Blame (or thank) Lena Dunham for inciting what feels like a recent onslaught of feminist writing tackling the complexities of singleness, fertility and prolonged adolescence. The feminist–or post-feminist–communities seem to be torn on whether to embrace or shun Dunham’s depictions of young women today as entitled party girls who accidentally smoke crack, dabble in anal sex and believe their parents should financially support them because they’re not strung out on prescription meds.
According to a recent bit of rather condescending and misguided bit of writing by Deborah Schoeneman, author of “Woman-Child,” Dunham’s cast of characters are the perfect examples of typical “woman-children.” Schoeneman posted an excerpt of her book detailing her concept on Jezebel and managed to insult every non-married, childless adult woman living:
A “woman-child” is the type to prioritize her female friendships as if she were in a high school clique by posting pictures of her girls’ birthday dinners or boozy vacations on Facebook while her peers post wedding and baby pictures with similar zeal. She truly believes that women are in it together and is all about helping her friends start businesses, meet guys and pick out a cute outfit for a big event. Competiveness among females in the workplace is perceived as totally 80s. “Women-children” are increasingly looking back to create a new common ground and it’s a warm fuzzy ground.
The woman-child will likely get married later than the increasing national average. Advances in fertility treatments like egg freezing have also added to their confidence that they can reproduce older and potentially prolong their own girlhood.
Ah, where to start. Though I’m not the Facebook posting chick Schoeneman describes, I am, indeed, the woman-centric, career-minded lady who is both single and childless. I don’t consider myself a child–I live in a beautiful brownstone in New York City, I pay my own rent and bills, I have worked hard to build an upward career trajectory, I manage to enjoy myself in Manhattan without going dead broke, and sometimes I date men, fall in love them and even have a little sex. I’m not interested in reliving high school (which I hated), or even college (which I loved). With each birthday I find myself happier to be a year older and more secure in who I am. I was unaware, however, until reading Ms. Schoeneman’s piece that my own personal contentment with my life was shrouded in a fear “of becoming grown-ups in an increasingly scary world of layoffs, rich Republicans and insane weather patterns.” Read: all single, childless, adult women believe in the apocalypse of 2012 and have thus decided to embrace Hello Kitty and Katy Perry instead of embracing their true calling–marrying a guy who’s good enough and having his seeds. Most importantly, I had no idea that the only way to truly leave “girlhood” behind was to get pregnant, which of course makes me ponder how Schoeneman would classify those who face fertility challenges.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had enough of this condescending anti-single woman mentality. Sure, I watch daily as my friends on Facebook hyphenate their names, announce their engagements, and post pictures of their babies (most of which I find mildly annoying, not because I’m a hater; I just cannot understand adult over-sharing). This does not make me anti-marriage or anti-children. Is it what I want right now? Not so much. Am I happy for the other women in my life that have chosen this path? Absolutely. But respect for our respective adult decisions doesn’t seem to flow both ways. Those of us who are single and childless are constantly scoffed at–even by our psuedo-feminist counterparts.
Perhaps this reversion to girlhood, particularly by single women, has something to do with the rising average age of brides. In a December 2011 analysis, the Pew Research Center said only 51 percent of adults are married in the U.S., a record low. The average age for women to get married was 26, and for men, the average age was 29, both record highs.
Well I guess she told you, Single Lady. Your singleness means you have no idea how to mature as a woman, and thus, you must dress like Nicki Minaj and download Taylor Swift albums. I don’t want to give Schoeneman’s critique too much weight, because it is clear, she is an elitist who is yearning for an era of 1950s that birthed that defining American glamour (White America’s golden years), than the present. Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Bouvier, Sandra Dee, Frankie and Annette, a touch of the Supremes, humming along to the record player while anticipating your husband and child’s needs, segregation, great jobs as secretaries, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, nude or rose nail color…these are a few of what must be Schoeneman’s favorite things.
Her critique is so deeply stemmed in a resentment for today’s pop-culture landscape, with its diversity and opportunity for self-definition, it’s hard to sift her cultural insights from her scathing contempt for nail-polish and game nights. Her point and contempt, however, are not new. Both are merely indicative of a larger narrative married women inflict on their single counterparts. I’ve experienced it personally and it goes a little something like this:
Single Friend: Hey girl, I was calling to find out if you were going to make it to the fundraiser and if you had an opinion on what kind of gifts we should donate?
