Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cautionary Matrons? Really?

This morning I stumbled to the couch with my half awake children to find the New York Observer opened to an article titled "Cautionary Matrons." My husband had thoughtfully left it there for me. "It's about 40-something writers who are unhappy with their lives!" he shouted cheerfully as he bounced into his shower.

Always on the lookout for joy and satisfaction, I turned my attention away from Arthur and took a look at the piece. What I found was yet another rehashing of how women were told one thing and found another. As in: "They told 'our generation' of now 40-somethings that we could have it all and we couldn't because we have careers but we don't have husbands or children or happy marriages so 20- and 30-year-olds, don't make the mistakes we made."

The writer, 25-year-old Irina Aleksander, not only talks to the matrons of the title but also to her friends in their late twenties and early thirties and it turns out they're scared of ending up alone and these articles about single motherhood, being single in one's 40s and mid-life divorce freak them out. Apparently, it's news to these kids that life is full of choices and compromises. Apparently, people are not only rehashing 80s fashion choices but the maxim that a woman can "have it all!" Did anyone ever really believe that? I mean believe believe believe? Really? When are these so-called articles about generational expectations going to stop? I guess my blogging about one won't help stop them, but, really, if I could petition culture editors, I would. It's enough already.


marjorie said...

thanks for writing this, robin.

this story is moronic. this isn't a "culture" story, it's the story about three quirky women (wurtzel, loh, gottlieb) who write about their own lives. you aren't supposed to make your own life decisions based on theirs. wurtzel has been either shitbag-nuts or addicted to drugs since she was a teen; loh had an affair and left her marriage; gottlieb was SHOCKED, SHOCKED to learn that having a child alone was RILLY RILLY HARD.

there is a separate story, the one all women have struggled with since feminism gave us choices: which things do we choose? and when? and how much choice do we really have in a half-changed world (to use peggy orenstein's excellent phrase)?

whenever a style piece blames WOMEN for the world being half-changed, or extrapolates too much from a couple of outliers' lives, i want to burn a bra.

Robin Aronson said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! There are only 24 hours during which you can do anything in a half-changed world. And the thing that hasn't changed even close to half is no matter the work, the relationship or the choice, men are not expected to feel conflicted about spending time away from their kids (or spouses). The ladies don't get off so easy.

You need a match? I got a match!