I recently read a book entitled What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us, by Danielle Crittenden. And mom, you got a lot of explaining to do.
According to Crittenden, you mothers who went through the feminist revolution during the 60s and 70s hid a lot of stuff from their daughters (specifically when it comes to men and choosing a career over marital bliss.)
Crittenden states, “The thirty-three-year-old single woman who decides she wants more from life than her career cannot so readily walk into marriage and children; by postponing them, all she has done is to push them ahead to a point in her life when she has less sexual power to attain them.”
Crittenden puts it’s more dimly that in previous generations of women had, “children, a home life, and a husband who - however dull or oppressive he might have appear to feminist eyes - at least was there.”
That’s just what I’ve been searching for: someone who is just there. He doesn’t even have to do anything, just be there. Perhaps Crittenden doesn’t realize though that times have changed and women get married at all ages now and that older successful women are not unattractive to males. And if a guy doesn’t like that a woman has chosen a career first before settling down, then she doesn’t want to marry that guy anyway, does she?
Mom, why didn’t you tell me to settle when I had the chance? I’m at the ripe age of 23 and according to Crittenden, if I don’t start settling now, by the time I hit 30 I might as well kiss marriage and the dream of having a family one day goodbye.
I am certainly most fertile right now, so I best go find a baby daddy and forgo any dreams or aspirations I have for myself. (Remember that guy I almost married in college? I should have jumped on that boat cause who knows when I’ll get that chance again!)
Some of what she says, though, conflicts with what you told me growing up. You married young, if I’m not mistaken? Around the age of 22 you tied the knot with my dad and had a two baby girls before you hit 26. You didn’t get a chance to pursue your education or fully dedicate yourself to becoming a published author. You never told me you regretted having your daughters, but that you wish you would have waited a little bit so that you had time to focus on the things you wanted to get out of life.
But had you done that, Crittenden claims you would have been self-absorbed. “This level of self-absorption, however, has the preserve effect of making it even more difficult ever to attract, let alone keep, someone.”
So, mom, I guess it’s a good thing you donated your eggs to dad right away because apparently men are not evolved to the point yet of waiting for their wives to decide when they are ready to bare children. On the other hand, at one point in your life you told me that it wasn’t until you were 30 that you realized what type of power you had as a woman. Then, by the time you hit 40 and you were more settled and comfortable with yourself is when you realized your strength and power in your womanhood.
Crittenden claims that women who delay marriage have to confront the “sad” possibility that she might never have what was the birthright of every previous generation of women: children, a family life and a husband. Oddly enough though I have met women in their late 30s and 40s who don’t have children and who never married. Those women never told me they regretted it and seemed to live very happy and fulfilling lives. I suppose Crittenden never took into account that not every woman desires a husband and children. Or just children. Or just a husband. For some reason, Oprah Winfrey comes to mind.
What about that older sister of mine? Thank goodness she married at 28. But my goodness, she is so selfish when it comes to her uterus. Can you believe that she has put off having children and is now 32? She definitely should have started having babies right away, because that law firm that she decided to start up that now employs more than a dozen people and helps a lot of people who can’t afford legal representation is just so silly. Why should she want to use the degree that she studied hard and paid for? Give me a niece or nephew already for Christ’s sake!
But mother, it doesn’t end there. That whole sexual freedom stuff that you raised me to believe in is just bogus.
“When you’re a single woman having no sex, or only very unsatisfying sex, it’s hard not to envy those generations of women that lacked our sexual freedom but could at least expect straightforward, respectful, and romantic courtship leading to marriage,” Crittenden says.
Sex leads to marriage, right? Or do I have it wrong? Marriage leads to sex? I understand in most cases sex does not lead to marriage in and of itself, but developing a real friendship within the context can. Plus, what’s wrong with using sex to further understand your own power as a sexual being?
Women, according to Crittenden, have the right to, “make love to a man and never see him again; the right to be insulted and demeaned if she refuses a man’s advances; the right to catch a sexually transmitted disease that might, as a bonus leave her infertile; the right to an abortion when things go wrong, as it may be, the right to bear a child out of wedlock.” And, “even a beautiful woman’s looks are not enough to hold a man forever; there are always more beautiful or younger or less demanding women coming along.”
Even more alarming, she says that “sexual harassment” and “violence against women” didn’t exist in political issues a generation ago. She calls these violent acts against women “incidents” and that sexual assault doesn’t happen nearly as much as feminists like to make out. Then she releases a statistic that claims married women are far less likely to be attacked than unmarried, separated, or divorced women. Is she trying to scare women into marriage? What about women sexually and physically assaulted within their own marriages?
Yes, women do have the right to sleep with whomever they want. They have the right to decide if they want to see a sexual encounter again. They have the right to obtain an abortion. Women also have the right to decide when they are ready to marry and have children.
Mother, the great thing about today’s world is that I don’t have the same pressure you did to settle down. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to explore who I am before putting a ring on it so that when I do marry, my children can have a confident wife and mother.
Thanks mom for never telling me to settle when it seemed easy. Thank you for helping me pursue my dreams. Thank you for telling me it’s okay to want more out of life. Thank you for telling me to wait for someone who will support my dreams.
And mom, thank you for having me when you were 36. I suppose it is possible after all to have children in your thirties.
Your daughter who has somehow survived in this world without getting married yet
twoday magazine wants to know: Do you agree with Anya or Crittenden? Share with us your thoughts on our Facebook page.
Follow @anyaalvarez on Twitter.
Like this article? Check out other great pieces from Anya Alvarez, exclusively from twoday magazine: