Like a kindergartner, Slaughter seems to think that she – and women in general – should somehow be exempt from universal realities that have nothing to do with gender inequality and everything to do with the fact that you can’t defy the laws of physics. Forget biological clocks. Time and space do not magically expand because you’d like to be two places at once or do more things than can fit into a 24-hour period or even a life span. Somebody might want – and have the talent – to be an Olympic gymnast, a Nobel-winning mathematician, and a professional ballerina, but there are age and health and time limitations involved. There isn’t a policy in the world that could change the fact that if you choose to be in Washington five days a week , you can’t also be at home tucking in your children and dealing with their issues back in Princeton.
Did Slaughter, despite her intelligence, somehow imagine that she could be an involved, engaged parent while living in another city for two years? Did her inability to anticipate the fact that she might miss her children and they might miss her make this the fault of feminism, or just a case of not completely thinking through one’s decision? Where is her responsibility in this, and what does this have to do with inequality?
Life involves dozens of choices on a daily basis. Some are big and some are about which toilet paper to buy – less soft and more economical is a trade-off for plush and expensive. The secret to happiness? Pick one, and don’t complain that it’s too rough or expensive.