Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Men don't have it all either

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
March 13, 2013 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
LZ Granderson.says men face challenges like those women do in balancing work and family.
LZ Granderson.says men face challenges like those women do in balancing work and family.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: The question of the moment is whether women can have it all
  • Granderson: It's a ridiculous question since it implies men have it all, but we don't
  • He says instead of this fruitless debate, we should focus on what makes us happy
  • Granderson: "All" is a mythical concept, not obtainable

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- Can women have it all?

That seems to be the question of the moment.

And it is a rather ridiculous question if you ask me, because it implies that men have it all.

But we don't. Not even close.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

If we're married, then we don't have the freedoms that come with being single.

If we're single, then we miss out on the comforts of marriage.

For every hour that is spent late at night in the office trying to make partner, there is another hour in which Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" creeps from being a song to being our biographies.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



On average, men earn more money.

We hold most of the executive jobs.

We don't get pregnant.

'Huge double standard' for powerful women
Sandberg insults some women

Believe me, I recognize the cultural and anatomical challenges and respect the sacrifices women make in order to balance family and a career, or family with no career, or career with no family. But constructing this entire conversation around the premise that men are exempt from this balancing act minimizes the role of fatherhood, discounts our stake in romantic relationships and blinds us all from this greater truth: No one who needs to work has it all.

Working women, know your value

Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte has fame, World Series rings and millions in the bank and he doesn't have it all. The season is 162 games long -- half of which is spent in hotels, away from his wife and children -- and that doesn't even include spring training. He's been doing this since 1995. Imagine how many once-in-a-lifetime moments he has missed.

George Clooney has good looks, model girlfriends, fame and fortune, but no wife and kids to come home to.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey became a billionaire before 40, and worked 80-hour weeks to get there.

So, I don't know where this notion of having it all in the workplace came from, but very few people with jobs have it.

Women may think men have it all, but only because we've been socialized to express the emotions that are tied to this reality differently, which is to say, men are not to express the emotions that are tied to it.

But that antiquated code of silence comes with a price, like not being home to see our newborn's first steps. Not to mention how internalizing stress contributes to heart disease and depression and negatively affects our mortality.

As much as women worry about the affect maternity leave will have on their careers, so do men worry about taking paternity leave. America is the only first-world country that doesn't have a mandatory paid family leave policy. That is why some working parents feel worried when they actually do take a leave.

Last year, the National Partnership for Women and Families found that only 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws that help new fathers and mothers who work in the private sector. Another 18 states only help new mothers or state employees. Considering how far behind the United States is compared to other developed nations with regards to parental leave, that's shameful.

Instead of this fruitless debate about having it all, men and women should focus on what make us happy. Instead of comparing our lives with people we don't know who are making sacrifices we don't see, we should try to find the right balance between home and work life. It's a very personal choice.

There is no way to physically always be there for your children and always be at the office and always be present for your significant other and then take care of yourself. The laws of physics necessitate that somebody or some thing is going to get the short end of the stick.

That's why it's more important for women to define their own sense of priorities instead of adhering to someone else's. At the end of the day, they are the ones who have to live with the choices they make. Same for men.

Last summer Kirk Gibson, the manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks, raised some eyebrows when he decided to skip his son's high school graduation in Michigan in order to spend more time at the office.

"You're supposed to graduate,'' he said after the game. ''His mom and the rest of the family will be there. He's coming to see me next week.''

To some, what Gibson did wasn't that big a deal.

To others, he was an ass.

To me, it's just another example of men not having it all.

Chances are if Gibson was working in town he would have gone to his son's graduation before it was time for him to head over to the baseball park. But he was 2,000 miles away and he had to make a choice. It's not the one I would have made, but then again the work-life balance that Gibson needs in order to be happy is probably different from mine. I suspect the work-life balance that one woman needs for happiness is different from what another may require.

It's personal, not universal.

"All" is mythical, not obtainable.

So, just because men have been conditioned not to express remorse (or many other emotions), doesn't mean we don't have any. The trick is to find the remorse you can live with.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1947 GMT (0347 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Jimmy Carter's message about the need to restore trust in public officials is a vital one, decades after the now 90-year-old he first voiced it
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Ford Vox says mistakes and missed opportunities along the line to a diagnosis of Ebola in a Liberian man have put Dallas residents at risk of fatal infection
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz says California is trying, but its law requiring step-by-step consent is just not the way hot and heavy sex proceeds on college campuses
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0217 GMT (1017 HKT)
Mike Downey says long-suffering fans, waiting for good playoff news since 1985, finally get something to cheer about
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 2139 GMT (0539 HKT)
Steve Israel saysJohn Boehner's Congress and the tea party will be remembered for shutting down government one year ago
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Yep. You read the headline right, says Peter Bergen, writing on the new government that stresses national unity
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 2312 GMT (0712 HKT)
Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration, says Mike Gonzalez
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1911 GMT (0311 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1911 GMT (0311 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1419 GMT (2219 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0910 GMT (1710 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT