Hein Koh's Viral Breastfeeding Photo Proves Motherhood Is One Of Many Things That Doesn't Hinder Women's Work
There's a rampant belief throughout our culture that women will become less dedicated to their work after they have kids. But a viral photo of artist Hein Koh breastfeeding shows that a woman can be a mom and be successful at her job. "Making art involves making a ton of creative decisions, but I'm sure this applies to other fields as well, and life in general," Koh tells Bustle over email. "The new emotions I am experiencing as a mom — so much love but also the darkness that comes with the difficulty of being a parent — have inevitably entered into my work and has made it more layered, complex, and interesting." Indeed, being a parent is just one of many things that don't have to hold women back in the workplace.
In her viral photo post, which has over 2,200 shares on Facebook and more than 1,500 likes on Instagram, Koh described how being a parent has made her a better artist. The photo, which was taken in May of 2015, depicts her breastfeeding her then-five-week-old twins while simultaneously hard at work. As she explains to Bustle, balancing her work with her twins has made her a more efficient worker and given her a wider range of experiences to funnel into her art. And another plus? "When you're a mom, you learn to be extremely organized and efficient, taking on a managerial position in your family, so these skills translate positively into career as well."
The full text of the post, along with the photo itself, absolutely nails all of this and more:
Having a family is just one of many things that is sometimes said to hinder women in the workplace but doesn't have to. Here are four more things that don't either.
1. Their Relationship Status
Like parenthood, being in a relationship takes time and energy; however, it also can provide happiness and inspiration, which can then fuel your work. A woman can be a devoted girlfriend or wife and still be herself first and foremost, not simply defined by who she's with.
2. Their Communication Style
Some studies have shown that women tend to use certain methods of communication more than men, like uptalk and apologies. While this is sometimes criticized as a way women set themselves back, these methods of communication are not inherently bad — and can, in fact, actually be good things. For example, qualifiers can be a way of showing empathy for the listener, and uptalk can be a way of signaling that you're not done talking. If people judge women for talking in traditionally "feminine" ways, maybe they're the ones being sexist.
3. Their Looks
Unfortunately, women risk being judged in the workplace no matter what they look like. One study in the Journal of Social Stratification and Mobility found that women who wear makeup to work get paid more, potentially due to the societal expectation that women pay more attention to their looks than men. Yet women also can be taken less seriously or even face harassment if they look sexy or feminine. Of course, in reality, what you look like has nothing to do with how smart or capable you are.
4. Their Gender
All of these assumptions result from one underlying belief: that women's gender hinders them in the workplace, especially in male-dominated fields. If they succeed, they're deemed good at their jobs "for a woman," and if they fail, they're deemed proof that women are bad at their jobs. "We need to let go of the lingering falsehood that women are inferior to men," says Koh to Bustle, "and realize that the strength, mental acuity, and emotional empathy of women, to name a few things, are desirable traits to have in the workplace."