Nature discriminates from day one. Despite any effort to level the playing field of gender differences, the natural qualities that make women unlike men (and vice versa) are there for an established purpose. We may flail about in reaction to these truths, but they remain.
Workplace concerns for women, as they relate to equal pay, career advancement, and the like, are prominent topics in social justice rhetoric. Although discussion on the wage gap issue persists, most dialogue, as Christina Hoff Summers pointed out, “does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week.” If the pay gap is not something directly relatable to discrimination, then blame for waning career advancement, also subject to similar influences, must be explained other ways as well.
Enter marriage and family.
As Jessica Grose suggests in her piece “It’s Not Your Kids Holding Your Career Back. It’s Your Husband,” career-minded women (at least the small number surveyed) are finding their dual dream of business success and equality-centric marriages to be mostly non-existent. As educational pursuits reach their zenith, relationships centered around equal opportunity should undoubtedly follow, right? Wrong. Marriage and family wasn’t meant to be a tidy shadow box of a larger, progressive whole. It was meant to be complementary, an altogether unknown term in a frenzied society set off at the slightest whiff of disparity.
Jennifer Colosi, founder of the executive search firm Colosi Associates, shared:
“I’ve called hundreds of women for executive roles in carrying out searches for our clients. They simply say…They say “no thanks” because they are unable to travel or commit the hours for the job that would move their careers further upward. To take that “exceptional” role. I call it: “Why very good is better than exceptional.”
The “female achievement gap”, as the website Slate refers to it, may be a phenomenon to those who do not prize success in the home as greater than that outside the home. If youth-fuelled goals do not come to fruition, the conclusion is that perhaps marriage is not egalitarian enough, or the mommy factor has wedged itself between what is and what could be.
As seen with the wage gap, there are numerous components in the mix which tear down the facade of misogyny, or the idea of women being “held back”, to reveal something less extreme. The natural progression of life. The innate characteristics that males and females singularly possess are branded as drawbacks by modern society. This retaliation to the human backstory says more of the artificial pressures we’ve placed on ourselves than anything related to that which is inherent. Married couples must seek to do what is best for their own relationship and any children brought into it. Those choices may conflict with earlier thoughts of what adulthood would entail. Prioritising is a must, as this piece implores:
“The good news here is that a large body of research shows that you will gain more happiness by being married than by having a good job. Yes, you should not have to choose between a good job and marriage. But this column is not about what is fair or what is just. It is about what is real.”
Too much weight is given to the discontentment born from ideas thrust upon women by other women’s own discomfort at the appearance of inequality. Additionally, too often feminists completely exclude women whose sole desire is to be a wife and mother, with no interest in a career outside the home. They are eliminated from inclusion because feminist ideology cannot fathom a female relishing a traditional, off stage role, whose compensation isn’t monetary. More than that, the stay-at-home role is one where women are not only expected, but where they dominate. To feminists, it speaks of stagnancy and diminishes the sense of revolution they propagate. With these blunders, they miss out on viewing females as a whole – both the career minded, family focused, as well as those who seek to include both in their lives.
The feminist revolution, and its aftershocks, teach us “yes, you can have it all!” Reality sharply teaches otherwise. You may pursue all, but the balancing act will be temporary and exhausting. The addition of a spouse and children spell sacrifice, a not so appealing word to a segment of society which believes it is owed something. Conversely, in a quest for equality, feminists believe every goal a man sets for himself is naturally met because of his gender. This could not be further from the truth, and remains yet another faulty misconception of gender relations.
Adapting our goals and pursuits to the realities of marriage and children is a must. We connect strict ideas of what success means, and fail to accept our definition will most likely shift along the way. A reality check is in order before unfulfilled dreams are processed as an extension of oppression, weave their way into the fabric of our families, and spawn a new generation of despair.