There are times when a girl gets pretty chapped.
So it was when I read the cover story of last Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times (the first of a four part series), Redefining Single: Many Women Are Embracing New Lifestyle Choices and Opting to Remain on Their Own. Single women of all ages, some with kids, adorned the paper’s cover. As the Sun-Times put it, “As the number of single-run households blows apart the nuclear family notion, women like these are rewriting the rules.”
Um, are these new “rules” really something to embrace?
Apparently new rules don’t sound so great to the women interviewed for the subsequent installment of the series which, ironically, dealt with the desire many single women have to meet eligible men _ and how hard, they say, it can be to do so. Day three focused on the many women who are choosing to get pregnant without getting married. (I mean, who needs a guy?) The final focus was on the special travails successful African-American women sometimes face in finding a mate.
The message overall? Even for the lonely hearts it was essentially, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Sound familiar? That was the famous feminist refrain of the1970s.
I’ve been a single mother to four young children for a year-and-a-half now. (As I revealed in a column last June my marriage, sadly, ended against my will.)
These days I liken myself to sort of a Carrie Bradshaw-opposite. Now, I happen to adore the subject of the most captivating, hilarious, well-written and scandalous television series ever, “Sex And the City.” Carrie, based on the real-life newspaper columnist Candace Bushnell, loves shoes and writes about her and her friends’ many and varied experiences with, well, sex and the city. I love shoes too _ but I sometimes think as Carrie’s “opposite” I should start penning a weekly column about my very different life entitled, “No Sex And the Suburbs.” (When I happen to mention to married friends that that describes my choice ’till I choose to remarry, they often reply, “but that IS my married life!” I hope they are joking, but that’s another story.)
Ironically, “Sex And the City” is mentioned several times in the Sun-Times series as sort of a, “this is what the new woman is shooting for” golden ring. Um, did anybody notice that the television series ends on a high note only when each of the four lonely woman characters, who have slept their way through New York City, FINALLY meet the loves of their lives with whom they want to settle down? Sheesh.
Naturally I’m all for single women, and men, living their lives and finding joy in the moment. Marriage is not for everyone, and in fact I confess that, a bit surprisingly to me, my own life is extraordinarily rich and fulfilling. (I like to say that while I never thought my children and I would be facing life on our own, God has littered with blessings the difficult road He’s allowed us.)
What I object to is the “man bad woman good” tone of the Sun-Times series. After reading the four-part installment, one could easily wind up thinking, “men aren’t worth needing or wanting, and if you do want one you can’t find a decent one anyway, so give up, sister!”
Worse, to the extent there is any truth in the notion, it seems to me it’s because women as well as men can be stupid and selfish. Though it’s one of the most politically incorrect observations one can make, it’s pretty obvious that thanks to changes wrought by our feminist foremothers (remember the fish and the bicycle types), so many single women today are so sexually available and aggressive _ even when they may not want to be _ that there is less incentive than ever for men to be, well, civilized, and to get or stay married.
None of this is a message I want for my daughters or son, hence the reason I was so “chapped” over the Sun-Times series. I want my children to cherish and consider precious the gifts and unique roles men and women are created to express, to find especially lovely the God-ordained relationship between a married man and woman, to celebrate their own femininity and masculinity _ and to believe that in all sorts of wonderful ways, women and men really do need each other.
(Betsy Hart is the author of “It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids _ and What to Do About It.” She can be reached at www.betsyhart.net.)