This post is an opening argument to the question, “Do women need men and/or children in order to be fulfilled?” Check out the opposing viewpoint from Justin Sanders here. This post was also published at Damsels in Success.
Update: This post was also published at Huffington Post.
Women need men. Just not like we used to.
While career guru Penelope Trunk insists that we will find deeper fulfillment from relationships over work, others like Hannah Seligson wonder why we can’t talk about “young women and careers without talking about the hunt for a husband?”
Generation Y women don’t relate to either. We don’t live container lives, with work and family and play muffled under air-tight lids. Our life bleeds together, and instead of a singular goal of family or career, we lead our lives as a continuum, family and career ebbing and flowing.
The reality of young women’s lives today is that we want it all, despite the warnings. While coming of age during 9/11 reinforced that family is deeply important to us, we were also raised to believe we could do and be anything, especially equal to men professionally.
It’s not about prioritizing one over the other, nor is there a single answer that works for everyone; there are extremes at either end. What remains consistent in women, however, is their sense of increasing independence.
Whether we check off men, children, career, or all of the above, the fact is that we have a choice, and what fulfills and limits us is not created by society and media, but increasingly our own desires.
As a result, our roles are changing. Women are becoming the leaders, and men the supporters. Even in relationships where children are the priority, and the woman chooses or is able to stay at home, women take on the dominant role, commanding a deeper respect than any time in history.
Many view the shifting roles as threatening the very basis of our biology. But it isn’t. It is simply uprooting the traditional western viewpoint.
Indeed, while spouses and children still rank as a source of fulfillment for women above careers, one’s personal fulfillment is increasingly not just augmented by, but necessitated by professional fulfillment as well.
Bored with motherhood and marriage, we savor the challenge of work. Michelle Obama said in a recent interview, “I love losing myself in a set of problems that have nothing to do with my husband and children. Once you’ve tasted that, it’s hard to walk away.”
Women don’t need men or children for fulfillment. They might get on okay with a cat, or their career, or another woman. But really, Generation Y doesn’t need much. We’ve been coddled and spoiled, and have long surpassed what we might need, and are instead creating what we want.
And what we want is to define a new kind of woman, a “compassionate alpha.”
The Generation Y woman has leadership and strength, and promotes community and empathy. We don’t dismiss motherhood, but embrace our strengths and use those to change the workplace, reaping from it a greater sense of fulfillment than ever before.
It is not a coincidence that at a time when power-hungry hierarchies are being broken down, women are leading and infiltrating the workplace. It is our skills and talents that have created such an influential shift.
Generation Y women are high-achievers, shrewd, well-dressed, and possess an emotional intelligence that far surpasses our male counterparts. We don’t rule by insecurities or fear, but by knowing ourselves well, and seeking connection with others.
In short, we’re women. We strive to be who we are, in our sexual identities, and in how we construct our personal and professional lives. We acknowledge our own complexities.
Our personal and professional lives are blurred more than ever before, and a woman’s strength in today’s society is the fact that we are true to ourselves — more so than any other generation — because past generations fought for our right to do so.