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In “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” Anne-Marie Slaughter details why balancing a dream career and a family is more difficult for women than it is for men. She puts her position into perspective by saying, “I believe that we can ‘have it all at the same time.’ But not…with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured” (Slaughter 680). In “Why Men Still Can’t Have It All” Richard Dorment argues, instead, it isn’t easy for anyone to work while still spending as much time with their family as they would like to. He makes his position clear when he says, “We are all equals here” (Dorment 716). Both authors attempt to prove their point by discussing differences faced by each gender in the workplace as well as by bringing up the respective roles they play within the family.
Within the work environment, both Slaughter and Dorment believe there are certain differences for each gender. Slaughter argues that women have a harder time making advances in their careers. She mentions how many people have the belief that “[W]hen the choice is whether or not to hire a man who will work whenever and wherever needed, or a woman who needs more flexibility, choosing the man will add more value to the company” (Slaughter 689). She claims that, without a flexible schedule, women are forced to sacrifice time with their family if they wish to be promoted to higher positions or get a better job than they currently have. Putting the quote in this light allows for one to see that she believes men are handed promotions they can accept with less guilt, and they get hired with less doubt in the minds of the employer about their abilities to handle the demands of the job.
However, Dorment counters Slaughter’s argument with the idea that anyone who puts in the work can make advancements in their career. He brings up the fact that “Getting ahead in the workplace is really hard…And unless you are very fortunate indeed, there will always be someone smarter, faster, tougher, and ready and willing to take a job if you’re not up to the task” (Dorment 716). His position is that if someone doesn’t like something, they shouldn’t do it only to later complain about it. If someone wants to have a better job, they have to be willing to work at it and they have to expect to make some tough decisions, regardless of their gender.
Another point Slaughter and Dorment disagree upon is how family roles differ. Slaughter claims that women have to find a way to balance a family and work, while men are less attached to their home lives. She argues that, in the case of women, “[H]aving it all … depend[s] entirely on what type of job [they have]. [H]aving it all [i]s not possible in many types of jobs” (Slaughter 681). However, she believes that “[Y]oung men have not yet faced the question of whether or not they are prepared to…decline a promotion…to spend more time with their children and to support their partner’s career” (Slaughter 693). Placing the genders in opposition with these quotes reveals the existence of a gap between the realities faced by both men and women in relation to family and work. On one side of the gap she places women, needing to choose a job that will fit their goals professionally and in the family. On the other side she has the men, who never have to choose between their professional life and their family.
Meanwhile, Dorment claims the total amount of work done both at a job and at home is, in fact, nearly equal when considered together. Therefore all, people have to find balance. Using statistics, he brings up the results from a survey that reveal that “[W]omen put in more time than men doing housework (sixteen hours to nine),” but “Men in dual-income couples work outside the home eleven more hours a week than their working wives or partners do” (Dorment 702 – 703). He proves his thought that there is an equal amount of work that goes into daily life for both men and women. He also separates the results by gender similar to how Slaughter does. On one side he has women and housework while on the other he has men and their jobs. His placement of the two in opposition reflects how no one escapes doing some kind of extra work. He continues on to mention how Slaughter focuses on the struggles of working mothers and ignores the reality that most working mothers are also partnered with working fathers (Dorment 703). This quote exemplifies Dorment’s belief that life for everyone involves finding balance, more so than Slaughter lets onto in her essay.
In the end, Richard Dorment’s argument that no one can have it all in “Why Men Still Can’t Have It All” is the stronger of the two. He proves his argument to be true by balancing out his points with examples of all people struggling with work and with family regardless of their gender. This is not to say that Anne-Marie Slaughter did not have some strong points the way society views working women, but she fails to include the fact the men also face similar struggles based on the expectations society holds. Dorment’s belief that everyone is equal in the workplace and in the home is well supported and factually based. There is no reason to believe that just because someone is male, they will always have it easier than a woman does.
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