The world must really believe women are a bunch of nincompoops. At least, everyone seems to enjoy implying we are.
This week, I discovered TWITS (Teenage Women In their Thirties), a new term for women who shun marriage and kids in favor of a social life and personal freedom. Then Time posted a story about how the South Korean government in Seoul is painting parking spaces pink and repaving streets so high heels don’t get stuck in them, all in an effort to make working women happy.
Then I read a headline from Reuters declaring, “Crisis pushes men to therapy, women to handbags.” The story suggested the economy is stopping men from buying luxury items like watches, while women are scampering through Louis Vuitton and Hermes boutiques like kids in the candy aisle at Walmart.
First off, who are these people who make up, what the article calls, the “luxury-loving professional class?” Call me crazy, or just plain poor, but are folks who’ve been put in the position of having to choose whether or not to continue buying luxury items really the best example of typical Americans?
More importantly, why does the culture have to keep insinuating that most females long to live in a shoe-filled, boy-crazy, rose-colored Barbie Dream House? From shoving crud like Confessions of a Shopaholic down our throats, to offering women pink parking spots instead of job opportunities, to warning thirtysomethings their biological clocks are about to burst then making fun of them when they cry about it, women seem to keep getting pushed into a mean-spirited La La Land.
And here’s the thing. These are all single women. Women who may or may not have chosen to be romantically unattached, but who strive toward personal fulfillment through work, interpersonal relationships and, yes, their buying power. Just like dudes. Yet every step of the way, they seem to be labeled maniacs and twits. The culture doesn’t belittle Moms so strenuously, unless of course, they’re the kind of Moms You’d Like to F***.
Really, it’s all in the delivery. The headline, “Crisis pushes men to therapy, women to handbags,” reaffirms everything that makes men roll their eyes about women: ‘Here we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis of the modern age, and these dipshits are out buying pocketbooks. How shallow, how frivolous. How typical.’
Bizarrely, at no point in the article is there mention of men paying for therapy instead of watches. The word ‘therapy’ doesn’t even come up in the piece. One expert is quoted as saying some men are seeing life coaches, but I reckon just as many women are doing the same. Thus, we can assume the headline was only created to provoke and keep women in the Dream House. Perhaps next week, Reuters can tell us, “Men are strong, brilliant creatures uniquely capable of running the world, women love puppies.”
The Reuters piece suggests that because women don’t place the whole of their identity on work and status, they’re not as devastated by the financial crisis. Men are not as used to dealing with change, says the article, unlike women who have better coping mechanisms. While men are focusing on getting themselves out of the economic and emotional slump, women are occasionally “cheering themselves up with a treat.”
Wait a sec. Basing one’s self-concept on things beyond career and social standing. Being able to cope and care for yourself in times of crisis. Those sound like good things. Wow, ladies! Yay, us!
I realize there are some women who would sell both sets of their grandparents for the latest Coach bag. I don’t like those gals either. And true, lots of dames like to have trendy clothes and to buy stuff instead of mope.
But doesn’t anyone imagine we also have bigger fish to fry? Like figuring out how to enter and stay in job markets historically bereft of women? How to share household and child-rearing responsibilities as wives, and how to maintain healthy relationships as girlfriends? How to be assertive in the workplace and in our lives, without being labeled harpies? How to keep our chins up in a life filled with as much joy and triumph as it is racked with crisis and failure?
Nah, we just want handbags.