Wednesday, 10 October 2012

I'll 'have it all', please.

Say, for example, you hear a really crazy and shocking statistic, well it normally sticks in your mind because it's really quite out of the ordinary. So I'm not quite sure how I managed to bypass remembering the outstandingly low and, to me, disproportionate figure that only 3% of the young female population aspire to be a boss. THREE PERCENT?! I hear you say/cry/weep. Yep, you heard me right, it genuinely really is that low. (According to my bible of all sources, Grazia magazine.) 

I went to an all girls school, and I would go so far to say that I think my feminist stances are causally related to my educational upbringing. I'll never forget being told "you are the women of the future". So in that sense I'm a real pro-women-achieving-the-top-of-their-career-and-having-the-bestest-and-most-perfect-family-life type of person, a modern-day feminist some might say. I'm no bra burner, but I most definitely advocate the position that women should be financially independent. Love doesn't always last, just saying.

I'm not necessarily saying that the whole 'having it all' idealised scenario is achievable for every person, primarily due to subjective life choices and unexpected babies and far from perfect financial situations. The list is exhaustive. However, I think the key difference in current society is that while you may not want to be top of your career whilst balancing home life and everything that goes with it, you have the choice. Choice. The word that suffragettes once dreamed of, and 'tis now a common place reality for females. 

In my Political Philosophy module I recently learned of a term stemming from Utilitarianism known as 'adaptive preferences'. (Utilitarianism, in it's most basic decision-making form is 'the greatest good for the greatest number' - google it if you wish to know more, it's interesting stuff). Anyhow, adaptive preferences are the result of  a situation whereby people who cannot achieve a desired goal gradually lose their desire for it. This may be the case that you forego your career to have a child and then front the "well I didn't want a career anyway" card. Where everyone is thinking, well actually.. you kinda did. Of course, this could be true vice-versa where you miss out on the chance of having children in order to climb the career ladder. Adaptive preferences are based around how it would be disappointing to live with an unsatisfied preference, perhaps of 'having it all', and so in order to deal with this disappointment it is a way of persuading oneself that the unattainable goal was not worth seeking in the first place. 

Naturally, this got me thinking. The philosophical, and thus hazy, realistic conclusion that I came to is that I think many people live their lives in denial of their primary goals, for many reasons. Life gets in the way of the big dreams you start with, and if you're not careful it can pop every dream you had. Naturally not everyone's goals in life are to achieve managerial status in their workplace but everyone has a dream they aspire to and I think it's really important, more so in the face of these tough economic times, to keep the dream going and to strive to 'have it all' in your own personal interpretation of what 'all' is to you.

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