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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Joy Arganbright

Age of Ambiguity

We have unlimited choice without any set roles in society anymore. There is unbridled potential for everyone. Everything has become fluid with nothing being solid or the “norm” during our quest to be emancipated from all societal constructs like marriage, gender, sexuality. It’s liberating how so many people can now embody anything they choose and express themselves in whatever way they like. This is a rebound from previous eras of many people feeling suppressed in their roles, sexual orientation, etc. Each generation works like this - revolutions after all, aren’t new, they are cycles. I’d like to chat about the gender roles aspect.

Marriage has become an outdated concept in many cultures and relationships aren’t established because we’re in “free love” mode like the second wave of the hippie era, giving us freedom but no stability. In Spain, outside of the traditional region of Andalucia, almost every person I’ve spoken with under 45 doesn’t believe in the importance of marriage. In Australia, it’s the same thing. The ritual of the bond of marriage, the sacred contract, I feel is important. Not because of what it does, but because of what it represents. If you look at ancient societies, rituals are what create…well, society itself. Rituals and rites of passage mark the beginning of a new phase, meaningful to the family and community. Without rituals such as birthdays, holidays and the sacred and between two people, we lack the creation of meaning. I write this as a woman who grew up with a deeply feminist single mother who did not respect or value men and never wanted to marry again. So, my own values have developed apart from parental conditioning and perhaps as a response to the harsh feminism I grew up with alongside the "liberal" (in the American sense) society I live in.

Within our current blend of feminism, society has completely ignored biology. Women and men are understood under the same lens. Equal rights means women want to be the same as men. But here is where it goes wrong. The polarity is lost, the same polarity which previously drew us together - valuing the other sex for the beautiful masculine or feminine aspect. In Australia, if a man opens a door for a woman heading into the office, she’ll often be heard saying, “I can do it myself.” One time I heard a woman huffing out, “Would you do that for a man?” The man, who was trying to be a gentleman, then learns to suppress his own masculinity and become passive. We then become a society of women who have shouldered not only the responsibilities of men as we dive into full-time careers, but meanwhile becoming mothers in a society where many of us don’t receive the support we would need from a man because we've negated their masculinity and natural desire to want to protect and provide.

The irony of this generation prizing identification with fluid and ambiguous concepts is that we've completely lost trust in identity itself. What happens when you lose identity? There's a loss of purpose. I'd even go so far as to say it has an effect on drive and the meaning of one's life. These three things are rife within this culture as many people don't have a purpose and lack meaning. Embodying the integral role of a gender creates identity, purpose, drive, and meaning. If a man is the financial head of the household, the woman's role of being the mother is of equal importance. The common debate is things should be "50/50," but this way actually IS 50/50. Being a mother is incredibly taxing mentally, emotionally and energetically in the same way (if not more) that a professional career is. And if you're investing 100% of your time into a full-time career, you don't have anything left in your cup to give to your child. I'm not saying every woman should quit her job, but I believe maintaining the essence of "the man being the man and woman being the woman" is incredibly important.

Quintessential societies where gender roles are 50/50 in every way with zero delineation between genders are in Scandinavian countries. These countries are consistently ranked the happiest in the world, and why? Because of huge community support and state welfare. When the state looks after you, family bonds become less important. This is why developing countries often treasure family more than anything while in developed countries family is much lower on the rung. So the state substitutes for real kinship and bonds. I personally feel that’s a bit sad because it makes natural aspects of human importance less important or in some cases, unnecessary.

If a woman chooses to have a child, she has taken on the role of the mother. But many women want to take on the full-time career and also what should be the full-time role as the mother. In Spain, kids are sent to childcare at four months’ old, straight after the country’s four month maternity leave. The child hasn’t had the proper time to bond with the mother and vice versa. In countries like Australia, I spoke with many women who wanted kids and said they’d put them in daycare as soon as they could. One of the problems is that since the '70's, families cannot support themselves off one income, and this has been due to inflation rates, tax load and expectations of essential family needs (newest iPhones, iPads, cars, etc. for each member of the household) exceeding the amount of a single income.

Feminism was supposed to make us all happy. I haven't spoken with many women who are very happy with the state of their relationships, exhaustion from balancing careers and motherhood, etc. We got exactly what we wanted through radical feminism and if most women were honest with themselves, they'd say they would want it to be another way.

When I tell female friends that I want to be a mother and wife one day as the main caretaker for the kids and household stuff with a husband who wants to provide for the family, I'm told my beliefs are not valid or valued. Society has changed, but I remain old school. I value acknowledging and respecting a man’s masculinity and desire to protect and provide. I value the concept of a mother wanting to be a full-time mother, I treasure the idea of a woman immersing in her own unique brand of femininity without having to feel the must be the SAME as a man - because we aren’t the same and that is what makes us amazing, that we each have special things to give to one another. I know I can’t do everything a man can do and I don’t want to. I’ve personally experienced a decade of having to animate my own masculine and feminine as a single woman in my early thirties with zero family support, and I can fully say I do not enjoy being the man in my own life. I’m not saying feminism is bad, as it was a necessary step to achieve more equitability, but I think it's gone way too far. We've confused equality with sameness, in the process losing a lot of what holds our societies together and also brings us happiness at an integral level. Let the dude open the door for you and be appreciative, just as he should protect you and make you feel safe as you cross the street. It’s a two-way street, after all.


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