Today over some wine in my Pairing Food with Wine class (thank you, study abroad), I overheard this conversation, which really isn’t very out of the ordinary:
Girl 1: “I don’t do very well in relationships because I’m just like ‘The Man.’ He will always be texting me and I’m just like, ‘I don’t care.'”
Girl 2: “Well I mean, like, the only reason I said yes to my boyfriend because he was just like, ‘Everything is gonna stay exactly the same while you’re in Florence. Just email me like once a week to let me know you’re alive. ‘ Which is great for me because I just want to do my own thing.” (Also, to note, this girl also said that this boy surprised her by flying out to Florence to visit her and bought her a ticket to Paris and then asked her out on some famous bridge).
Girl 3: “I just want to be single because c’mon, I’m 20-years-old. I don’t want to be tied down because who knows where my job will take me? Or graduate school? My mom always says that a boy can follow me around if he wants to as I travel the world, but I better follow my own dreams.”
Fifty years ago, this conversation would have been jaw-dropping! Unbelievable! Coming of age for its time! And yet today, in a world where women rule anyway and the only thing you need a man to do is… well, nothing, it really just sounds a little silly to me.
Here’s the thing. I totally get that you want to be independent, free to do anything you want, go anywhere you want. But at what point did this mean that you had to cut any sort of romance out of the picture? When did romance lose its fun and just gain a hell of a lot of anchors?
I don’t think you have to be a bitch to be independent. I don’t think that you need to declare that you’re swearing off men because you want a career, or decide that you’re only going to do random hookups or pretend not to care about anyone because you don’t want to end up like Your Friend’s Mom’s Best Friend who got married at 21 and had five kids and now spends her days crying, watching soap operas, and doing laundry.
Being in a relationship or admitting to actually like someone isn’t what makes you uncool. What makes you uncool is when you stay holed up in your room all day Skyping your boyfriend and writing sad emails to your mom when you could be out exploring this beautiful city. Fortunately, the amount of these people is rather limited, so I think you can all stop declaring what awesome bitches you are and instead admit when you actually like someone because guess what? “Liking” is a natural human emotion. Who knew?
Now later on in the conversation, I heard this one:
Girl 3: “We were both so whatever about it, that now me and my guy back at home have been hooking up for like a year and haven’t done anything about it. I’m kind of over the random hookups and I got that out of my system freshmen year, but it would be weird to try for anything with him now.”
Girl 1: “Yeah, I get you. I have been hooking up with this older guy for a long time, but he has already graduated and has a job and I want to live in Chicago, so it’s a little late to try for anything.”
So, now the truth creeps out, just a little bit. What is odd to me is that these “empowered” women have no problem fighting for their careers, but yet they are so willing to let guys who they have come to care about actually walk on them a little bit by making them feel like a random hookup is all they can ask for if they want to have fulfilling lives outside of a serious relationship.
Guess what, ladies? You CAN have it all. The great thing about being an empowered woman in 2012 is that not only can you have a fulfilling career, caring friends, an extraordinary education, and a great family, but you can also have a dude alongside you that also serves as a best friend. A man doesn’t mean staying home and cooking and doing laundry anymore. It means another person, among many, to care about. It doesn’t make you lame or “tied down” or anything other than the person you already were, if you don’t choose to make it that way.
And this exactly qualifies for your time abroad, too. Okay, yes, if your boyfriend is getting pissed you can’t text him when you’re at the Florentine soccer game for one hour, that is a problem. A major problem. But no one ever said that because someone kind of likes you who happens to be 3000 miles away at the moment, you have to stay holed up and be lame. There are lots of secret American girlfriends, all over Florence, who have someone waiting for them at home and can still go out and get just as smashed as you. Trust me.