There are far better questions to ask women other than those that tie her worth to another person. ‘So how much longer?’ ‘Are you looking?’ ‘Don’t you think its time to settle down?’ These are often viewed as harmless, even exciting, questions to many. I don’t believe they are asked with malicious intent but let’s pause a minute to break down how the questioning can be harmful.
If you’re a woman, it’s likely you’ve been bombarded with questions about marriage. Between family members, friends, coworkers, and even strangers— it seems never ending. Being in a relationship, over age 21, and coming from certain Black and Brown cultural backgrounds are additional descriptors that will likely increase the hounding (sorry sis). Marriage inquiries have been a social norm for centuries. Over these years, marriage definitely has morphed as a system, yet, it continues to put pressure on women to follow a particular course in search of what society deems favorable.
Some women follow the traditional path and enthusiastically desire to be married one day. But other women who who do not, are often degraded. We’ve heard the comments ‘she’ll never be married’ ‘she can’t keep a man’ ‘she’ll be single forever’ ‘there must be something wrong with her’. These statements are potentially detrimental to self-worth, confidence, and emotional wellbeing. It’s harmful when the value of a woman is placed in a relationship status. Women are judged for being unmarried or even being divorced all because of a patriarchal lens. Both imply women have failed in some way. It isn’t true at all. Romantic relationships do not determine personal success.
Our society grooms girls from childhood to see marriage as a major achievement. Disney princess stories, romantic films, gender roles, and religion all do their part in reinforcing this concept. The issue is in the idea that to be complete or successful in life as a woman, you need to be married. Women are taught to value themselves based on their relation to men: being a wife, childbearing. If you are in a relationship and later decide to be married you are viewed as a champion. But, why? I mean, congratulations on your love for sure, but achievement seems like a reach to describe getting married. Marriage is simply a choice, a major life decision, but a choice nonetheless. Just my opinion, throw your tomatoes if you must.
While the idea of marriage may entice some women, not all women resonate with that feeling. The assumption that a woman’s highest desire is to be married baffles me for many reasons. Are we not beings capable of living full expansive lives on our own? Do our personal achievements not measure up? Being in the age of information, I believe it is silly to assume a woman is interested in marriage at all. It is even sillier to assume a woman is interested in marrying a man. Because let’s be honest— that is the usual relationship make-up folks refer to when asking about a woman getting married. Women are assumed to be heterosexual and interested in marriage when there are so many more possibilities in life. There are a plethora of fulfilling paths that do not include marriage or men as the pinnacle.
Times continue to change though. Women are focusing on themselves more and many are realizing marriage can wait or cease altogether. We are making our own money, enjoying single living, focusing on our passions, reassessing our standards, and having greater curiosity in life’s possibilities. Women are taking more time to live life alone but more importantly on their own terms. We are questioning marriage more, questioning the urgency, and questioning the benefit.
My take? Ask us what we care about. Ask us what we want in life. Ask us what we’re passionate about. Ask about our goals. Ask about what makes us happy. Ask us about what we’re proud of. Let us inform you. Make it a more beneficial conversation for the both of us. Really ask yourself why questions around marriage are more important than anything I’ve just asked (tip: they aren’t lol). Let’s give women the space to tell us about fulfillment in their eyes before we assume anything.