Think-tank president and former Princeton University professor Anne Marie Slaughter has just authored a book with one simple message: If a woman wants to succeed in her career, she’d better have and appreciate her stay-at-home husband. That’s right: If you’re a woman who wants it all, you need to have a man backing you up.
Slaughter credits her career success to her stay-at home-husband’s choice to act as the primary parent in the relationship. She cites statistics that 50% to 60% of men graduating with MBAs intend to put family before their career “at some point” as a sign that equality is finally reaching the workplace. However, what she’s dubbing “equality” sounds more like role-reversal. Equality would involve splitting the duties of home, work and children, 50/50. What Slaughter is promoting isn’t equality; it’s a complete trade-off of one life for another. Hence, her husband is referred to as the “primary parent,” because for Slaughter and many female executives like her, parenting is a secondary role at best.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of Slaughter’s thesis is that it dispels the notion that women can have it all. Sure, she advocates for the same economic solutions everyone’s trumpeting these days: paid family leave, affordable childcare. But, in the end those are only more band-aids on an already corrupted cultural milieu that forces both parents to work full time and rely on others to care for their own creation. What, exactly, is Slaughter’s goal for the American family, then? It has less to do with providing a good family life for children and more to do with making sure moms everywhere fulfill their cultural responsibility to achieve career success.
Healthy, smart kids used to be the mark of a parent’s success. Now, all a mother needs are a few letters after her name and a resume a mile long to feel a sense of self-worth.