It's All About Choices: Last Week On Desperate Housewives and Oprah
In the fictional realm of Wisteria Lane, viewers of "Desperate Housewives" saw high-powered ad exec and mom of four, Lynette Scavo (played by Felicity Huffman) faced with two options: The first option was to answer the pleadings of her husband and become the manager of his soon-to-be opened pizzeria. The second choice was to return to her advertising job (she'd been out after an injury) where her boss said she'd be expected to work a massive number of hours and miss all her kids' activities. And she was admonished that she should accept the terms without complaint, mind you.
While Scavo's gut reaction was to agree to the dictates from the advertising firm, she later changed her mind and decided that, while hawking pizza slices may not be glory work that will land you on the cover of Forbes Magazine, the position had its perks. For instance, she could make her own hours, create her own job description and, while at work, she'd be able to spend time with her young family. The situation suited her needs, even if she would no longer be wearing nice-lookin' duds and toting a briefcase.
Two days later, Oprah Winfrey dedicated an entire program to mothers' work choices. The show prominently featured an interview with ABC newswoman Elizabeth Vargas who left her anchor post at "World News Tonight" after giving birth to her second child, and instead took a more flexible position as a "20/20" anchorwoman. Despite the fact that the program was promoted in one of those odious "mommy wars" ways -- with ads asking, "Can women really have it all?" -- the overall message sent by Vargas and others, including Oprah, was that women make choices about their careers that are appropriate for their individual situations, that people should stop proselytizing and simply respect one another's decisions.
Vargas, in particular, said that while she hopes that she'll have another chance to anchor the prestigious 6:30 evening newscast some time in the future, she felt that she couldn't be the kind of professional she wanted to be while simultaneously being the kind of parent she wanted to be if she kept the "World News Tonight" job. By opting for a job with a more pliable schedule, she said she felt as though she could do both. "We all have to make our personal decisions based on what's best for us," Vargas said. Acknowledging that there are some feminists who might take issue with her adjusting her career aspirations for her family, Vargas added that she believes one of feminism's key goals is the promotion of women's choices.
Yes, it was infuriating to see the boss at the ad agency on "Desperate Housewives" insist that Scavo sacrifice her family in order to keep her job; fathers don't seem to often be faced with such stark choices: Your job or your family. The phrase "Daddy Track" isn't nearly as well known in the vernacular as "Mommy Track" for a reason.