As one of these younger feminists, I appreciated Slaughter’s honesty but was frustrated by the premise that we are eschewing the high-powered career track to its difficulty. What if we were eschewing the pioneering glass-ceiling route not because it promised a miserable existence, but because we didn’t believe it was a path toward achieving equality? In other words, is it possible that the suit is a distraction or a diversion, rather than the ultimate aspiration?
Ruth Rosen’s recent piece on AlterNet began to tease out these questions, taking Slaughter to task for having “failed to understand that the original women’s movement sought an economic and social revolution that would create equality at home and at the workplace.” By recalling the history of the early feminist movement, Rosen illuminated how media distortion has warped the movement’s goal of changing the social structure into today’s vision of women “having it all”–all being the dream job, the perfect home, the flawless body and, of course, a closet full of slimming yet respectable suits.
“Activists in the women’s movement knew women could never have it all, unless they were able to change the society in which they lived,” Rosen writes. “[But] by 1980, most women’s (self-help) magazines turned a feminist into a Superwoman, hair flying as she rushed around, attaché case in one arm, a baby in the other. The Superwomen could have it all, but only if she did it all. And that was exactly what feminists had not wanted.”
…given the power of experience and hindsight, isn’t it time that we stop bemoaning the inability to “do it all”–as men have defined it–and instead celebrate those who are balling up the navy blue suit and creating a new way of doing things in the first place?