A young woman is being crucified and, in missing her original point, the opportunity for a larger, more pertinent discussion has been lost.
I have problems with Amber Estes’ column “How to Find the Perfect Husband in College.” Her metaphors are tired, her quips are hackneyed and the piece reads, to me, as trite overall. I didn’t like it.
I’m allowed to have an opinion about Estes’ opinion. So is everyone else, and everyone else has — from anonymous online commenters to Newsweek’s Tumblr, this story has blown up. But despite my critiques, the biggest problem I have with this article is the hysteria that has developed around it.
Estes produced a satirical, albeit poorly written, piece detailing the ways in which a woman in college can secure her ultimate goal— not a degree, but a man. In the days that have followed, Facebook friends and reporters alike hoisted this piece as totally incongruous with the way this country works. That assertion is much more amusing to me than the original article itself.
My travels and experiences throughout the United States have made it abundantly clear that, as a woman, my worth is still somewhat tied to my ability to snag a man (as well as his ability to provide for country club cherubs, as Estes’ article touches on). No matter where in the country I’ve ventured, the first question asked of me is not what I do but if I’m in a relationship and if that relationship will lead to marriage.
What twenty-something female among us hasn’t been told a relationship not destined for the altar is a waste of time? At this point I find a smug humor in watching strangers squirm and try to politely debate my position that I don’t know I’ll ever want to be wed.
Dismissing these realities as a “Southern thing” is to laughably ignore the shared sexism the rest of the states perpetrate as well. Talking about how stupid this article is overwrites these experiences and stifles any possibility of taking conversations about the perceived role of women to a productive place. Just because your state has voted blue in the past few elections doesn’t make it an ideal bastion of politically correct living.
As a female undergraduate at the University and a woman raised primarily in the South, I’m also offended by the assertion that this column could be a serious work. I’ll be the first to admit the South has mostly conservative political and social views, but we’ve entered into the 21st century too.
Antiquated doesn’t even begin to describe your view of the Southeast if you think this article is representative of the attitude and expectations of the women around me. It’s frankly insulting to see so many people pigeonholing the gender of an entire region into a vapid, self-seeking existence. Southerners aren’t a different species and women from the South have just as much worth as women originating elsewhere — and we know it.
I’m equally disappointed by and embarrassed for all the newsrooms and social media mavens from my region of the States and those beyond who have been so quick to attack Amber Estes as insulting, unintelligent or worse. Not just for the aforementioned reasons but for her right to — had her article not been satire — be whoever she feels like being. I don’t presume to know Estes’ future ambitions, but she, like every woman, is permitted to pursue a life within or outside of the home.
There’s no one correct way to be an independent woman.
Steps towards equality should seek to always leave women the ultimate choice in the life path they take, not automatically propel them into a new, typecast role. Restrictions, no matter how extreme, are wrong, especially when they are more vehemently cast on one group of people.
Let’s keep talking about sexism and expectations for young women. But we need to continue the conversation in a way that looks at the issues from a systemic standpoint and not a cowardly position that puts one area — or one woman — at fault.
— Maura Friedman is a senior from Atlanta majoring in journalism and political science