Posted by: fhernandez10 | March 19, 2014

     Recently, we’ve discussed women “opting-out” of the workforce where they take a voluntary leave of absence due to family obligations and may or may not return to the workforce. Even if they return, most women usually settle for a part-time position or a position in which they over qualify. When they return, the transition can sometimes cause stress and anxiety to the point where some women re-exit the workforce. Women can also face a maternal wall and experience prejudice from an organization. In the Slaughter readings, many scenarios and situations are described about how some women may never have it all or how women have settled for a lesser position due to any determining factors. I completely agree with this notion, as it is something that I have witnessed with mothers or pregnant women. There is also statistical evidence that proves this revolution is something taking place in the workforce.

When studying the reasons behind women opting-out, I couldn’t help but continue thinking about a documentary that I watched a while ago about a female who married rich and believed that she “had it all” due to the luxurious lifestyle she lived and also through her perfect family. Through “opting-out,” this woman was able to live a life where she was the only priority in her eyes. Maids, babysitters, cooks and drivers handled the majority of the work that a traditional homemaker would be responsible for. Unfortunately, this idea of the American dream came to an abrupt end when the stock market crashed and her husband began to lose all of his assets and finances. The documentary at this point transitions to a more realistic setting where she had to become a caregiver due to the absence of the help.

My question is this: is there a clear way to define “having it all?” I personally believe that this notion for anyone, male or female, is impossible without knowing what “all” is. When we talked about Marissa Mayer, I believe that’s a woman that “has it all” because she simply just did it. In her interview she showed no sign of stress or pressure to answer questions and focused on her newly appointed position. Every person must find a way to “have it all” without settling for anything less but does that mean we have to stick to traditional values of rich old men who marry younger women who both just want to have it all?

 

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Responses

  1. I completely agree with you. I believe that the when the concept of “having it all” begins to mean having everything such as money, a large house, nice clothes, etc, realistically, is not possible for many women, nor is it their idea of “having it all”. For some women, “having it all” would simply mean staying at home with their family while their husband works, and for others, like Marissa Mayer, “having it all” clearly involves balancing a family and a successful career. Something that really stuck out to me in the Graff reading is this quote: “women do face a sharp conflict between cultural expectations and economic realities”. I think this quote speaks specifically about the concept of having everything and how, though it is nice to hope for, it is not always possible. I think because of this reality among others it is critical for every person to be able to define what “having it all” means for themselves and learn to be happy with what they are able to balance -like Marissa Mayer.

  2. I, too, think that “having it all” is a very broad statement that can be interpreted differently depending on who exactly “has it all.” For example, my personal idea of having it all would be to have a successful career in medicine, as well as a roof over my head and a happy, healthy family. Whereas other people may see having it all as experiencing luxuries such as maids, nannies, and an abundance of wealth. Having it all can ultimately lead to failure and a feeling of security, when it may come crashing down as in the female’s life as stated above. She became far too comfortable in her luxurious life, and I’m sure she was ultimately shocked when reality struck. Stories like this make me think that women are getting too comfortable with the feeling of having it all, and we need to learn that in order to achieve “it all” and continue having it all, we must keep up the work that got us to that destination in the first place.

  3. I also agree with you! What exactly does “having it all” mean? I have never though of it as one definition, rather a word that everyone has their own definition for. It all boils down to what is important to that person. For example, if work is important to you, as well as a family, you may feel like you “have it all” when those two aspects are balanced and you feel like you can contribute equally to both. If someone finds work the most important aspect in life and does not want a husband and children, she would define “having it all” differently.

    The example you gave of the documentary really made me think. My priorities are a lot different than the women in the documentary, however, it made me wonder what I would do if I my idea of “having it all” was gone too. My idea of “having it all” would be having a healthy family of two kids, a loving husband, and a job where I would not have to worry about money. Say I got to this point and all of a sudden, I lost my job. Overcoming that obstacle would be incredibly difficult.

