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How Barack and Bill -- Yes, Bill -- Can Create Real Change

Embracing work-life balance as a men's issue

by Veronica  |  5154 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Hillary’s cause was health care and women’s rights. Is Michelle telling us that her cause will be work/life balance? Will she work for paid sick days for all workers, even part-time workers? Will she push President Obama to pressure Congress to pass a paid Family Medical Leave Act? In five years, will parents be able to apply for vouchers to help cover the cost of child and/or elder care?

While the prospect of either a President who did get push to get us FMLA in the first place or a First Lady who all but promises to take us to the next level is enticing, the real question is this: Why aren't Michelle and Hillary's male counterparts -- Barack and Bill -- talking about these issues? (And, come to think of it, why have we not heard anything about work-life balance from John or Cindy McCain?)

Surely these two intelligent men have watched their wives and partners struggle to meet work deadlines and get to a parent-teacher conference. I’ve read that Barack has not missed one teacher conference during this campaign. That is remarkable and deserving of praise. Surely they have also struggled with meeting the expectations of their respective daughters and the expectations of their offices.

If Barack is truly about change, he would embrace the issue of work-life balance as a men’s issue and speak to the 25- to 40-year-old men who, in my honest opinion, do want to be a father first and then a worker. If Bill wants to show the country that we are ready for genderless roles from caregivers to the President, he needs to embrace this issue. The way he’s been talking on the campaign trail, a new issue might suit him well.

For far too long we have been saying, “Work it, Mom!” because we had to do it all. Today, our society has evolved to a point where men want in on caregiving -- and we need to let them in. We need the workplace to not daddy-track men as a consequence. But most of all, we need fathers to work it for work-life balance -- and that certainly includes Barack and Bill.

About the Author

Veronica I. Arreola is a professional feminist living in Chicago with her husband & Mini-Me daughter. You can read more of her rants at .

Read more by Veronica

4 comments so far...

  • Great post, Veronica, and worthy of praise! It would be fascinating to see the response to Bill and Barak really addressing these issues in a heart-felt manner, with practical ideas. Think it'll happen?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 24th June 2008

  • Thanks Diane & Joanne...yeah, I have lots of hope that FMLA issues will be addressed, but know that they most likely will fall to the wayside. My new hope is that our Guv is in BIG trouble with almost everyone (including corruption whispers) so maybe we can push him to throw us women voters a bone. lol!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Veronica on 27th February 2008

  • This raises a great question. Somehow, I have the feeling that these issues and FMLA will not be at the top of their list, sadly.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by PunditMom on 25th February 2008

  • Oh, wow. I could not agree more. Thanks so much for writing this! I just cannot fathom why the balance issue does not get more attention. I mean, so many women are in such a bind, constantly feeling overworked, overscheduled, overextended. Thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 22nd February 2008