Work Life Balance
Illinois Politician Has An Awesome Answer To The Obnoxious Work Life Balance Question
Way more interesting than people’s actual observations about work life balance is the issue of who gets asked about such matters. After Julian Castro spoke at the Democratic National Convention, I didn’t hear a single reporter or blogger posit whether he was capable of running a large city like San Antonio when he has an adorable little daughter who needs time and attention while she works on becoming a shampoo model. (Seriously, did you see that girl flip her hair?) But for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, it was a different story.
After her speech at the DNC, the mom of two was asked not once, not twice, but three times whether or not a woman can be a mother and be the governor of a state. Thankfully, she took a moment to point out just why that question is so problematic.
“Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question? I’m very lucky to have the support of my family. My husband helps take care of our kids. But, I think more people should ask that of men running for office as well.”
Wow is right. And “Wow,” to Lisa Madigan for quickly pointing out the true issue behind conversations of work life balance. They’re only seen as “women’s issues.” Balancing your career and your family is an issue that more and more men are worrying about, and yet they don’t feel like they have to defend their choices. Men are praised when they choose to stay at home. Women are asked why they decided not to. They’re asked if they feel guilty.
The amazing point of Madigan’s conversation is that the question didn’t disappear about she adeptly tried to shut it down. The reporter asked again whether she could be governor while raising a young family. He also threw in a mention of just how hard the job was, just in case the Attorney General was completely unaware.
“All of these jobs are very demanding. And people who, unfortunately, have to work three jobs and don’t necessarily have health-care coverage – they’re even in a worse situation. So nobody needs to give any pity on what elected officials have to endure.”
I think Madigan brought up another amazing point, and one that Anne-Marie Slaughter touched on in her Atlantic cover story on the subject. For a lot of women, this idea of “having it all” or work life balance is just another form of privilege. Plenty of moms don’t get the choice. They have to dedicate the majority of their time to their work simply to support their families. As the wonderful Maria Guido pointed out on our own site this week, sometimes your parenting choices are made by your financial situation.
Listen, we’re all dealing with work life balance. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t discuss it at all. But we need to realize that it’s an issue for both genders, and it’s really an issue of luxury for those who can afford it.