One of the things that I love about my job is talking to the mothers of the children I work with and learning from their experiences.
One mother recently said, “I’m so glad that there are young women working with the teens and middle schoolers here. I don’t think young women and teenage girls realize that they have the power to set the tone in their relationships.”
She went on to say that women, in the past few decades, have shaped themselves into empowered individuals who can live on their own but then they turn around and wonder why they “can’t find any good men.” She told me about a conversation she had with a a male friend of hers who had always been accustomed to holding doors open to women, but lately he’s been standing at doors wondering “Should I open this door for her or will she think that I’m patronizing her because I think she can’t open the door for herself?”
Have women emasculated men to the point where men don’t know what their roles are in relationships? And with the surge of the “feminist movement,” have women lost the sense of what femininity is?
I get lectures about how women didn’t burn their bras so I could be complacent. But does it mean that I’m complacent if I let a man open a door for me or if I wouldn’t want to have children without a man by my side? And does it mean that women who stay at home as a wives and mothers aren’t feminists because they let their husbands be the primary breadwinners?
My opinions are summarized by scenes in Mona Lisa Smile, where Julia Roberts scolds her class at Wellesley as “the smartest women in the nation” who will use their physics degrees solely to make calculations on how to perfectly roast a chicken and Julia Stiles’ retort later on that “being a wife and mother” is what she really wants.
It just brings up a lot of questions–what defines a modern woman and what role does a man play in a modern woman’s life?