Having It All


Lean Cuisine started a having it all hashtag on twitter a few weeks ago with this tweet:

Lean Cuisine has always been committed to helping women achieve their all. What does having mean to you?

I responded and while I was definitely making a point, I didn’t think my tweet was too terribly controversial:

Having as a women would be if no one asked women how to “have it all”. Does anyone ask men how to have it all? No. No, they do not.

Nobody has it all. Nobody.

Since we can’t possibly “have it all” asking how we can suggests we are approachinghaving it all this from a deficit.

How many commercials have we seen over the years that show women as superheros getting through the day?  Remember the Enjoli commercial? 

I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you’re a man. 

Fucking really?

We earn the money, do the cooking, and then make sure our spouse doesn’t have a crisis  by “forgetting” he’s a man.

I mean, that would actually be easy. Just make saying “Hey, you’re a man” part of your daily routine. Unless that part of the commercial was cleverly disguising sex. Also, this doesn’t work if you are in a same sex marriage. Or if you are a man married to a woman. In both cases, saying “Hey, you’re a man” every day would be confusing and probably cause some arguments.

As it turns out, my tweet angered a few people.

I heard from a few men that they get pressured to “have it all” and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I should also be less angry and stop bringing my baggage to Twitter. Also, I am a bitter bitch and am ruining the world with my scary feminism.

Yeah, there were approximately 700 jillion to 1 articles about women having it all versus men having it all and they all had titles like these:

Are women who work ruining humankind?

Stay At Home Moms: Lazy or Brain dead?

Are Part Time Mothers Prepared To Handle Full Time Problems? 

Why Are Female Executives Bitter, Empty Shells?

I’ve been reading these articles for decades now. No matter what, women are dropping some ball somewhere. And not only were these articles designed to make us feel bad about ourselves, they pit women against each other. We’re still not even close to fixing that issue. Which is super frustrating. If women could just stop attacking each other, we’d fix so much shit.

But I digress.

I am not suggesting men don’t feel societal pressure.

I am saying women have shouldered a great deal of the whole “having it all” burden.

And the shitty thing is, we will never get to put this burden down. Not in my lifetime at least.

We’re still trying gain control of our actual bodies, it might be a while before we can address the basic language we use that not so subtly keeps women subjugated.

This must happen, though. We have to examine our word choices and phrases that we use. We must stop perpetuating ideas that are designed to make women feel like failures. Or feel like we can’t fight back. Or feel that we must remain silent.

At best, the Lean Cuisine hashtag was tone deaf.


Photo courtesy of Carol Carter.


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  • I completely agree with you–nobody EVER asks men if they worry about being able to ‘have it all’. I’d like to also extend it to “people need to stop attacking each other”. Social media has become a rancid cesspool. Yesterday, I saw a beautiful story about a young man who struck out a batter to win a championship, then took a moment to console the batter (his best friend) before celebrating with his team. I thought it was lovely. Unfortunately, other people are full of venom and said some incredibly vile things about the kid. People can really suck. Sorry, I know this seems kind of off-topic, but most of the nasty comments about this young man were from other men criticizing him for not being competitive enough, which is illogical, and indicative of that toxic mindset that has led us to where we are right now.

    • I don’t think this is off topic. I read that story as well and thought it was lovely. People can be vile. We desperately need less “vileness” on the planet.

  • Sigh. It seems people can be offended by *anything*. I thought your comment was spot-on. Don’t let the haters get to you.

  • Nobody has it all , so true. And cuisine-ing is never ever lean. Just another # bullshit and you ended that by writing your lovely comment which I will save forever in my phone to remind me there is no hope.

  • Michelle, There’s still a lot of pressure on women to be “perfect” — to be all things to everyone. I agree, its getting super annoying. Why don’t the men bring home the bacon, fry it up and never let me forget I’m a woman? Now that would be exciting.

  • At the I seem to “have it all”, as my husband gets to stay home with the cats while I’m the sole breadwinner.
    That would be ok, but lately I started trying to come home at a more reasonable time while still somehow get all my work done and quickly do the grocery shopping afterwards.
    Now I truly have it all.
    Stress at work, a gnawing feeling of inadequacy and (that’s new) anxiety attacks in addition to my depression (at least THAT’S old…).

    So I think you were right and the people criticizing you are [choice word I’m too polite to utter].

