What surprised me, a feminist, about vampire young adult novels? It was hot how both young men in the books I read were so chivalrous to their ladies. I don't just mean the "life or death" protection. The boys opened car doors, pulled out chairs and even defended their ladies' honor in front of schoolyard bullies. Both of these vampires were teenagers in different centuries and practice centuries-old gender roles. Real teenage boys? Chivalry is dead, my friends, and it can't decide who should pay for dinner.
Meet Albania's "sworn virgins." These poor, rural Albanian matrons chose decades ago (almost a century ago, in some cases) to live as virgins in order to be the "head of the household," in the absence of male heirs. In this patriarchal society, instead of marrying and becoming wives and mothers, these women act as fathers to their sisters and take care of the "man's business."
Today, the majority of couples getting married are older and already out of college. However, many couples still marry young. Couples who marry young face a lot of challenges and benefits not experienced by the older and wiser couples. When you are in college many of your goals, dreams and ambitions haven't been clearly defined. And as the couples grow, they must learn to adapt and change with their spouse. For Katie Thompson growing old with her husband meant growing a part. Katie had to learn how to redefine her marriage after they had both matured into different people. For some couples growing together into different people works. For others, it's a deal breaker.
According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, in 1979 researchers at the University of Florida asked over 12,000 men and women between the ages of 14 and 22 about their opinions on "traditional" and "untraditional" roles for women. (Of course, middle- and lower-class women have always worked a job or two, in addition to raising kids, but still the idea that it is "tradition" for women to be stay-at-home moms persists.) Researchers checked in with their study subjects three times in the ensuing two decades and found that men, more often then women, held "traditional" ideas about women working outside the home but also that these men tended to earn more. The (slightly) good news? Women with "untraditional" views earn $1,500 more than women with "traditional" views, but that's a small consolation. (That's, like, one new MacBook laptop.)
The Daily Mail interviewed Joanne, age 35, who owns some fabulous 1950s get-ups -- but she also doesn't leave the house without lipstick on and won't put gas in the car because it's "so unladylike." She's happy in her apron, stirring up homemade jam and baking cakes for her husband Kevin in their 1950s-style kitchen. Joanne attributes their uber-retro lifestyle to disgust at high-speed society:
My sister (aka my matron of honor) threw me a bridal shower this weekend. It was at my house, and for those of you keeping score at home, you know that Fred and I have been remodeling our house in order to sell it. Three weeks before the party the kitchen didn't have floors, we didn't have furniture (all mine was in storage) and the walls hadn't been painted in probably 15 years. I don't know how we did it, but we got the house ready in time and it looked beautiful for the party. Fred even sent two vases of flowers with a card that said, "For your shower. Love your husband." (Enter "awws" or bitter vomiting sounds here.)
Registering for wedding presents: china, silverware, Guitar Hero?
Wedding season is fast and furious in mid-June. If you haven't already been to one already, chances are, you're heading down the aisle sometime soon. It's easy to get wedding-present burn-out pretty quickly. How many place-setting purchases have really been that exciting? And don't you secretly want to be the one that gives them that gift? The one they rave about? Here's your chance.
Call it a Mr. Mom backlash. For couples eschewing stereotypical division of household duties, sharing responsibility isn't about role reversal; it's about role sharing and thinking like teammates or co-pilots instead of gender-bending pioneers. The New York Times Magazine's cover story this coming Sunday (already available online) profiles several families where designated "mom" and "dad" duties don't exist, at least not as society generally defines them.