Married Friend: I have a life–I have a husband and two children!! I can’t believe anyone cares about the freakin’ gift.
Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure you’ve had a similar encounter. Married women and their weary patience for the values of single life. Because of course, what do single women know anyway? Wasn’t it all busy work until he came along? I may not be sleep deprived from raising children, but I do know what it’s like to work 20-hour production shifts, throw your best friend’s bridal shower, babysit your neighbor’s child or dog, and try to look cute while doing so. Trivial to some; important to me—my priorities. Does that make me less of a woman?
Apparently Schoeneman believes so–she adds:
“Women-children” certainly seem to be enjoying themselves more than their peers who struggle with the motherhood/career conundrum. The trend has crept into my peer group, too. It’s as if some of the women around me still want to be girls because girls just want to have fun. Girls certainly don’t obsess over a feminist article in The Atlantic or the dearth of female directors in Hollywood.
Well isn’t that funny. My career aspiration to become a successful Hollywood film director is exactly why I don’t have children, and why I spent a Friday night reading a 20 page feminist article in The Atlantic about shifting relationship norms (after which, I went to investigate putting my eggs on ice–I kid, I kid). Perhaps if Schoeneman had more thoroughly read Kate Bolick’s article “All The Single Ladies,” from last November chronicling the shifting marriage norms in global culture, she would have gathered the rather obvious insight that marriage is no more a definitive indicator of adulthood than a hostile stance on nail art. It is a choice, not an obligation; it is no longer a necessity, and thus, women have the right to choose and embrace their single, childless, womanly lives. Bolick writes,
“For thousands of years, marriage had been a primarily economic and political contract between two people, negotiated and policed by their families, church, and community. It took more than one person to make a farm or business thrive, and so a potential mate’s skills, resources, thrift, and industriousness were valued as highly as personality and attractiveness. This held true for all classes.”
She goes on:
“…We no longer need husbands to have children, nor do we have to have children if we don’t want to. For those who want their own biological child, and haven’t found the right man, now is a good time to be alive. Biological parenthood in a nuclear family need not be the be-all and end-all of womanhood—and in fact it increasingly is not.
Every once in a while I’ll share a story with my mother about a conflict I’m having with girlfriends, to which, she will almost always respond, “It’s time for you girls to get married and have some babies.” Thanks, mom. At my age, my mom was married with two children; her perspective on late 20’s single life is rather moot.
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Sure, if I were married, I’d have less time to spend with my friends, and as a result we probably wouldn’t have time to get in to arguments about our different perspectives on entrepreneurship, class issues and beliefs in metaphysics. We also wouldn’t have as much time to discuss the profound insights of Joseline Hernandez, Mi-Mi and Stevie J.—oh, but wait, married women do that as well, don’t they?
I didn’t move to New York City for love, I moved here to build an awesome career. The thought of nannies, pregnant subway rides and private school tuition sounds dreadful to me. But if, and when I do decide I would like to get married and have children, I will make different decisions to ensure that I can. That’s the great thing about being an adult—the ability to assess what is important to you and take deliberate steps to make it happen. Well, at least that’s what great about being an adult to me, but after all, I am just a woman-child, so what do I know?
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100 Reasons Why I Can't Stop Looking At Blue Ivy
1. Mommy & Me
2. Blue. #May10 #NYC
3. Blue Ivy & Jay Z Sip Tea
Blue is surely the apple of Daddy's eye.
4. Blue Ivy & Beyonce Smell The Roses
Beyonce seems like the coolest mom.
5. Blue Ivy & Beyonce Soar The Big Skies
6. Blue Ivy & Mommy
7. Daddy & Me
Blue Ivy walks across mommy's at-home photoshoot, but it's the most adorable photobomb ever!
9. One Big Happy Family
The royal family, Bey, Jay & Blue are all out shopping and we're sure they spent our entire life's savings in 30 minutes or less.
10. Beyoncé, Jay Z & Blue in Beverly Hills — Nov. 11
Beyonce in these heels though?!
11. Beyoncé & Blue in NYC — Nov. 4
Look at Blue in her adorable little bow!
12. Beyoncé & Blue spotted in NYC — Nov. 4
Blue holding on to mommy for dear life.
13. Beyoncé & Blue spotted in NYC — Nov. 4
Momma Bey looking fierce with her mini me in tow.
