The heart bleeds for Slaughter, who apparently has just realized that patriarchy actually exists. She has probably always suspected that it existed for women in what she quaintly calls “the real world,” but now it’s dawned on her that it exists even for people like her, a tenured international affairs professor at Princeton, TV pundit, and former State Department honcho.
What siren call of reason led her to conclude that she can’t “have it all”? It’s hard to tell, since her lengthy lament in the Atlantic is, I regret to say, liberally obfuscated with personal anecdotes about her kids and the many high-powered Washington social events she attended where the discussions appear to have revolved (conveniently, it would turn out, for the success of her upcoming article on same) exclusively around the subject of “life-work balance.” However, it seems that ultimately what got Slaughter cheesed was the gnawing awareness that parenting a rebellious teen is not as highly valued by DudeNation as racking up 976 billable hours per day, and that she therefore couldn’t run her State Department department without feeling torn asunder by the gnarled claw of maternal guilt.
In other words, life at the top is too grueling for the feminist ladies who wish concurrently to participate in the romance of the nuclear family. Lawyering and politicking and other power-professions need to take it down a notch so women can have fulfilling careers and raise their kids. Slaughter’s thesis appears to be that if patriarchy can be made a little bit more user-friendly for the privileged white ladies of the leadership class, it can only raise the happiness quotient of the entire planet.