We live in an exceedingly selfish culture. That selfishness is fueled in part by the feminist trope that women can – and should – have it all. What’s more, feminism preaches that women should be able to attain “it all” themselves, without the involvement of anyone else except, of course, for fellow advocates who band together and fight voraciously for everyone – men in particular – to get out of the way.
A recent online survey entitled “Is Patriarchy Killing Your Career” yielded the following response:
“Of course, it is very few women who are so perfectly fulfilled with raising their kids that they choose to do nothing else. And even fewer who can afford that choice. So we work. Many of us work within strongly patriarchal cultures that were intended for men who have no breastfeeding, nappy-changing, illness-nursing responsibilities. The very organization of most places of work therefore makes very little room for women who have those responsibilities.”
Perhaps that’s because you applied knowing breastfeeding wasn’t listed in the job description. Nor was “perfect fulfillment.” Oh, but we could just be so happy if every other person on the planet just got out of the way, including our children, their fathers, and those corporate bosses who expect me to sacrifice my role as a mother for the sake of my search for personal fulfillment!
Of course, some companies are catching on to the needs of working parents, offering more flexible work from home options or on-site daycare for children of employees. But, while labor unions celebrate the end of sweatshops, they have yet to face the potential crisis of another kind of child-fueled labor: the death of the 8 hour work day.
“According to Towers Watson, some companies are changing policies to include more flexible schedules, on-site child care and better overall benefits, recognizing the need to remedy the growing burnout and give workers adequate rest to stay at productive in the long-run.” The downside? The guilt kicks in. Technology encroaches and you check that email. After all, the boss is taking care of your kids during the week, even if he or she demands that you spend your weekends checking email. Throw that notion of balance out the window.
The solution? Performance Coach Dan Thurmon “…advocates creating a lifestyle where you don’t feel like you’re choosing between life and work, by involving family with the office, and vice versa, to connect and sustain a healthy lifestyle.” So much for leaving work at the office. You can “have it all” alright, all except your sanity, that is.
Contrary to the bloated system of forced dependence created in part by the feminist notion of “having it all,” Biblical feminism advocates for effective individual leadership grounded in humility and love. It is written in Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.” The Torah instructs that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. It is an attitude of selflessness, not selfishness that leads to that oh so illusive balance and personal fulfillment we all seek to achieve.
This doesn’t mean giving of yourself until you’re exhausted, either. God set a schedule for the Israelites that included breaks every week and throughout the year, allowing the community time to walk away from work and rest in the presence of God and one another. Today most Orthodox Jews turn off technology on Shabbat. While this practice has varying degrees I often wonder as my husband looks at his phone for the 55th time if it wouldn’t be a good idea to be a tad more observant of the commandment not to do any work one day a week.
The bottom line is, we can’t do it alone. Sarah became the mother of the nation of Israel when she put faith ahead of doubt …and conceived a child with Abraham. Esther saved the Israelites when she set her ego aside, putting faith in God’s plan and her people’s interests ahead of her own …thanks to Mordecai’s advice. Barak conquered the invading armies of Sisra and saved Israel …thanks to Deborah‘s prophetic insight. We each have our roles to play in life, but no life is a one-woman show.