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By Nicolle

If I get married, I want to tie the knot with someone who is career-driven, but who will also help out with vacuuming (my absolute least favorite chore – I’d rather clean a toilet), cooking and laundry. Given the fact that we just launched into the second decade of the 21st century, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I’d also like someone who’s taller than me, likes animals, wants to travel, can dance and doesn’t mind that I’m occasionally (read: usually) indecisive. Still not that much to ask, right?

According to Jillian Straus, author of Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We’re Still Single, such a checklist could be part of the reason Generation X and the Millennial Generation are postponing marriage – and having a harder time finding love.

Straus, who was once a producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show, took it upon herself to tour the nation to interview 25 to 39 year olds in an attempt to get to the bottom of why so many of her friends and acquaintances were unsuccessful at finding long-lasting relationships.

Along the way, Straus uncovered what she calls “The Seven Evil Influences” that effect how Gen X-ers relate to one another in relationships. The influences, which range from our “multiple-choice culture” to the “divorce effect,” have given us unrealistic expectations for what our romantic relationships should look like.

Instead of being willing to put in the time required to build a lasting relationship, we’re more likely to “upgrade” to something easier. If something is “missing” in a relationship, we’re more willing to explore other options because we have an ideal relationship in mind, one that might not actually be attainable.

Straus explores how culture and generations before us have influenced our notorious fear of settling by giving us too many options and convincing us that we should never have to suffer in a relationship. She also dissects how our tendencies towards casual sex have taken a toll our ability to engage in long-term relationships.

The first three-fourths of the book could be depressing; Straus’ findings could lead to a hopeless feeling that any attempts at finding love are futile based on all the influences actively fighting against our desires for relationships. Instead, the book is enlightening, refreshing and mind-boggling. While reading it, I would occasionally yell out loud, “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!” or “Why doesn’t everyone know this?!”

Unhooked Generation should be required reading for anyone above the age of 18 and below the age of 45. Part of what is killing our relationships is a lack of self-awareness – and this book makes it clear that we have more control in the game of love than we think.

By Anna

The following essay is one I wrote for New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s contest: “Win a trip with Nick!”

I do not know if I won, but will let you know if I do. Winning is a long shot, but writing this was an exercise in thought extraction nonetheless.

The 16th century Hungarian myth, the Battle of Bull’s Blood, is about the near destruction of the Hungarians at the sword of the Turks. However, the Hungarian men slathered a dark red wine in their beards and on their clothes to scare the Turks into thinking they were savage because they drank bull’s blood.

The man who told me this story on the bank of the Danube in Budapest, said it was the Hungarian women who conceived of the feral idea. Since I heard that story last year, I knew it would be the women of this world that would reconcile this age of crisis through dignity, intelligence and grace.

I want to be a part of Nicholas Kristof’s trip to Africa because I am a journalism student at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., a cross-cultural studies minor, and a fellow adventurer who believes women do hold up half the sky. I have traveled abroad a half dozen times recording through photographs and a pen what I saw and what I did not see. It is important to me that people’s stories are heard, and I know it is in my power to tell these stories.

After returning from Cambodia three years ago, I started a blog with friends concerning everything relevant in the world. My weekly column focuses on humanity and inhumanity. I wrote about what disturbed me in the streets of Phnom Penh but quickly moved to what excited me about places like New Life Center in the heart of the city where people meet to eat and commune together.

I want to travel with Nicholas so people will see continents as countries, countries as cities, cities as neighborhoods, and neighborhoods as people–people with ideas and emotions shaped by their history yet important no matter their history.

I also want to go on this trip because I have never been to Africa but have always had the goal to see as much of the world as much as possible. Also, there is no better way to travel than with a significant purpose. I want to meet young girls and old women, to know what they know so I can relay to others what connects us, and help reconcile where we are disconnected. I want to be the person to tell about the organization that has girls stay in school during their menstrual cycles and has given women birth control and education so that they might not have to outgrow their means. I am excited to write the truth even if it is difficult and sorrowful.

With or without this trip I will continue to collect stories of empowered women and continue to meet people who inspire and challenge me. Even if it means a little red wine needs to be spilled every once and awhile.

By Anna

We’re nearing the end of March and you know what that means: the women stop celebrating and the men take the year back over. With that said here are my final thoughts about our patriarchal society:

Commercials

  • Verizon Wireless: The muscular jock needs an English tutor, and although they’re playing into stereotypes for the whole commercial, why is it that the tutor is a guy? Aren’t the majority of English majors at colleges girls? Although I expect nothing but sexism and stereotypes from commercials, they missed the boat on this one.
  • Rose Petal Cottage: Yes it’s from our youth, but no wonder so many girls of my generation are now “playing house” with real cupcakes and children, fulfilling their “big dreams.”


“You guys”-Although this is something I find myself saying (mostly because I don’t possess enough drawl to say “You all”). It’s a good example of the institutionalization of sexism. We can’t help but say “You guys.” Everyone imagine if you will, what it would be like if it was institutionalized to say “You gals.” Right! It sounds ridiculously weird and offensive to guys, so now you know how we gals feel.

“Mankind”-I had a roommate who lost ten points in a paper because she kept using gender exclusive grammar. She ranted and ranted about how ridiculous losing those points was, but she was wrong. Try using the word “whitekind” in replace of humankind sometime and see how your professor reacts.

The Prince Charming notion-Nearly every mainstream television show and movie applies the ideal man. Granted I don’t condone going to films where the girl pines for the guy in the end (even though he was the one not giving her enough space to be an individual), plenty of American movie lovers are going to these shows and promoting the self-deprecation that apparently comes with being a female.

By Anna 

It started out with one day, March 8, and blossomed into a month of feminist misery.  womenshistory

Segregating a month out of the year as an excuse for public (and private) schools to talk specifically about what women have done in the world’s history is objectifying.  The pontification of Walt Whitman in “Song of Myself” is feministic.  He is “maternal as well as paternal” because he understands the equality due to all.

Though I respect the goal (and agree that women’s roles should not be ignored) of minister and teacher of women’s history, Jone Johnson Lewis, in the “hope that the day will soon come when it’s impossible to teach or learn history without remembering these [women’s] contributions,” it won’t be possible if the majority of U.S. history teachers are white men.

Throw us a bone so that we will sit in silence like we did when the drafters of the constitution left us out, or when we patiently waited to vote or when we opened our vaginas to life and disease (infections, monthly shedding of our vaginal walls, etc…) and yet we are given one month.  As if the white male majority in Congress needed merely to shut up the bitching wife, who demanded she be heard.

In the words of matriarch Margaret Fuller, “inward and outward freedom for woman as much as for man shall be acknowledged as a right, not yielded as a concession.”

When one month gives me equal pay, gives me respect in coed sports, gives my husband paternity leave (which some jobs allow, though it is not law like in Spain), gives me equal opportunity to education (only 23 percent of women complete a bachelor’s, whereas 27 percent of men do), keeps me above the poverty line, gives me equality in the church and gives me the White House, I will stop this rant.  One month isn’t justifiable; it’s offensive and pejorative.