Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Woman with Traditional Values

Hi everyone!

This blog is very opinionated and perhaps controversial based on conversations I have had with models, make-up artists on set, friends, married and divorced couples. I look forward to your comments. 

Today we see more and more, women taking on more and more. We are obviously, no longer solely expected to, nor do most of us want to be stay at home housewives whose purpose is to clean, cook, and produce children.  However, that absolutely doesn't mean we women are cleared of that expectation, no not in the slightest. Women are expected to have careers, contribute equally to the household income and pop out babies, then to be excellent mommies, volunteer at the kid's school, oversee household finances, manage the family calendar, cook and clean. Umm...excuse me? I'm sorry, but that sounds like we've taken on 2 roles. How did it get to this point and why is it continuing?

While I am a modern woman who absolutely was raised to be financially independent and to pursue my dreams and goals, I fully expect my husband to be the primary breadwinner if he expects me to be super mommy when we have children one day. I am shocked at the amount of conversations I have had with men who make comments like: "She isn't pulling her weight with her salary" or  "I expect my wife to have a career and to raise the kids."  WHAT? I am troubled with this attitude that men have today and with the way that women let it continue.

Now, while women clearly are excellent multi-taskers and there is nothing we really can't do, that doesn't mean we should be expected to do it all! But is it the man's fault entirely for having this outlook? Or have women pushed their "equal" abilities to men so much to the point where they just don't know what their role is anymore?

Ladies, it is time to take the reins and assert yourself! YES, you can have your career and financial wealth, BUT this doesn't mean that when you are married with children, you should be expected to balance being the perfect domestic house mom and powerful career woman, contributing the same income you were before kids! Now, is the time to decide, what do I want my marriage to look like? How do I want my life to be when I have children? Before you get married, it is important you have this discussion with your future husband and let him know that yes, while clearly I am capable of bringing in an income, I will not be "pulling the same weight" when I am raising your children :-) Unless, of course you want to.

I have no experience being married, but I have spoken with a lot of married and divorced couples, dating couples and read a lot of books on relationships. I think it is important in a marriage to have defined roles, so the woman doesn't get overwhelmed, feeling like she has to do it all and the man doesn't think he has to do anything except bring home a paycheck. Listen, guys, if you want to pull the whole, "times have changed and both the husband and wife should contribute to the household income" card, then you better be prepared to roll up your sleeves and change some diapers, prepare school lunches the night before and attend PTA meetings, got it?

It's one thing if the wife WANTS to work while raising her family, but it's a whole 'nother thing for hubby to EXPECT her to contribute financially and be the maid and nanny FULL TIME. I know when I get married, I will probably want to work but I certainly do not want my husband ever asking me when I'm getting my next paycheck or telling me I should find a better paying job so we can pay the bills. No sir, we women are expected to do EVERYTHING nowadays and while we can, the one thing you are expected to do is provide for your family.

Times are different now and roles can vary from couple to couple based on what works best for them. I think the most important way for there to be balance in a marriage and for both parties to be happy, is with communication. 

In summary, I am proud of the progress women have made over time and I love seeing so many influential women breaking through the glass ceiling in media, politics, business etc. However, this doesn't mean we should HAVE to play both roles when we get married and start raising children. I feel like women are over-exerting themselves and men are allowing it. So women, draw those lines and decide how you want your roles to be before you get married. The habits you start in a relationship and marriage is the way it will continue. 

Communication is key, it is important your man knows WAY in advance how you expect to be treated so you can work out any differences you have BEFORE you close the deal. 

Until next time,

Kristen Dalton


  1. This just popped up on my facebook. Wow, I love it! I agree 100%

  2. Dear Kristen,

    First of all - sorry for the length of this - this topic really gets me going, because it hits so close to home and is something I'm still trying to figure out for myself.

    I just read this last blog and thoroughly enjoyed it. It struck me immediately for several reasons. Firstly, you're an embodiment of what I envision as the modern woman, so it's refreshing to read what a fellow "go-getter" gal has to say about this societal pressure. Also, this is THE issue that I realized I would need to deal with - the moment I started college, and I imagine for the rest of my life. In fact, it's this exact issue that I addressed in my personal statement for my law school applications. It can't be more than 2pp and has to be representative of myself and my desire to be a lawyer, so clearly it's limited in scope, but it essentially echoes what you wrote. My essay attempts to answer - or at least it constitutes my personal answer and preference in handling these times of changing norms.

