08/08/2013 10:31 am ET

When Will We Stop Talking About ‘Having It All'?


Last summer, Time Magazine made a bold declaration. “We Have to Stop Talking About ‘Having It All,’” read the headline on an essay by Judith Warner. The cliché might sell magazines, Warner wrote, but framing issues this way ultimately harms women’s interests.

This summer, Time seems to have overcome such scruples. “Having It All Without Having Children,” blares this week’s Lauren Sandler cover story.

I have come to think of the “Having It All” cover feature as a genre in itself. And what animates these stories is how much we ask of just about everything in our lives — of work, of love, of family life. The anxiety of high expectations propels the cover story as surely as the marriage plot propelled the nineteenth-century novel. “Having It All,” that shopworn staple of rich-white-lady feminism, is our go-to happy ending.

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