Take for example ABC’s “Pan Am.” At the end of the premiere episode, we watch as two 1960′s pilots, Dean and Ted, sit down at a pub in London after their flight. Dean is crushed over learning the woman he proposed to, a Pan Am stewardess, has just up and left him. Ted tries to cheer him up, “They’re not like normal women. They’re mutations.” “I think I know where you’re going wrong there, Ace.” Ted shakes his head and explains, “I mean that as a compliment. You think the first man to crawl out of the primordial ooze knew he was different? No, he just had an impulse that there was more to life than primordial ooze.”
Ted looks across the bar at four airline stewardesses, as they’re laughing and waving in another round of drinks, and he says, “See that table over there. That’s Natural Selection at work, my friend. They don’t know they’re a new breed of women. They just had an impulse… to take flight.”
In the 1960′s, a revolution happened, a liberation of an entire gender that would send a ripple across the course of history and as we’re all aware, things would never be the same. While change is constant and our roles as women and men are constantly being re-defined, I think on the large scale – it’s happening again… We’re experiencing growing pains because we don’t fit into the old mold, anymore… and while we feel guilty that we’re not living up to the roles that have come before us – to settle in as spouses and parents by our early twenties… We’re carving out a new identity… And for better or worse, we are where America is going.
For the first time in history, women have now become the majority in the workforce. For every two men who earn a college degree, three women are beside them. Women are living longer, retaining their employment through the recession better, and across the world, pushing off marriage ten years later than their parents did. The implications of these actions have still yet to be fully seen. Is it still a man’s world? I think so. Do we still want a part of the old role, to find love with a husband and start a family – absolutely (at least for the most part.) But who is a woman today? With greater financial independence, women no longer need to rush into a marriage, it’s no longer about it being the right time to be wed by, it’s about finding the right person at what we determine to be the right time.
But with change leaves uncertainty. Men don’t know where women stand – should they open our car door and pay for dinner? Yes – this much they know still works the same – if they want to romance us, they must still pull out the ol’ traditional accoutrements. But beyond that, it becomes murky. When should they act as an equal partner and when should they be a gentleman? If women are earning their own wages, many men wonder at what point in the relationship, do you start letting her pay? Three dates in? Two months? Each relationship works differently, every couple setting their own rules, and in mine and many women’s that I know, she pays for the small stuff, like a bar tab while he picks up the bigger things, like dinner. Yes, we want to have our cake and eat it too, and if you want us, you’ll let us… and you’ll pay for the cake bill, too.
Is it fair? I believe it all has a way of evening itself out. Not just because women still only make 77 cents on the dollar and are kept from reaching beyond the glass ceiling of most companies, but because we too revert to our ol’ traditional accoutrements to reward you for said generosity. A man pays for dinner and a woman pays him back in ways that do not necessarily carry a price tag. Not just of the physically intimate kind, but the little things women do like playing your housekeeper, your secretary, your masseuse, your therapist, your cheerleader. The wifely acts of service that we do as girlfriends. If you’re unhappy with this set-up, take it to Management. I’m not who made up these rules, I’m just telling you how it is.
And so women today pick and choose the parts of history they still want. We can custom-make our lives. Some want children, some don’t; some want career first, love later, some want the reverse – these are freedoms unique to our generation that are offsetting certain stigmas and social pressures of the past. Did today’s twenty and thirty-somethings intend to change the role of the American woman? No. We didn’t even know we were doing it. There’s no picket signs or burning bras anywhere in sight. We just had an impulse that there was more to life than the primordial ooze.
And that’s my thirty sense.