I just saw the new movie version of “Cinderella” and during the same week received an email from the young woman I am mentoring in China, at Sias University, who said, "I am seeing a young man who seems to like me a lot. I think he loves me but I’m not sure. Maybe he just wants sex. What do you think? How do I choose a boyfriend?”
I find it fascinating that in this era women are still facing this same dilemma.
As for the movie…my pal Laurie and I both agreed that while the movie was beautifully done and the heroine is not without strength of character (in addition to great beauty and a kind nature) we feared that another entire generation of little girls will spend time and energy hoping that “someday my prince will come” and that dinner (or a dance in the ballroom) doesn’t just lead to a romp in the hay.
As for my young mentee in China, she also faces cultural challenges that are far more demanding, in terms of marriage and having children, than women on this side of the Pacific. Jerrie Ueberle, founder and visionary of the World Academy for the Future of Women at Sias University, alerted me to the fact that “This Chinese New Year has been renamed 催婚假期 (marriage enforcing holiday) and there’s a very good reason for this! For many Chinese parents with an unmarried adult child, spring festival has become the optimum time for parents to remind their sons and daughters of their burning desire to 抱孙子 (coddle a grandchild).”
What can we offer as advice to young women today? My father (born and raised in a South American country unique in its support of women-well in some ways, but not all) encouraged me from my youngest years to be independent, self sufficient and to have my own money so that IF I got married and something happened to my husband, I could still take care of myself and/or my children.
It was many years before I realized how unusual it was for a father of a young girl in the 40s and 50s to get that message. Most of my peers were told that a college education was a waste of time and that they should just be pretty and find husbands! What a shock to find themselves divorced, single and trying to survive on two or three part time jobs while their exes went off to start new families or who just disappeared completely. Even those who had degrees struggled because they had been good “stay at home moms” until the marriage fell apart.
When I asked Jerrie if these issues were part of the curriculum for students at Sias, she responded:
“We are focused on having the women see themselves as whole and complete and not missing anything. Then when they find a 'person of interest' it will be value added; not filling an empty space. But some never get it.”
I love and support the goals of a national organization that has been part of my professional and personal life for 15 years - Girls Inc – whose motto is to “Encourage girls to be strong, smart and bold!” Their mission is to “strengthen the whole girl by providing year round/holistic, compensatory and intentional programming focusing on STEM (science technology, engineering and math), healthy relationships, sound body image and teaching girls to use their voice to advocate for themselves and others.”
SO…IS IT SEX OR IS IT LOVE???
MAYBE THE QUESTION SHOULD BE “WHAT IS THE VALUE/PURPOSE OF THIS NEW RELATIONSHIP TO MY LIFE AS A WOMAN?”