Dawn Minty: Can women 'have it all'? Not yet.

June 30, 2012 

Anne-Marie Slaughter's article "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," the Atlantic's July/August cover story, has added more ammunition to the Mommy Wars. Read it here.

Yep, the Mommy Wars continue.

Slaughter, who was director of policy planning for the United States Department of State from 2009 to 2011, wrote that she left her prestigious position because she found it impossible to balance the demanding job with raising her two teenage sons.

Talking with women at speaking engagements, combined with her own experience led Slaughter (50-something) to ponder whether "having it all" was a foolish and impossible dream for women of her generation to pass along to younger women.

Slaughter discovered that 20- and 30-something professional women felt "under assault" from the glass-ceiling-shattering generation.

Slaughter wrote her article to encourage women to stop telling "partial truths" about the sacrifices they've made to achieve professional success.

"We must clear them out of the way to make room for a more honest and productive discussion about real solutions to the problems faced by professional women," she wrote.

Some feminist leaders and working women blogged and tweeted responses disagreeing with Slaughter.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of "Baby Hunger" and co-author of "The War Against Parents," blogged her criticism. "What we can do as leaders is give younger women permission (and encouragement) to claim and sustain ambition. And this is where Slaughter's article profoundly misses the mark," she wrote.

In a live online chat on Friday morning Slaughter addressed such criticism and shared her reasons for writing the article. Learn more here. Her hope is that women will some day have the same opportunities as men.

Since Slaughter left Washington, she has hardly gone from high-powered leader to stay-at-home-mom. She's a professor at Princeton University and she teaches, writes foreign policy columns for news organizations and gives 40 to 50 speeches a year. Plus, she's able to spend quality time with her supportive husband and their two teenage sons.

Wait a minute.

Doesn't it sound like Slaughter does "have it all?"

It does to me!

She acknowledged that: "I am writing for my demographic -- highly educated, well-off women who are privileged enough to have choices in the first place," she wrote.

I think Slaughter makes some compelling points and certainly raises some good conversation-starting questions in her piece. It's worth reading even if you're not in her desirable demographic.

"I still strongly believe that women can 'have it all' (and that men can too) I believe that we can 'have it all at the same time.' But not today, not with the way America's economy and society are structured," Slaughter wrote.

So, it's not my fault that I don't "have it all?"

I like that!

Slaughter also offers hope that as the economy improves so does the potential for women to discover how to "have it all."

Sounds nice but I'll settle for an end to the Mommy Wars.

Dawn Minty, features editor, can be reached at dminty@ledger-enquirer.com

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