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But what transpired next lay well beyond the powers of everybody’s imagination: as women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind.
We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.
Learning to be alone would make me a better person, and eventually a better partner. At this point, certainly, falling in love and getting married may be less a matter of choice than a stroke of wild great luck. And the elevation of independence over coupling (“I wasn’t ready to settle down”) is a second-wave feminist idea I’d acquired from my mother, who had embraced it, in part, I suspect, to correct for her own choices.
I was her first and only recruit, marching off to third grade in tiny green or blue T-shirts declaring: , and bellowing along to Gloria Steinem & Co.’s feminist-minded children’s album, Free to Be …
You and Me (released the same year Title IX was passed, also the year of my birth).
Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda’s retelling of “Atalanta,” the ancient Greek myth about a fleet-footed princess who longs to travel the world before finding her prince, became the theme song of my life.
What my mother could envision was a future in which I made my own choices.
All of this was intriguing, for sure—but even more surprising to Coontz was the realization that those alarmed reporters and audiences might be onto something.
) We took for granted that we’d spend our 20s finding ourselves, whatever that meant, and save marriage for after we’d finished graduate school and launched our careers, which of course would happen at the magical age of 30.
That we would marry, and that there would always be men we wanted to marry, we took on faith. One of the many ways in which our lives differed from our mothers’ was in the variety of our interactions with the opposite sex.
Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). Right Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, the author of Why There Are No Good Men Left, on the challenges facing today's single women Let's Call the Whole Thing Off The author is ending her marriage. By Sandra Tsing Loh The Wifely Duty Marriage used to provide access to sex. By Caitlin Flanagan Sex and the College Girl "This is clearly a mess and not one that is going to clear up with magic speed on the wedding night." By Nora Johnson A Successful Bachelor (June 1898) "More interest should be taken in bachelors.
But this strange state of affairs also presents an opportunity: as the economy evolves, it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family—and to acknowledge the end of “traditional” marriage as society’s highest ideal. Allan and I had been together for three years, and there was no good reason to end things. Their need is greater, and their condition really deplorable.
Once, in high school, driving home from a family vacation, my mother turned to my boyfriend and me cuddling in the backseat and said, “Isn’t it time you two started seeing other people?