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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'Assertive, Non-traditional, Independent' and other Gimmicks that Define the 21st Century Woman Ideal

No, this not a male-bashing rant. In fact, this is a self-assessment ("self," as in women).

Ever since the 1960's, Americans have taken a special interest in questioning and often changing traditions. And of course, change can be good. Change has brought about civil rights for most Americans (except certain rights for gays, but that's another topic). Change has given me the opportunity to pursue higher education; heck, for me to even sit at the front of the bus is the result of change. So clearly, I'm a proponent of positive change. But what about questioning "change" itself? Are all traditions evil?

21st Century Women, I hate to burst our little bubbles, but it's time to question the things and habits that we so proudly label "liberating," "free," "easier," "non-traditional," "assertive," "casual," etc.

  • "Casual Sex" Oh really? Look, do what you gotta do. But I'm gonna say what I gotta say. As a woman myself and a student who has attended an all-girls' school and currently attends a women's college, I unofficially consider myself an expert on women (emotionally & socially speaking, at least). Here's my problem with supposed casual sex; the FACT that most young women are doing it to please a guy who isn't interested in committing to them in the first place. In a perfect world, all women who claim to have "casual" sex are just like Samantha Jones on Sex & the City (not necessarily in terms of the quantity of lovers, just her convenient lack of human emotions). Samantha has sex with the Mr. Right Now and usually walks away with no feelings for him. Now if this is HONESTLY you, then never mind. But to you women who know deep down inside that you're hoping for something more, try something called standards (I got that from Steve Harvey lol. ). You don't have to do away with monogamous, committed relationships just because it's "old school." But, hey! If you find giving yourself to someone who hasn't earned such a privilege as "liberating," then fine =).

  • "Cohabitation" For the life of me, I just can't figure out how it's "21st Century" to give yourself a head start on taking care of a man. Maybe I'm weird, but I thought that was what marriage is for. I don't know about you, but I'm not about to rush to live with some dude who has no legal or financial obligations to me (unless we have kids), but can expect a fairly neat home, food, clean clothes, and sex whenever from me. And let's be honest, most men (and probably yours too) are not going to keep their "fair share" of cooking, housekeeping, and other roles that have been traditionally assigned to women...(That's usually because we let them get away with it, but that's just my view on it).

  • "I HAVE to Work! I Just Couldn't BEAR to be a Housewife!" Throughout almost my entire life, I have felt as if it is wrong to be OK with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom, or whatever you call it. Why do people turn up their noses when you admit that you wouldn't mind taking care of your family full-time? I don't know if that's just city thing or what, but I feel like there's a code of uniformity about a girl's aspirations-- it's soooo terribly 1950's to be a stay-at-home mom in the 21st century. Don't get me wrong, I plan on taking care of myself with an interesting career, hopefully to make a positive difference in people's lives. I think it's great when a girl can aspire to and actually attain the life that she envisions. But what many fail to acknowledge is the fossilized expectation placed upon wives and mothers--regardless of whether she's PTA president or U.S. President (exaggeration, I know)--to still have dinner ready and take care of the house. Now, you can work tirelessly from 9 to 6 (you can forget about 9 to 5 these days) AND have dinner on the table by 7...all with a smile on your face!

My point? Let's stop looking down on the 1950's housewife stereotype and appreciate our freedom-- which includes the choice to be a stay-at-home mom.

  • "Assertive Women" Firstly, let me just say that I agree with most of the principles of being more assertive. It's important to make sure you're getting the most out of life. Here's where I get a little resistant, however; does assertive mean that I ask men out and never expect my date to pay for me on a date? I respect the idea of stepping outside of your comfort zone and asking a guy out (every now and then). But I can't get down with this "She Got Her Own" gimmick. Just because "I got my own" doesn't mean that I can't expect my man to take care of me. If I ask a guy out, then that's different. But please believe; if a man asks me out on a date, then he should be paying! Ladies, let's not be so quick to jump on this Independent bandwagon and stop holding men responsible! If he likes you so much, he'll gladly pay for your dinner. Don't fall for this "She Got Her Own" gimmick; it's just an excuse to spend your precious time and not have to pay for it. If he likes you so much, then he'll be willing to commit to you, instead of calling it "casual" sex while he gets with you, her, her (maybe "him??"), AND your best friend.

So, beautiful ladies of the 21st century, live your life; but make sure you're being smart about it. If someone else is getting MORE benefits from your "21st Century Woman" lifestyle than you are, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate some of your habits. Yes change is good; but sometimes we have to listen to that old saying, "If it ain't broke, then don't try to fix it!"


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