6.09.2005

Brainwashed

Are women programmed into believing that they must be part of a twosome in order to be satisfied? Or, is the desire to be happily coupled just a part of our intrinsic nature?

Sometimes I think we have just been brainwashed. Think about it. As little girls, we were lured into playing with Barbie and Ken. It wasn't enough that Barbie was smart, beautiful, fashionable and gainfully employed. The marketing folks at Mattel decided Barbie needed Ken in her life to be complete. Do we feel that, despite our successes, we are not complete without Kens in our lives?

Or, consider Minnie Mouse. Is there some sinister, subliminal message being transmitted through this bashful, giggling, little mouse? How much do we really know about Minnie other than she is the significant other of famous Mickey? Are we being told through Minnie's example that we are really nobody without a somebody?

Dutiful parents read us pleasing bedtime stories of pretty princesses who were whisked away by handsome princes. In contrast, evil witches and wicked stepmothers were always depicted as being ugly and husbandless. If we find ourselves without a partner, do we worry we'll be identified as an ugly, bitter old maid? Do we fear that because we are single, we are not Cinderella material?

"Oh!" you say to me. "Don't be so mellow dramatic. This is the 21-century. Women are independent and realize they don't need a man in their lives." Yeah, right.

I consider myself an independent woman. I spend eight hours each day in interesting and challenging work, which I would do even if I wasn't paid. Fortunately, in addition to satisfaction, my work also affords me a decent living. I'm about to purchase my first home--a fabulous 4-story condominium near the heart of the city. I have a core group of friends. I dance, work out, write, travel. My life is pretty cool.

But despite everything (and I hate admitting this), there are moments when I feel less because I'm not living that traditional happily ever after ending. There is no prince waiting for me in my castle. And the princes that I kissed at one time or another have turned into frogs.

Once upon a time, thoughts of handsome princes seemed less important to me. I was one of many fair maidens that lived life, hung out, and had fun. But over the course of the last year, I've watched most of my friends pair up, get engaged, get married. Even my unapologetic bachelor and serial dating buddies have settled down with a special someone. Maybe I feel a little left out, a little lonely. The return time on phone calls have gotten slower. It's getting harder to find friends to hang with on a Friday or Saturday night. This Cinderella's social life is about as exciting as watching a pumpkin grow.

But it's more than just watching my friends move on to the next phase of their lives. I was in that phase for 15 years-- married, nesting, building my career. I know that story, minus the fairytale ending. You'd think after two failed marriages, I wouldn't believe in happily ever after. But, l want to believe the fairytale. Based on other bloggers' posts, I know I am not alone.

So, the reality of my experience is tossed aside in favor of a fairytale that has been promoted since childhood. If it's not brainwashing by Disney or Mattel, what is it? More importantly, how do I move beyond this ideal? Any suggestions?

1 comment:

Laura said...

Wow! I think you summed it up for many of us.