Why We Should Stop Paying Attention to Women at Work

Last night, I watched SJP balance the imbalance of marriage, child-rearing and investment banking in I Don’t Know How She Does It. This morning, I caught a Slate story about the latest plot-twist of The Good Wife in which a rising (female) star at the law firm announces she’s pregnant, engaged and quitting the law. (Note: I’ve never watched the show – but I might have to start.)

I should do a boatload of research before embarking on this blog post, but I wanted to just get my thoughts down before clogging my brain with “facts.” (Dear Sarah Palin, thank you for encouraging such an approach to critical thinking.)

In IDKHSDI, SJP manages to continue her life of masterful juggling, despite a few hiccups (missed family events, forgotten pick-ups, lonely husband, etc.). In The Good Wife, the woman steps out of the ring before the juggling even begins.

Does it matter? Why do these plot twists and women’s decisions fester in my subconscious? Why do they strike a chord? Why do I feel compelled to go burn a bra or two?

Men make decisions about how they want to work, where they want to work, when they want to work all the time. I’m sure there are men out there who have opted out of the work-force to raise their children (Mr. Mom is just about due for a 21st century remake, by the way. Mental note…). I’m sure there are guys who have up and left high-powered jobs to pursue something more “meaningful” to them, just as women leave consulting or finance to teach or join a non-profit.

Are we (women) doing ourselves a disservice by drawing such attention to ourselves and our employment decisions?

Worth noting that IDKHSDI, the Slate article and a more in-depth NYT article on the subject from 2005 were all written (and written well, might I add) by females. (The Good Wife was co-created by a woman.)

But would we (women) sleep better at night if nobody noticed whether we quit or not? If nobody thought it was normal or abnormal? If we could live without making a statement?

Maybe this is the last cracking of the dear old glass ceiling. Or maybe, rather, we’ve reached the other side and are experiencing the repair of the glass ceiling – the final step toward normalcy, acceptance and redefining the status quo. Putting the parts back together so people forget it was broken in the first place. So we can just dance on the ceiling. And nobody will notice what we’re dancing to, who we’re dancing with, what we’re wearing and how we look, why we’re dancing, or why we decided to sit this song out.

I’m not sure where I want to dance. I know I want to dance with my husband. But I’m still deciding which songs are mine to own. Whether I’d be wasting the privilege of an Ivy League education by “just” being a mom. Or whether I’d be wasting the privilege of a happy life by “just” being a corporate exec.

Do women need to pay homage to the Fullers and Friedans of yore by living their life a certain way? That’s a personal decision. And sometimes I wish women would just stop paying attention and let us dance in private.

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