Open Phones: "Having it All"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Typical American Family - Ballard family painting with watercolors, 1939-1940. (New York Public Library Digital Gallery)

There's been lots of discussion lately about how women are balancing their family and professional lives. How useful is the phrase "having it all" in this discussion? Is there a better phrase out there? Let us know!

Comments [26]

clive betters

actually mike, the phrase, "having it all", begs the death penalty,even more than penn state.

Jul. 21 2012 04:22 AM
clive betters

what an utterly vulgar, particularly american, materialist convention. the notion of, "having it all",or "being perfect". oh, for gods sake,what a bunch of solopsistic twits. we can thank that banal, insipid whore, of consumerist vacuous idiocy,martha stewart,for much of this nonsense.

Jul. 21 2012 04:16 AM
NC from Bk NYC

I agree with some of the callers, and also Carolita. As a completely single, straight woman in her (barely)-early 30s, well-educated but making only a reasonable income, I struggle with even wanting to get into a relationship. I find that a lot of men expect a Superwoman to do all the housework and satisfy them, while providing very little help or emotional support in return. However, society, friends & family don't treat me like a true success without a husband and kids. Right now one of the main reasons I'm considering dating again is financial -- I'm a little worried I might be eating cat food when I'm ready to retire.

Jul. 20 2012 03:50 PM
Ariel from Brooklyn

This debate assumes that a heteronormative frame can go back and forth, but I find it almost impossible not to wonder how those people who are gender queer : not identifying as male or female or just plain queer: living inside some trace of the lgbt achronym find this discussion to completely exclude how our lifestyle is not as knarled up in this debate. I felt a queer perspective or presence was completely excluded on the show today. Even considering how a femme identified lesbian or a trans woman and their relationships with partners work and family might shed some light on the inherent instability that people still bow to every day: gender. Even having an artists' voice present - an artist who chooses or not to have children coincide wih their practice would help break up the other prevelant dichotomy between work and life, woman and man.

Jul. 20 2012 01:53 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

Carolita from nyc and Sue from New women who have chosen not to have children (I am assuming), if you would be open to talking about your experiences and thoughts on this for a documentary project I am doing, please contact me:

Jul. 20 2012 11:25 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I can "have it all" if I figure out for MYSELF what my own, personal idea of "all" is. What troubles me about this catch-phrase, and the obsession the media currently has in delving into this discussion with women, is that there is an expectation that we all share the same goals and ideas about life.

For some "having it all" means having a family and a good enough job to provide for that family. For others "having it all" means having a spouse, kids, and a pretty good job, and the freedom to travel. For others, having it all means choosing to be single and having various relationships throughout the years, or choosing to marry, but not have children, while the person pursues work, hobbies, and socializing.

We are all succombing to some bizarre, self-imposed peer pressure that makes us think we are all striving for the same life goals, and that simply is not true. The "all" that the media is defining as our cultural ideal is narrowly defined and exclusive, and I wish we could all stop subscribing to this notion and feel proud of what we have been smart enough and thoughtful enough to choose as our "all" for ourselves.

Jul. 20 2012 11:20 AM
The Truth from Becky

You can never have it all, you can't serve 2 masters.

Jul. 20 2012 11:05 AM
Bonnie from East Village

Who ever has it all? When is enough, enough, for both men or women? "All" leads to greed, frustration or disappointment when you don't think you have enough or have what you deserve (since your upper- and upper middle-class parents have pampered you to feel special at every moment of your life). Strive and have goals, but keep it real.

Jul. 20 2012 11:01 AM
Sue from New Jersey

How about chipping away from it at both ends? As a woman without children, I watch with amazement verging on horror how parents are allowing children's activities to take over their lives - they know better, they tell me, but it's an arms race out there. If their children don't have the right clothes, participate in character-building team sports, have a volunteer activity, travel, and keep up fantastic grades, they will FALL BEHIND.

Maybe their children don't need to have it all either.

Maybe we need *gasp* a 40 hour week, a concept that was won with hard fighting decades ago.

Maybe more of us should pay heed to our lack of enthusiasm for having children (not a very society-supported stance, but not one to lightly disregard. I'm happier than most of my peers with children).

I can say this, the current setup is unsustainable.

Jul. 20 2012 10:59 AM
Cynthia from nyc

I think its this simple - we can have it all - just maybe not all at the SAME time.

Jul. 20 2012 10:58 AM

The most interesting thing Anne-Marie Slaughter said was that young women should not be reluctant to have children early, and THEN develop their careers. Because Slaughter waited, to develop her career first...and then found herself in the difficult position of being at the peak of her career (in her 50s) right when her kids needed her most--when they were adolescents.