  • Brava!
    I don’t remember that commercial but it is bitterly hilariously shameful. As is your commentary on it—I lol’d 🙂
    I would love to just see her husband come home and have her look up from doing whatever. And deadpanly say “Don’t forget your’re a man.” Just to have him check his pants with a “phew, I forgot” look.
    One thing that I rme at is people who love to run around talking about others “playing the victim” who then have a fucking meltdown if you say one thing about how real life works. How many times have you said or read people having to start something with “While not all (ie) men…” ?
    Unfortunately we are expected to have it all…as long as we accept that if we don’t outwardly struggle with doing so/trying to balance, that we’re going to be called ball busters or whatever.
    And God forbid, don’t let us run for President.

  • I was first faced with this phenomenon when I read Lynn Margulis’ book “Dazzle Gradually” that she wrote with her son Dorion Sagan, while I was in the hospital after my stroke.
    Her take: Nope. Can’t be done. She said you can be a good scientist or a good mother, but not both. She did, at least, extend that to “good father” as well, referring to her famous husband and the father of her co-author, Carl Sagan.
    Perhaps we might do well to redefine “it all” back down to humanly achievable terms.
    It is an illuminating experience to vigorously bash up against the absolute limitations of what one can accomplish in one’s daily life for a while, but only in moderation.
    Also, it’s kinda risky. Not only do you run the risk of screwing up the various elements of your life that you’re trying to balance all at once, but if you are wildly successful for a while with fulfilling your ambitions, that will become your mental baseline and fallback plan for all future endeavors.
    Which is all kinds of fucked up, as it amounts to holding your best accomplishment against yourself basically forever.
    My friend Jack has said a few times that we spend too much effort on getting what we want and not nearly enough on wanting what we get.
    It’s trite, but I’ve found it helpful.
    How’s your house acquisition coming along? Are you OK?

    • The house thing has hit a few snags. Some issues came up with the inspection and we’re not sure if they will handle them, if we will or if we will rescind the offer. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but there is a good chance it will. I don’t love it, but we’ll survive.

  • Absolutely! A secure man wouldn’t have to be reminded daily that he’s a man. And that Enjoli commercial: I remember it well. It set an impossibly high bar.

    In a perfect world, we would support each other’s lifestyle choices and the actions we have to take. For example, I was asked when my child was young if I felt guilty about working. Guilty? For supporting my family? For providing her with better opportunities than I had? For not being on public assistance? Baffling. BUT there were other moms who were nonchalant or working like me, all of which reminded me that we are in good company. That is our superpower. We must stick together.

    Thanks for this post!

  • Every time I hear about an ad campaign like this I imagine the one woman exec in the room saying, politely, “I have some problems with this” and all the guys in the room yelling at her that she doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman.
    And speaking as a man I can honestly say I’ve never felt pressured to “have it all”, mostly because I’m told there are a billion different ways a man can have it all but only one way a woman can.
    Forget Enjoli. You know what commercial I remember? Jean Nate, the one where a woman splashes a little of whatever the fuck it is and turns into a Triple Crown winner.
    If we must have advertising let’s have more messages like that.

    • I am sure women get ignored in the advertising world all the time. Why would that be different than any other profession? haha. Only it’s not really funny.

  • If by “have it all” we mean job, home, spouse, beautiful children, big house and busy social life, I agree…very difficult. I also agree that, if you are a woman, it is very nearly impossible UNLESS… the man stays home with the children, cooks, cleans and drives. Then the woman does have it all. That is what is required. Sharing the jobs is almost like having it all but does “almost” count? I have always wondered.

    Or, is the perfect life just an illusion? In the end it is not “if” life is perfect but “how” we handle if it is not!


  • feminism is the belief that all genders should be treated equally under the law, and that women can fight discrimination, as men can, in the courts or other legal means?

    why is this so scary to all those mother truckers?

    having it all means turning my back on bulshit like eating lean quisine slogans. women, have what you want, what you can afford, and what compels you. men, you too.

  • Wow, just as well I didn’t see that thread or I’d have been in there with an Acme 10 ton weight. Feckin’ idiots, they have no idea what it’s like dealing with discrimination, and age discrimination starts a darn site earlier for women too, just to add to the battle to survive. I’d settle for having some!

  • Having it “all” sounds like a nightmare to me. Who in her right mind would want “it all”? I for one am just happy to have made it to retirement with my soul intact and my spirit still fighting for the things that really are important, like fairness, equality and peace. For all genders, all ages, all races, all religions. That’s all the “all” I need. Great post. Thank you.

  • I think I’m going to download the Enjoli mp3 to have playing at all times, and occasionally remind my husband that he’s a man… see if that works, since my other attempts to get him to fulfill his creative destiny AND bring home some fucking bacon have been unsuccessful.

    Wish me luck!

    (Yes, I’m WAAAAAAAAY behind on my blogging/reading, so I’m catching up as of today. Prepare to be inundated with commentary)

By Michelle

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