    I attached my essay in an email in case you're interested. :)

    I edited it a million times, and at the advice of many, I reluctantly removed my original opening:

    "There's a statistic - or maybe it's just a rumor - that says that the majority of women leave Duke less confident than when they arrived. Encouraging, right?"

    Needless to say, I definitely didn't hear this in any Duke info session. It's haunted me and many other girls here these past 4 years. As a freshman, I thought this "stat" (which is actually real, according to the Women's Studies Dept) was ridiculous. I thought there was no way I'd leave less confident - and I was wrong...for about 2 years. (continued)

  3. (continued)

    To give you a little background, a plurality -and a hugely visible one at at that- of Duke students are nouveau riche, both real and feigned, both pompous and elitist. Not the kind of character I was raised to have. Living with these people has been hard on me, my values, and my goals. I've managed to find a few gems among them, and they're just the people I admire and respect and hold the same values as I. Until I came here, I've never felt at such a stark crossroads as this: either become a pretty little girl who stands in the background -or- be a ruthless masculine-like business woman. Having to chose only one or the other is absurd. This perceived gender role for woman is limited. It's ignorant and clearly does not account for the new and improved, force-to-be-reckoned-with Modern Woman. Professional prowess and femininity are in fact not mutually exclusive, as many are too quick to assume. As women, we all have different ideas about what this "modern woman" actually is and does. For me, the modern woman is the one who balances between old traditions and new demands. It's a hard balance to strike - and even harder with the "effortless perfection" myth. In my essay, I discuss how I go about striking that balance. Of course, with your worldly travels, you may disagree with some of what I have written, but I can only write to my own experience, and in 2 shorts pages.

    Duke is only a tiny microcosm of what there is in corporate America and so forth. I realize that and am very eager to get acquainted with the real world. These 4 years have pulled me into a millllionnnn different directions in deciding what I should be, what I should do, and how I'm going to do it. I can't tell you how many times I've cried myself to sleep unhappy with myself, my relationships, my networking, trajectory, ugh, everything really. I had lost track of my values and goals so much so that I became a victim of probably the most mentally abusing relationships of all time.

    It really wasn't that long ago that I realized that I had developed a seriously warped sense of success. I was comparing myself solely with other Duke kids, most of whom still staunchly hold that same idea of success. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what mine is. All I know is that I just want to be happy with myself and family and make a positive impact on other women and men. Like I said, I was quickly headed to be another number in that statistic of "unconfident Duke girls." The pre-college Laura would not have been okay with this. After several kicks to the ground, I got my old self back! I had grown complacent and blind even. There came a point at which I literally said out loud to myself that I will be damned if I ever again blindly fall victim to mainstream and such pigeon-holed social roles. As I make my mark on the world, I struggle to strike that balance between these old traditions and new demands on women. I have found that I am happier and genuinely content with how I live.

    Thank you dearly for being a role model for us all.

    ~Laura Puleo

  4. Laura,

    What an incredible and touching response. You actually have me in tears reading this because I can totally relate to the intense pressure of needing to succeed. Would you mind sharing with us how you managed to get through such a difficult struggle these last 4 years, primarily with finally becoming comfortable and peaceful with yourself again? I am intrigued how you went through such a struggle, mentally and emotionally especially amidst the pressure of comparing yourself to other Duke students, and then finally how you managed to break through and find peace and balance.

    You are a strong, special and inspiring young woman and I am sure many other women can relate to your story. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope to learn from you!

    - Kristen

  5. You're 100% right. There's no way you can have a career AND be super-Mom or super-Dad. Well, only if you find a fantastic nanny and don't mind them raising your kids for at least 60% of the day (and that tends to work best when they're a full-time nanny, usually a live-in). Being a parent is a full time gig.

    Yes there are Moms that manage both. All of them give credit to a nanny/caretaker or close relative who shares in the parenting.

    I freelance and enjoy being "between jobs" so I can see my wife & kids more since when I work the hours are very long.

    married to a super-wife / super-mom with 2 kids. :-)