Lest you thought I had not been paying attention to the deluge of “Women Can/Cannot/Have It All Or Something Resembling Some Amount of It All” articles, I have been. There have been so many that it seems like it’s become a genre in itself. It was getting so that everything I looked at the Google Reader, or the Facebook, or the Twitter, there was another one, and every time, I’d have the same reaction: “Oh, THIS AGAIN? Gah. Is Lindsay Lohan still alive? Are we sure? I think I’ll try and verify that.”
I’ll be honest-I couldn’t relate to most of these articles and so I tried to ignore them at first. My version of “having it all” has nothing to do with balancing babies and career, and I’m not alone in this, but there’s something even more disturbing about the fact that this conversation keeps happening, which Rebecca Traister’s piece in Salon points out-the question of women being able to “have it all” is another means of attacking and undermining feminism. I’d go a step further and say that the question is also another way of attacking women for acting as if we were actually human.
If women did not have complicated desires, if we weren’t capable of wanting more than one thing at a time, like children and also other work, there wouldn’t have to be an issue of negotiating all the things. If we would just let ourselves be essentialized and trapped, there would be no need for all the articles! This is all feminism’s fault. We deserve all our guilt and confusion and poverty. We should just be nice, and behave.
There has been some, but not nearly enough, written about how the “having it all” conversation is one of a particular race and class bent. It’s not about balancing your high powered job and your very wanted children, and it’s not about me and my non baby wanting, just as reproductive justice isn’t just about white women and whether or not we get to have abortions.This is an attack on the movements that are meant to help us liberate ourselves and the idea that we’re worthy of liberation.