If I had found a partner at the age of twenty-two with whom there was mutual attraction and love and who wanted to commit to marriage and kids and who didn’t mind being the sole breadwinner and who made a good enough living to do so and who was guaranteed to treat me well and never leave or die or lose his job (or who would have left me enough money in the case of any of those events), I would have happily acquiesced to being a stay-at-home mom and never entering the job market. I’m guessing most women would.
I would also have liked to have been a supermodel or famous movie actress, or to have inherited a substantial trust fund, or to have won the lottery.
The majority of us, however, have to make contingency plans. The fact that the way we are living our lives is not our first choice, or even our second, but we are in fact “making do,” is not something we like to admit these days, especially in the U.S. Many of us carry this around as our dirty little secret.
Yes, there are some women who, even under ideal circumstances, still want to work; they would go out of their minds without the stimulation of being in the workforce. But my guess is those women represent a fairly small slice of the population. Even those who want to work may be at least partially motivated by the lack of respect and status given to homemakers rather than the desire to hold a j.o.b.
Although many of my wealthy former classmates seem to have pulled off the rosy scenario described above, for most of us, they may as well inhabit the land of the lotus eaters, a place of never-ending bounty that exists only in dreams.
So the rest of us get ourselves a job and then get labelled “career women,” as if we were some small, overly-ambitious slice of the population, instead of the realists we’ve been forced to be.