14. Blue dressed as Michael Jackson.
15. Blue & Ivy
Just look at that face. Seriously, Jay could never deny this child! She knows how to make all his mean mugs!
16. Beyoncé, Jay Z & Blue in Beverly Hills — Nov. 11
Look at that cutie!
17. Beyoncé, Jay Z & Blue in Beverly Hills — Nov. 11
OMG Blue in a top knot? Yasss!
Blue has grown up to be an adorable toddler! We're swooning over this photo of her playing on the beach.
Looks like Blue is taking a walk in mom's shoes...literally.
20. Beyoncé & Blue
There's nothing like being cuddled up in mom's arms.
Blue is looking all kinds of adorable! Look at that left hand go! LOL.
22. Blue On The Big Screen
Bey & Jay look at Blue during a video played at an "On The Run" tour stop. How precious!
23. Pardon Blue's Back
She's growing up so fast! We're loving the top knot. Take that Blue Ivy hair critics!
24. Jump Around
Bey & Blue share an adorable moment on the trampoline. Hello summer!
25. Rocking Some Cute Ponytails
Blue Ivy was spotted with a new 'do! Bey & Jay's mini-me was holding on to her father during a little day stroll.
26. Strolling With Mom & Dad
Blue, Jay and Bey all spotted in East Hampton.
27. Blue Has A Manicure Day With Mama Bey
"Me and my Blue, and my Blue Blue, riding🐝"
28. Hanging Out With Mom
Baby Blue is walking to the door, and it looks like Bey is trying to keep up!
29. Trying On Some Heels
Will Blue be slaying a performance in the near future?
30. Holding On To Mom
Blue looks like she has something to say to Bey.
31. Playing A Game Of Tennis
Blue walks on the tennis court.
32. Cuddling With Mom
Blue & Beyonce have some much-needed cuddle time.
33. Blue Ivy
"The blueprint 🐝"
34. Bey & Blue Take A Stroll
Doesn't Blue look adorable with her colorful dress and cute hair ribbon?
35. The Carter Lounge Together
The family was seen out and about.
36. Jay Z Carries Blue While Bey Looks On
Jay carries Blue in his arms.
37. Leading The Way
Blue Ivy looks too cute with her bowler hat and Mama Bey watching from behind. She's really growing up!
38. Out On The Town
Blue Ivy & Momma Bey enjoy some much deserved time off in Spain.
39. Traveling With Mom and Dad
Blue is used to traveling with Mama Bey and Poppa Jay, but she also looked a little flustered at some moments. It's ok, baby Blue!
40. A Day At The Park
Poppa Jay Z lets Blue Ivy have her way with the bouncy horse.
41. It's A Family Affair
Beyonce, Jay and Blue jetsetting in Dublin.
Blue dressed up like a hipster and plays a quick game of peekaboo! How adorable!
43. OMG It's Blue's Beautiful Face!
FINALLY! We get to see how beautiful Blue is! Look at the adorable headband! "Blue 💙"
44. Blue Ivy
Life's a beach!
45. Brooklyn Stand Up!
"Beyonce & Blue"
46. Blue Ivy's Got Her Own iPhone
"Momma, what's your password?"
47. Beyonce's Lazy Day With Blue
"Momma, I asked you for your password!"
48. When Blue Ivy Takes Your Phone, Beyonce Be Like...
"Fine, I'll go ask Daddy!"
49. Blue Ivy On Tour
"Bey & Blue"
50. It's Playtime
Beyonce & Blue take some time out to play.
51. A Chilly Day In NYC
"Beyoncé, Jay Z and Blue Ivy in NYC - Jan. 19"
52. All Bundled Up
The royal family makes their way to their fancy car.
53. Kisses From Dad
Blue's all bundled up, getting love from Daddy.
54. Blue At The White House
Blue Ivy's taking after mommy and writing a letter.
55. Blue Loves Bo
The White House pup, Bo is showing Blue Ivy some love.
56. The Carters At The White House
Check out the royal family checking out the scene at the White House.
57. It's Christmas Time Again
Blue and Bey checking out the White House Christmas tree.
58. Blue Lovin' Bo
Blue Ivy, dressed like a Princess, showing Bo some love.
59. Like Father, Like Daughter
Blue playing dress up with Daddy's hat.
60. Fun Times With Mommy
Blue Ivy spends some QT with mommy.
