CMN 685 online discussion
For Tuesday, April 7
Can 21st Century Women (and Men) Really “Have It All”?
Over the course of the last 7 years, the issue of work/life balance (or integration?) for women has quickly evolved into a lightning rod issue drastically over-simplified in its coverage by the media, which described it as the “Having It All” debate. However, there is nothing simplistic or straightforward about this issue.
The term “working mother” is both redundancy and contradiction, depending on context. Every mother engages in considerable amounts of work on a daily basis, both the work of raising children and various domestic labors, yet her toil goes unrecognized because it exists outside of the capitalist economy. For the woman who labors outside of the home, the co-construction of her roles as both “worker” and “mother” has been perhaps even more tenuous, calling into question her proficiency and identity as either.
Rather, women’s struggles to manage professional careers, children, home lives, and their sanity is a complex matrix of challenges that affects each and every woman in vastly different ways due to a variety of factors, including extra burdens deriving from marital status, race, sexuality, class issues, dependent care, special needs children, and many others.
Then read the three short articles in Canvas Modules) the Online Discussion readings for “Can 21st Century Women (and Men) Really Have It All”?
Now answer these questions with the work-life balance interview you did in mind:
What are the challenges that working mothers currently face? What are the challenges that working fathers currently face? How are those challenges different? What are three of the various solutions proposed to help women and families better address these challenges in the Slaughter TED Talk and short articles you read above?
Joan Williams cites Lamont’s study of the working class and their “networks of sociability,” which involve extended family who live nearby and allow for extra child care, or an extended network of family, family values, children (cousins) who play together frequently, and close connections among family members. Did any of your interviewees claim such a sociability network in terms of helping with work-family issues?
How did the person you interviewed describe the status of work in their lives compared of the status of parenting—did they seem to privilege one over the other? (E.g. religion of responsibility, work ethic, definition of family values, personal growth as professional success)?
Did the person you interviewed express any guilt or dissatisfaction with the ability to integrate work/life, or the expectations of “individual responsibility” (meaning individuals are expected to solve their own problems, not society or government), or with regard to expectations of “intensive parenting” (meaning devoted themselves entirely to the nurturance and care of their children)?