Women 'Can't Have It All'

Women 'Can't Have It All'
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THE PEOPLE
SEPTEMBER 1997
VOL. 107 NO. 6

WOMEN "CAN'T HAVE IT ALL"

BY LINDA FEATHERINGILL

There seems to be a rash of talk shows on television lately based on the theme that a woman "can't have it all," which means that she cannot successfully maintain a marriage, raise a family and pursue a career at the same time. This assertion is based on the amount of time and energy members of the working class have to expend to attain some amount of prosperity. The people who stage these shows apparently assume the women in question have a choice about whether to work for wages -- which usually is not the case. They also seem to assume that people engaged in more "mundane" jobs, as opposed to those who have a "career," have plenty of time to spend on families and other concerns. Again, this is usually not the case. One wonders what planet some of these people are living on.

Still, they are correct, in part, about the time and energy taken up by earning a living and taking care of a family. It costs so much to support a family, and wages are so low, that parents have to work extra long hours -- either through overtime or a second job -- and take care of chores at home, too. They have very little "spare" time. Many working couples do not have children. Two adults, with two incomes and no dependents, have a better chance of establishing some financial security for themselves and have some leisure time, too.

The television shows, of course, don't try to analyze the situation in a real effort to get to the root of the problem. The real problem is the theft by the capitalists of the wealth produced by the working class. Workers don't receive enough in wages to buy all they produce, even if they need those goods very badly.

The television shows perpetuate a distortion of the truth when they portray the situation as a conflict between fulfillment and responsibility, when actually the situation is a struggle to keep families alive and healthy. They also distort the truth when they imply that it is only women who have to choose between having children and accomplishing meaningful goals. Life as a woman is not exactly the same as life as a man, and there are some "women's issues," but this is not one of them. All members of the working class have to struggle to make a living, take care of each other and try to live a life that contains at least something other than toil. And all the children in this class need more time with their families. Everyone is hurt by the struggle to make a living. There is very little satisfaction or fulfillment within the working class.

There really should be more to life than staying merely alive. Most humans, male or female, don't want to live like the mayflies, which only live to reproduce and then die. There are many developmental tasks that we need to accomplish to be fully human. When we use up all of our energy and creativity just to keep ourselves and our families healthy, we forfeit part of our humanity. This is not an issue that only women have to face, it is an issue that all workers have to grapple with. It is not a male or female issue. It is a class issue.

In a sane society, with a socialist economy, workers could enjoy all the wealth they produce, because they wouldn't have to support themselves and the capitalist class, too. It would take only a fraction of the time now spent to obtain the material goods a family needs to thrive, because the necessary work would be spread out over the whole population. There would be plenty of time for everyone -- men, women, young and old -- to exercise their talents, fulfill their potentials and grow to be all they could be. And children would be able to enjoy plenty of quality time with all of their relatives.

In a socialist society, the question of fulfillment versus responsibility would not be an issue.