When are you getting married?
The pressure on women to get married and have children by society.
I would like to start off by stating that I am a proud feminist and this piece is simply how I feel about the pressure and expectations placed upon women to get married and have children. I think stay-at-home mothers are amazing, so are working mums, so are women without children, so are wives, so are single women.
Feminism to me means the freedom to choose the life you want, the same choices and opportunities afforded to men.
It’s 2015 and we are supposedly living in a progressive time, where women can become astronauts, CEO’s, Olympic athletes, or anything the hell they want to be. So why do I still feel more pressure by society to get married and have children over anything else?
It’s as if, it’s okay for women to have these dreams and to achieve them as long as they eventually regress into the more traditional roles such as wife or mother. This was shown with the recent FIFA scandal. [http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/jul/06/england-women-twitter-world-cup-mothers-partners-daughters]
I am a 25 year old woman, with a pretty impressive CV, I own my own home and I have a kick-ass car. So what do you think I am asked about most?
Where do I see career in 5 years? What do I want to achieve by my 30s?
I am only ever asked when am I getting engaged? When am I going to have children?
Apparently, having ovaries means the achievement I should hope for is changing my last name, giving up on my career and providing my partner with an heir. (I’m using hyperbole here or describing marrying a royal…).
Why is this, the obligatory path for a woman to take?
Do you think men are ever asked these questions about marriage and children? Is it assumed that Jack Dorsey (unmarried businessman and a co-founder of Twitter) is just waiting to find a wife and have children? No! But Eva Mendes (unmarried businesswoman/actor) is clearly desperate for Ryan Gosling to marry her, right?
Why is it assumed that women are simply waiting to be proposed to, so they can finally start their life of marriage and children? My career is always treated as a secondary to my partners, simply because he is male and one day I might leave it all behind for motherhood. It is NEVER assumed that he would do the same to be a father. This was highlighted to me most recently when my partner asked about a company’s paternity leave during a job interview. Something as a woman, I would be afraid to do. If I asked about Maternity leave during an interview, I would immediately be moved to the ‘NO’ pile, as having a child would apparently mean; taking a year off and then going part-time. That I would constantly be off work picking up sick children or running them to dentist appointments. That I will no longer be capable of giving 100%, that my child will then become a priority at all times.
Yet no one batted an eye-lid at the thought of a man taking paternity leave because that just means two-weeks off and that’s it, yeah? Actually my partner was asking in regards to the new ‘Shared Parental Leave’ option in the UK, but the presumption is that most men wouldn’t be interested in that so it’s not seen as an issue. This is such an insult to the amazing fathers out there who would be the ones wanting to take time off to look after the children.
I haven’t made a decision on either; marriage or children. My opinions on both change daily, but what remains the same is other people’s reactions to my views. When I state that I don’t really feel the need to have a wedding; “do you want to be on your own when you’re old?”
When I explain that if I do chose to have children I will be returning to work, full-time, as soon as I feel ready and that I would be happy for my child to join a crèche or have a child-minder. I am almost always met with disapproval when I share this; “How could a mother want to leave her child?” “Have someone else to raise her baby?”
Probably in the same way that most men are happy to.
The same way men are allowed to be happy with another person changing the nappies and looking after the child between the hours of 9-5. Why is this frowned-upon for me, as a woman, but expected of a man? A few years ago, I read about Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo ‘returning to work just two weeks after giving birth’ [http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/marissa-mayers-choice]
I was horrified when I read how vilified this woman was. Would you ever read how awful it was that a CEO returned to work after two weeks if it was about a male??
I feel like I’m being told by society that I SHOULD get married, I SHOULD have children and if I do I will HAVE to give up my job (or at the very least have my career stalled).
I want more choices than this! I want the same choices as a man! If I want to remain unmarried and childless I want to be RESPECTED for that and not judged. Or if I want to do something in-between I want to be praised for that too.
My fundamental belief is that women should be free to make their own choices and to not be judged for them, or forced into a role that is not for them.
If you want to get married, then you should. Be a kick-ass wife. Be an amazing mother. Run a FTSE 100 company. Stay at home with your babies. Don’t have children. Do whatever it is that YOU want to do.
Choose your life; don’t let society’s opinions and stereotypes define you.