Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A woman without a man is

...like a fish without a bike - or so a feminist saying in Germany goes. This post actually is sort of an addition to my last post about gender stereotypes, dealing with the rather stupid idea that a woman can only be happy when she's in a relationship (possibly with children and possibly staying at home like a good housewife).

Humans on the whole - men as well as women - are social creatures. We as a species are not build to live solitary lives. But 'social' doesn't equal 'in a relationship'. The only thing 'social' really means is: to live in a group with other beings of the same species.

But nevertheless a lot of people - men as well as women - seem to think that a woman can't live without a man at her side ... the other way around seems to be different. There's nobody saying "boy, that guy needs a wife", just because a man has reached the magical 30. But be a single woman and reach that age and every friend you've ever met will try to play matchmaker in order to find 'the right guy' for you. And if you happen to have a lot of friends who're in a relationship, it gets worse. They're all so very, very happy and in love - and think you have to be crying yourself to sleep every night, because you're not with a man. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't cry myself to sleep at night and I am solo. I happen to like my life as it is.

What is behind this, I guess, is an archaic picture of women, one that has been handed down for generations: Women need men to survive. They have to marry in order to be cared for.

But this picture is quite wrong today. Women can care for themselves, they are allowed to work - and even to vote, just in case someone out there has missed this. A woman doesn't have to marry in order to survive. She can marry, but she doesn't have to do it. That's quite a difference in my book.

So why do people instil this picture into their children. Why do people still tell girls to 'look out for the right guy' and 'marriage is the greatest thing in life'? A lot of people (all those who have gotten a divorce) would tell you quite the opposite. But that doesn't count. A girl should still strife for a husband, some kids and a small house in the suburbs.

At the same times girls still are told their future lies in family life, boys get taught to strife for a career. Why that difference? Because, once she's married and has kids, a woman will stop working anyway? In quite a lot of European countries women don't stop working once they've got kids. In France, Sweden, Denmark and quite some other countries it's normal for a woman to continue to work when the child is still quite young (6 months to a year). But not in Germany, oh no.

So what is a woman without a man, really?

Alone? No, because she could still be with another woman, couldn't she? And what does 'alone' mean, anyway? Without a relationship? Without friends? Without colleagues at work? Without relatives? The real meaning of 'alone' is "without any other human being" - and who of us is, in normal life?

A woman without a man is ... without a man, I guess. She might like it or not, but that's her decision - not that of her friends.

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