It is not a secret that I am a die-hard Law & Order fan. Have been for years, and will probably always be. I have seen every episode no less than 5 times of all 3 of the primary L&O programs (Law & Order, SVU, Criminal Intent). Am I ashamed—no way! When I need to chill, it is my way of relaxing and at the same time, staying tuned-in to legal issues of the day.
In any event, recently I was watching an old episode of SVU, where a young man with AIDS, intentionally, recklessly, and with total disregard for human life slept with women knowing he would likely infect them. One unfortunate young woman who got sucked into his misogynistic web expressed her reason for being so upset at this discovery. It wasn’t that she would be sick, it wasn’t that she might even die, instead it was because she wouldn’t meet the man of her dreams. She said, “I hate him, because I am never going to get married or have kids. What’s the point of staying in school or going to college?”
There are several issues I could address (e.g., the insensitivity and irresponsibility of this man, the choices some women make when we want to be liked by the popular guy, how we treat AIDS in our society). But in this post, I have chosen to focus on the self-esteem issue of a young girl thinking the sole purpose of education is to get an M.R.S. degree. The fact that this teenage girl felt the only reason to stay in school was so she could get married and have kids was heartbreaking. No doubt there are more than a few of you reading this who believe as she does. I am not among that group.
While I love my husband and love being married, being married is not my life’s purpose. In fact, I got married at 45, long after I had become a lawyer. My education is one of my greatest achievements, because it created opportunities that were non-existent for me before–as a woman and as a black woman. I became free to do things in life that I could not do before. The gift of choice was my greatest blessing, which came from being educated.
I grew up in the 60s, and have lived through 6 decades. In that time I have witnessed many changes. What is especially telling is that sometimes it seems as women we have taken 2 steps forward and 1 step back.
Getting married and having kids is wonderful—if that is what you want to do. But to believe that it is the only reason to live and to advance yourself as a woman—in this speaker’s opinion—seems quite sad.
What do you think?
Francine Ward, attorney, author, self esteem recovery coach, speaker. Join my conversation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+.