There is so much swirling in my head since I turned 40 that I have to unload it on you so I can sleep. What are friends for, after all?
And one of the foremost thoughts is how the dating pool that I had never had any consideration for before suddenly looks like something that I should keep a close eye on. For myself. For my sisters who are turning 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70. People above 70 are, in my opinion, not worrying themselves with dating. In their 70’s, as my grandmothers told me, most women are cursing all the bad men in their lives and wondering what made them so gullible as to fall for empty promises and cheap gifts. And these women gamble too.
Well, for a cynic as myself, needless to say my grandmothers were more than happy to learn that that phase of cursing and reminiscing came in my twenties. The gambling came next and left me broke. That’s what they called starting life on the right foot.
But life has a habit of coming full circle. So I know that I’ll be probably either dating again in the next twenty years or thrown in a situation where I’d be looking for a significant other for a significant woman in my life. And when that time comes I know I’ll be without much tools to navigate these extremely murky waters.
First of all let me tell you what my deepest, darkest fear these days is. That the single grandfather of my dearest girlfriend is eyeing me as a prospect if ever I’m dating again. Some might call this his vanity. Some might say this is what dating sites have actually set as a standard for women who have been in long term relationships for a long time and are now past the prime of their lives.
Secondly, I never played the field before I got married. Many men get to play the field. They’re sleeker, smoother and relatively less awkward than me when they’ll date after a long term relationship comes to an end. Just because they’re less awkward, they become dangerously desirable to women who are looking for sleek and smooth players. Most of these women are actually not interested in settling and therefore this whole approach works for older men and younger women. For an older woman it doesn’t work. Not because I’m looking to settle but actually people expect me to settle in the proverbial sense. And by “you should settle” most people mean I shouldn’t have a list of what I want and what my heart desires. If a man finds everything that he would like in a woman in me then I should consider myself lucky even if I absolutely, outrightly detest him. I should date him and when the year is up should even dream of being his wife.
And if I ultimately get into a long term relationship for a second time in my life, after stacking every imaginable odd in my favor, the gods of love and matrimony on my side, after I’ve burned all the incense of passion that I was born with, there are so many things to reckon with. The wandering eye, the changing preference, the midlife crisis that I probably just got over but he’s starting all anew, the custody issues that linger with the ex and the child support that never comes on time. The haggling, the bargaining, the always compromising.
All for what?
For the simple fact that time isn’t on my side.
But says who? Says my swipe right in response to every left that I’ve had come my way.
A long time ago my father sang “I’m a woman, hear me roar” by Helen Reddy. My parents idolized women who were unconventional and sung to Meredith Brooks and Madonna all the time. But even though they sang “I’m a woman” to me, and watched many feministic shows to tell me that I was worth my own value, the dating sites tell a different story. They endorse patriarchy and the standard that patriarchy has set for how good a woman is. How desirable, how fetching, how chase-worthy!
So this is why I’m not roaring yet. Because patriarchy stifles me in other ways than just inequality at work or at home. It stifles me in the fairest of all trades. The trade of love! It holds its fist above mine there too.
But I’ve wondered this and you might’ve too. It would take one day, just one day, for men to end patriarchy. For men to take our hand and hoist us up. Or at least not push us down. Just one day! One day is all we need to smash the patriarchy.