Work Life Balance

The Media Has A Hand In That Whole ‘Having It All’ Debate

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Woman “having it all” is the proverbial dangling carrot that is often used against them when weighing what type of career they would like to pursue while also maintaining a family. Instead of asking their partners to contribute more in the home, women with families are told that they can “have it all” by pursuing hellish work schedules, assuming all childcare responsibilities, while also being tremendously supportive spouses. Meghan Casserly over at Forbes.com made an observation that the media plays a significant role in perpetuating this myth for women.

Casserely writes in response to a Huffington Post piece:

The lesson for journos here? No matter which side of the “have it all” battlefield you’re playing on, you’re making women…feel bad. The media’s to blame for the thought that you can or can’t have it, how you feel about it, and even what “it all” is in the first place that’s making women feel so damned inadequate.

By portraying contentment as fitting one particular scenario of a full-time job, several consistently well-behaved children, as well as time to bake cookies from scratch, journalists and online media sources alike are responsible for suggesting that any other variation isn’t enough to make women happy. Regardless of what type of division of labor or workplace arrangement works for individual families and more specifically the mothers, women are told that their contentment lies in working more hours at a career that they should want or investing more time with their children than they already do. Personal happiness and achievement are to be defined by each woman and mother depending on what her ambitions are. How much time she chooses to divide between her career (should she want one) and her family are to be decided by she and her partner. Given that women are not a one-size-fits all demographic, there is no reason the definition of family or contentment has to be.