English: Female author neglecting her family. ...

English: Female author neglecting her family. Caricature by Honoré Daumier. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Having it all” is an expression you almost always here associated with women but I refuse to believe that men don’t struggle with work/life balance.

I said that on Twitter a while ago and I want to expand upon it. What does that even mean, having it all? To me, it means having everything you want without having to sacrifice anything but to the media it seems to mean a family and a career. But the fact that you so predominantly hear it related to women seems so silly when men clearly have both families and careers too.

I think the underlying sexism of it is that the expression is a condescending. The implication is that men don’t need time with their families or that women don’t need a career and I have a big problem with both sides of that statement. Anyone who wants to “have it all” sounds unreasonable, greedy even. Like he or she wants more than is realistic. Want a  personal life and a career? That’s ridiculous, the expression seems to say.

The idea behind this expression is that, if you try to have both, one will suffer. I guess woman get the brunt of this because we’re expected to devote ourselves 100% to our families and anything less than that makes us horrible people… but meanwhile men are are splitting their time in the same way and that’s OK because, why exactly? It’s expected?  That’s not fair to either group. Especially because the majority of working parents literally don’t have a choice. Both genders would prefer more time with their families (which often includes not just kids but aging parents) but, outside of the very rich, they’ve got to work, and often both of them, to make enough to feed and clothe the rest.

Just because you can think of a terrible father who doesn’t want to spend time with his kids, doesn’t mean that should be the status quo. We’d be a much better world if both parents had the opportunity to spend more time with their kids and, the way things are right now, it’s often not financially possible. And even if the finances do work out, all humans deserve the right to have a life of their own beyond caring for others.

But let’s take caring for kids and aging parents out of the equation. People struggle to find a balance between their work and all sorts of things: dating, their hobbies, leisure time, staying healthy and fit, an education, you name it. When 8 or more of every 24 hours is taken up by work and you still need to use some of that remaining time for eating and sleeping, it’s always going to be a struggle to do everything you want to do in that remaining time.

Because that’s the kicker in this: very few of us love what we do for a job. Most people don’t want to work, they have to in order to eat, to keep their house, to survive. Because if you don’t have a life that is both personal and income generating, you can’t function in our society in a very literal sense. Without money, you can’t buy the things you need to live while it’s the interpersonal relationships that make life worth living.

Implying it’s unreasonable of someone to want to both income and a personal life is basically saying it’s unreasonable for people to want a life outside of work because, without money, it’s impossible to live. It’s a ridiculous standard to hold anyone to of any gender. Not to mention that telling someone they’re being greedy for wanting something of their own instead of devoting 100% of their time to the care of others… especially when you don’t hold the other 50% of the population to that same standards isn’t just ridiculous, it’s laughable.

In the end, I think it’s just become this meaningless goal that makes people feel like they are never enough, that they are always wanting in some aspect of their life when, in reality, if you’re happy and you’ve made the most of what you’ve got, you’re got it all. Everything that matters, anyway.