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A Few Good Women: Response to "Why Women Still Can't Have It All"

By       Message Lenore Daniels     Permalink
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As a modern female proletarian, the woman becomes a human being for the first time, since the [proletarian] struggle is the first to prepare human beings to make a contribution to culture, to history of humanity.

Rosa Luxemburg, "The Proletarian Woman" (1914)

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In her day, Marxist theoretician and activist Rosa Luxemburg was criticized for not defining herself as a "feminist" and advocating, exclusively women's suffrage. She attempted to explain her refusal to be identified solely as a feminist but arguing that, as a committed Marxist thinker and activist, she wanted to see the end of oppression for all people, women and men like--universal freedom, beyond the electoral process, full human rights for all. "Every day enlarges the hosts of women exploited by capitalism," Luxemburg writes, ("Women's Suffrage and Class Struggle". (The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, 2004). Until women recognize that following the path of the worker's struggle, rather than joining bourgeois women's movements, inequality and injustice will remain and capitalism and its facilitators   (bourgeois women included) will profit from "exploitation and enslavement" of the masses of women and their children.

"Bourgeois advocates of women's rights want to secure political rights in order hen to assume a role in political life."  

While I am reading Anne-Marie Slaughter's "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," in the cover story of The Atlantic, July/August, issue, I am asking myself, what world does this woman live in? But then I know.

"I am well aware that the majority of American women face problems far greater than any discussed in this article. I am writing for my demographic--highly educated, well-off women who are privileged enough to have choices in the first place."

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Slaughter is writing for the women who seek leadership positions, who pursue and maintain "their place on the highest rungs of their profession," preferably the political profession, and who assumed, unlike their mothers, that they, women born in the 1950s, would be able to "have it all."

Have all of what?  


Let me back up and list Slaughter's complaint. Certain ambiguous women, highly educated and privileged, born in the 1950s, are, like Slaughter, having to give up their dream jobs in high, prominent positions alongside their male counterparts because, some, like Slaughter have at least one or more teenage at home already exhibiting a "pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes," while failing math, and tuning out any adult" who tries to reach him or her. Apparently the nannies cannot do it all either. The husband, in this case, Slaughter's spends more time with the children, but it is not enough.

A "foreign-policy dream job" of leadership and power, "a rise up the ladder" job, and job in which she struggled to balance family and work as the "first woman director of policy planning at the State Department under Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had to come to an end after just two years.

If only the "system," "the American economy and society," would allow these women to have it all, they would be able to help out those poor sisters working at Walmart! Really! Not as equals but as leaders, of course,--we could "create a better society...for all women" if we could just "put a woman in the White House" so we are able to "change the conditions of the woman working at Walmart." Yeah, wow!

One less woman in a "leadership" position, so the rest of us are in deep ---- with one less leader, particularly those of you women working at Walmart!

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Slaughter still believes, "strongly believes," that women can "have it all,'" but the "system," the "American economy," "society" needs to reform its ways!

Before I return to what it is that we women, or only those highly educated and privileged women, want, let us briefly consider the "genuine superwomen," according to Slaughter, in "leadership" positions.

Well, of course, there is Hilary Clinton, wife of Bill, mother of Chelsea, lawyer, former First Lady, former candidate for president of the U.S., and now Secretary of State in the Obama, drones-dropping-on-women-and-their-children administration.   Who can forget Condoleeza Rice. But, as Slaughter tells us, Rice's success comes with a cost. She was the only "national security adviser since 1950s not to have a family."

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Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, Black Commentator, Editorial Board and Columnist, Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory

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