A wonderful girlfriend shot me an e-mail today. She’s a late-20s marketing guru for a tech start-up, a serious audiophile, and makes the best gingersnaps on the planet. And she happens to be single. And a “friend” of hers (who happens to be male and happens to have dated her once-upon-a-time) sent her a link to this article. This left my friend sad, though she couldn’t quite figure out why, and wanted a second opinion.
I read the piece. I thought it almost the follow up to this other piece published in the same magazine last summer. And kind of like this other piece that I’d been discussing with a group of college girlfriends two weeks back.
If you have the time and inclination to read these articles I highly recommend it; these authors have put a tremendous amount of time and research into their work, and what they have to say feels validating and shocking at the same time. But for purposes of this note, I’ll summarize: today, women are passing men in educational, economical, and social spheres. The problem, of course, is that as women have risen steadily to learn more, work more, and wield more influence, the learning, working and wielding influences of men have declined. And it could be, perhaps, that the current socioeconomic environment favors women’s natural abilities over men’s. Or it could be that men feel displaced, as women have figured out we can provide and protect our own damn selves, thankyouverymuch, and in fact, we can do their job, and still do our job, just fine.
So I, and my urban 20-and-30-something female cohorts, find ourselves often lamenting the fact that the streets in most major American cities are overrun with mid-30s manchildren sporting striped shirts and $300 jeans and Justin Bieber haircuts, who think an 8 p.m. what r u up to? text counts as planning a date, who walk on the inside of the sidewalk and stay firmly planted in their bus seats while you wobble on your heels in front of them, who let their mothers do their laundry and Whole Foods do their cooking, who Etrade like its a video game, won’t buy you dinner but are first in line for the next iProduct, and who repeatedly and consistently fail to show up and be men.
And the response I’ve heard bandied about, in that kind-of-joking-but-maybe-not-really way: “Maybe because we don’t need them.”
Which brings me back to my dear friend, struggling to come to terms with a world that seems to be telling her that the reason she can’t find a decent man is because, well, she doesn’t need one. Maybe she’s better off without one.
And maybe that’s true. But does that mean she shouldn’t want one?
Yes, we may be in the midst of the glorious rise of women, a wave she and I and every single one of our girlfriends are riding to the top, and yes, we may be seeing a corresponding decline in the number of “marriagable” men, and yes, we may very well be living in a time when the “traditional” marriage and family model isn’t really all that necessary…but that doesn’t mean we can’t want it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, as capable and independent, financially and emotionally stable women, want it. That doesn’t mean we can’t look at these statistics and these studies in the face and say yeah, but we know damn well, that love – intimate, equal, romantic, ass-kicking love exists. I’m as sure of that as I am of the four out of five sets of my best friends’ parents who are still married, all 40-something years later. I’m as sure of that as I am of the fact that this April I’ll walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid for the sixth time. And I’m sure that even as an evolved, competent, professional woman, who may not need a man it’s ok if I still believe in love.
feature image via deviantart