By Angela N. Parker News4usonline.com columnist
I recently decided to compile some of my essays into a short book titled, Under the Hill: One Thirty-Something Woman’s Musings on Spinsterhood, Disappointment and Accidental Self Discovery. Anyone who has read my column knows that they are a type of satire, a comedic way of looking at the very real problems and concerns that single women in their thirties face.
These columns are meant to be fun, so imagine my surprise when I received my first review and it wasn’t a complaint about the grammar or the writing style, it was a tirade about my audacity to pass frivolous musings off as feminism when any real woman worth her salt would be focused on serious world issues.
Well, excuse me.
Under the Hill isn’t trying to redefine feminism, in fact, feminism is not a concept that I really embrace; but as the role of women continue to evolve, and women find themselves creating their own norms, I have to wonder, what is today’s feminist mystique?
For those who may not be familiar with the book of this title, The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963 by Betty Friedan and focused on the growing unhappiness of suburban housewives following World War II. While women were supposed to be content with marriage, family and the big house with the white picket fence, they weren’t, and the reality of this set off a whole new dialogue about what a modern woman should do with her life.
Friedan pointed out that women were being pushed to marry by the male dominated media of the time who portrayed women as either happy housewives or unhappy, neurotic careerists. This dichotomy created the “feminine mystique”—the idea that women were naturally fulfilled by devoting their lives to being housewives and mothers.
This was in contrast to the previous feminist movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s which portrayed single women with careers as confident and independent heroines. Thus, in a generation, women had been placed back in a box that they had outgrown decades.
While I have no desire to debate whether women find fulfillment in their careers or their families, I think everybody is different, I do wonder why some people still feel the need to tell women who they should be in order to truly be happy and matter in this world.
It sometimes feels like a confusing trap. Women who aren’t married are sometimes made to feel like inadequate losers, while women who worry about marrying are deemed as weak and ignorant complainers who need to embrace their independence and focus on world peace.
I often think that the reason that Sex in the City was so popular was because it gave us a new type of feminism, one that showed that women could “have it all” —- the independent and fabulously stylish life of their dreams and prince charming. Think about it, in Carrie Bradshaw’s world buying a pair of shoes and getting married were given equal importance. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte decided the parameters of their own reality, they created their own “feminine mystique” and instead of being judged, people respected them for it.
What got me about the review wasn’t the negative rating; I know that there are people who are going to hate Under the Hill and some of the other things I write. It was all the assumptions that the reviewer seemed to make. I was obviously an idiot with my head in the clouds. I couldn’t be a journalist, a political activist, a social worker, a mentor, or a business woman, not when I was taking a tongue and cheek look at life and love that revealed fears that were personal, small, intimate and sometimes immature in nature; a serious woman would never do that.
As I get older, I realize that you can either define yourself by how others view you, or stand firm on who you know you are. The Feminist Mystique has to be The Angie Mystique and I get to define what that is. Everyone is a critique, but not every criticism is one that we should embrace as our own personal truth.
till next month…
Angela N. Parker is the author of Tethered, Guardians of Destiny: The Specter of War, and Under the Hill: One Thirty-Something Woman’s Musings on Spinsterhood, Disappointment and Accidental Self Discovery. You can contact me at email@example.com. Visit my blogs at http://angelanparker.blogspot.com/ and http://theparkerverse.blogspot.com/.