Thursday, December 14, 2006

Girl Power?

Yesterday, Andrea posted her thoughts about a young co-ed’s (haven’t heard that term in a long time, have you? Once again, I prove I am older than dirt) choice of work-out attire. It seems this young woman sported a t-shirt that proclaimed, "I went to college to find my bridesmaids." And Andrea pondered the message the girl meant to impart. I suppose we can all hope that our buff blond was attempting satire…

Still, it is to be assumed that this girl actually was a college student. Somehow managed to wade through the bewildering challenge of applying, being accepted, registering for classes and financial aid, and then attending at least some of those classes. Which is, in and of itself, an accomplishment that far exceeds even the wildest dreams of the class of "0-whatever" grads I have encountered lately. Especially the female ones.

I currently have six young ladies under the age of twenty-five working for me. "S-1" is shacked up with a guy more than ten years her senior who has children more of an age to be her siblings than her step-kids. "T" is pregnant and moved in with her boyfriend when she found out about the baby; but they aren't planning a wedding yet because "they don’t want this to be the reason they get married." (Good plan; could be that marriage to a guy who knocks down Christmas trees and punches inanimate objects might not be the wisest choice…) "D" is hooked up with a guy with whom she has had an on-again, off-again relationship since high school…which became "on-again" just long enough for her to support him for the last five months while he lived it up before going into the military (he left yesterday…she is devastated.) And "S-2" is living with some guy who won’t have anything to do with her family or friends, and puts enough pressure on her about her appearance that she constantly pops diet pills, eats almost nothing, and downs "Red Bull" by the six-pack.

Certainly each of these girls has brains and talent equivalent to those of Andrea’s t-shirted bridesmaid-recruiter. So, what do they lack that has sentenced them to working part-time in what could only be called dead-end jobs? And, for the most part, involved in dead-end relationships with really icky men? What has caused them to set the bar so low for themselves? Why don’t they have the pride and self-respect to dream big dreams? Or even little ones?

I hate to use college as the yardstick by which to measure anyone’s moxie. Considering the product turned out by our higher education system—teachers who can’t spell, athletes who can’t read, health care professionals who don’t care—I often wonder whether a "BS" isn’t precisely that. Obviously there are legions of university students who share Ms. T-Shirt’s philosophy about attending college; sometimes their timetables go awry and they end up actually getting diplomas.

However, going to college could at least be construed as understanding that adulthood is about to happen and it might be good to make some plans, or acquire some tools, or spend four more years in a more or less sheltered environment, fending off the inevitable. These young women who work for me, and so many others I’ve encountered lately, just get out of high school (if they make it that far) and throw themselves to the wolves. They don’t know what to do, so they just do whatever. And they seem to think that having a man, any man, is the greatest goal to which they can aspire.

I’m not even sure why they want men. Apparently, they don’t know what to do with a man once they have him (besides procreate…) They don’t seem to want them for financial support, since most of these girls are hooked up with deadbeats who are un- or under-employed. It’s not for security; a hallmark of these relationships seems to be that the man is allowed to do anything he wants, and is not necessarily obligated to inform his significant other of his plans or whereabouts. And it’s not with the idea in mind of having a home and a family of one’s own…so many of these girls are living in squalor and toting around babies from several different relationships. So what’s the attraction? What has our society done to this generation of young women to rob them of the will to achieve?

So, Andrea…don’t be too hard on Ms. T-Shirt. Her logo at least hints that she has some kind of plan in mind for her life. She is way ahead of so many girls of her generation.

How sad is that?


  1. This is a great post.  I have often wondered the same thing.  When my own 17-yr-old daughter got involved with a total loser, I kept wondering what the attraction was.  The only thing I could come up with is that it is very desirable to be NEEDED by someone.  Maybe that's a female thing...wanting to have someone to give to and to share with.  Also, I think that human beings simply do not want to be alone, and will put up with almost anyone if the alternative seems like it might be aloneness.

    So...I like your moral.  This probably sounds like a conservative thing to say...but I agree that marriage and THEN kids is a really good way to do things.  Especially, or maybe only, if you are lucky enough to find someone marriage-worthy!

  2. You're not such a tough old thing after all. ;0 Besides being well written, intelligent and right on target, this entry is so caring.  Most of the womanchild's closest friends are guys, and they are already planning their futures.  I see her girlfriends, particularly those from her younger years, and marriage is it.  I know that small towns can limit dreams, but it seems to hit the girls particularly hard.  I look at my friends kids who are in their twenties, and most of the girls have been divorced twice.  It breaks my heart and doubles my determination to find a way to get the tuition to the private colleges C. is dreaming of.

  3. I can't help but think that a lot of that comes from what they haven't gotten from their family of origin.  For some reason, these young women have no expectations for themselves.  They don't believe they are a)capable of or b) deserving of better.  It is very, VERY sad.

    I've been pretty lucky with my kids so far.  While Adrienne is too deeply in love with her boyfriend before she's had much life least he's not a loser.  He has ambition and is working toward something.  And he's very patient and kind.  But, I have a sense that she's in college because it's paid for and she doesn't know what else to do with herself.  It's worrisome.

  4. My neice, from my miniscule hometown ~  but also a recent college grad with a career-potential job! ~ describes the lives of her high school friends this way.  Most of them are married with kids, some already not married.  It's a terrible scenario.  And strange, in this day of mass and immediate communication, that these girls can't find role models and inspiration on tv and the internet even if they don't see anyone worthy of emulation close to home.  Of course, if Katie Holmes with Tom Cruise is their idea of success. . .    .

  5. Look at the images in the media. There's nothing to aspire to. Nothing to help lift you out of yourself. We've got a president who lied and continues to get away with it. The biggest corporation in the world continues to sell "stuff" just good enough to sell. Politicians, pundits, and other spinmeisters can talk for half an hour and say absolutley nothing. We fill the world with noise so we can ignore that little voice within that says we're better than this and this is what we get.


  6. Oh, okay.... I won't be too hard on her ;)  But if she wears that shirt to one of my classes...... okay, okay, I'll be nice even then.

    I do think that ALL women are encouraged to set their sights too low.  It's just in the air that we breathe.  Those who don't, have had help and privilege and have lots of raw talent that they claim and train.  And even they encounter barriers that their male counterparts do not.  My goal, really, is not to snark (although snarking's fun!).  It's to be part of the help and training.  I have no idea if it makes any difference.