Can women have it all and is it worth the struggle? Author Suzie Tullett explores…
As women, how many of us can say we truly ‘have it all’? Of course we have to have been living in caves not to know what this phrase relates to. Discussions about superwomen bringing home the big bucks, blissfully sharing their child care and domestic duties fifty-fifty with their ‘new men’, were a hot topic in the 80s and 90s. And over the years, women have certainly worked hard to achieve this well-earned title.
So surely here in the 21st century, the answer to my question has to be a resounding ALL OF US!
But even in its simplest form, does a concept like this really ring true?
I know my other half still raises an eyebrow when I point him in the direction of the vacuum and that’s after years of marital training. Friends often shake their heads when planning a girls’ night out, thanks to their partners offering to babysit their own children. And even when these couples go out together, the man may well drive there, but more often than not it’s the woman who drives home … Rather trivial examples in a wider, more complex issue, some might say.
But are they?
Personally, I’d argue not. I mean it’s alright us telling our young, male or female, that they can follow any career path of their choosing and still get to the top; that they’re equal on all fronts regardless of their sex; and, indeed, that this equality extends to every aspect of their home lives – domestic chores, childcare and driving included. But aren’t telling and showing are two very different things?
However innocently, the above examples demonstrate how we as role models can send out very mixed messages about what’s expected of our sons and daughters. Without even realising, we’re telling them one thing, whilst showing them another regardless of our core beliefs. And of course our offspring aren’t stupid; they don’t just pick up on these mixed messages from outside sources like the media, they pick them up from us as parents too – even if this isn’t our intention.
So it stands to reason that the results will be mixed as well.
Whereas some of our children will continue to repeat this pattern unawares well into their own adult lives, others might exhibit a determination not to. Then there are those like Lydia Livingston who go on to make an informed choice, ultimately deciding that ‘having it all’ just isn’t worth the effort!
A child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land — all in the hope of finding a new direction. At least that’s the plan.
Born and raised in Lancashire, Suzie Tullett has worn many hats in life: from office work to teaching, from managing an advice centre to being an outreach worker for Women’s Aid. She works with the BBC as a scriptwriter — all while raising her family. Ultimately, she wants to leave scriptwriting behind and write full-time.