Dear Queer White People,
Please stop asking me about balance. As a woman, I feel like one of the questions that truly pisses me off is when someone feels the need to ask women with a basic amount of power how they balance work and life. And it’s so obvious that by “life”, they really mean children. Rarely do you ever hear anyone ask men how they balance work and life, because it doesn’t matter if they do. Men are still seen as the breadwinners and women are seen as housewives, even though that couldn’t be further from the case for many households.
Society insists that it’s moving towards a feminist direction, but the reality is that sexism has become more subtle, indirect, and, unfortunately, unconscious. Sexism is rampant everywhere, and you don’t even have to look far. Women in business are constantly asked the question about balance because we’re all assumed to have one tracked minds, hardwired to have at least 2.5 kids and be there every second of their lives and hold no other goals . For that reason, that’s why so many people are thrown that women have these extremely powerful positions within corporations. A man can talk about how they have four children at home, but no one asks how he balances because everyone assumes that his wife takes over all childrearing.
What’s worse is that we’re taught this concept from a young age. I remember telling a teacher that I wanted to own my own company sometime in the future, and he looked at me confused. He then asked me “oh, so you don’t want kids?”, as if it was any of his business. Why should I have to choose between being successful and having a family? And why, when I choose to have both, is it so crucial that I have balance? Here’s a novel thought: maybe I don’t have balance because a) I don’t want it and b) it doesn’t exist. According to science, nothing in life can ever actually be perfectly structured, so why should I pretend like my life is? My version of balance may be chaos and falling asleep at 9:30 one day, and getting a thousand things done and falling asleep at 2 am another day, so why is that so terrible to conceive?
I will never forget how Gabrielle Union responded to Dr. Oz when he asked her that question. She pointed out that no one had ever asked her husband, Dwyane Wade that question, even though he has full custody of all his children, is a businessman, and a professional basketball player. She repeated that no one ever asked him that question. They feel the need instead to ask her how she handles his children, and her career as an actress, activist, and author. They make it as if she needs to put aside her own successes to, first, make place for Dwyane’s successes, and, second, to make sure that the children are well taken care of, when there’s two of them to accomplish that job. When did society decided to make it okay to ask us such condescending, misogynistic questions? And when did we decide that it was okay for us to answer those types of questions? How are we ever going to be seen as equals when we’re still treated as if we don’t have any power?