In a Marie Claire article, Hillary Clinton is reported to have said she doesn’t like “whiners” and expressed her annoyance with women who endlessly complain about the choices they make when it comes to work and family. Here’s the quote that’s making headlines:
I can’t stand whining. . . I can’t stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they’re not happy with the choices they’ve made. You live in a time when there are endless choices. . . . Money certainly helps, and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don’t even have to have money for it. But you have to work on yourself . . . Do something!
Hear, hear Hillary!
I agree that the discussions about women’s struggle to “have it all” are often tiresome, as if women expect that somehow they should be exempt from the basic human fact that we have only a finite amount of time and have to decide how to spend that time.
I’ve written before that having choices doesn’t mean not having to make choices. Yes, one can combine motherhood and a career, but you can’t be a full-time, stay-at-home mom and also spend 9-to-6 in the C-Suite of a Fortune 500 company (at least not during the same chapter of life!). Olympic athletes also have to make sacrifices to dedicate themselves to perfecting their sport. We would all find it absurd if a gold-medal winner complained about not having as much time to practice other hobbies as non-Olympians.
The good news that Hillary alludes to is that women, particularly Western women, actually have much better options than ever before. As Sabrina Schaeffer and I write in our recent book, workplaces are becoming more flexible and technology has made it much easier to combine work and family life.
Yet I’m wondering how the DNC feels about Hillary’s statement. After all, Sandra Fluke was given a prime-time speaking slot at the DNC convention to whine about the horror of having to pay for one’s own contraception. Indeed, Democrats have dedicated 2012 to desperately trying to convince women that they are under siege by a sexist American society, and that the only hope is an Obama administration empowered to regulate away discrimination. Women who are told they are all victims may feel they have every right and reason to whine.
By all means, I agree with Hillary: Let’s all stop whining and appreciate the options we have. I just hope the secretary of state has kept the administration and Obama campaign in the loop on this one.
— Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum and coauthor of Liberty Is No War on Women.