"Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" - The Decemberists
It's been a gorgeous fall weekend here, but I've spent the bulk of it inside trying to bleed out a brief. I'm totally aggravated with myself for procrastinating and struggling. I'm way too old for both things. So I'm afraid I've barely glanced at the newspapers and, amazingly enough, have bascially not been online for the entire weekend.
- I did want to comment on this piece by Kate Bolick in the Atlantic that was getting a fair amount of play in the blogs the other day. It's a rambling affair, a muddle really, discussing both the fact that Bolick is single at the age of 39 and the growth in the percentage of unmarried adults in the U.S. generally. Bolick palpably laments having broken up with someone at the age of 28 for no real reason that she can recall, an act for which she seems to blame feminism. Indeed, the entire piece seems like yet another in a series of attacks on feminism for having given women too many choices. A couple of things jumped out at me -- first, Bolick takes her own personal situation and conflates it with the circumstances of a lot of other women who do not strike me as similarly situated. Second, she doesn't seem to understand that the kind of personal decision she made in her twenties about marrying someone is not unique to women -- many of us had serious relationships at that age that ended for the same kinds of reasons, the difficulty of saying "yes, this is the one." Believe it or not, this is a profound thing for men too. And finally, it drives me nuts when people write as though the one night stand originated in the 1990s (or later). Here's Bolick: "The early 1990s witnessed the dawn of “hookup culture” at universities, as colleges stopped acting in loco parentis, and undergraduates, heady with freedom, started throwing themselves into a frenzy of one-night stands." No, no, no, a thousand fucking times, no! As someone who started college in 1978, married to someone who started college in 1976, I can assure Bolick that universities were not acting "in loco parents" during the Ford and Carter years. The 18-year old drinking age was in effect in many places, one could walk down the street in many major American cities and smoke pot without fear, quaaludes were abundant, soon to be followed by cocaine, and AIDS was unknown. A good time was had by many. And strangely enough, many of us also got married later on.
(One of the things that surprised me in taking my son on college tours last year was the degree to which colleges actually seem to be involved in the lives of students now. When I was in school, it was pretty much sink or swim time -- our parents didn't email revised papers to us and our professors really didn't give a shit if we came to class or not.)
I find these kinds of articles lamentable. The freedom to make decisions, even ones that we subsequently find regrettable, is the hallmark of a genuinely adult existence. Women have fought fiercely for this autonomy -- when smart successful women like Bolick indulge in this kind of public self pity and attempt to imbue it with broader cultural significance, it just plays into the hands of the many who would prefer a return to a Victorian world. I liked Amanda's take on it.
What's grabbing your attention?