Once my mother gained the prestige of a high-paying, work-from-home job after 40 years as part of the workforce, she did what every other aging feminist would do: Subscribed to all the political, intellectual, progressive, magazines she could.
Now when she reads something she thinks
I would be interested in I should read, she sends the article over to me, usually accompanied by a couple of LB’s socks or half-eaten cookies she left at grandma’s house.
The most recent article I was privileged to read was from The Atlantic. My mother described her reaction to the peice as “horrified”. She also said she was completely shocked at her reaction. The article was written by a 40-something woman who put her career first, didn’t find “true love” and ended up having a child through sperm donation. The author made a case for chosing someone who may not be your “soul mate”, but who may end up being a good partner, a good father, or someone who will just BE THERE for you. She says Lonliness is worse than dissatisfaction.
Hmm. Boy was I glad I read that, being a single mom and all. It was especially pleasant after coming home from watching “Atonement”, probably one of the most intensely upsetting love stories to hit the silver screen.
The article had a point though. My generation is one of post-feminist idealism. We were raised to think highly of ourselves, that we deserve the utmost respect, and should never lower ourselves to meet someone else’s standards. I can remember distinctly as a child, telling my mom I wanted to be a flight attendant, to which she sneered, “BE THE PILOT!”
Understandably, our mothers came from families where they witnessed banishment to the kitchen and laundry room, where a woman’s goal reached no further than securing a husband and producing offspring. Of course they want their daughters to be pilots. That’s why they burned their bras and fought for a woman’s right to choose, right?
The article argued that while we may still be privy to this mentality, deep down inside of us, we all want to be partners with someone who loves us in the end. Living with this dichotomy is no easy task. The author says we have become too picky, striving to find the “perfect” man who is suited to our too high standards. We have thrown away the old fashion, unromantic notion of “Love has nothing to do with a successful marriage.” How Victorian, UGH.
But what does it really mean to love someone? Does it have to mean sacrficing your needs for theirs? Or does it mean that no matter what your flaws, that person will be with you through thick and thin? Are we too quick to write off someone’s quirks as incompatibilty? Or are the ones who make it through marriage just complacently enduring it because they’d rather be with someone than be alone?
I know this is an extremely bitter thought, (she aint frontin’) but it made me think. I would rather be single than stuck in the relationship I was in before, but that doesn’t mean I am too self-righteous to think that I would be happy on my own for the rest of my life. No, I want to be with someone too. Maybe I’m lucky because now I know for sure what I DON’T want, and at least learned it at a young age.
As far as my parents go, I don’t understand why my mother was so shocked at the article. She has been living with a man she is almost embarrased to be with for the last 26 years. And technically they don’t even live together anymore! Do they split up? No. They stay comfortably locked into each other’s world. Why? Habit? Routine? Quiet Acceptance? Or is it, as stated in the article, that they would rather be married to each other, knowing that someone else out there understands them and has stuck with them this long, than be alone? I think my parents are the perfect example of this argument.
The feminists may have fought for the nobility of self-respect and true love, but they were really just posers underneath. They burned their bras and settled down to a comfortable life, complete with a washer/dryer and 2.5 kids. Why? Because no one wants to be alone.