By Lynne Adrine
Girlfriends. All friends. Help a sister out. My rant for today.
I have been reading, with rising levels of discomfort, all the recent entries into the feminist/corporate/capitalist/lean-in/get married/mommy wars. And I think the overall discussion misses the larger point.
Could it be that perhaps we don’t need to be spending energy on how women can better fit and triumph in 2013 corporate America? Maybe our time would be better spent on changing the rigidity of corporate structure so that more people – male and female – could fit in and find a way to their best efforts without leaving their personal lives strewn on the floor like so much debris?
I admit that I’ve not come close to reading all essays written on this topic since Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg began her now-famous “Lean In” movement.
But one of my personal favorite bloggers, Danielle Belton (that’s The Black Snob for those of you who don’t know – and ya outta know!), summed it up better than most (emphasis is mine):
“What we need to champion is better family leave for all workers, more flexible work environments and a society more understanding of a woman who takes some time off to have kids, but then decides to rejoin the workplace after she's done breast-feeding. But we don't have those things because the patriarchal powers-that-be and their female co-signers feel if men don't need it, neither should you. Even though men too would benefit from all those things. Women at work shouldn't be about being the most exceptional to overcome these obstacles and find yourself an outlier. Equality only comes when you can be just as average as your male counterparts and achieve on the same Peter Principle level.”
It seems to me we’re all scrambling to paid fidelity to that same old corporate structure of scarcity; you know, the higher up you go, the fewer jobs there are but man, those jobs pay SO MUCH MONEY that you would be crazy not to sacrifice everything else for a chance to grab that brass ring.
But maybe not so much. And this goes for men and women; for people with children and without; for people with partners and outside responsibilities and those who just think they are better people when they don’t have to work a 60 hour week (with benefits or without).
I’ve got nothing against hard work. I'm not stranger to the concept or practice. And for those who choose to spend all their time “at the table,” as Ms. Sandberg would say, great. I also know that life goes in cycles, and the same person who willing spends five years working 20 hours a day suddenly can need a new paradigm. Life happens. Parents get sick. Kids have crises. Partners die. People run down; they burn out. Wouldn’t it be great if our economy, our work environments were built not just to sustain profits, but to sustain people, too?
Wouldn’t it be great to move from the model of scarcity to sustainability?
Lynne Adrine is former network news producer who now works with a graduate journalism program.