Friday, July 27, 2012

What, you mean I can't have it ALL?

For weeks, I've been hearing snippets about Yahoo's new CEO, supposedly the captain that will be able to right the sinking ship that is the Internet giant. Young, smart and attractive, too, which of course guarantees a decent amount of press from our looks-obsessed media.

But the Pièce de résistance? The newest power player is a she, and her name is Marisa Mayer.

And she's pregnant.

Cue the press-frenzy of stories of women power, balancing work and home, and even stories on current corporate fashion. Let me pause here to say, eww. Granted, the overwhelming majority of top CEOs are still dudes, but these "news" stories are more 1984 than anything Orwell conjured up. I couldn't help thinking one of those stories would have at least one participant in shoulder pads with teased hair propped in front of a Delorean.

What was most irritating for me was the "Can women finally have it all?" angle taken by a number of programs. This lined up nicely with an Atlantic piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter which answered the question with a resounding "no". She begins:

Eighteen months into my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.

You don't have to read much to get that if one is busy is sipping champagne and greeting foreign dignitaries, then no, you cannot be present to help one's son with his math homework.

A couple of weeks ago I read another Atlantic piece, this one from last November, called "All the Single Ladies," which looks realistically at a number of unattached women, from divorcees to single moms to somewhat naive co-eds. I laughed a few times, but came away with a feeling of sadness. I also thought the church is really, really, REALLY missing a huge opportunity to serve this ever-growing group, but that is another blog for another time.

What's painfully obvious to me concerning the theme of "having it all" that runs through both stories, is that we, in fact, cannot have it all.

Stop, and think on that. No, we- and this goes for the fellows, too- can't have everything. If we jump the broom, we leave one box and move to another. And if we leave that marriage, then we enter yet another box, completely different from the other two.

I'm not trying to be simplistic. There's just no reason to look at "1+1=2" and suggest algebra.

This is no reason to feel sad. Nope, on the contrary, it can be a relief to know and accept that, despite what the magazines, websites and TV shows push on you, you can't have it all.

I use to watch the "Today" show daily. Well, snippets of it since I was always rushing to school or work. But I brokw up with Matt and co. since becoming a SAHM. I grew tired of the quiet pitches to buy the latest makeup, purchase the must have sandals or incorporate the newest workout craze into my routine (especially since I don't have a routine to begin with). The message was being sent: life is incomplete unless I have [fill in the blank]. And the blank is constantly changing. More, more, more.

Get it all.

Oh, these problems we have, these first world problems.

The best example I know of for the 21st century wife and mom comes from many thousands of years ago. It's where I got the title of this blog, "far above rubies". Yes, the Proverbs 31 woman:

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

There is a huge difference between having it all, and having what truly matters.


Don said...

Excellent read.

You, my friend, have just tapped into what I refer to as The Marketing Machine. For better or worse, I believe it examines one's self-consciousness.

If I didn't know any better I'd say it seems you've pondered the question for awhile now - whether personally or casually - and pretty much took just about all you could take concerning the improbable suggestion?

Agreed. No one in the world can have it all, not when "all" is hardly defined, ever-changing (as you've stated) and infinite. Having "all that truly matters" appears to be more logical.

There's just no reason to look at "1+1=2" and suggest algebra.

Love the humor.

ELove said...

LACK of Common Sense, Have No REAL political Leaders and All-Out "Systematically Induced" MISTRUST amongst ourselves has truly devastated OUR COMMUNITY

And The Women's liberation Movement (aka The YT LESBIANS Movement...) started this Ascension that WOMEN had to be MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS within the Corporate World rather than BEING The Nurturing & Spiritually Supportive BACKBONE of THE FAMILY (YUP...)

A WOMAN can have Everything as long as she doesn't forcibly step outside HER NATURAL INHERITANCE of Her True-n-Real Importance in Life's Cycle... ONE can't make the ABNORMAL "NORMAL" no matter how hard ONE Tries IMO

But SADLY A Woman Can't have EVERYTHING in this day & age becuz SOCIETY will not allow that kind of Family Structure to EXIST ANYMORE...

The AGENDA has been geared towards creating DEBT SLAVES and the Credit Cards, Banks and Advertisers were all in from the Very Beginning... And in 2012 well over 70% of AMERICAN CITIZENS are in Severe Financial DEBT (MmmHmmm...)

Very Nice Read Though

Alisha De Freitas said...

@Don, when I originally ran through this piece in my head, I didn't consider the marketing machine. It's only when I sat down, and started writing that I linked the "women have it all" with the overall consumerist message of "we must buy it all." In my mind, at least, they are inextricably connected.

"If I didn't know any better I'd say it seems you've pondered the question for awhile now - whether personally or casually - and pretty much took just about all you could take concerning the improbable suggestion?" Oh, you are an expert at reading between the lines. I'd swear you've taken a class in Advanced Critical Theory at some point. Have you?

"No one in the world can have it all, not when "all" is hardly defined, ever-changing (as you've stated) and infinite." YES! This!!! Ding, ding, ding!

Thank you for another rich comment.

Alisha De Freitas said...

@ELove, Hi! Thank you for commenting.

I still believe it's possible for a woman to have everything that matters, despite the influence of society and the media. It's hard, but not impossible. I've had to take steps to keep my focus on God, my family and community... even the small step of shutting off TV shows that endorse or glorify possessions over people has gone a long way for me. Also keeping positive company is vital.

As for debt... ahhh, don't get me started! It's sad that our economy is now built on debt. And we see what that has gotten us...

Don said...

I'd swear you've taken a class in Advanced Critical Theory at some point. Have you?

Yes, required for English. But my grades weren't as impressive as I'd like you to believe. Lol. I'm inclined to believe those who've concentrated their studies solely on that curriculum (like yourself?) are truly "advanced."

Much of my thought process comes from having read critical thinking-authors such as Ralph Wiley and love of journalism, period.

Alisha De Freitas said...

I think I've forgotten more than I remember at this point. You could give me a refresher on the finer points of higher criticism, new criticism, or reader-response criticism.

Oh, journalism... the Internet killed the journalistic star... :-/

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