For those of you who have not heard of Don Johnson's latest project, check it out:
This past Saturday night I sat with about 300 other parishioners and watched this movie. The sound in the Hall was pretty stinky but once my ears adjusted to the problems I was able to settle in and watch, listen and ponder the message.
What usually happens is that I hear one startling statement and I find myself wishing that the entire movie could have gone in that direction.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of The Ruth Institute, (http://www.ruthinstitute.org/bios/dr-morse) said something so quickly that it was almost an aside. What I think I heard is that we, as a society, have spent far too much time trying to fit women into the existing models for University and/or the Work Force and so it is natural that our success has been shaped by the idea that we are at war with our own bodies.
Now look, I am paraphrasing. She did not perpetrate what I hear as the myth of 'you can have it all'; rather, what I heard her say is that women put off becoming mothers because they are sent the message to 'lean in' to their careers - and that means putting something on hold. And while they despair (as a group) that men 'don't have to do this', the question should really be, "WHY do we have to do this?". In other words, what can we change about our lives, our educational system, our economy, etc. that would support a woman and a man forming a family and raising children? Does everyone have to set up a computer center in their home or wear a power suit to work?
I do not pretend to have an answer but I sure think it is a great conversation to have today. Women who want to be mothers and wives and get their masters in bio engineering or start a basket weaving business or be an administrative assistant should not have to let go of the idea of getting pregnant in their 20's. Our choice should not be framed around "first do this and THEN do the whole Mommy thing". If young men are told to structure their lives so that they can afford a family, provide for a wife and children and are also told that this is perfectly possible to begin working towards when they are 22 or 23 then it should be possible to include the dreams of their soon-to-be wife.
What I am not sure of though is how we can do that?
I think, and I could be wrong, that we need to start with telling young adults that beginning at the bottom is okay - having a toddler in an apartment is not the end of the world - and that NOT having 'stuff' at the beginning of their lives together is okay as well. If you cannot afford it, you don't get it. Amazing concept.
I also think we need to emphasize (bring back, in some cases) the wonderful world of extended family. Having a beloved aunt or uncle or grandmother or grandfather that can be counted on to watch the baby or pick up little Joey after school is not something to be ashamed of; rather, it is something to be celebrated. Families working together - I see it all the time in my job and it brings total joy to my heart.
Anyway...look, I do not pretend that I know exactly how this would look in the modern world. I do think, however, that it is worth exploring. Telling a woman to 'wait' and then having her deal with fertility issues as 35 or 40 when she is attempting to conceive for the first time is tough. What can we do to make her ability to have it all be a reality?
Maybe...and this is just a quick thought...step one is to define "all".
SO - dear readers...
What do YOU think?????