This blog post will be about an amazing essay written by Jennifer Aniston on her not-pregnancy. When I say it like that, it almost seems that the essay is just another silly article, a celebrity-related gossip, but I invite you all to read it because it is much more than that. You can find it here.
In my opinion the essay addresses three related topics: the “media”’s scrutiny (I don’t even like to call tabloids media, for me most of them are just pure garbage); the unrealistic body-image standards women face; the pressure society places on women to follow the path of marriage and motherhood, young and in that order.
As I like to keep my blog posts short, I will only address the latter in this post but I hope to write about all of them in the near future, as they are all of interest, at least for me.
Disclaimer: Before starting I will just say that what I am criticizing in the post is society’s pressure to follow a certain path in life and not the free will to do so. If you want to get marry and have kids (or if you have already done so) please don’t feel offended, it is not about your personal choice I will be writing about.
What Jennifer Aniston describes as the pressure for motherhood is very common, but it is obviously not so “aggressive” for most. Although most women don’t suffer from the constant presence of paparazzi in their life nor are they a person of interest for other million of women (and men!), it doesn’t mean they don’t feel the pressure to fit in the role society created for them. And what role is that? Well, I believe that may change depending on where you live but in most European countries and most states in the USA the role of a women in society (in order to be considered a successful woman) is undeniably related with marriage and motherhood.
You can argue that this role was stricter in the past when women didn’t work (or, I should say they didn’t earn any money, because I can bet that staying at home taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning… is a lot of work). In my opinion the only thing that changed was the sense that marrying and having kids is no longer a matter of survival, it is a matter of “societal duty”. To be honest in this light the pressure women feel to marry and have kids as a young woman is even more idiotic in a modern society, as it is not a matter of their survival but mostly another social construct from those times that should be in our past.
You may also argue that this pressure is still a matter of survival, not of the survival of women that need a wage-earning man to be able to eat, but of survival of the species that need women and men to reproduce. Firstly, nowadays (agreeing or not with this methods) a woman can reproduce without a man. And then, you can have kids without getting married, which just proves that the “getting married and having kids – the guide to be a successful woman” thing is not about survival of the species but about something else.
As this post is already getting big, I will conclude by saying two things: Firstly, what I am criticizing is something of which I am both a victim and a perpetrator. I have both felt the pressure to marry as I am in a steady relationship and I am approaching the “right time” to do so, and I have also pressured (stupidly) friends that are married to have kids. Then, and related, I would also say that although I have written this in a woman’s point of view, some men are also victims of this pressures (“you haven’t proposed?? Are you afraid?? Pussy…” or “you haven’t had kids yet? Do you have any problem??”) and to be completely honest I believe that who exercises this kind of pressure the most are women to other women and not even men.
To conclude, getting married and/or having kids should be a matter of choice and personal happiness and not a matter of social relief. If you see a friend “in the right age” a bit fatter just assume (unlike told otherwise) that she just had a burger for lunch or that she is on her period (the irony) instead of jumping to conclusions and perpetuating this “getting married and having kids – the guide to be a successful woman” social construct.