These were the words I heard from my Obstetrician many years ago as I was close to making some decisions on the type of birth I wanted. Many women at the time were going “all natural” with no pain medication. My Dr. was not a big fan of those, and I can totally understand why. I’ve never forgotten her words and they apply to so many decisions we must make through life. I trusted her, she had 6 children. So, yes, give me the pain meds.
Growing up in the 80’s, young women were told we could do anything, we could have it all. This was the brainwashing of the media, and it worked. It worked for me because I was young, unmarried and had no children. I loved it. Totally clueless of what was to come later in my life when the Shero and the Mother and the wifey must collide.
The belief that you could become a superwoman became a journalistic trope in the 1970s and has never vanished. By 1980, most women’s (self-help) magazines turned a feminist into a Superwoman, hair flying as she rushed around, attaché case in one arm, a baby in the other. The Superwomen could have it all, but only if she did it all. And that was exactly what feminists had not wanted.
American social movements tend to move from a collectivistic vision to one that emphasizes the success of the individual. That is precisely what happened between 1970 and 1980. Alongside the original women’s movement grew another kind of feminism, one that was shaped by the media, consumerism and the therapeutic self-help movements that sprang up in that decade….
Self -help magazines and lifestyle sections of newspapers also began to teach women how to have it all. Both turned a collectivistic vision of feminism into what I have elsewhere called Consumer Feminism and Therapeutic Feminism. Millions of women first heard of the movement when they read about the different clothes they needed to buy in order to look like a superwoman and the therapy they needed to become a confident and competent superwoman…
In 1976, Ellen Goodman, the feminist journalist for the Boston Globe (now retired), satirized the media’s bizarre view of a “woman who had it all:”
“The all-around Supermom rises, dresses in her vivid pants suit, oversees breakfast and then searches for the sneakers and then goes off to her glamorous high-paying job at an advertisement agency where she seeks Personal Fulfillment and kids’ college tuition. She has, of course, previously found a Mary Poppins figure to take care of the kids after school. Mary Poppins takes care of them as if they were her own, works for a mere pittance and is utterly reliable.
Supermom II comes home from work at 5:30, just as fresh as a daisy, and then spends a truly creative hour with her children….She catches up on their day, soothes their disputes and helps with their homework, while creating something imaginative in her Cuisinart (with her left hand tied behind her back)….She then turns to her husband and eagerly suggests that they explore some vaguely kind of kinky sexual fantasy.”
The feminist — as remade by the media and popular culture — emerged as a superwoman, who then turned into a scapegoat for a nation’s consumerism, the decline of families, and the country’s therapeutic culture. For this, the women’s movement’s was blamed, even though this selfish superwoman who neglected her family seemed bizarre, not to say repellent, to most of the early activists.
Who Said Women Can Have It All?
August 7, 2012
What we really need for working families
Unfortunately, men were also brainwashed with this message. Big problem. I won’t try to be your shero and say I have your answer. I only have MY answer and solution. One that works for me. It’s taken me many years to reconcile reality with the fantasy woman programmed by television, magazines, books and school counselors.
The one constant in all the years of struggle was the ever present GUILT. (A whole different post.) There comes a time when all grounded women will be faced with saying goodbye to the fantasy and accepting her reality. The problem is not saying goodbye to GUILT too. Guilt for not being able to HAVE IT ALL and be “that ambitious woman” and GUILT for not being the supreme, nurturing mother to her precious offspring that she must now care for 24/7. Guilt for wanting to be an individual. Guilt for wanting to cling to her career goals. Guilt for hiring caretakers and sitters. Guilt for not wanting sex at the end of the day, every damn day. Guilt for take out food. Guilt for not working out for that perfect pre-pregnancy body. It just goes on and on and on and on. Combine that with low income and you’ve got a huge disaster. The makings of a very controlling woman or a very selfish woman who has given up and given in to the anti-depressants thrown at her by the good Doctors. Or worse, both…. a two- headed schizophrenic that toggles between the two. The recipe for depression, addiction, escapism, and bitterness. Let’s not forget the usual life disappointments mixed in with it all. Let me not forget too about the worry the good wifey has for the well being of her husband. He has his own inner struggles and growing pains. Theirs just might rear its ugly head and add to your big, fat melt down. By age 35 most women come to that crossroads of realizing the madness and having to choose….herself…it’s called survival mode.
Mattel introduced dolls in two separate series of Barbies: “Inspiring Women,” based on historical figures, and new additions to its “Shero” line of dolls named for inspirational contemporary women.