I’ve been reflecting on the idea of happy endings and the dimensions of what ‘life success’ looks like of late. In analysing this ideal further I turned to the space of film and what is portrayed by the media only to realise that the nature of what this condition of ‘life completeness’ shows varies immensely based on gendered lines. In most films you’ll find, even if a script is led by a strong female, it almost always ends with her finding her ‘meaning, purpose and happiness’ with her dream man. As if the idea that she has the ability to find all of these things of and within herself is demonstrably absurd.
The amount of times I’ve heard the line ‘all your dreams come true today’ to a bride on her wedding day is as infuriating as it is denigrating. For a woman it somehow seems completely fine to define her existence on the presumption that finding a man is indeed her entire life’s purpose. But imagine if this sentence was uttered to a groom on his wedding day. I assure you, this would be met with thoroughly confused looks.
So why the double standards? The question in this instance is matched with those of so many other circumstances; why is a woman’s primary role tied with the household? Why is it that a woman pursuing her career and delaying the onset of marriage and children is so taboo? Why is that the idea that a woman may not want the package deal of the above even more unthinkable?
It’s scary for me to think that down the line I could have achieved the highest amount of success in my career, changed the world for the better and yet because I don’t have someone standing next to me validating these achievements I won’t be respected or deemed successful. For some they will attempt to change the discourse on my tenacity and drive and substitute in terms like feisty, frigid and bossy. However, of course this would be unthinkable if I were a man where my existence in itself would be enough alone to solidify my accomplishments.
I wonder why in the future most people will be more interested in my marital status and not on my life pursuits for which I worked so hard to achieve. The perplexed nature of their questions around my ‘aloneness’ will have me questioning my own journey and speculating whether I am actually failing at life for not ‘achieving’ marriage and procreation, as if it were not actually a choice.
The even sadder thing is that if I do find someone to equally share my life with people with breathe a sigh of relief that now, I really had achieved ‘it all’. As if one’s primary relationship is the missing piece of the puzzle to a life properly lived for a woman.
I know how difficult it is to automatically change the discourse on centuries and eons of entrenched, rigid stereotypes on gender norms. But we are a species that is capable of evolving and I have to believe that by changing the way we think individually we can influence the space on a macro level. Let’s work towards a world where we stop defining women by the men who stand next to them and appreciate them in isolation of this.