Women can either be ideal workers or perfects moms, or at least that is what we are told. But is that true? Doesn’t such narrative force women into choosing one or the other, when they can also have both, or none? Where’s the conversation of what women want and deserve, and not what women can have? Why are women given “either/or” choices and not the option of “and” like men are? Also, when are we going to acknowledge the role our society plays in forcing women into these choices, instead of leaving it to them, what they want to do?
WHY? JUST WHY?
- You can’t be both. Stop trying, read the subheading of a Harvard Business Review post titled Ideal worker or Perfect Mom.
- Why are women always given these “either/or” choice when it comes to motherhood and career?
- Can’t a woman choose to do both, or none, based on what she desires to do with her life?
- Where is women’s freedom to make choices based on social stereotyping or what their heart desires?
As it is with most articles and advertisements these days, it took a social media backlash for the HBR team to realise how misplaced this particular line was.
Waiting for that patronizing "perfect dad" vs. "ideal worker" article to drop. Any day now, right? https://t.co/KRXd052QAT
— Michelle Cohen, MD (@DocMCohen) January 9, 2020
Harward Business Review recently faced a lot of flack on social media for its subheading of an article titled Ideal Worker or Perfect Mom, which was, “You can’t be both. Stop trying.” While the article advocated how it’ll take the entire society to truly ease the burden that working moms have to bear, which often forces them into choosing motherhood over career or vice versa, the sub-heading, which has now been removed, didn’t sit well with many people, and rightly so. As it is with most articles and advertisements these days, it took a social media backlash for the HBR team to realise how misplaced this particular line was.
Firstly it is unjust to tell women that they can’t ace careers and motherhood together. In fact, it is wrong to tell women what they want to do with their lives in the first place. Why are motherhood and stellar professional careers the only choices that women get to choose from? There are many mothers who have no professional ambitions, then there are those who want just functional careers or part-time jobs. Also, there are women who don’t want to work, but aren’t willing to embrace motherhood either. When you give women an either/or choice, it lets people box them into one of the two categories and forces women into justifying their way of life if they do not fit in either.
Where’s the conversation of what women want and deserve, and not what women can have?
This means in the latter case, people will question a stay-at-home wife’s decision to not work, if she doesn’t want to have a baby. Or a mother with grown-up kids has to endure jibes for not going back to work, despite having little or no household responsibilities.
The huge discrepancy between parenting bars that we have set for women and men glares at us, while we pat our backs and celebrate men who care for their children and moms who step out to work. There is still a long way to go, so stop fawning over your own modernity, dear society.
The second problem with this subheading is the obvious way in which it put the onus of choosing between a flourishing career or being an ace parent on moms. Do we treat fathers the same way? Don’t we fawn on a dad who makes it to PTM once in a while, for taking out time from his “busy schedule” or playing with his child, or parenting them while the mom is away for a week? The huge discrepancy between parenting bars that we have set for women and men glares at us, while we pat our backs and celebrate men who care for their children and moms who step out to work. There is still a long way to go, so stop fawning over your own modernity, dear society.
True equality in parenting responsibilities will be when women don’t have to choose between being great moms and great employees. When they have an unconditional backing from society to live their lives on their own terms and not constantly fight the stereotypes that limit them in one way or the other.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.