FEMINISM: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
Here is the text from an email I received from a client on Monday:
Please review the attached background info for the project we’re going to discuss on this morning’s call. I’m going to go pump really quick. Give me a ring on my cell phone when you’re ready and don’t mind the funny background noise.
It strikes me that no matter how eager a man is to share the parenting load or how dedicated he is balancing work and family, he will never have to arrange conference calls and meetings around breast engorgement. Come five o’clock he does not need to make sure that he has met all applicable deadlines and produced 16-24 ounces of liquid gold.
I couldn’t help laughing a little during the conference call. There we were, two college-educated ladies trying our best to use our brains to make the world a better place – while one of us was simultaneously pumping milk to provide a healthy start for her baby and the other one was trying desperately to finish mopping the floor and packing lunches before it was time to leave for school.
I’m guilty of falling for a Hollywood-flavored image of what it looks like to “have it all.” You know, the fashionably dressed lady bound for an impressive job with a latte in one hand and two well-dressed and obedient children trailing from her other hand. This stylish lady navigates PTA meetings and board rooms with equal grace and charm. Her hair is always styled. She remembers to wear earrings. Her insightful comments make her the envy of her co-workers. Her children are confident of her love. She makes cookies in the morning and presentations in the afternoon. Her family never runs out of clean underwear and there are no dishes in her sink. Oh, and she makes it look effortless.
Today I choose to replace this unattainable image with a different one: A woman hooked to a breast pump while she conducts a conference call with her neck craned to hold the phone between her ear and shoulder. I doubt any marketing exec will match such an image with a “Best of Both Worlds” or “Modern Mommy” caption, but if they do I’ll frame the poster, wear the T-shirt and proudly display the bumper sticker.