Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Men don't have it all either

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 9:14 AM EDT, Wed March 13, 2013
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
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT