Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bells are ringing

by Franki Butler

I’m entering my final semester of college, and it’s about that time. What time? you ask. Time for heartfelt congratulations and stalking Facebook to see who’s picked a date. Time to watch my friends get engaged.

I’m from the South, where we tend to marry young. Though I’ve no intentions of marrying anytime soon (if ever), I have a number of friends and acquaintances around my age who are already hitched and going strong, and three more got engaged over Christmas break. When I relate this news to my friends here in Princeton, the response is always shock and dismay. “But we’re so young! How can anyone our age get married?” And I agree, to a point. After all, there’s a certain amount of twenty-something dumb-assed-yet-incredibly-fun behavior that one simply cannot get away with when one has a spouse to go home to. It’s the other part of the response that bothers me, when people imply that by marrying young, these girls are ruining their lives.

I know the statistics; I understand the difficulties inherent in starting a life with someone else when your own independent life has barely begun. And for Princeton students especially, I understand the horror at the idea of putting anything ahead of a lucrative career. But not all people value the six-figure income above all else. Marriage and starting a family are more important to some people, and that’s okay. We’re not all operating on exactly the same value system here. Besides, it is possible to be married and go to grad school and/or begin a career; it just puts one in a different situation than that of her peers. As feminists, we do a great deal of talking about the pressure placed on women to do it all, but I’m certainly not going to hate on the girls I know for trying. Traditionally, women who wanted both a career and a family have had to postpone one in favor of the other, so I tip my hats off to those who are attempting to start both. It’s not a position I envy, but it’s still a valid position.

We’ve been fighting for years to prove that women can be more than wives and mothers, but it’s important to remember that just because you wouldn’t do something doesn’t make it a life-ruining choice that plays into patriarchal oppression. Sometimes a ring is just a ring.

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