The best and brightest are snubbing men, marriage and baby-making for work, fun and adventure. Should Asia be worried?
By Susan Berfield
HENRIETTA CLAUDIA "BONJIN" BOLINAO, a 40-something who runs her own public-relations firm, was planning to get married -- just as soon as she could find the time. First she had to help produce a book, The Philippines: A Journey through the Archipelago. Then her firm won two prestigious accounts, carmakers Volvo and UMC Nissan, and that kept her busy. She also decided to redecorate her apartment, improve her golf game, travel around the world and spend more time meditating. Her fiancé, a writer in Manila three years her junior, didn't seem too perturbed by the delays. As any sensible woman would, she considered that a warning sign. He was "a good guy, with a thinking mind," Bolinao says. Even her mother liked him. But maybe, she thought, he was scared to settle down. Or maybe, her friends thought, he was worried that she wouldn't.
Bolinao reviewed the situation: "He let me pursue my career and saw me through hard times when I set up my company. But at the same time he expected me to assume the role of the traditional Filipina woman. I was supposed to make sure everything was spic and span at home, be the perfect cook and ironing lady -- he even taught me how to iron properly. That whole thing can get really tiring." Bolinao and her fiancé eventually called off the wedding. "I really think we are soul mates. But we are better off as friends," she says now, two years later. "I will always love him. But I don't know about getting married."( Read more...Collapse )
Marketing Miss Right
"I'm single because I was born that way."
-Mae West, 1967
"I am going to die. But I will die married."
-Eve, Otherwise Engaged, 1999
STANDING IN LINE AT THE MOVIES, I'M LISTENING to a friend chat with an old acquaintance who happens to be in line behind us. As they bemoan the state of San Francisco housing, the acquaintance mentions that her older sister just purchased a hunk of East Coast real estate. "She bought a six-room apartment," she says proudly. A dramatic pause, and then the kicker: "Without him."
Him? Who's him?
Oh, him. Right. I feel as though I've been transported into one of those General Mills International Coffee ads, where a knot of women sit around someone's living room with their Café Hazelnut Mochas, reinforcing female stereotypes for all they're worth. This woman is waiting for my friend to respond excitedly, but what is she supposed to say? "Wow, that's wonderful that your sister is able to summon the courage to buy an apartment without first meeting and marrying a tall, perfectly stubbled, George Clooney-looking software executive who will foot the bill for everything and then let her pick out all the pretty furniture"? Or, "Gosh, it's great that your sister isn't afraid to look like a pathetic spinster, what with having her very own apartment and all"?
It's weird to hear women still mouthing the kind of stuff that even Cosmo seems to know better than to print these days. But then, it's kind of a weird time to be a single woman. On the one hand, the choice to be single is acknowledged and validated in ways that seemed unthinkable as little as a dozen years ago, when the famous you'll-have-a-better-chance-of-
arried-in-your-30s reports flowed in from every media venue around. Slowly, the ranks of the never-married are swelling, and with about 40 million single women in America, it's a demographic that's getting noticed.
On the other hand, what's getting noticed about single women in 1999 can be summed up with two words: Bridget Jones. The current era of the single woman might as well be described as post-BJ, since it seems that no pop cultural mention of either women or singlehood can pass without trotting out her booze-swilling British ass as evidence that we're all self-flagellating, thigh- and marriage-obsessed neurotics. Never mind that single women are owning their own businesses in record numbers, matching men dollar for dollar in spending, and remaking the arts in their own image. It's much easier to market to single women by dwelling on what they aren't—married, and by extension settled comfortably into society. Pick up a book, peruse a diamond ad, watch your television, eavesdrop on people at the movies: We're tapping a well of long-extant stereotypes, fears, and assumptions about single women and selling them back to ourselves at a bargain price.( Read more...Collapse )