Now, for the first time in history, people who aren’t married outnumber those who are. It’s very interesting to look at how the media are trying to analyze this, sometimes insightfully, sometimes a bit less than.
A New York Times article, Alone Again, Naturally, reveals:
“A woman discovers the answer to the question: Why do many men, after a breakup or a divorce, find it so difficult to be alone, while most women in the same situation seem just fine?”
Seems like a very poor editorial decision with the tagline “A woman discovers the answer” … unusually trite and sophomoric –to borrow the commenters’ favorite adjetive. As the writer retells her fall and subsequent conclusions about marriage and remarriage, she “is overcome by sweeping generalities,” which downright contradict reality.
I can’t relate to having to babysit a man; in my case, he cooks a lot, loves it, is good at it. He sows, goes grocery shopping, irons. But I don’t see someone like my dad doing these things, and I could see my mom being annoyed by an eternal babysitter lifestyle. Especially when she is out working as hard as he does, and comes home for unpaid, unrecognized overtime.
I do like some of the author’s statements that eloquently dispel entrenched myths, like the Cooking Woman Myth:
“Women alone eat breakfast at 11 if we feel like it, lunch at 3 and dinner never if that’s the way the day is winding down. Single women do not worry about cooking unless we want to. And we don’t want to unless we like to.
Gotta love that last line. Not all women like to cook. It would seem overdone to clarify clichés like these, but I still get surprised looks when I say I don’t like to go shopping, I don’t like a million shoes, I don’t like drawing attention to myself when I walk into a room, or whatever.
But “joggled brain” or not, I think the author really “was no longer capable of subtle thought.” She multitasks with several stereotypes, like saying that all women are hardwired to be have a nest and to nurture it. Yes, a lot of women are that way, but how much of it is genetics and how much is social construct remains very unclear. It’s not just dogmatic and narrow-minded; saying that “we finally found the answer!” strikes as 19th-Century pseudo-scientific naivete.
The commenters really jumped on her for this, with good reason. A great point one of them made, was that this whole article makes more sense from the perspective of an older woman, at least 40 and above. Had she established that in the beginning, then the fear of falling down and the annoyance at having to babysit her husband would make more sense.
A generational thing, you say. Still, it doesn’t come close to holding up. The biggest outright lie (for me) in the article is when she says that
“Being alone feels dangerous to a man” … “Women do not walk around alert for danger. Nor do we feel that being alone is dangerous.”
What? Those are very strange things to say. On the contrary, I feel that as a woman you are always under “threat” in some way. You are deemed as weaker and as easier prey, not only to something like rape (the interesting phenomenon that is), but to being taken advantage of, say, at a car dealership.
Think of this situation: you are walking alone at night, in a dark alley in a city like New York, or Washington, or Bogotá. You hear steps behind you. Whether you are a man or a woman, the experience is radically different depending on whether that person turns out to be a man or a woman. If that is not immediately apparent to you, then you are very lucky woman living in a very privileged first-world society. In Latin America, for example (not the worst women’s rights place out there) women don’t go out alone when they feel like it. It’s considered basically “asking for it” (you can replace “it” with a number of horrible things).
I have been many times frustrated because I cannot go somewhere without a male friend, say, to photograph something for a newspaper, or go backpacking (this reminds me of this hilarious Onion video). And the feelings of impotence and helplessness of those collective experiences shape who you are as a person, unfortunately.
Women have plenty of fears; so does everybody. And they fear men, just like men do.
- 7 Things Women Wish They’d Known Before Marriage (psychcentral.com)
- What’s a Woman to Do in a Culture Gone Mad? Perhaps “Good Girls DC” has an Idea (adw.org)
- Is marriage toxic to women? (introtosociology.wordpress.com)
- Without consent: the truth about forced marriage (justalinkthatmademethink.wordpress.com)