washington, D.C., while commuting every weekend to her home in Princeton, N.J., where her rebellious teenage son appeared to be spiraling out of control. Slaughter lays the blame for her conundrum squarely at the door of feminism, saying the movement misled women into believing that they could have a high-powered career and a family. Slaughter’s manifesto quickly became the most-read article in the history of The Atlantic‘s website, and has sparked lengthy responses across the internet. While many praised her for her honesty, Slaughter also incited a remarkable backlash. Here, five ways critics say Slaughter missed the mark:

1. Feminists don’t claim that “women can have it all” 
Slaughter’s entire premise is a straw man, says Maha Atal at Forbes. The feminist movement never promised women “the ability to have a completely unencumbered, full-time career and a completely involved, cook-dinner-every-day experience of motherhood without making any compromises.” The “have it all” concept “was the brainchild of advertising executives, not feminist activists,” says Stephanie Coontz at CNN.

2. Besides, “having it all” is an impossible standard
“We should immediately strike the phrase ‘have it all’ from the feminist lexicon and never, ever use it again,” says Rebecca Traister at Salon. “It is a trap, a setup for inevitable feminist shortfall.” The “have it all” mindset “sets an impossible bar for female success, and then ensures that when women fail to clear it, it’s feminism — as opposed to persistent gender inequity — that’s to blame.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.