Ladies of all skintones...we need to talk.
I need you to swear a blood oath with me right now: as we approach the second decade of the 21st Century, I need all of you - especially the heteros - to make a New Year's Resolution to stop freaking out about the "being single" thing.
Don't lie. I know you. I went to school with you. I work with you. You heteros are all thinking the same thing: "If I had man, my life would be easier. My mom/grandmom/sister/aunt/whoever-runs-their-mouth-too-much-in-your-damn-life will shut the hell up and leave me alone."
Because let's face it, y'all: this is the growing reason why modern women are getting married.
Confession #1: I don't feel lonely
Call me dead inside, call me cynical - I'm really not. I respect couples who function well and I am happy for anyone who falls in love. However, I'm not jealous nor do I automatically want what they have. I'll date. I've had significant others. Having a man's arms around you feels nice. Kissing a guy you like feels nice too. There are all sorts things about having man that feel "nice". Having your shit together, being accomplished, and knowing you're secure whether you're married or not, however, feels extraordinary.
Confession #2: I'm not sure I would be happy being married with kids
I have a lot of ambitions. I have a lot things I want to do for myself, for my life. I don't like the thought of cutting the adventure short or possibly sacrificing it altogether. I would need a damn good reason. Call it selfish, but there's just too much world out there. Most of the women I work with are not happy in their marriages. Each of them is educated. Each of them is a professional. They all got married, not because they were lonely, or because they wanted the husband and kids, or because they even deeply head-over-heels loved the guy, but because they simply thought it's what they were supposed to do. They felt had to do it, otherwise they'd be seen as a failure of some sort.
Confession #3: I'm tired of being the "balanced" one
The men I've gone out with have either been somewhat fun but borderline freeloaders, or educated and gainfully employed but socially inept. Both "commend" my discipline for regularly going to class or getting up early every morning for work or working more than one job and maintaining a nice home. Both "appreciate" me for being so "easy to talk to", and for having such a "calming presence" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean). Meanwhile, I'm listening and "calming" all right, but the socially inept ones aren't saying anything remotely interesting. And the fun ones, with their carefree attitudes and dead-end jobs, well...need I even finish that?
I'm tired being seen as such a "good" girl who's so "dedicated." There's a very condescending undertone to this. It's like they're saying "nice girls" are supposed to show up for class, and do their homework, and work hard to make good money. Um...yeah, bitch - my money. Where's yours? Thanks for all the compliments and ish, but what are you doing with your life? Tell me again why I need to make myself appealing and marriable to you?
Now, let me be clear: I'm not saying I'm the shit. I'm saying modern women are the shit. I see bad-ass women every day, everywhere I go, busting their asses, and I am more amazed by us each day. We do a lot of shit, too much in some cases, like working all day, then coming home and working the dreaded "second shift" while the precious husband we did everything to get, and have given up a lot to keep, chills out on a couch. Say what?
My eldest sister once said that women are just naturally cool, as though we "have the awesome built in" (as I like to say). Well maybe we got a little too awesome, and now someone feels the need to knock us down a peg.
All these articles about increasing numbers of single women (especially black women) which hint that maybe we shouldn't focus on school so much, or strive so hard to get good jobs, (or how black women should start having more kids) are meant to knock us down a peg - that's all. That's it. It's no different from when smart girls felt the need to dumb themselves down for guys in school, or nowadays, when girls feel pressured to focus on their looks and open their legs to get a boy's attention.
What about single men?
If there's an increasing number of single [hetero] women, then logically speaking, there's an increasing number of single [hetero] men. Where are the "Why are so many men single?" headlines? Where's the pressure on men to meet a woman in college and settle down? And I don't just mean at the family level, I mean at the social and commercial level. Where are the hordes of self-help books for single men, where are the films about men desperately seeking women for that fairy-tale wedding they've imagined since they were little boys? Why aren't millions of men freaking about possibly never getting married? Why aren't millions of men bending over backwards to make themselves appealing for marriage?
Refresh my memory: who coined the term "ball and chain" again?
Women, every time a friend or relative tries to lay The Pressure down on you, ask them this. And don't be pacified with platitudes and fairy tales; when a woman is educated, financially independent, and overall self-empowered, the old reasons for getting married rapidly fall by the wayside. She now wants to get married because a man satisfies her - emotionally, psychologically, and physically - and she's neither in the mood nor the position to settle for less.
It's not sour grapes; don't believe the hype
It's not sour grapes if you're a bridesmaid/wedding guest shaking your head wondering why a bright girl like your BFF is wasting her life on some dude. It's not sour grapes if you find yourself wondering what the bride sees in the groom. If you find yourself feeling neither angry nor jealous but just shaking your head and thinking, "How pathetic," it's not sour grapes.
These questions should be asked, and "I just love him, okay?" is not an answer. There are specific things we love about people; when we truly love them, it's not hard to list these things. How does his mind work? What does he want to do with his life? This isn't about his personal philosophy or his tired comedy routine; these are the serious questions. Rape and domestic violence are two of America's biggest yet least spoken of problems. How does he see women? How does he interact with his mom and sisters, if he has any? How's the sex? How does he problem-solve? What does he say and do when she's upset?
Why does he want to marry her?
And no, "I love her" is not an answer. "Smart, funny, and pretty" are not answers either. Generic compliments in general don't get to fly. So be wary of "good listener" and "nice girl", or "beautiful" as both opener and closer, with several suspect mentions in between. Does he see her, really see her? And I don't just mean her potential, or what she can become to benefit him, or how she makes his friends envious of him.
What does he know about who she is?
It's not your job to build them
One of my aunties in Houston (not a blood relative, by the way) was trying to convince me that it's lonely at the top. She would say, "A degree is nothing; man is everything." This woman, mind you, built her business from the ground up while married to an utter deadbeat. She invested in him, groomed him, goaded him, and he finally became "something"...but he's still nowhere the "something" she is. Either way, she still takes great pride in her "handiwork" and talks about her marriage like she's proud of that ish. Unfortunately, I saw this often in Houston, particularly amongst women of color, and especially amongst African women.
Needless to say, I most assuredly do not co-sign.
It's not my job to "build" my man; there's a sickness in that thinking which just makes my flesh crawl. If I'm awesome, he needs to be awesome too, and I shouldn't have to show him how. Perhaps men have a natural inner awesomeness too...but we'll never know if they don't to learn to tap into it without cattleprodding from women.
It's not that marriage is obsolete
That's simply a flawed argument directed at the wrong issue. I'm all about contracts. Where my heart and hard-earned possessions are concerned, you best believe I want some laws backing me, and that's what marriage is about. Having a chance to punish someone for wasting your time, because no one has the right to waste your time. For the record, if they're not dedicated to you, if you're not one of their top priorities (aside for the kids, if there are any), if they keep trying to get you to settle for being unsatisfied with life in some way...they're wasting your time.
Because that's what much of this boils down to: women don't want a man who'll waste their time. "I'm not sure how I feel; let's just see where this goes" is a line that has a very strict expiration date. Not because the biological clock is ticking, but because the woman's very life clock is ticking. She's got places to go, new realms to explore, things to accomplish - she's got shit to do, and if there's a better way for her to spend her time, then that's what she'd like to move on to, thank you.