Want to get married right away? Don’t date a Canadian or European woman, argues Erika Kawalek at Double X:
I want to emphasize something about the difference between the state of affairs for women in America and in the rest of the civilized world. The competitiveness people bring to “dating” and “closing the deal” here is underpinned by intense economic competition and the desire—increasingly, the necessity—for basic social and physical security. There is a secret amongst the Canadian and European women living in the Big Apple. I know this because I am Canadian and my closest girlfriend is French, and when we resident aliens get together we really tear up this country and how it treats its women. (Our dating lives are fine and always have been.) When we talk about dating or the possibility of having family, with a man or on our own or with—gasp!—a coven of like-minded women (why not?), the conversation is framed entirely by the fact that we can count on our native countries to look after us should we—for whatever reason—not be able to make ends meet stateside.
Today’s “Oprah” show offered interesting interviews with women in Rio, Dubai, Istanbul, Tokyo and Copenhagen comparing their lives, showing off their homes, talking about the social and cultural values that affect their daily lives through each nation’s political and economic policies.
Awed by Danish women’s year’s paid maternity leave and four years’ unemployment benefits, among many other social goodies, Oprah asked: “It’s “socialism, isn’t it?” We call it civilization,” her two interviewees replied.
The Danish women said exactly the same thing as Kawalek — women there are in no rush to the altar because they know the state will provide them the economic security simply unavailable to Americans. I’ve been struck by this. I know many Canadian women, with good jobs, who own homes and have kids with their partner, who never marry. It’s just not a big deal and people who make it one are seen as a little odd. Living in New York, I’ve been with my American partner for a decade, but only our American friends seem obsessed with when we’ll make it legal.
If women had greater economic power, would this matter as much?
One of the greatest differences I seen in my 20 years living in the U.S. is this absolute obsession with whether a woman is married or not, engaged or not, and how soon she can get a guy to commit, buy a ring and race to the altar. As a result of this marital mania, I know some American men who live in quivering fear, not of commitment per se, but this unholy rush to seal the deal.
If every woman knew she, on her own, had lifetime free health insurance, a wider, deeper and stronger social safety net, college and graduate education free or offered for $5,000, would she really feel as compelled to grab a guy to rescue her?
Would guys breathe a sigh of relief?