How many times in my young adulthood have the questions come up: “So, when are you getting married?” “Don’t you want to have kids?” Let’s be real: People ask me this because I’m a girl. It’s a lot less likely for a man in his 20’s to hear, “WHY aren’t you married yet??” Despite working hard and feeling very happy in my life and chosen career(s), there seems to be a lingering expectation (within certain crowds); the stereotype that women cannot be “complete” or “truly happy” unless they have a spouse and an infant. Regardless of being bombarded with these personal inquiries, in 2015 it’s really easy for me to laugh and simply say, “I’m in my early 20’s. I’m really not worried about that right now,” and shrug off the situation.
For the women in the “The Best of Everything,” the pressure is immensely high. They all have jobs, yet feel a cultural and societal push to find a husband. Not only do these women in this era have to exert twice as much effort in order to work alongside the men, a woman was somehow neglecting her “purpose” by not settling down. Ladies that were pitied amongst other women were the ones that “worked too much,” single at a certain age, or were divorced.
This is still a current-day stigma we are trying to break, but the expectation now is nothing comparatively.
In BOE, while having a discussion about unmarried women, April asks if these women are “terribly ugly” (because OBVIOUSLY ugly women don’t find husbands). Caroline retorts that it isn’t true; a lot of unmarried women are smart, pretty, and have good jobs. Mary Agnes concludes that there must be something “psychologically wrong with them.”
There you have it: No wedding ring means you have a mental disorder. How comforting. The 21st century is by no means perfect, but empowering females to choose their own path is much more of a cultural norm.
Maybe within the next 60 years we can tackle more womens’ issues, such as: not being sexually harassed by your older, male boss (it’s happened to me and it happens to a few characters in BOE), men slinging insults and threats when a woman turns them down (ditto to first comment), and perhaps most importantly, more freedom and less pressure on women to be a certain image. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. To me, this means a woman is seen equally in society and is able to choose the life she feels the most happy with — if that’s working, raising a family, or both.
So what IS having “the best of everything?”
Whatever the hell you want it to be, cause dammit, you get to decide!
The Best of Everything