  4. I agree with most everything everyone has already said, but I think the ambiguity behind “having it all” is where the problem is. The definition of “having it all” is different for everyone, as everyone has already said, but I think a lot of us don’t even know what that definition is yet. I don’t know what “having it all” will mean for me in the future; I know I want to have a good career, but I have no idea if I want children or a traditional family. I think that’s why a lot of these women we’ve talked about in class who have had these amazing careers and when it’s over and they don’t have a family or personal life feel empty; I also think it’s why the women in The Feminine Mystique era with great families and personal lives also felt something was missing. If I do have a great career and reach my professional goals, will I miss having a family life? I think it’s something all people, men and women, should think about before they shortchange themselves from having a family OR a career.

  5. I agree that there is no one set definition for “having it all”. It is different for everyone. I would say the woman in the documentary had everything she wanted before their financial crisis. For me, “having it all” would be a healthy family and financial security. I want to work and have kids. However, I did not grow up with a lot of money, so even though I would like to take time off of work after I have kids, I probably won’t because I want to make sure that I can provide for them financially. I also believe that just because you have it all at one point, does not mean you always will. Like the documentary shows, unexpected things happen. If I were to take time off of work after having kids, I would make sure that I had a large amount in savings first.

    One woman we watched a video about in class (I don’t remember her name) said it is not possible to “have it all” now, but it is possible to “have it all” at the end. I took this to mean that it is possible to accomplish everything you want in your lifetime, but not to have it all at once. There might be a point in life where you focus more on your career, and another time where you focus more on family. Then, hopefully, you had a balanced life over time.

  6. Personally, I don’t think that “having it all” means to have a rich husband who can take care of everything for you. Then again, the concept is also a very subjective one. Based on the readings we have done and what we have talked about it class, I think that “having it all” alludes to the idea of balance and being comfortable with the live you are living. For example, most of the women we read about what to have a delicate balance between work and family and once they achieve this, they consider this having it all. But, what if you don’t want a family? Or, what if you don’t want to work and just want to be a stay-at-home mom? Then what does “having it all” mean? This is why the concept is situational. But, for me personally, I think it just means being happy. I have seen too many people stuck in dead end jobs, people not being fulfilled enough in their work lives and then others who are just most content taking care of home duties. I think it is about doing what is right for you personally and what makes you happy personally. For the women in the class articles, it was about striking the right work life/home life balance. Even though it is not my idea of having it all to rely on assets to make me happy, that is what having it all might have meant to the woman in the documentary and if that is the case, who are we to necessarily judge? It is all subjective to the given person in the given time. Which is why I also think that a person’s idea of having it all, whether man or woman, can significantly change throughout the lifetime.

  7. Having it all I believe is defined by the individual. I think that as a society we do have a preconceived idea that “having it all” means living the American Dream. Having the American Dream means starting from having nothing, to working towards having a family (which includes two parents and children), a successful job and economic status in the upper middle class or higher. All of these things have to be balanced perfectly and when you aren’t completely stressed or missing one of those three things, then that in our society that is “having it all”. I think that a lot of people strive to reach towards that idea of having it all versus trying to pursue and fulfill their own idea of what it means to have it all. In my eyes I do want to have a balanced life between those three things, however I have to realize that people who do not view that as having it all, that does not make them bad people. I think Kyra brings up a good point. The women we have read about in class have viewed happiness as having balance between work and family. And there have been times when I have judged the women who were not able to do so because in my mind I think that success is being able to have balance. But for my own self and for society we have to understand that for some women not having a job and only being there for your kids is “having it all”, for some women, like the women in this documentary, having it all means just being rich. While that is not my idea of success and while at first glance watching this quick trailer I found myself judging this woman for not having a job and relying on her husband for money. However, I can not judge her if that is how she truly thinks that having it all and being successful is about. I think it will be interesting to see from that trailer if her idea of success and having it all does change after the stock market crash. This documentary is something I am planning on watching because it seems really interesting so thank you for posting this!


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