I was overwhelmed a couple years ago, with a pronounced emphasis in the media and through random conversations about the focus on women. Women and their choice to stay at home or not to stay at home, to feed Cheetos for breakfast or fix homemade heart shaped pancakes instead, to take a job that demands more travel or not. About women and equality from the extremes of equal pay to the need for basic human rights for women. Women having it all or wanting it all, or "leaning in" for it all, or building a nursery onto their office in order to have it all.
Here was all the fuss then:
Working Women Know Your Value. This was an article a friend sent me just after she had finished telling me that she doesn't charge enough for her side business as well as how she was shocked at how much a friend charged her for baby clothes she had purchased from her. The article starts off with the dramatic quote "I often feel like a high-class prostitute, I just don't charge like one. Call girls seem to know their black book value, or at least their madams do. But sadly, many professional working women don't get or demand the compensation they deserve."
Or the blog Cheetos for Breakfast: A Letter to Young Mothers - Thanks, mom, for posting this on my Facebook page. Are you trying to tell me something?
And two years later, it still seems to be a fuss, maybe even more so with a woman being a major political party's candidate for president.
One thing is for sure, the focus on women is everywhere and it doesn't seem to be going away. And it is often about the choices we make, which often comes out of the fact that we as women judge every other woman for the decisions they make while questioning our own at every turn.
Can you imagine headlines and blog posts like these above focused on men? "Lean In: MEN, Work and the Will to Lead"? "Working MEN Know Your Value"? ""Cheetos for Breakfast: A Letter to Young FATHERS."? Yea right. And there is harsh criticism on either side of every debate about a woman and the choices she makes. Do we ever analyze a man's choices to the nth degree? It may simply be because men don't judge each others' choices to the nth degree.
Quite frankly, I've been surprised by it all. I live in an environment, thanks to many who came before me, where gender isn't a prominent issue on my mind. Roles where I grew up, where I call home now and where I work aren't defined by gender for the most part. I, and I would guess a lot of us, male or female, need to be reminded more about some of the points that Jimmy Carter emphasized in his reasons for leaving the Southern Baptist church. My reality is not the case in much of the world still today. This is a first world problem post.
But despite the lack of focus on gender roles in my world, when I examine myself I realize that I do seem to have more choices to make, even more than my better half, and I do seem to agonize over these choices both big and small much more than my equal and partner-in-crime husband does. As a matter of fact, when I mentioned to him considering blogging about this topic to get his opinion, he had none. It isn't even on his radar.
So I ask the question: is women wanting it all what leaves us waffling or second-guessing ourselves on so many choices? And is judging other women or appearing to be judging other women based on our own worldview even though we mean no harm or judgment really the true danger?
Quoted in a link to another article out of one mentioned above, Marina Whitman a professor at The University of Michigan said, "I think this thing about 'can women have it all?' or 'can't they have it all?' is kind of a silly argument," she said. "Yes, you may have it all, but not all at once."
Learning personal leadership lessons to guide yourself may be the best place to start in realizing what is most important and at what time.