61. Mommy & Me
Blue and Bey take a break for some snacks.
62. Silvery Blue
Beyonce carries Blue, while the adorable toddler rocks a metallic jacket that we want and need.
63. The Holy Grail
Blue, Bey & Jay
64. One Big Happy Family
"#miami #newyear #2014"
"Beyoncé & Blue 💙"
66. Blue & Daddy In A Blue Jacket
"Jay and Blue 💙 #NewYear #2014 #Miami"
67. Hold On To Me
"Happy New Year Mommy!"
68. Dora Dora Dora The Explorer
"Beyoncé, Blue and Dora the Explorer"
69. Daddy & Bey
"Look over there Blue, you own that too."
70. Blue's Big B-Day
"Mommy make sure they can only see the back of my head."
71. Painted Faces For Blue's Bday
"Let me get down Mommy, I wanna play!"
72. Kisses From Mommy
Beyonce and Blue prepping for Momma Tina's Masquerade Ball
73. Talk To The Hand!
Beyonce, Jay Z and Blue Ivy were spotted leaving Joey's restaurant in Miami, on January 8th, and Blue had a message for the paps! Talk to the hand!
74. Me & My Daddy
While Beyonce's arm rested, Jay carried Blue from Joey's restaurant, in Miami on January 8th.
75. Blue's First Words
"I'm ready to slay right along with you, Ma!"
76. Imagine The Sound Of This Lullaby
A newborn Blue Ivy gets serenaded by her superstar mother.
77. Don't Mess With Blue!
Every now and again, Blue Ivy reminds you...she is her father's child!
78. All Gold Everything
Blue Ivy takes after her dad's swag. The inseparable duo were spotted in South Beach, Miami illuminating the streets outside their hotel with their yellow luster!
79. All Of The Lights!
"Mommy! All the pretty colors are so blinding! I'm...just..so..overwhelmed! When's my shot coming?! When's my shot coming?!" Blue plays on set with Bey at her 'Blow' video shoot.
80. Hey Blue!
"I can be happy sometimes, see?"
81. Blue Ivy With Daddy
"Why are we clapping, again? I'm not in the shot."
82. Jay Z Tries To Get Blue To Listen To "Magna Carta Holy Grail"
"Daddy, I'm more of a Nas fan."
83. Stepping With Mom
"Wait, Ma. I want the camera to see all angles of this sick dress!"
84. Splashin' & Playin'
"Mom, this water is clean, right? Because I'm not trying to splash in water I can't trust."
85. Beyonce Discusses Important Matters
"Mommy, I completely get it. Yes, I promise to watch the throne."
86. Mommy's Hugs
"Ok, Ma. I love you to pieces, but I like oxygen too." Bey may be the Queen, but this scene from her video "Blue" makes it look as if she can't get enough of being Mom.
87. Blue Ivy Twirls
"Aaaahh, I'm having so much fun not thinking about anything...wiippeee...oh, wait...getting a little sick."
88. Just So You Know...
"I run things. Don't get it twisted."
89. Mommy & Me Loungin'
"Oh, Mommy, I'm so tired of seeing the wigs you snatched last night all on our floor. It's so exhausting. Like, when're they getting picked up? Not now? Oh. Ok."
90. A Kiss For Blue
"Mommy, let me sleep, dang!"
91. Slurpin' On That Milk...Slurpin' Slurpin' On That Milk
"Mommy, gimme that bottle!"
We could watch this adorable GIF of Blue Ivy nonstop forever!
93. Jay Sneaks In Kisses
"Dadddd! Get..Away!..I don't want...No, ugh..No kisses!"
94. Blue Stares Back...
"Hey! Who's that?!"
95. Blue Still Doesn't Get Why Anyone's Here
"No, really, who are you? You're getting to close."
96. Blue and Bey Out For Lunch
"I'm over this now. People just won't let us be. Mom, why can't we just be?!"
97. Blue Is One Tough Cookie
"Ma, please let me just kick them in the face. Like, please, I can't see through all these lights."
98. Blue Jetsets With Jay
"Dad, do we own this boat? I just figured we owned everything, so..."
99. Beyonce Keeps Blue Covered
"Mommy, I think you forgot my feet. I'm cold right now. Are we inside?"
100. Beyonce LOVES Her Blue
Look at that face, how could you not kiss it?!