If you’ve followed comedian Sarah Silverman at all over the last few years, you’ve probably noticed how great a relationship she seems to have with her boyfriend Michael Sheen’s 17-year-old daughter, Lily. But if her latest tweets are any indication, it seems Silverman is still not immune to getting asked about why she hasn’t chosen to have kids herself.
On February 27, 46-year-old Silverman finally took to Twitter to explain why — and she did not hold back:
“As a comic always working and on the road, I have had to decide between motherhood and living my fullest life and I chose the latter,” she began. “So this is just a lil f**k all y’all, because you can’t be a woman without sacrifice, and that’s the fact, jack.”
Amen. I hear you, Sarah. Loud and clear.
Now, I may not be a comedian myself, but I’ve worked in television for most of my life, and trust me, it is not a job you can do easily with kids. Or for many woman, with kids at all. You have to straight-up make a choice. As a mom, you can’t be filming miles away on location when the camera suddenly breaks down. (A camera that takes hours to get a replacement and before you know it, you’re rolling in home at 2 AM.) In this industry, moms can’t exactly come and go as they please. Plus — most TV jobs are freelance, so you’re in and out of work like a yo-yo; they don’t tolerate anyone who isn’t available round the clock, prioritizing their job. And all of that is impossible to do when you have kids that need to be collected from school, or dropped off at 9 AM on the dot.
But at the same time, I can’t remember the last time I heard of a man changing their career when they became a father. No man I know has altered his job to “spend more time with the kids.” If we’re being honest here, the onus is always on the woman in the majority of cases.
Whether we like it or not, there’s still a huge imbalance between the sexes, causing women to make hideous choices between their career and motherhood. This doesn’t just affect the early years either, when babies need extra care or the mother happens to be breastfeeding (which granted, is a job only a woman can do). It’s an issue that stretches well beyond the baby years, until a kid is old enough to look after himself after school.
The biggest pet peeve of my life is that no one took me aside when I was at school and said, “See these exams you are studying for? The degree you’re working towards? The late work nights and networking at events you will force yourself to go to? IT WILL ALL BE IN VAIN. Because when you have kids, you have to change it all. Immediately.”
No one ever told me that I would have to make difficult upsetting choices, because my work — in a creative industry — didn’t allow for kids.
I remember going to a “how to get out of working in TV” seminar once when I was contemplating motherhood. I asked a female producer who had been in the business for 25 years what job I could do in TV that worked with having kids. And you know what she said? Nothing. She had no answer. Instead, she laughed.
I left my full-time job in 2014 to become a TV script writer, a job I can do from home; but yet somehow, my job is viewed as the less important one in the household — because I make less. When I’m not working, I’m in charge of the carpooling, the after school activities, the play dates, and the homework. It’s up to me to make the supermarket lists and tackle the never-ending laundry piles, as we purchase party gifts, sort out school uniforms, cut the toenails … you see where I’m going with this? These are tasks my husband just assumes — nay — expects me to do.
Do I resent this? Yes. You bet I do. I’ve become angrier now than ever before, and it is simply because I do not get a second to myself. The lack of headspace as a writer is unquestionably hard. I feel like I never have time to think — that my head is filled with lists and things to remember for the kids, leaving me no time to knock out an Emmy-winning script. And I hate this. I watch as the people who seem to forge ahead are the single folk. TV is filled with successful men — who don’t worry about making costumes for World Book Day.
So yeah; it’s no wonder that Silverman looked at what it takes to be a successful comedian — touring endlessly, making TV appearances, writing constantly, and having to drop everything if an opportunity comes up — and realized that it just wasn’t in the cards. These may all be opportunities that a male comedian wouldn’t have to think twice about, father or not, but the reality, as Silverman notes, is different for women.
As Silverman says: “I love my comedian brothers that acknowledge this truth. They’re my family, and, for a lot of us women comic sisters, our only family.”
In a 2014 poll of nonworking American adults, ages 25 to 54, 61 percent of women said family responsibilities were a reason they weren’t working, compared to 37 percent of men. Yet, of the female homemakers interviewed, nearly 75 percent said they would consider going back to work if a job offered flexible hours or allowed them to work from home.
Which I can more than relate to. It’s the main reason I’ve changed careers twice since becoming a mother. Hand on heart, it has been the biggest challenge of my life — reconciling motherhood with my career.
Now tell me a single man who has had to deal with the same challenge? No, I can’t think of one either … But isn’t it time things changed? So women don’t have to choose between careers and motherhood, and comedians of the future can “have it all?”