Monday February 25, 2013
A fish on a bike
BUT THEN AGAIN
By MARY SCHNEIDER
Not every woman dreams of getting hitched. She may even be of the view that needing a man is like a fish needing a bike.
I’m not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I do watch them from time to time but I feel that many of the female protagonists in such movies are depicted as airheads desperate to find a partner.
For example, take the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary. In her early thirties and still single, Bridget is obsessed with romance and finding a husband. Indeed, one gets the impression that she is terrified of the prospect of ending up on the shelf.
To attract the attention of her boss (the object of her obsessions), Bridget resorts to wearing revealing clothes that do little to flatter her generous figure and generally tries to reinvent herself – in a bid to embody everything that she thinks her boss might find attractive in a woman.
Then there is the more recent movie He’s Just Not That Into You, which includes a character who is so desperate to get a man she had a one night stand with that she visits a bar he’s known to frequent, just on the off chance that he’s there, and doesn’t leave her telephone for a minute, just in case he might call.
I know Hollywood uses the ditzy, unattached stereotype on the lookout for a man just to get some laughs, but the fear that many women have of ending up alone is also being exploited by other media.
The tabloid press is forever extolling the virtues of happily married couples or those in other forms of committed partnerships, while hinting that failed relationships and being alone are the worst possible things that could happen to a woman.
For example, when Jennifer Aniston’s marriage to Brad Pitt ended, the press portrayed her as a sad, lonely woman. Of course, after being dumped by a partner, any woman (or man for that matter) is bound to go through a period of feeling heartbroken and dejected, but it’s unfair to automatically label them as being perpetually sad. Since breaking up with Brad, Aniston has experienced a few broken relationships, prompting a number of pity articles to be published with headlines like “Poor sad Jen, all alone again.”
Why assume that she was sad? Maybe she made some bad choices and was glad to get out of those relationships. Maybe the romance fizzled and both parties decided to part as friends. Maybe she just wanted to be single for a while.
Now that she is engaged to be married, I hope she doesn’t screw it up, otherwise Tinseltown will never hear the end of it.
I have experienced first-hand the not-so-flattering opinions of people who view the unattached with a degree of derision. Some years after my divorce, when I was happily in between relationships, I organised a get-together with some girlfriends.
As it turned out, all of the women who attended the event were single like myself – probably because the married girlfriends felt obligated to stay with their husbands on a Saturday night. However, one friend who turned down the invitation later confided that her husband had said to her, “Why do you want to have dinner with that group of spinsters?”
I laughed. Although we were all unattached women at the time, there was only one spinster in our group, a vivacious, fun-loving independent woman who has never had any desire to settle down and have children.
But my friend’s husband was of the opinion that being a “born again spinster” (which is probably how many unattached divorcees are perceived) carries the same negative connotations as does a spinster: someone to be treated with pity and/or suspicion.
I wonder what Bridget Jones would make of American feminist Gloria Steinem, who popularised the witicism “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
No doubt she would have insisted that she does indeed “need” a man, that a woman couldn’t possibly feel complete if she doesn’t marry and have children. And I am sure there are many real women and men who, though not as extreme as Bridget, do worry about finding a life partner.
Indeed, such worries are often reinforced when they attend family functions and are subjected to questions like, “So when are you planning to settle down?” Or comments like, “Don’t leave it too late! Your biological clock is ticking away.”
I suspect most people desire a long-term, committed romantic relationship, but it’s not for everyone. And we should be able to respect that.
Although I have a great relationship with my partner, I now realise there is one thing missing: I don’t have a bicycle.