Can a Woman Have It All?

07/11/2012 09:38 am ET | Updated Sep 10, 2012

Lately, there has been a flurry of op-eds and articles on this penetrating question. Yes, I read the piece in The Atlantic and I watched a few network TV ladies trying to assuage their guilt and figure it out, and I, as a working woman and mother, have this to say: Y'all are asking the wrong damn question!!!!! The real question is this:


The expectation that woman can and should have it all is a fiction planted in our brains by skeptics trying to control our hearts. The thinking goes like this: give a woman an impossible task (keep her man happy, her kids clean and well fed and behaved, and then succeed at work and education while also hosting a dinner party that's amazing). Ladies, we have proven beyond a doubt that we CAN. We have proven it so well that some men, frankly, have slacked off quite a bit and left us to carry the weight around here.

So let's break this down into manageable bites: I'm going to go out on a limb and say there are two basic things a woman wants and everything else is a variation on that theme:

1. We want to be loved and respected. This is not just for women, but for all humanity--from babies to old folks--too. We all want to be loved and respected. Treated with care and sensitivity. Experience passion and desire between lovers, whatever their gender. We want to know our hearts are safe and protected in the hands of those we love. We may want this from our children or live this love through our children, but we know in our deepest hearts that our job is to create children who are loved and respected enough so they can find lovers of their own who will safely cradle and nurture their hearts. Where we all screw up is when we look for that love in the wrong places or with the wrong intentions...but then we need to love and respect ourselves enough to learn from our mistakes and move on. Here's the thing: There are still many women and cultures around the world that do not allow women this basic human right. Girls--YOUNG GIRLS--are still sold and married off against the will of their own hearts. We are not equal as women until every girl and woman in the world has the right to safely love and be loved, with respect.

2. We want FREEDOM. After love, all we really want is the freedom to decide what WE want. Not what our parents want. Not what our government or our religious leaders want. We want the freedom to learn and be educated in what we choose. We want the freedom to chose a path that fulfills our most creative desires--whether that's to become a scientist or an artist, a doctor or a freaking catholic priest. We want the freedom to decide when and if we want to have children and with whom, and not feel trapped by anyone ever, anywhere. We want the freedom to decide if we will work or not work, cook or not cook, marry or not marry.... But all of us want the freedom to dream, and the chance to make those dreams come true.

That's the "all" women want. It's pretty simple. Having someone else's "all" is too complicated, boring, and...someone else's fantasy expectation. And that, dear skeptics, intellectuals, feminists, and conservatives, is what the fairy-tale dream is about: the freedom to dream and love and live your very own truth and no one else's. The sad truth is many women, even in America, don't feel they have the freedom to dream. Even more women around the world truly don't have the right to dream. So those of us who do have it better grab it while we can, live life to its fullest, love with all our hearts and souls. And enjoy every minute!

For more from Maria Rodale, visit