Can women have it all if they get up an hour earlier?

The Debate Show on Sky News posed the question ‘can women have it all if they get up earlier?’ after the publication of Samantha Ettus’ book ‘The Pie Life’ in which she advises women wake an hour ahead of the earliest riser in their household. She believes we have to be fulfilled in seven slices of our lives including family, work, relationship, hobbies, health, friends, community or religion, to achieve satisfaction, and waking one hour earlier can help achieve and sustain this satisfaction. So can women have it all if they wake up one hour earlier?

Let me take you through a scenario that you will most likely be familiar with:

Mark wakes up, showers and gets ready for work putting on his already-ironed shirt. After eating breakfast, he kisses his two children and wife goodbye and heads to work to deliver to presentation to the CEO of his company. His presentation impresses his CEO so much so that he is promoted. He returns home, eats dinner with his family, kisses the children goodnight and heads to bed.

Jane kisses Mark goodbye, feeds the children while getting ready for work. She does the school run and then heads to work. She delivers a presentation to the CEO of her company who she impresses so much so that she is promoted. She then leaves work early to do the school-run, returns home and turns on the laptop in between turning on the oven, to do some work from home and cook for the family. After wrapping up work, and leaving the pies in the oven, she bathes the kids and irons Mark’s shirt for the next day. She sits down at the table, eats dinner and washes the dishes before kissing the children goodnight and heading to bed.

So, with an extra hour in the day can women have it all? The answer is most likely yes. But are we not asking the wrong question? If we unpack the question, we can find all that is wrong with it. Firstly, it is loaded with negativity that women do not and cannot already have it all without an extra hour. Secondly, it places an expectation on women to have ‘it all’ – whatever that means. But if we turn the question on its head and stop placing women in a box of negative expectations, shouldn’t we really ask: when did men fall so far behind?

While women are still trying to prove they can do it all and have it all, men are actually doing marginally less and facing no scrutiny for it. So why are women being so hard on themselves? Why are we setting our watches back to cause sleep deprivation along with everything else we’re doing rather than recognising that actually, it is men who need to take some time to catch up with us?

Yes, it is true that women still earn less than men; earning 81 pence to every pound. So yes they would need to work another hour in order to keep up with men. Why not challenge the systematic sexism than telling women to wake-up an hour earlier?

Yes, it is true that the cost of childcare is expensive but why are we not encouraging the 99 per cent of men who are not taking paternity leave to share childcare responsibilities?

While we place expectations on women, we fail to recognise and capitalise on the fact many women do have it all. In reality, when it comes to having it all, men have never been so far behind but we give them the right to stand on pedestals when we talk about ourselves through the narrative of lack. We give them the right to take up the majority of top positions in FTSE100 companies because we do not see what we are worth, are too busy expecting more, and getting an extra hour in the day than trying to get shared paternity leave or equal pay.

Let’s stop asking ‘can we have it all?’ and start recognising that we have it all and are doing it all. It’s time to embrace the fact our watches do not need winding back an hour, and that we need to get our sleep so we can do it all again the next day, and more importantly work to changing the systematic sexism rooted in structures of power and wealth and also within our own mind-sets.

 

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