Just for a minute.
Please. Just shush.
All the talk. So. Much. Talk.
Feminism and leaning in and work-life balance and having it all and opting out - it's all driving me insane. I'm happy, OK? At least I was until I started reading about how apparently unhappy I actually am, or should be. This frenetic, incessant dissection of women, work and motherhood and how we're supposed to be doing it, how we're not doing it, and how we're actually doing it wrong is making me m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e.
Some guy I've never heard of - Gavin McInnes - is the latest angry person to tell me how bad my life is and how I'm making his life bad by extension. McInnes co-founded Vice and has since gone on to to make a name for himself by being racist - at least according to the top Google autosearch result (I've been doing a lot of Google autosearching lately.)
But today he's making headlines for other reasons. According to ABC News, McInnes called University of Miami School of Law associate professor Mary Anne Franks a "[redacted] idiot" during a HuffPost Live conversation in which she said he's "what's wrong with masculinity."
McInnes, who left Vice in 2008 and is part of a website called Street Carnage, was chatting about the definition of masculinity when he went all misogynist and said women can't just be who we are if we want to succeed, instead, we have to "pretend to be men" in the workplace:
"They're feigning this toughness. They're miserable. Study after study has shown that feminism has made women less happy. They're not happy in the work force, for the most part. I would guess 7 percent [of women] like not having kids, they want to be CEOs, they like staying at the office all night working on a proposal, and all power to them. But by enforcing that as the norm, you're pulling these women away from what they naturally want to do, and you're making them miserable."
I'm sorry, Fred Flintstone, did you say what we "naturally" do?
You know what I "naturally" do when I hear someone like you speak, McInnes? Gag. Puke. And become m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e that people like you are somehow booked on places like HuffPost Live to give any kind of opinion on something you clearly know nothing about, despite the fact that you cite "study after study."
It's people like Gavin McInnes (although, really, it's not about him - I suspect, and least one source confirms, that he'll do or say pretty much anything to get ink or air time) - and, strangely, people like Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter, who are making me miserable.
This burning need to analyze, discuss and debate why I just can't be happy is distracting me from accepting where I'm at and being happy with it. I am the first to admit that I have next to no work-life balance. I work a lot and have a life and they usually clash and I'm actually OK with that. While I have a large quantity of time with my kids, we are in need of more quality time together, and yet I'm really OK with knowing that won't change for many more years. Embracing my current state of stagnation doesn't mean there isn't room or desire for growth. I know that when I have a second to breathe, growth with follow, along with quality time.
Really, I'm OK. I'm not angry (usually). I just hate being told that I've been forced to do anything to achieve whatever success I have. I hate when I'm told I can't have it all, and that I'm told what "it all" necessarily means. And I really hate when I'm told that in order to get what I want I've had to act like a man. I'm not pretending to be tough or acting more masculine. I'm being who I am and it's actually worked in my favor. And I like who I am and what I have. Sure, I'd like more time to work and more quality time with my kids, but I'm not so spoiled that I feel entitled to have everything fall perfectly into place just because. I only know a few people for whom life just worked out like that - poof! I accept and appreciate my lot - it is all a result a choices I've made consciously - even if it doesn't look as pretty or as lucrative or as balanced as a very select group of women publishing books or major magazine articles on the topic.
I was not pulled away from anything to be a mom or part of the workforce. Both are decisions I made carefully and deliberately, as with most of the moms and working women I know. My skin is really starting to crawl at the abundance of conversations and books preaching how women should live and do live - because they always seem to be between and by women (and some men) who don't live like the women they're talking to and about. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Talk with the women who actually have room for improvement on their resume and in their therapist's office and at home and they'll tell you it's all well and good, but they're too busy actually working and caring and rearing to worry about how other people want to them to be. Me, included.
At least there's one thing McInnes and I agree on: He argues that most women he knows would be happier staying at home. Indeed, it would seem that being around him would make me happier to be anywhere but near him.
- By Meredith Carroll
For 10 things we can thank feminists for (and 10 that still need work!), visit Babble!