Is Single the New Norm?
My hope is that the days of women attending college as finishing school are over. I hope that the students of the Mona Lisa Smile are gone and women are less and less likely to come to college with the goal of finding their future husbands. Lafayette seems to have a culture mixed with traditionalists and modernists; while we see traditions being kept in the Greek community and events like Laf-Lehigh, we are a liberal arts college with liberal organizations. Women on this campus in particular seem to be pushing their personal liberty.
There’s a step towards independence I’ve never witnessed before. The single girls want to stay single and the girls in relationships aren’t planning their weddings. If you go beyond the campus to urban environments—namely New York City, with which I’m well acquainted, more and more women don’t want to get married. They find the concept distracting from their career. These girls want to interact with the opposite sex, but mainly for networking, sex, or friendship—not a relationship in the traditional sense of the word. It’s a shift in our generation. Women are protesting the long tradition of mating for life.
So where does that leave heterosexual men? I don’t really know, but I’ve been trying to figure it out. If you look at the adolescent dating culture in the 90’s and early 2000’s, mainly through popular culture and media, the degenerate or emotionally unavailable dude still got the girl. For example, you take a move like Clueless, a 90’s classic, and you see that Dionne, although the secondary character, is head over heals for Murray and Tai falls in love with the reformed stoner, Travis. While I don’t want to say these guys suck, because as people they definitely don’t, they put minimal effort into securing the object of their affection. They suck as boyfriends. The same goes for Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls—the guy just had to look pretty. He never made an honorable effort towards Cady or probably Regina.
What I took from this is that now, in the 2010s, women are no longer taken with men who aren’t worth their time and attention. They would rather be single. They won’t sacrifice their independence as easily for the social perks of having a “boyfriend.” I’m fortunate enough to have observed large groups of women both in my all-girls high school and sorority and I have to say that I’ve never seen more empowered women than I have in this generation. These large groups of women, and this goes for any women’s group on campus, are encouraging each other’s careers and even emotional independence.
Back to where this leave heterosexual men: I think it leaves them to have to do more. I don’t think girls are going to come easy anymore. I love this modern woman and consider myself part of the club. I think the question is, can this modern woman be loved by a modern man—and particularly by men on this campus? I’ve already seen it in my peers in relationships, but my hope among hopes in this column is that the modern woman gets the love she deserves and the life she wants.