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2006-05-31 - 8:13 p.m.


Tonight I fixed a dinner of asparagus and ham in a cheese sauce with a side of steamed swiss chard tossed with garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar and another side of new potatoes. I've just become my mother. I'm describing food that I'm eating.

This week's Newsweek decided to review their classic study from 1986 in which they tritely stated that a woman over 40 has a better chance of being shot by a terrorist than getting married. I rolled my eyes and thought "Oh PUH-LEASE, not another lame attempt for mass readership.." as I immediately turned straight to the page to read what they had to say.

Articles about women's marital status are kind of like a train wreck - inevitably they are journalistic disasters that nevertheless invoke alot of rubbernecking. I rubbernecked. Half of me fills with disgust and thinks, why should anyone really CARE whether I or other women get married or not??? The other half of me read the article to see what their reports on the stats really were.

I read the stats and found them interesting, but was still left wondering why marital status remained at the center of the article. I found myself thinking back to Maureen O'Dowd's big whiny column. Sorry, O'Dowd did make some good points, too, but so much of me is just tired of the issue and yet somehow I keep getting sucked back into it.. Why is that? Why do we care so much about a woman's beauty or a woman's relationship to men? Has anyone ever made any absurd comments such as a man is most beautiful when he is 25 and then it fades from there? Do we CARE? Sometimes I get tired of the scrutiny we women indulge.

I was recently reminded of a job interview I had at a vine-covered university in the Northeast USA. Two of the professors interviewing me asked of my marital status, and if they would need to find a position for my "husband." Sigh. This line of questioning is completely illegal, but what can one do? I know the two other (male) candidates who interviewed for this position, and I can guarantee that they were not asked the same question.

One might argue that this interview occurred ten years ago in 1996, and that this wouldn't happen today. I won't even begin to describe the interview situation that I experienced in NY two years ago. Rather, I have been privvy to the search tactics at a couple of other universities. I've seen inexperienced female candidates shortlisted while experienced ones were excluded, so that a department could demonstrate that they had satisfied equal opportunity rules while still ensuring that the favored male candidate was not challenged. At another place the institute blatantly informed their top female candidate that they wouldn't consider her because they couldn't offer her husband a job that he would expect. Can you imagine anyone saying this to a man?

The salary gap and the glass ceiling are far from being solved; the issue of parental leave and daycare loom as huge issues for our modern workforce, for both men and women. Yes, I picked up the article for its trainwreck-style intrigue. But I really think that there are bigger issues facing women rather than whether or not they will find a man.

One more paragraph and then I'm done. I guess I think that an article on the marital status of women AND men, that covered gender discrepancies, the new role of gay partnerships in our society, and new trends in the structure of modern families and partnerships, would have been really interesting. But this constant underlying tone that marriage is the "Holy Grail" for women is just irritating, and cliche.

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