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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who Cares About Superwoman?

What’s all the fuss about Superwoman?  So what if women are trying to wear too many hats and be all things to all people.  And who really cares?

This past week, I learned that some folks don’t care.  Some folks think Chasing Superwoman is “ridiculous.”

It was during a one-hour talk radio program.  A guy named Rick called in and started going off on me.  (I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the summary.)
Rick:  “I raised eight kids.  And I didn’t write a book about it.  What do you think of that?”
Susan:  “Well Rick, it sounds like you have a great story.  My own parents raised five kids, and they didn’t write a book either.”
Rick:  “I just think all of this is ridiculous.  Everyone today has to write a book about something.  So what.  My wife goes to work every day.  She didn’t have to write a book about it and claim she’s Superwoman.”
Host:  “Rick, how did you go about raising eight kids?”
Rick:  “Lots of cigarettes.”
Susan:  “Rick, I haven’t tried cigarettes yet.  My book isn’t for everyone.  Maybe it’s not for you.”
I’ll have to admit,  Rick caught me a little off guard.  But there are probably lots of guys like Rick out there who think women like me are just self-absorbed drama queens.

So what.  Big deal.  Why do you have to make a fuss over the fact that you are trying to be Superwoman?  Get over yourself.

I’m not going to change Rick’s mind.  In his world, Chasing Superwoman is silly.  But he totally missed the point.  I don’t want to be Superwoman – and, by God’s grace, I don’t have to.  But lots of women still struggle with the Superwoman complex.  After all, we’re only human – not superhuman.

When you’re live on the radio, you don’t have much time to think about your response.  But now that I’ve thought about it a bit, I wished I would have asked Rick, “Rick, do you have any daughters?  Does your wife ever feel like she has to be Superwoman?  Have you ever taken the time to ask her?”

What do you think?  Is the Superwoman complex a reality in today’s world?  Do women need to hear that’s they’re not alone in trying to do it all, and by God’s grace they don’t have to be Superwoman?  Or do we just need to get over it!


Babetta said...

Wow, Susan! I'm not sure how I would have handled someone insulting me that way. I think you handled it beautifully. I think "Rick" should have saved his comments because he is not a woman and can't possibly begin to understand the pressure to excel at all things and be all things to everyone who crosses your path. This superwoman complex is very real, even though the pressure we face is sometimes manufactured in our own minds. I hope he did not discourage you, and I pray your book is wildly successful as it ministers to women everywhere!

Heidiopia said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Susan-- has Rick ever asked his wife what she thinks or how she feels? I would venture to guess he would be surprised by her honest answer! Sounds like he has a little something against authors in general...completely his issue. I, for one, always strive to do all/be all and whether the pressure is real or imagined, doesn't really matter. Your book clearly offers a fresh perspective for those of us that DO struggle with Superwoman complex. Kudos on your poise!

Heidi Britz said...

Absolutely!! As a single, working mom I feel pressure (externally and internally) to do all, be all and keep a smile on my face. It is exhausting and we need to hear we are not alone. Thanks for bursting the bubble on this societal lie :)

Alison said...

Smooth response, Susan. I think many men have Rick's perspective because they can't ever realize what it's like for mothers these days. We do create the vast majority of this insanity for ourselves because at the end of the day it's all about our choices. But, you bring light to the difficulty and the beauty that come from those choices, validating the struggle for balance and meaning. Keep it up! I love your thoughts!

MC said...

It sounds like Rick's own leotard is on a little too tight and is rubbing his lack of appreciation for his wife uncomfortably.

From Wikipedia:
[Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, in her book The superwoman syndrome, used the term superwoman to describe a Western woman who works hard to manage multiple roles of a worker, a homemaker, a volunteer, etc. The term derived a number of expressions, such as superwoman syndrome,superwoman squeeze (a pressure on a superwoman to perform well in her multiple roles),and superwoman complex (an expectation of a superwoman that she can and should do everything). "Superwoman" differs from "Career woman" in that the latter one commonly includes sacrifice of (a) family life in favor of career, while a superwoman strives to excel in both.]

The Superwoman complex is alive and well and further stressed by these current tough times when women are giving even more support - emotional, physical, financial - and getting even less in return. Some women think they can. Some men just think they should. And they certainly don't want to hear about it.
Rick is lucky his wife didn't choose the career woman route or he wouldn't have those 8 kids. But my guess is that his wife didn't get to make that choice. At least not yet...
Pass the cigarettes!

Susan DiMickele said...

Thanks for your encouragement. I think Rick actually spurred me on in his own way -- and I'm convinced the Superwoman complex is very real. Sounds like I'm not the only one who thinks so!