Musings in the Dark: June 2010

6/04/2010

Dangerous Feminine Mythos

Ladies, acknowledge. How many of you were told as little girls that you were going to grow up, fall in love, get married and have babies and all that good stuff?

*raises hand*

Society embellished this by subconsciously stressing that all of the above should happen before thirty.

I, like quite a few women I know, believed that this would and should happen. For a lot of my friends, it did. It did not for me, for a variety of factors, and for that I’m glad. I’ll explain why in a little while.

First of all, the problem with this myth is that girls get suckered into believing that this will happen in addition to college (and for some, grad school) and everything will be nice and perfect when they get married at age 25. As if marriage solves any and all problems encountered at that time. I deal with teenage girls for a living and I am stunned at the number of times I’ve heard them say this very thing. When I ask the question, “And what will you do if that doesn’t happen?” the response is overwhelmingly, “It will.”

I ask the question again and implore them to think about the fact that life happens while plans for the rest of your life are being made. I use examples from my life and the life of women I know to make my point and for some of the girls; you see the crack in the fa├žade. For others, they remain as dense as teenage girls can be. They have a rude awakening in store.

Yes, for some women, they are able to do all of the above and pop out 2.5 kids before 30. But for the majority of us who want a career and family and have to take it one step at a time (usually career first because we would rather wait for a decent man to marry), it happens well after 30 and maybe not at all.

I hear all the time, “Why aren’t you married?” Or, “You need a man.” Am I supposed to feel less of a woman because I’m in my 30s and I’m happily single? Should I be insulted because other women believe that they are defined by having a man in their life and I should be so defined?

I’m not knocking those women who have been able to reach the “standard” society has set. Hey, do you. But for those women like myself, I encourage you to embrace your life as it is and don’t fall for the bullshit society would force upon you.

I believed, just as I’d been taught to, that I’d be married with a family before 30. I did my part to try and make that come to pass, but that wasn’t what happened. I acknowledge feeling like a failure as a woman when that milestone passed and I was nowhere near said standard. It happened for my best girlfriends; one before 30 and one just after 30. For a lot of women I know who met the deadline, if you ask them now if they wish they’d waited, they will tell you yes.

It took a few years for me to accept the fact that my path is different from all of the women I know. And it should be. And it’s okay that it is. I’m so happy that my life diverged from the standard track early in my adulthood because I would currently be in a quagmire if it didn’t. I have no beef with marriage and family, but another thing I have come to accept is that it may not be for me. The divergence in my life brought about a profound change in perspective and attitude and a discovery of my true self.

These are not qualities a woman should experience during the formative years of her marriage; rather, it should take place prior to marriage. In a perfect world, it would. But because the world isn’t perfect and marriages take place between imperfect people, such occurrences happen (and they come about for men as well) and sometimes divorce is a result.

The microwave generation doesn’t allow for gradual change. A lot of people take relationships far more serious than they do marriage, so when these epiphanies occur, they think that it’s best to move on to another relationship/marriage without resolving the issues that split the previous connection.

I say all that to say this: Don’t believe the hype. Don’t let society force you into a pair of shoes that probably won’t fit. Give yourself time to grow; it is all right to be a late bloomer. Marriage and family are okay to have in your mid-30s and later, if you’re willing to wait for the right partner.