Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

In my Contemporary Political Thought class, our assigned reading, “The Decadent Society,” by Ross Douthat, raised the notion that our society is in decadence because of the decline in reproduction, which is influenced by a cultural shift towards prioritizing individual pursuits, delayed marriages and career ambitions over traditional family values. While I don’t disagree, I also don’t see why that’s such a bad thing. I feel as though Douthat’s case lacks the historical context, and even empathy, as to why our culture has shifted this way. For years, across the world, regardless of culture, the role of a woman has been defined by men. From voting rights to the freedom to work, our great-great-grandmothers have fought to get us women where we are today —all that just for Douthat to call us selfish. I suppose being a woman means spending the rest of your life fighting to prove your innocence in something, so here is my case.

Modern women prioritizing career stability before parenthood isn’t selfish — it’s a reclaiming of autonomy from historical constraints. The reason for some women might be deeper than financial stability: it’s all rooted in the trauma that women from all cultures have endured throughout history. We come from a past where women were forced to have children; where the concept of marital rape wasn’t even considered a substantial concern. So, how can we truly believe that our great-grandmothers really did want to have ten kids? We come from a past where women did not get to choose their husbands or whether they wanted to dedicate their lives to motherhood or education and a career. Childbearing and being a wife was their only option, and the central thing they were raised to do. So, while Douthat argues that women still want as many children as men, I think the difference now is that women are prioritizing their careers before starting a family. They are prioritizing the stability that a career will give them — that will help them support children — especially in this time period where single-parent households are so prevalent. Divorce is at an all-time high, and while we do have legal obligations to hold men accountable, most of the responsibilities that raising children entails are still left to the mother. And so, I don’t think it should be considered selfish to want to improve yourself and your way of living before bringing another human into your care. My mother has always advised me to pursue a degree and a career because, “a man can always leave you but your education never will.”

To be clear, I absolutely adore the traditional wife lifestyle. While some may say it’s setting us back, I think that mindset itself sets us back. The point is we all fought for the right to be able to choose whether that lifestyle works for you or not. If a woman chooses it, it’s a slap in the face for another to ridicule her use of freedom. Take model and content creator Nara Smith, for example. She embodies the role of a traditional wife, making every meal her family eats from scratch and being a stay at home mother. Right up her alley is another content creator, best known as Ballerina Farm. While a lot of people adore the two women, the haters sure know how to stand out. I’ve read countless “I strive to be this unemployed” comments and scrolled past a lot of “Ballerina Farm and Nara Smith Controversy” videos of people looking for any problem in the two women. In a way, these two have shined a romantic light on being a traditional wife that has been dim for years, with many young girls looking up to them and dreaming of living such a life. But again, while that lifestyle seems to work wonders for them, that isn’t the case for every woman. 

Recently on TikTok, I’ve come across some alarming videos of women who are trying to recover from that lifestyle and are now left with nothing because their marriage has ended and the man they depended on has left. One particular content creator named Jennie, under the account “lifetaketwo,” was vulnerable enough to share her story. Jennie explains how she dropped out of school and married young. She decided to be an entrepreneur, but because her Mormon faith forbade women from working, she was forced to pass her businesses over to her husband. Despite that, she continued to work for those businesses without receiving any pay. Now that her marriage has ended, she is fighting to become financially stable after years of depending on her husband. Her advice to young women is that a man is not a plan. And she couldn’t be any more correct — you are the plan. You should never put your future in someone else’s hands, nor should you discard your future for anyone. Even when it comes to relationships, I’ve witnessed many women become so consumed by a man that they forget themselves — and when the relationship ends, they are left grasping at the broken pieces of who they are without him.

My advice to all women reading this is, whether you want to be a traditional wife or a career woman, do what makes you happy so you’ll never fantasize the other side with jealousy and regret. And most importantly, be smart and intentional — keeping in mind that a happily-ever-after is not promised. People, jobs and society will always change, but as long as you have something to lean against, you’ll withstand the storms that come your way. My dear, embrace change, be willing to adapt, but never lose sight of your own worth. I believe that aside from her faith, a woman should be the centerpiece of her own life. 


Perpetual Kahindo is a third-year Political Science major.

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