I’m thrilled that my latest piece for The Daily Muse is featured on Mashable (one of my favorite online publications) this week. You can check it out here.
I’m thrilled that several installments of my column in The Daily Muse have been picked up by Forbes Woman. Check them out!
When I was pregnant with my son, I constantly asked my older sister for advice. She’d had her first baby just a few months before and is, like me, a career-oriented woman with a demanding full-time job. Her life was like a peek into my future, and it made me simultaneously more comfortable and more terrified about all that was to come.
Late last week Herminia Ibarra published “Sex and the Working Mom” on the Harvard Business Review and aptly pointed out that in the ongoing debate about work-life balance one topic is often ignored: “A less discussable set of issues — sex, intimacy, the role that partners play in helping each other grow and develop, personally and professionally.”
Ibarra notices that when career-loving mothers discuss “the juggle,” they rarely mention how it can detrimentally affect their sex lives. She shares an anecdote from her company’s history in which a senior female employee responds to a question about the lack of diversity in high-ranking positions that require a lot of international travel with this: “Let me tell you what diversity means to me. My husband told me ‘there will be sex in this house at least once a week, whether you are here or not.'”
What I find most disturbing about this discussion is the implication that women/wives are “in charge” of a relationship’s sexual health. This assumption follows us from puberty to adulthood. Our culture teaches teenage girls that they are responsible for boys’ sexual behavior, and then, years later, tells married women that they are responsible for the abundance or lack of sex in their marriage. We assume that men and boys can’t control themselves, and so the burden of maintaining a “normal” sex life falls to the female. We peg young girls as temptresses who must be held accountable for boys’ sexual advances and married women as frigid careerists who must accommodate their husband’s needs. (And, for the record, I’m not arguing that Ibarra agrees with this assumption, but it seems like the women she quotes tacitly do.)
But there’s one universal truth about sex: it’s a joint venture. And it’s ridiculous to conclude that 50% of the participants have no part in determining its frequency. If a career-loving mother is too exhausted for intimacy, then she and her career-loving husband should work together to address the root of the issue. Why is she so exhausted? Can everyday tasks be redistributed so she feels less stressed? Are her partner’s demands reasonable to begin with? Is there a larger underlying issue? Both partners should be equally responsible for exploring these questions. But instead we frame her lack of sex drive as something that she must “fix.” From adolescence to middle-age sex — too much, not enough — is our problem.
As we continue the important debate of how working mothers and fathers can healthfully share the responsibilities of raising children while pursuing their passions, we need to reject this antiquated idea that men are uncontrollable animals that women must monitor. It’s a disservice to women and men of all ages.
My 30th birthday is a few days away, and, according to prevailing traditions, I should be making a fuss over it. Milestone birthdays like these call for parties and cocktails and reminiscing and, at the end of it all, realizing that you just can’t drink like you used to.
But instead, I’m taking a look back at the last 10 years and my winding career path. Am I where I expected to be at 30? Not exactly. I thought I would be in academia, and instead I’m in marketing. I thought I would work in an office with lots of plants and free snacks and pencil skirts, and instead I work from home in yoga pants and drink from bottomless pots of coffee.
Nevertheless, I learned a lot about the professional world in my 20s. More often than not, though, I learned these lessons the hard way, and now I want to grab each young woman I meet by the sock bun and scream, “Don’t make the same mistakes I made!”
A cursory read-through of my high school diaries reveals that I dreamed of becoming a political speech writer, a novelist, a poet, an ad copywriter, a parent, and, of course, a millionaire. I assumed that, no matter which path I chose, I would make more money than I’d know what to do with.
By college, I was more realistic. As an English major and, later, as a graduate student in creative writing, I knew that fame and fortune weren’t likely. But I still assumed that I would eventually find a concrete representation of my imaginary ideal: a full-time writing gig with unlimited upward mobility that would keep me employed for the rest of my life. Everything else (money, lifestyle, parenthood) would fall into place.
Now that I’m nearing 30 and have a son, I realize that my conception of a dream job was, well, a misconception.