Multimedia Musts: Don’t give up edition

The biggest line from this story on office romances has nothing to do with love and everything to do with the female response to trouble at work:

“And if I had to work harder to prove that my love life wasn’t impacting my work life?” she asked. “Well, so be it. Working harder isn’t the worst thing that can happen.”

Um, ladies? Exactly how much harder do we think we can work?

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Speaking of people who work for free, I watched this video of Daily Beast/Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown so I could hear her say, “We don’t have respect for content anymore.” But before getting, there, she made an elegant case for letting go of the idea of “having it all.” Worth a listen.

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The brave team at Women Under Siege has released some new data. I can’t summarize it better than director Lauren Wolfe’s Atlantic headline: “Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis.” Thank God somebody cares.

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In more encouraging news, Kate Walsh joins a growing list of actresses (see last month’s NYT Mag profile of Connie Britton) who confess they have been happier and more successful after 35 than before. Sure, they’re actresses. But the barriers they’ve broken are no less real, and I find their continued commitment to their passion incredibly inspiring.

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If you’re not a member of Levo League, it’s probably time to join. Their mission is spot-on! You might have missed today’s hilarious and encouraging “Office Hours” with Sheryl Sandberg, but you can catch the video at that link. There’s a bonus at the end: a funny, inspiring ad launching their next initiative: www.levoleague.com/ask4more, showing all the ways we currently settle for less.

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I get asked sometimes what all these issues – rape, civil war, and asking for a raise – really have to do with each other. This story from Tbilisi, Georgia by Tara Isabella Burton unintentionally proves my point. The story of a woman trying to get out from under her husband’s abusive hand is a rich reminder of why economic empowerment is so critical for women’s empowerment in every other sphere. It’s also noisy, evocative, and lyrical, a work of literary art in its own right. Well worth our time.

Aside

Who Gets To Be Happy?

Today, Emily Oster at Slate explains why women shouldn’t spend more time at home than at work. In doing so, you could say she is echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s controversial view that women should not “lean back” at work when they have children.

Her reasoning has less to do with career success and more to do with personal happiness:

Each hour of your day—sleeping, eating, working, showering, playing with those dinosaur stickers—delivers some amount of happiness. And usually the second hour of the same activity makes you less happy than the first one. The first hour of dinosaur stickers, amazing. The second hour, OK. The third hour? Even the best parent may wonder if it’s, perhaps, time for a glass of wine. In the language of economics, the marginal utility of time with your kids—the happiness you get from the last hour you spend with them—is declining as you spend more hours.

Granted, what this does not take into account is how much your kids need you. Raising children is a responsibility, even when it doesn’t maximize both parents’ happiness in any given 24-hour period. In that way, the economist’s argument seems a bit crass, and commenters have pounced on that.

But I think Dr. Oster is making an important point from the pendulum swing’s forgotten other end. Our society romanticizes child-rearing to the point that many of us feel guilty about wanting to have careers just as badly as we want to have kids – if not more so.

This approach transfers all responsibility for child-rearing to the mother, essentially making the same case: Providing childcare, maternity leave, and paths to leadership for working mothers does not make us/our shareholders/our taxpayers “happy,” so we don’t have to do it. Instead, we still force women to feel guilty for wanting to define themselves as more than mothers.

Instead of berating women who enjoy their time at work, perhaps we could all take a little more responsibility for the next generation?