In the 1900′s, all women wanted was open doors. We fought hard for our right to vote, our place in the working world, control over our reproductive abilities. And we won!
However, in her book Wonder Women : Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, Debora Spar explains some of the unforeseen outcomes of this noble fight.
We daughters of the women who fought grew up to a frequent, fervent chorus. “You can do it!” mothers said to the extra credit assignments. “You can do it!” they said to the soccer, the cross country, academic decathlons, and AP classes. And even, when we reach puberty, “You can do it!” they say of sex. “But you better not mess up!”
Anything, not everything
And so now, we’ve been promised we can have it all. We can pursue fulfilling careers; tend to babies and husbands; keep our bodies fit, minds informed, and houses sparkling clean. Feminism opened up all these doors for us.
What we failed to understand, though, is that although we can do anything, anything is not everything, all at once.
This is the topic of Spar’s book. From schools, to the home and (especially) in the working world, women are trying to manage “having it all” not by picking and choosing things to focus on but instead trying to juggle a million ambitions.
And we are simply burning out. And the emotional repercussions are dire. From body issues and eating disorders in our teenage years to obsessive micromanagement of everything else we can control (including our own children), girls are just going crazy!
So why haven’t we figured out that we’ll just have to ask men for help? If I pick all the darned socks off the floor and sweep, can’t he maybe put them through the wash and chop some veggies for dinner when I get home?
The truth is, as a “modern woman” myself, I believe that we are learning this. While Spar’s assessment of her own era is accurate, what I see when I get home from a long day at work is a clean apartment. And it’s not me who cleaned it. It’s my boyfriend. And a coworker and my sister say the same.
Has he accidentally flooded the kitchen floor twice, the most recent time putting dish soap in the dishwasher? Yes. But he’s trying.
My point is, just maybe, men can learn.
What’s it like for you?
So here’s my call to action: Read this book, then tell me what you think.
Ladies: Do you feel like you’re juggling too much? Does your husband take the kids to their appointments or cook when you work late? Do you think that the times are changing?
And men: Do you see yourself, or at least your sons, starting to adapt more to a world of stressed-out gals?
I hope you’ll respond. After all, actions speak louder than words, but words just might inspire them.
About Inga Dellea-Messner
Library Assistant Inga Dellea-Messner grew up in Windham and Hudson. She worked at the Rodgers Memorial Library for seven years before becoming a library assistant at the Nashua Public Library. On her way to earning her bachelor’s degree from Keene State, she spent five months studying French in Bretagne (Brittany).