You hear a lot of things about the whole “women who don’t want families” debate. You also hear a lot of things from the “women who are rather young when they settle down and start families” debate. But what about those of us ladies who fall in between those two extremes – the women who are in their mid- to late-twenties, have career-path jobs, and want to have children?
I am a twenty-something young woman who is gainfully employed, highly educated, and quite independent on several counts, but who also wants to get married and start a family. Speaking from experience, then, I can tell you that those of us who fall into this middle category tend to have somewhat of a hard time. We’re on neither one side nor the other of the “modern women and marriage” divide, which means we get flak from both sides of it.
Just because a woman is able to serve a husband and a family doesn’t mean she is unable to be her own person and live her own life. And just because a woman is able to be herself and make her own life choices doesn’t make her ability to love and nurture a disadvantage or weakness in the real world.
A woman is not demeaning or belittling herself if she gets married and starts a family, but neither is she selfish and cold if she chooses to remain single and works to support herself.
There is more to a woman than her biological capacity to become a mother and raise a family – but there is also more to a woman than her social capacity to be independent and successful.
Those of us females in the mid-ground see these things and understand these things – so why do members of our own sex on both sides of the chasm call us out for being in the middle? Why are we made to feel like we’re letting down our gender by wanting to compromise and have the best of both worlds that are offered to modern women?
Yes, I want to get married – but I want to have a set of memories and life experiences as an adult that are entirely my own. Yes, when I start a family I would like to be stay-at-home mother – but that doesn’t mean I can’t contribute to that family’s finances now. Yes, I am aware of that so-called biological clock ticking away inside me – but just because my body is able to bear children doesn’t mean I have to before the rest of me is ready to have and raise them. Yes, I want to be the kind of wife my husband is proud to have on his arm and show off – but I want him to be proud because I have made something of myself in this world before deciding to be his wife.
There are many women who choose to be on one side, and one side only, of twenty-first century womanhood and as long as they find fulfilment and happiness in their choices I can respect and admire them for it. They are doing what they want and what they think is right for them, and taking action for their happiness is what’s commendable. What isn’t commendable is expecting every woman to fall neatly onto one side or another, because most of us don’t entirely fit the bill for just one side.
I myself would not be entirely fulfilled or happy if I was to choose one side without having been on the other. I am neither any less feminine nor any less of a feminist for wanting what I think is the best pieces of both worlds. I think that occupying the middle ground of modern womanhood allows me to be strong, independent, and assertive in feminine ways, while simultaneously being a feminist in ways that are non-abrasive, non-aggressive, and non-misandrist. I don’t think I would be living my life well if I rushed into marriage without first having been able to become the best individual I can be – because my future family deserves to be given the best of me. And living in the middle is where I can find that best possible version of myself.