For a long time I faced this question myself: should I settle for the nearest man in my life or should I pursue my dreams? Being a South Asian the customary reaction from friends and family was a sidelong glance any time I came home announcing my latest plans. A look that said, "Okay, but then what?"
I thought ethnic women were the only ones to succumb to this pressure or to be constantly inundated by it but it turns that Western women are no less liberated. In fact, in some ways, the lack of frank discussion about the pressure for white women to marry and live the fairy tale of happily ever after makes it harder on them than the ethnic philosophy of marry and the love will come.
Two conversations last week brought this to the light.
A friend, a good, dear friend, in a relationship that she herself confesses not to have the ultimate confidence in, said "And if I want to have kids, I don’t have much longer." This out of the mouth of a 31 one year old.
Implied lesson: I’m not going to get what I want so let me get on with the kids and family bit.
Then on the flight from Qatar to the U.S. I (admittedly observed on television) heard a similar refrain watching the British mini series, LOST IN AUSTEN. The main character says to her mom, "I have standards."
And the mother, achingly replies, "Standards are good sweetie but who will help you with your coat on when you are seventy?"
That is the question, I suppose, for all women, white, black, brown or otherwise.
But as I challenged 10 American college age women during a visit to my house over pizza, what does being alone really mean? Are we alone because there is not a man in our lives?
Even on 30 Rock, Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, goes on a date set up by her boss because one night she almost chokes to death while eating a T.V. dinner. So men not only help you in life their mere existence can help prevent your demise?
I’m not a misanthrope. I am happily married to a nurturing husband and the proud sister of a brilliant young business man.
In general though all cultures still seem to be promoting the sexist male privilege. A man at any age is able to father children and get married.
So women of the world unite. We can help each other with our coats while on our various journeys. Perhaps with a little less pressure we’ll be able to make the choices to be in the places where we will meet Mr. Right.