While it is clear that it is impossible for a woman to have both a fulfilling family life and a stellar career, it does not seem to be the case that people do some simple math to point out how utterly absurd that really idea is. Of course, having a career is rare. If you have one, you can be expected to work your ass off. But even if we assume that “career” is understood in its contemporary meaning, namely “job”, the numbers still don’t work out. Let me illustrate why that is the case.
This post is not necessarily about women. I occasionally see men fall into the same trap when they want to chase professional success, yet also work out regularly, go on vacations, have a wide circle of friends, become great at playing the guitar or the piano, spend a couple hours a day playing games online, and of course also educate themselves in history, economics, and a plethora of other subjects. It just doesn’t work out because there are only 24 hours in a day. Those 24 hours can be very short. On that note, let’s assume we witness Wendy Woke, a professional in her early 30s who is married and has two little kids of school-going age. She is married to Billy Beta-Bucks who also works. They both chase professional success, which commonly requires living in a big city. Of course, they can’t afford an apartment close to the central business district, so they have to commute. That’s the outline of their lives.
It’s 6:00 a.m. and the alarm clock rings. They both wake up. Billy requests morning sex because it’s been four months now, but Wendy tells him that he should “grow up already” and not always think about sex. Just like Wendy, we largely ignore Billy for the rest of the day. So, Wendy heads off to the bathroom and needs about 30 minutes to shower, wash her hair, and apply various skincare products. It’s 6:30 a.m. Now she grabs her morning robe, and wakes the kids. While they shower, she puts out clothes for them to wear. Then it’s time for breakfast. She could be like a typically woke woman and serve slices of toast with Nutella, but we will give her the benefit of the doubt — after all, she wants to have it all — and assume she prepares a proper breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, a cup with muesli and yogurt as well as some sliced pieces of fruit. She also has to prepare lunchboxes for her kids. For Billy’s she unfortunately does not have the time but he’ll understand. He always does. At 7:00 a.m. the kids walk into the kitchen, and so is Billy. Breakfast is not done yet, though. At 7:15 a.m. they sit down and have a rushed family breakfast. They are done at 7:30 a.m. Billy puts the dishes into the dishwasher.
The day has barely started, yet Wendy would like to head back to bed again to get some rest, and fantasize about that one time in college when she got spit-roasted by Chad and Tyrone. Instead, she checks the school bags to make sure her kids have not forgotten anything. Because it is fantasy land, we cut Wendy some slack and assume that she can do that as well as dress and put on her makeup in exactly 15 minutes. At 7:45 they all leave with the family car. First, they take a detour to drop the kids off at school. Then she drops off Billy and, finally, she arrives at work at 8:30 a.m. This is already a very generous assumption that does not take into account that her commute is likely a lot longer, even if there are no traffic jams or other delays.
Unlike in the real world, we also assume that Wendy works exactly 8 hours and takes a mandated one-hour lunch break. In many industries, including some female-dominated ones, she may have to work much longer hours. Instead, she knocks off at 5:30 p.m. I’m assuming her kids made it back home on her own and that Billy teleports to Wendy’s office building the moment she leaves the place. They are back home at 6:00 p.m. which is, again, an unrealistic assumption. Wendy would like to work out at the gym, but then she realizes that she would barely have the time and energy to cheat on Billy anyway, so she does not bother. Adding an hour of physical activity would surely be good for Wendy, but there is just no time for that.
Once they are home, Bill and Wendy prepare a wholesome meal. They want to “have it all”, so takeaway food is not an option. They do their grocery shopping on the weekend, so it does not factor into their daily planning. For dinner, they need around 45 minutes for food preparation, cooking, and laying the table. At 6:45 p.m. they finally get to eat. They don’t want to rush too much, but they can’t spend too much time idly chatting either. At 7:15 p.m. they are done. Thankfully, they have a dishwasher. Of course, Wendy wants to be involved in her kids’ life and education, so she checks their homework, which takes another half an hour. We assume that her kids are not as dumb as the typical kid and do not struggle with arithmetic and whatever else they spend inordinate amounts of time with at primary school. We also assume that Wendy can quickly check the grade school math of her kids, which is hardly a given. Now it’s 7:45 p.m. Time for some quality time for the whole family!
The family now spends an hour and 15 minutes talking, playing, or anything else that is included in “having it all.” Then the kids have to brush their teeth and head to bed, and we assume this takes zero minutes. At 9:00 p.m., each parent reads one of their kids a bedtime story, which takes 15 minutes. It’s 9:15 p.m. Wendy now has 45 minutes to spend on her relationship with Billy, so that she can “have it all”, before she has to go to bed. Maybe she’ll even let him have sex with her. Nah, whom are we kidding? I forgot that I didn’t take into account that she has to de-makeup, undress, and brush her hair. Well, Bill is used to being ignored or having to surreptitiously masturbate in the toilets at work or in the shower at home, so he surely does not mind. At 10:00 p.m. Wendy and Bill go to bed.
So, what does “having it all” look like? If you construct a schedule, even a rather unrealistic one like the one above, it becomes quite clear that it is impossible for a woman to pursue a career, properly take care of her kids, and make her husband happy. When I presented a very similar argument to my girlfriend some time ago, she said she would just cut down on sleep, from 8 to 6 hours. This was rather amusing, because my girlfriend habitually sleeps for more than 8 hours. Sleep deprivation is a losing strategy. If you want to age faster and feel miserable, go right ahead. What my outline above ignores is that men and women require different amounts of sleep. Men are probably quite okay with six to eight hours. Women, on the other hand, seem to require significantly more sleep. In fact, I have not met a single woman who did not need many hours more sleep than me.
Wendy’s life falls apart when you assume eight hours of sleep. Now assume that she has to work longer hours every once in a while, and that she gets grumpy if she does not get at least 9 hours of sleep every day. What will the likely outcome be? It will not be pretty. Her having-it-all phantasy will turn into a complete mess.
Thus, first-grade arithmetic has shown that the goal of women to “have it all” is complete and utter bullshit. Not even when you make the most favorable assumptions does it work out. You would expect women to be smart enough to figure this out before they have kids. After all, you learn how to read the clock in kindergarten and arithmetic in the first grade, at the latest. Yet, for whatever reason, the obvious conclusion I have drawn in this article seem to be out of reach for them. As so often, the problem is due to women mistaking their fantasies for reality, but just as there are not buff billionaires who line up to put a ring on a washed-up woman in her 30s with a three-digit partner count so are there no women who are able to pursue a full-time “career”, even if that career is only a regular full-time job, while being successful mothers who also make their husband happy. They may delude themselves to think they are, just like Stacy Slut thinks she’ll land a billionaire any weekend now. Yet, reality tells a different story.
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