Debora Spar, president of Barnard College has written a book about women having it all, fresh on the heels of Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In. It’s called, Wonder Women, Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection. Like Sandberg’s work, Spar confesses we women can’t have it all. We must make choices.
Though I haven’t read Spar’s book, I have seen her interview on television and read a review. Based upon what I’ve seen and heard, I’m underwhelmed. Both Sandberg and Spar are providing answers to a question that’s never really been asked. Of course women can’t have it all. Do men?
The feminist movement was about choice. By definition, choice means selecting some things and rejecting others. Having it all was never part of the equation, except in the dreams of advertiser who wanted to sell us more. What feminist sought were increased opportunities and greater flexibility for both sexes. Remember when the movement made being a house husband okay?
Most women know they can’t have it all. They don’t need a book to tell them. What’s more if there is to be a new wind under the feminists’ wings, let us use it to rise our sights on what we can do instead of what we can’t. While women may differ in many ways, there are points in our philosophies upon which all factions can agree. Whether we have children or not, we want better health care and better education for the young. We want peaceful resolutions to confrontations instead of the constant rattling of sabers. We want people to be free to pursue their dreams. If we reasoned together, we could build a platform upon which these goals become primary. After centuries of living in patriarchal societies as second class citizens, we have mastered two skills that are powerful tools for creating change: patience and the art persuasion.
As women, let us reach beyond personal aspirations. Can we have it all? We demean ourselves by discussing the obvious. The question before us is what choices do we intend to make for the preservation of humanity and the planet? Let us talk and write books about that.
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