Solo Travel

Does “female freedom” have an expiration date?

I recently discovered this New York Times documentary, “35 and Single”:

The short film was created by a 35-year-old Argentinian woman who lives a nomadic existence as a film director. She isn’t ready to “settle down”, yet feels societal pressure to marry and have children. She claims this unspoken pressure didn’t exist in her 20s, when her gypsy lifestyle and revolving door of boyfriends was seen as acceptable, even normal. But since she entered her 30s, she feels as though her status as a single, wandering vagabond is viewed as a negative. Friends pity her and family members worry she’ll never marry and be alone forever.

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She suggests this ‘female freedom expiration date’ doesn’t exist for men, at least not to the same degree.

I’m not sure if I agree with that. While the female biological clock might dictate that women “settle down” at a slightly younger age than men, I think the pressure for 30-somethings to “get a real job” and get married and procreate is felt by both genders. People meet a 30-something who has never been married and wonder if he or she is damaged goods; as though there’s something wrong with the choice to fly solo.

The comments left on the video’s YouTube page illustrate this idea. Some reacted to this video in anger, theorizing the filmmaker is single because she’s promiscuous or self-absorbed. One commenter said something to the effect of “Maybe she’d find a husband if she wasn’t such a dirty, messy pig.” Another person suggested her accent was to blame, calling it a relationship “deal breaker”. These judgmental comments aside, I think  focusing on WHY she isn’t married yet is missing the point. I think the better question should be: Who cares if she isn’t married yet? Marriage is great if it’s something you want, but it shouldn’t be something you feel as though you need in order to be happy. The Pope and the Dalai Lama never married, and they still lived rich, fulfilling lives. Those may be extreme examples, but you get my point.

Right before the closing credits, the filmmaker makes this conclusion: “In the end, happiness is a choice, isn’t it?” I think that’s a good message to take away from this. Single or married, you’re only as happy as you allow yourself to be. A husband and a white picket fence are not going to change that.

What do you think? Do you feel pressure as you age to give up the wandering lifestyle and settle down?

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