Once again women are told to put up with impossible work hours and conditions, or go home. In her recent Globe & Mail article, Leah Eichler (Sept 3, 2011) suggests that women can’t have it all. I think she means they can’t have a high paying or high powered job and a life. Women are once again told that it’s really matter of personal choice, as
not a societal or system issue.
Although this may be true right now (sadly) it seems to me to make more sense to tell women to ask why this is so. And not tell them to put up or get out. Instead, she quotes author Becky Sheetz-Runkle, who says: You can`t have two number one priorities. Really?
You can find this blog on the Globe & Mail site (I hope!):
As a lawyer, I know that the law does not mandate life-balance. Nor does the law protect the fish or the air etc etc. Its important to understand that the law is always changing and should reflect our society’s values. Since the vast majority of laws (including corporate law and marriage law) were created by men for men when women were not allowed in workplaces, many lawyers including me have struggled to have them replaced with laws that allow women equal opportunity to money, power and balance – if that is what they want. Sadly we still live in a society where we do not fully allow women to have both high paying or powerful jobs and a family, unless they are willing to sacrifice way too much. We tell working moms that it is their personal choice – to put up with it or get out; Go home and work for no pay; Don’t complain and definately don’t be a lawyer or politician who could make our laws better. As many scholars on this topic (Reine Eisler for example) have emphasized: This so-called “choice” is not a chioce at all (and is obvious rhetoric.) So Leah, you are right, this is not a women’s issue, it is a matter of creating systems (like family and organisational systems) that support human beings and contribute to growth. Still it is women who suffer most under our current laws and systems and women have to make the most impossible life-reducing choices. So I would not be so quick to deny this as a gender issue.