“Well, women don’t really want to be in higher management positions. Men are happy to work more hours, but women feel more tied to being home with the children. Jobs that prevent themselves from doing that are not desirable.”
Now, a lot of women take issue with these kinds of posts not because women find children yucky but rather because there are actually a lot of women who do want to go for that big and elusive job. There are women who are willing to and who desire to work those 20-hour days.
However, something else gets lost in this story, and it’s becoming an increasingly glaring omission. See, the thing is, a lot of men would much rather stay at home with the kids than put everything they have into their careers. A lot of men are trying to shift their priorities that way, in fact. But if there are obstacles in the way of women climbing up the corporate ladder, there are equally out-dated and pretty ridiculous obstacles in the way of men who want to place home and family as higher priorities than a big paycheck.
It’s a no-win situation for everyone
The fact is that making broad generalizations about who loves their babies more hurts women and men in equal parts. If a woman wants to really excel in her career and resorts to sending her children to daycare, she is uncaring, or a cold woman who doesn’t care about her kids. By the same token, I think a lot of stay-at-home dads are viewed as unmotivated. On the other hand, men who do fit the image of working more than being at home are, like the working moms, viewed as distant and maybe cold when it comes to their kids.
Why do we do this to each other?
Oh, and by the way, not everyone wants kids
There is another aspect to this complicated business too. There are some women and some men who simply do not want families. They may not even want to get married. They may not even want to have pets. They want to fly solo with no worries and no compromises. Does that make them uncaring or unloving? I know plenty of people in this category and they are some of the kindest, best people I know, so my vote is for saying no. But is that not how society views these folks?
A new place for conversation to begin
In order to begin the conversations that will lead us to a more equal and fair place for men AND women, we must begin to understand that not everyone is driven by the same desires and motivations and that that is perfectly okay. In fact, that’s what makes the world so interesting. Some women want to stay at home with their kids once they reach that point in their lives. Some men want to do the same. Some women want to become extremely successful in their jobs more than they want families. Some men want to do the same.
To nurture a sense of equality, we must begin to treat people as individuals. We cannot make broad statements like, “Well, women aren’t paid as much cuz they love children more.” We can’t make broad statements like, “Well, men would rather work than stay at home with the kids.” And most importantly, we must begin to refrain from judging others whose desires and drives do not match our own.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/efleming/1882086947/ via Creative Commons