Women, men and hasty generalizations

December 12th, 2013

Attention. The following is a public service announcement to all you ladies out there. Step one: Find a boy, grab him firmly by the shoulders and demand he proposes to you. Step two: graduate from college, degree in hand. Step three: find a mediocre part-time job, while being the good little conservative fiancée you are and support your man as he finds a job where he’s rolling in the dough. Steps four, five, six and seven: Tie the knot, pop out some kids, quit your job, become a stay at home mom and smile and nod as your strapping young husband brings home the bacon. Oh, and don’t forget to give him his nightly foot massage. After all, we’re perpetually confined to our gender roles. Right?

Wrong. Here’s hoping you cringed as much as I did at that cookie-cutter “American Dream” lifestyle. Carefully planned to a T. The thought of having the rest of my life pre-made for me like those boring prepackaged peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread merits the same end results: predictable and tasteless. And, may I even go as far as saying, narrow-minded.

Yet, this is what writer and family expert Suzanne Vecker insists upon. Last month, Vecker ranted about the “never depend on a man” mentality that young women in their 20s and 30s have adopted. She goes on to say that women should lean on men. And, though I agree women should lean on men, as I believe men should lean on women, I was nauseated by the mass-generalization she concocted in her Fox News opinion piece, “Why women still need husbands.”

Sure, some women may need husbands. Let’s even assume for these purposes that the majority of women need husbands. However, instead of Vecker stating that men need wives, she states that women should allow men to work long hours, be the ones to “bring home the bacon,” while assuming the motherly duties of a 1950s housewife. I’m starting to see black and white. Time to whip out the ugly patterned aprons.

Vecker does make a valid point, stating that women want to live “multifaceted lives” and that we need help in order to maintain a balance between work, social life and family life. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree with this. I, too, fall under this category. So, before you jump to the conclusion that I’m a bitter, man-hating feminist who relishes in the strong woman single life, let me interject that I agree with what I believe Vecker is trying to say. However, how she says it could be misleading and even offensive to most women.

As a young woman who eventually wants a family and a career, Vecker’s message has merit, but the gender stereotypes she confines men and women to cloud the argument.

Vecker’s approach leaves out a few crucial pieces of the puzzle – to the point where her commentary could be viewed as primitive and close-minded.

Puzzle piece number one: times are changing. The economy isn’t what is was years ago. Women need to be financially secure – single or married. In most marriages, men shouldn’t have to be the only ones to be the bring home the moolah. They should have the option of leaning on their wives.

The same goes for back at “home base.” Who says that men can’t provide a support system for their wives, and help with some of the domestic duties at home? Why can’t a couple alternate on when they cook dinner or pick up the youngsters from school? Also, many women enjoy their careers, and bask in their corporate lifestyle. And, some men enjoy being stay-at-home-dads. Why limit the possibilities to a predestined plan?

Marriage is a partnership. It’s a balancing act. Men and women should be seen as equals – not marionettes, manipulated by the strings of societal gender roles of “I do this and only this,” and “you do that and only that.” Everyone is different. Each person has different needs. A marriage is about meeting one another’s needs. Furthermore, every marriage is different.

And, who says marriage is meant for everyone. It certainly isn’t. Some people just don’t want to have a family. Some people (notice I didn’t just refer to one particular gender) take great pleasure from just the work and social facets of their lives. Hasty generalizations just don’t make the cut.

Vecker’s rash generalizations perhaps discredit the valid point she was attempting to make. Sure, women should not throw the option of marriage by the wayside. However, neither should men. Keep in mind: it’s a two-way street.

There are no set answers in life. What you want at 20 isn’t what you want at 30. What you want at 30 isn’t what you want at 40. Life is a probe. Just because someone has a solution for his or her life doesn’t mean it’s universally applicable. The trick is to look back at your life when you’re 70, and be satisfied with your choices. And, your choices may have been the polar opposite than the 70-year-old person living next door who’s equally as happy.