Work Life Balance

Hillary Clinton Actually Didn’t Accuse Moms Of Whining

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A few months ago Hillary Clinton’s former director of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote a now-infamous piece for the Atlantic entitled, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”  The piece was about how difficult it was for her to juggle the demands of work and home and how she ultimately had to make a choice between motherhood and career.

You would probably expect Clinton to be sympathetic with these issues – but according to Marie Claire, you would be wrong.  It seems Clinton really wants Slaughter to stop whining.  Well, maybe not Slaughter specifically, but other mothers who are struggling with the whole work-life-balance-conundrum.

In an interview that appeared in Marie Claire magazine this week, Clinton responded to many issues – the first being Slaughter’s claims.  The reporter observed that Clinton’s “disapproval was palpable” when she was asked about Slaughter’s claim that “juggling high-level governmental work and the needs of two teenage boys was not possible.”

“I can’t stand whining,” she says.  “I can’t stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they’re not happy with the choices they’ve made.  You live in a time when there are endless choices… Money certainly helps and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don’t even have to have the money for it.  But you have to work on yourself … Do something!”

As could be expected, the backlash from her comments was immediate.  The Director of Features at Marie Claire wanted to be sure that everyone knew that Clinton wasn’t referring to Slaughter, specifically.

“We want to make it clear that Secretary Clinton’s specific comments about ‘whining’ were not in reference to Anne-Marie Slaughter but, as noted in the story, part of a larger conversation about women in the workplace and striking a work-life balance.”

Great.  Thanks for clarifying.  That makes it so much better.  Oh, wait – no it doesn’t.

This doesn’t clarify anything, and actually further misrepresents what Clinton said.  A report by the Washington Post clarifies what Clinton was responding to when she complained about “whining.”

According to State Department spokesman Philippe Reines, Clinton mentioned “whining” not in reference to Slaughter, but in reference to . . . great American literature. Via Reines, this is the relevant segment of the transcript from the conversation between Clinton and Ayelet Waldman, who wrote the Marie Claire piece:

AYELET WALDMAN: My daughter was reading “Catcher in the Rye,” and I said, “Oh, don’t you love that book?” And she said, “What is his problem? He’s unhappy? He should go volunteer.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good for her. I like your daughter without even meeting her. I mean, I think there’s so much to that, because I mean, God, I can’t stand whining. I can’t stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they are not happy with choices they made. You live in a time when there are endless choices, and you don’t have to have money for them. Money certainly helps. I mean, having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don’t even have to have money for it. But you have to — even, like, work on yourself, learn to play a sport, do something.

As is plain to see, the quote was completely taken out of context.  It seems several bullet point teasers that a publicist for Hearst Magazines sent out to a few media outlets were strung together – leading any reader to believe that the quote was in reference to the issue of striking a work-family balance.  The Director of Features’ comments really didn’t do anything to clear that up, but merely added to the accusation.

I am thrilled that Hillary didn’t actually say those things, but disappointed that I took the bait.  I guess a woman who has spent her life advocating for the rights of women all over the world deserved the benefit of the doubt.  This story was quickly updated to reflect the new information.

Sorry, Hillary.

(photo: stocklight /