Fast Company has done a great profile on producer/businesswoman/general incredible human Amy Poehler, and you should read it because it’s wonderful. But for all the strides Poehler has made and every ounce of ass she kicks, there are those in the industry who feel compelled to bring her back down to one thing: mom.
“I have these meetings with really powerful men and they ask me all the time, ‘Where are your kids? Are your kids here?’ ” she says with a sneer. “It’s such a weird question. Never in a million years do I ask guys where their kids are. It would be comparable to me going to a guy, ‘Do you feel like you see your kids enough?’ ”
Jennifer Garner recently addressed this need for people to ask women about balancing kids and work. But just women.
My husband and I do kind of the same job, a little bit. Not long ago we both had one of those magical days, we call it a junket, where we both attended these lovely events where people come in every four minutes, they ask the same questions over and over again, you know the drill. We got home at night and we compared notes. And I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, and this is true of the red carpet here tonight Elle, asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’…As for work-life balance, he said no one asked him about it that day. As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to kinda change that conversation?”
If you’re not a parent, you might not know this is a thing. See, people feel compelled to ask you where your children are if they are physically not attached to you. If you are at a meeting, or an event, or grocery shopping, or just taking a moment, a sweet, precious moment for yourself, someone’s asking where that kid is. Because you are supposed to be with that kid. And if you work, you’re supposed to explain why you work and not stay home with the kid. Seriously, every working mother has her explanation ready to launch on the tip of her tongue in case she’s asked. Except, oddly enough, it doesn’t tend to happen to dads. Weird.
Probably because people are so turned on by their dadbods. They get all distracted by the sexy and forget about the children or something. That’s probably it.
I know my child is literally the most/only interesting thing about me, but please, I implore you, trust that the kid is probably OK and attended to. Basically, if a woman has children and you don’t see said children, assume said children are fine and that she probably didn’t leave them in traffic. Ask yourself why you give a shit in the first place, then ask yourself if you have or would ever think to ask a man that. Probably not.
There are certain questions or statements that those who don’t typically experience them tend to write off as someone just trying to make conversation. Like “when are you gonna have kids already?” or “how are you not married yet?” or “where are the bodies, for the love of god, where did you put the bodies?” As women, we’ve been trained through experience to hear certain questions and know what they’re really asking or why they’re asking them and know that men are not getting asked the same questions, or have no idea it’s even a thing. Here’s an example—I was watching Amy Schumer with my husband the other night, and he didn’t get the “I’m sorry” sketch. He thought it was funny but thought it was absurdly funny and not hitting on a real phenomenon because he didn’t realize that women are so ingrained with the need to apologize constantly. When I explained it (WOMANSPLAINING!) it was quite a revelation and now he’ll notice it going forward.
This is why it’s worth it to talk about this stuff and make it a big deal. Because there are people who don’t get it. And maybe a lot of them never will, will never care or see it beyond internet women getting faux outraged about womany things all over again, UGH, just talk about movies already. But then there’s some people who will get it and who will learn.