On Gender and Ambition, dejectedly

(I still have backlogs of articles I’d like to address, so hopefully I can start posting and writing my critiques, comments, etc. soon!)

Madeline sent me this link last week and I thought I’d share the article with you.

Before you read it, know this: I’m a huge believer in the idea that there can be successful co-parenting, or successful relationships, or marriages full of good sex (or all of those things combined with monetary comfort!).

While I don’t think I’d last too long as a stay-at-home mom, I also don’t imagine my future to be full of trying to work 60 hour weeks and then awesome parenting while my husband just hangs out.

Note to readers: this is all coming from my childhood. My extreme paranoia about terrible husbands stems from my past experiences. My mom worked her ass off trying to support us all financially (and put my brother and I through private schools) while my dad didn’t take on the additional burden of stay-at-home dad (including, but not limited to: laundry, cooking, dishes, cleaning, childcare, etc.) even though it would have been well within his means and skill set and would have drastically improved the parental-contribution-to-the-family-via-work balance that did not exist.

Admittedly, my memories have been lost to my own subconscious erasure as well as the emotional tints that seem to color our own recollections of the past. Therefore, I can claim no exact memory validity yet still claim personal memory legitimacy. Whatever. You try to recollect and see for yourself how difficult it can be.

Regardless, as a young, twenty-something woman, I do feel pressure. Tons of pressure. Some of it is self-inflicted and some of it stems from a whole host of other influences. That pressure to succeed drives my work ethic, my independence, my stubborn sense of self, and my panic about the future. (Always panic, that’d be my motto.)

I always read the comments, too. Sometimes they’re far more enlightening than the content of the article itself. Since this one only has three, it wasn’t difficult to get through them. Here’s the lengthiest (is that a word?) one:

I expected more from you, Good. This is terribly one sided reporting, and borderline misandristic to the likes of Jezebel. No wonder men don’t want to marry, every which way we turn we’re getting boxed and blamed. Did you ever stop to consider that the older men who make more than their women counterparts are the last vestiges of a bygone era? Soon they will retire, and as the women age through the system it is very likely that these young women will make more than their male counterparts. Also, give me the kids over cut throat corporate America any day. The two earner model is the cause of our failures as decent parents, all so we can afford more stuff? I don’t care who works and who doesn’t, but someone needs to be home with the kids in the formative years. And sure, I’m definitely for subsidizing child care. For single MOMs and DADs. Too bad almost all low income entitlements go to girls and men are exempt. Stop waging war on men for Pete’s sake.

I don’t disagree that this article is very one-sided. But then again, there’s not enough space in the world to give equal time to discuss women’s ambitions while simultaneously deconstructing the reasons that men may feel maligned by the media and neglected about the social pressures they face.

This article isn’t about men.

The only time that the author (whose posts I generally adore, by the way) could REALLY use some more statistical reference is when she says,

And while women are consumed with the problems of “work-life balance”—trying to maintain a successful career while raising a family—men seldom feel as much pressure or face as much doubt about their ability to “do it all.”

I don’t know that she’s entirely correct in making that assumption. I’d argue that men are feeling the pressure to “do it all” but instead of being accepted, they’re facing the same social stigmas that have kept gendered activities as segregated as a 7th grade school dance for so many generations.
Regardless of our new stances on equality and whatnot, we are failing to accept that there are differences. In our quest for equalization, we’ve neglected so much about individuality, about personality, about biology, and in doing so, we’ve created a situation that’s arguably far worse than before.
Take the emergence of “stay at home dads,” for instance. Advertising for household items is always geared toward women. Stay at home dads aren’t given the same amount of respect. It’s emasculating, I’m sure, to know that people don’t value what you do. But then again, welcome to the flip side of things.
For me, a household has many factors for success. You need cash flow to buy supplies, necessities, etc. But you also need to address the rest of it: chores, bills, laundry, parenting, cooking, shopping, maintenance, etc. Those two elements (the cash flow and the “rest of it”) need to be in harmony in order for a household to maintain successful balance. Communication is key. More than that, all parties need to recognize the importance of contributions made for the common good of the household.
Honestly, the thing that scares me most about this article is the bad sex after marriage, not to mention the extra weight, less money and more stress. But then again, it’s up to those women (obligatory heterosexual bias of the media comment here) to stand up to their husbands and tell them what’s up. I won’t stand for more housework, more stress, and less sex. And he’ll know that before he marries me. If that’s a deal breaker, I will have chosen the wrong man.

Why Are Young Women More Ambitious? They Have to Be

The headline of a new study by the Pew Research Center claims to have discovered “A Gender Reversal On Career Aspirations.” But upon closer inspection, the study appears to imply that young women are more ambitious than men their age across the board. Sixty-six percent of 18 to 34-year-old women rate their career high on their list of life priorities, compared with 59 percent of young men. This figure hasn’t really “reversed,” but it has shifted markedly in the past 15 years—in 1997, only 56 percent of young women felt the same way, compared to 58 percent of men.

Today’s young women aren’t planning to make any sacrifices on the home front, either—they’re prioritizing their personal lives, too. The amount of young women who say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives has risen nine percentage points since 1997, from 28 to 37 percent. For young men, that stat is trending in the opposite direction—from 35 percent in 1997 to 29 percent now. More young women than men care about being a good parent—59 percent, compared to 47 percent of their male counterparts. It looks like young women are more likely to be thinking consciously about their priorities, period. Do dudes just not give thought to their futures at all?

Perhaps guys aren’t mulling their life priorities because they trust that marriage, parenthood and career usually work out better for them in the longrun. They’re right about that. When women begin their careers, they earn virtually the same as their male peers (95 cents to every dude dollar), but as they near their early thirties, the pay gap widens—women have kids, take maternity leave, and stall their careers for a few years, or else they get passed over for promotions and yearly raises. By the time a women nears retirement age, she earns around 75 cents for every dollar a man her age earns.

Although marriage is lower on young men’s list of priorities, they’ll fare better when they eventually tie the knot. Numerous studies show that married men are happier, live longer, make more money, and experience less stress, while married women are rewarded with more housework, less money, worse sex and a few extra pounds. And while women are consumed with the problems of “work-life balance”—trying to maintain a successful career while raising a family—men seldom feel as much pressure or face as much doubt about their ability to “do it all.” Women still end up performing the majority of the parenting, regardless of their jobs, and despite public platitudes revering the work of motherhood, the lack of universal childcare and inadequate (or nonexistent) parental-leave policies set women up to fail.

No amount of girl power—or denial—can obscure these deep-set gender dynamics. Women are acutely aware of the need to be especially ambitious in order to succeed—the same extra ambition any marginalized group needs to climb the career ladder and crack glass ceilings. It’s the reason more women are getting college degrees, and the reason why many women try more intently to find a mate at a younger age (although that’s changing). The sexual economy, as well as the professional one, are simply skewed in men’s favor, especially as the years go on. Why wouldn’t they be more relaxed about their life choices?

Photo by (cc) Flickr user gcoldironjr2003.

article source: GOOD


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