Jul. 20 2012 10:57 AM
RJ from prospect hts

"Having it all" in a U.S. context has meant a high-powered, burn-out lifestyle where success is meant in terms of high levels of acquisition proving that one has it all--job plus nanny. I think you're unnecessarily denigrating the word "balance": Having a satisfying job and *balancing* what's needed there with a satisfying personal life is the intent of the term. What Slaughter was aiming at is that our social milieu needs to be adapted for *both* women and men to have satisfactory amounts of both. And that means, especially, that work life has to be altered to allow people to--I hate to use this word but it is relevant--be happy. That's the measure of a good economy--helping everyone move to a place where the work-life balance makes people happy.

Jul. 20 2012 10:57 AM
Michelle from NYC

I gotta say in regards to the thinking only the wealthy can "have it all". I know MANY wealthy people who are unhappy in their marriage or have susbstance addictions etc..

I think having at all means being happy with yourself first, whatever that means to you.

Jul. 20 2012 10:56 AM
Phil from Brooklyn

Policies that improve life for both sexes like childcare at work, regular working hours, virtually all businesses closed on a single day, many more vacation days (basically everything they do with great success in Scandinavia) create equality for both sexes, allowing parents to share in both earning and parenting.

The idea that "It All" is many things for women, but "It All" is just work for men is unfair to everyone.

Jul. 20 2012 10:56 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Finally, a topic that working schlubs like me can relate to.

Jul. 20 2012 10:55 AM
eliz from NJ from nj

I once heard author and activist Arvonne Fraser say that women can indeed have it all. They just can't have it all at once. I was a single parent of two children at the time, in graduate school and working full time. This statement was enough to remind me to mind my priorities. For me, then, it was my children whose childhood was immediate and could not be postponed. Arvonne reminded me to look at balance in my life longitudinally instead of in constant cross-section.

Jul. 20 2012 10:52 AM
Felicia from Providence

I'm sorry, but this just feels like a class issue more than a women's issue. Working class and poor mothers don't have the option to think about this.

My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all had to work. It wasn't about chasing a career, it was about necessity. They weren't caught up with having it "all". They were caught up with providing for their families as best they could. I wasn't raised in a reality where there was a concept of having it all as much as there was a strong work ethic and a notion that hard work and discipline were necessary to being a successful human being. Would it have been nice if she could have stayed at home, perhaps, but she didn't, and I don't think I'm any worse for it.

My parents set a good example for being a successful person which wasn't about titles, money, and ambition.

Jul. 20 2012 10:52 AM
snoop from Brooklyn

Work is hard. Working hard makes it difficult to be with your family. Men have known this for an awfully long time. Now that women are taking demanding jobs in the workforce, like cabinet secretary, CEO, lawyers, etc, they are learning this lesson.

What is odd is that women seem to think that men don't have these issues. My father made a concious choice to be home with family more than at work. I made the same choice as a dad. I recognize that I can't have it all, and you know what? That's OK.

Jul. 20 2012 10:51 AM
Chuck from Dumbo

Having it all? I can't even remember the combination of my personal bank vault.

Jul. 20 2012 10:51 AM
John A

Feminism, please figure this out without taking another 30 years to do it.
"Wanting it all" is such a useful mindset for operating Capitalism. Not saying this is not evil, just operative, if corrupt.

Jul. 20 2012 10:51 AM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn, NY

Thanks to the great economic meltdown, you have a whole new class of people who were on the verge of having it all who've lost their jobs, houses, etc. How about a book on "Having None Of It All." The buddhists would love it.

Jul. 20 2012 10:48 AM
carolita from nyc

Maybe rich women can "have it all." I know a few extremely well-paid women who have, in fact, "had it all," meaning they had their kids, their career, their marriage, and all without being torn apart. But they had cleaning ladies who came to clean the house and do the laundry twice a week, nannies, etc. Yeah, sure, they'd tell you a woman can have it all. Me, since I don't make 80K a week, I decided kids were too much trouble to have. Maybe if I'd been wealthy I'd have had kids just for the hell of it. Actually, maybe I'd have PAID someone to have the kids for me. I don't actually WANT it all.

Jul. 20 2012 10:48 AM
Ron from Cobble Hill

Speaking of etymology, where does the host's term "quantum phrase" come from, and what (if anything) does it mean?

Jul. 20 2012 10:45 AM
bernie from bklyn

with everything going on in the world and in this city, this is the segment we get? can we "have it all"? fascinating....c'mon BL show

Jul. 20 2012 10:44 AM
Linda Lee from NJ

Sure, anyone can have it all. Just not all at once!

Jul. 20 2012 10:43 AM
Jenna from hamilton heights

How do you define "having it all?" This is the real question.
You can have nothing, and still feel like you "have it all" if you allow your mind to accept your daily life situation and appreciate the small things - then you can have it all.
If you define "having it all" with material possessions or the comparisons to others, you will never ever have it all.

Jul. 20 2012 10:42 AM

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