The article on Swedish parental leave shows just how restricted the dialogue on work and family life in the US is. People are constantly debating how women can “have it all”, if that is even possible. What is missing from this picture is how men can have it all. The classic dialogue includes many assumptions about what men and women want. People assume that women want to and will have kids, and they assume that men will play less of a role in raising a child then women will (and that they are okay with this). While this dialogue traditionally focuses on the inequity that faces women and how to correct this, it never addresses the inequity leveled on men. A woman who tries to “have it all” might seem courageous for trying such a challenging feat, but a man who wants to do something similar might be ridiculed as unambitious or feminine. Sweden’s policies remove gender from the discussion of the work family life balance, although these policies still aren’t perfect (the article mentions that some employers are still unhappy to see male employees take parental leave). The conversation around work and family life needs to include everyone, so that inequity for both genders can be erased.
This also reminds me of a link that was posted on the blog after the election. Someone posted an article that described how the family lives of high profile females are picked apart by onlookers in a way that would never happen to a man. Whenever a successful female is being described, there is always a reference to how she is able to care for her children, or when she will have children. Many high profile men have families and children too, why is this never discussed with them?
References: “In Sweden, Men Can Have it All” New York Times