Saturday, February 04, 2006

Something about the cake and the eating and what's the point then

I caught a rather controversial documentary on Channel 4 on Friday about why women can't have it all : the career, marriage and kids in-a-nice-package-deal. It's a myth says high flying journalist Amanda Platell. Somewhere, something gets sacrificed and no thanks to the angry feminism of the 60s and 70s, its the marriage and kids.

"Amanda embarks on a personal journey to examine the plight of the have-it-all generation of women today and, in doing so, reflects on her own life choices. She investigates whether feminism has unwittingly damaged a woman's chances of real happiness - with a husband and children - liberating them from the shackles of housewifery, but offering an unrealistic dream of being able to have it all, whenever they want it. While she acknowledges the great debt women owe to the trailblazing feminists of the 1960s and 1970s, Amanda asks whether it is the independence they granted women that has made it so hard for today's generations to settle down and have a family.

She meets some of the key thinkers on women's issues, among them feminist icon and author Fay Weldon, who was at the heart of the women's movement that transformed society. In her interview with Amanda she confesses her doubts over the achievements of feminism, suggesting it may have gone too far. Amanda investigates why equality now equates to young women behaving like men - competing with them in the workplace but also matching them drink for drink in today's ladette culture.

Amanda, herself a high-profile career-woman, believes it is a myth that women can spend their twenties relentlessly pursuing a career and their own agenda then suddenly switch tracks and try and find a life partner and dad for their kids. She tackles the taboo subject of the biological blight of delaying motherhood, speaking to the two senior doctors who were pilloried for suggesting women are damaging their chances of having children by waiting until their late 30s or even 40s. And she asks if the blame for the increasing disintegration of marriage can to some degree be laid at the feet of women who are too keen to put themselves ahead of their relationships.

She meets Minister for Women Tessa Jowell who admits that government policies can only go so far to promote the right work/life balance - ultimately women are responsible for their own life choices. In a visit to a leading girls' school, Amanda meets a class of 17 and 18-year-olds; the next generation of women, who talk about the pressures they will face in the future - juggling careers with an old-fashioned desire to settle down. Like Amanda, they believe women can't have it all and that somewhere along the line they will need to compromise aspects of their lives."

Why must we live through the whole life-business in the bloody dark? Whatever mistakes we make sighed and chalked as experience? And passed on as wisdom to the next generation. Why were we all not given life-operation manuals as we came along?


At 2/04/2006 04:01:00 pm, Blogger Kak Teh said...

sunshine dear, who do u suggest shd write the manual? and even if there is one, it gets obsolete and the goals get shifted. sigh!

At 2/05/2006 10:50:00 am, Blogger may said...

if there ever is a manual, I'd be the first to buy one, read it, and chuck it out the window... lol! I'd say, live life they way you want it - the old-fashioned way or modern feminism. I take my hat off to the woman who could find a middle ground for both ends to meet.

At 2/05/2006 05:14:00 pm, Blogger JoMel said...

I tend to agree with Amanda as well. But isn't humanity such? I can't think of any one instance when one can possibly have it all without making some sort of sacrifices. I believe its not just women, but men as well. What say you?

At 2/06/2006 11:34:00 am, Blogger Ms.B said...

But if we all had starter manuals, we'd be drones.

Flawed (or with great tendency to flaw). The beautiful hazard of being human.

So says she whose life is one big hazard, but perhaps, just perhaps .. this is the way in which it'll one day work. :)

At 2/07/2006 02:29:00 am, Blogger Mint Chutney said...

But isn't it all subjective? Is the point to have a career and kids cos I've got that part down. The kids seem well adjusted and the job hasn't fired me yet. So far so good.

At 2/07/2006 06:32:00 am, Blogger Jane Sunshine said...

Kak Teh: I like your phrase 'goals get shifted'. How true, how true. I am just want a short cut with this manual I am wishing for- I am tired of making mistakes. Then again, the mistakes are part of me as well I suppose.

May: I like your attitude. Life can be lived as you want but there are other people to be considered as well. After all, what is life without family? And there's the problem. The right balance.

Jo: I agree men make sacrifices as well but not as much as women. We take it upon ourselves to have everything-the career, the man and the kids. And at the end, become so tired.

Blabs: Oh sweet...agree, agree. I suppose the key is that mistakes will happnen but not to wallow in that. Not as easy for me though. Sending you a big hug.

Mint: Ah, Mint I do think often about how you and some others I know have achieved it. Its not easy but you do it. Will call you when I feel suffocated!

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