It’s a brisk Wednesday evening in downtown Chicago, the girls have gathered, dinner preparations have started and the wine is flowing. Laughter rings out, and the paper thin condo walls do nothing to drown out the conversations that are starting to ensue. By now, the neighbors know exactly what night it is. Its girl’s night!
Christy (age 29) tells the group, “I am twenty-nine, but if you ask some of my older family members about me, you’d think I was eighty-nine. They act as if my ovaries are in a retirement home and my eggs are using walkers. According to some of them, I must be miserable because I am unmarried and childless, but what they don’t understand is that I am this way by choice.”
The good news for Christy, and the growing numbers of women like her, is that as the older generations move on, the image of the “spinster” is going with them. Women are realizing more and more that spending time Sex in the City style is necessary and deserved.
Statistics now show that more women are choosing to work longer and get married later, if at all. For example, the United States Census Bureau’s Marital statistics show that the population of unmarried women will soon surpass the number of married women, and the median age at first marriage has been steadily increasing from the early 1900’s to now.
Ultimately this trend can be boiled down to three societal movements.
1 – The number of women enrolled in higher education is larger than ever, therefore increasing the chances of their being economically independent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that on average more women then men are now enrolling in and graduating from college.
“The difference between women and men in college-enrollment rates stems from three factors:
(A) Women were more likely to have graduated from high school;
(B) Among high school graduates, women were more likely to attend college; and
(C) Once enrolled in college, women were less likely than men to leave college between school years without graduating.”
Being financially secure has also allowed women to walk away from bad relationship situations. They no longer need to “settle” and “make due.” If it’s not working out, they are free and able to move on to the next one.
2 – Pro-woman movements have shifted how women view themselves internally as well as altering the societal view of women externally. Our sisters have helped pave the way for the modern-day woman to pursue her career and life first, and then get married later, if at all.
“The focus of life isn’t a wedding or a big white dress,” says Marie Smith (age 28). “It’s about doing something important with our lives. I have plenty of time to be a mom and wife, but I only have this little bit of time to be me.”
3 – Fewer women are choosing to remarry again after a divorce or a spouse’s death. Life Expectancy numbers from the United States National Center for Health Statistics reveal that the average woman should outlive the average male by at least five years. Once they are on their own again, most women seem to want to keep it that way.
Josephine (age 52) explains, “After my husband died when I was 35, I really missed him. But, I’ve already raised my kids, [and] I don’t want to “raise” another one. I call the shots and wear the pants, and I like it that way. I don’t want someone to come along and start making decisions they expect me to jump up and follow. Been there. Done that. And I sure as heck didn’t buy the T-shirt.”
Women today are learning that they can be successful, get married and procreate, but that they need to have ‘me’ time first. The highly successful book He’s Just Not that Into You was missing one key point: Who cares if he’s not that into us, we’re not ready for marriage anyway!
As for me? At twenty-nine, I am young and fearless. I haven’t even gotten to the bottom of the hill, let alone gone tumbling down the other side. This is our time, to pursue our careers, our lives and ourselves. We are strong. We are able, and we are taking over boys, so watch out!