Monday, April 1, 2013

Single, Flirty, and Fertile


A while back I read yet another article about how my generation is wrecking civilization. This article is part of what I like to call the panic genre of journalism. Designed to cause hand wringing and, well, panic, I think that they are treasure troves of comedic value for people needing a good laugh. The authors seem determined to guilt my generation into self-loathing (unless they really are to help make Americans laugh in these difficult economic times and in that case I raise my glass to those authors). They generally trace the problem back to the fact that most people are waiting to begin marriages and families, and, while a few blame the economy or the sexual revolution, most place the blame on women. According to these authors, women are bringing the United States' fertility rate down because we went to college, got careers, and didn't marry the first one who asked us. Because we refused to settle and became independent, we are largely responsible for the end of America as we know it.

I'm afraid they can't blame the women of my generation for that. They should blame the Baby Boomers who raised us to adulthood. To be a trophy wife is no longer enough for the women of my generation. We grew up watching Sleepless in Seattle and While You Were Sleeping at slumber parties and we learned a few lessons from these romantic comedies. We know that Sally can't end up with Harry until years have passed and they have both grown into the people they were meant to be. We know that to settle for the childhood crush doesn't guarantee a Nicholas Sparks ending complete with Ryan Gosling. We learned that marriage is hard enough without settling for someone because of convenience. So, we resolved not to set our caps for the first person with complementary organs to ours and got off our Victorian fainting couches. We got our own jobs, our own apartments, and our own lives. We have interests that can include needlepoint but isn't limited to that. We do what women in Jane Austen's day longed to do, and what Virginia Woolf dreamt we would do. We forge our own way in the world, and if independence is a crime, then I wouldn't have it any other way.

People adore worrying and pontificating over their statistics, so I very much doubt that whatever I am writing will cause anyone to change their mind. But I can offer some comfort and new faces to pin the blame on so that people may continue to write articles of panic. Let's place the blame on the Greatest Generation. They gave us Rosie the Riveter, pants for women, that magical innovation known as the Pill. They changed the cultural landscape forever, paving the way for the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and now the Millennials, to all wreak their particular brands of havoc. But I don't worry about this that much. I really don't think the Millennials are that much worse than the generation that fell in love with Woodstock, the Beatles, and LSD. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of beliefs, you have to admit they at least passed on to us some pretty good music.

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