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“Do You Have A Boyfriend?”

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By Federica Romana Simone:

In this day and age women are capable of doing anything; not that they were not able to before, just that they probably did not have the chance of proving themselves. Nowadays women can be judges, police officers, news reporters, doctors, university professors… They can be whatever they want. Or at least this is what we keep on telling ourselves.

uncle sam 1

During the holiday period families gather together, you see those relatives that you have not seen in what seems to be forever, but in reality you “just” saw them last Christmas. I think this might be the case for many of you but let me give you my own example. I am Italian, 22 years old, graduated with honours from university – a full year in advance (3 years instead of 4) , and now I am doing my M.A. in a prestigious university and have lots of plans for the future.

But what do you think is the first question that my relatives, who see me once a year, ask me the moment their eyes land on me? If you thought “how’s Uni going?” or “what are you working on now?” you could not be more wrong. The first question I get, every year since I turned 16 is “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Now, I am not a very ugly, or an impossible-to-date kind of girl. I just have never had a long lasting relationship. Once I reply “no” to their question, whichever relative asked the question loses interest and starts chatting to someone else. As if the fact that I don’t have a boyfriend makes me a not-so-interesting person, or diminishes my value as a girl! Because we all know that if by the age of 22 you still don’t have a stable, long lasting relationship, well there must be something wrong with you right!

Uh-no, I really don’t think so. Why should I be defined by the man, or the lack of thereof, by my side? I am a young woman (debatable for some, apparently I am old already!) with a bright future ahead, with or without a partner. But nope, not according to society.

In some countries I am already too old. I should have been married already,had a couple of kids, or at least been engaged! Why should I waste my time in libraries, studying for too many exams, or in offices doing unpaid internships? Perhaps I should really stop what I am doing and start pursuing the ‘right’ path. My last boyfriend resented me for leaving him alone a lot. After all, this girlfriend of his was writing a thesis and had 5 other exams to prepare for in a month. With spending so much time reading those books in the afternoon, working at night, and going to class in the morning;it’s no wonder then that she didn’t have enough time to spend with him. So let’s face it – the man was right. He clearly did not have any other choice. His girlfriend was being selfish and boring!

It seems our society will always praise the men rather than the women. If you think that hard work pays off, well you are not entirely right. You might be a world class lawyer before 40, defending countries (yes countries! e.g. Greece), giving speeches at the UN, and so much more, and yet being labelled as “the pretty wife”. This is exactly what happened to Amal Alamuddin (now Clooney). She is unbelievably brilliant and powerful, and yet people know her as the woman who convinced George Clooney, a chronic bachelor, to get married. As if none of her qualities, or previous experiences matter. She is Mrs. Clooney and that’s it.

Why do we need to define ourselves by the man we stand behind? Why do women always need to be objectified, and classified as either a wives or as mothers? And if they fail to qualify for those categories, they are worthless? Why? Well, there are many answers: society is based on a patriarchal model, or women have traditionally been home bound and only took care of the family, or girls used to be treated as property and bargains from fathers to potential husbands and so on.

But, it is 2015! Why the hell can’t we shake these old ideas off our backs and move on?

I am sure this has happened to all of us at least once. No matter what achievements we manage to accomplish, we still feel like we are somewhat empty because we don’t have a partner by our side. It is something so deeply ingrained in our culture that we can’t seem to let go.

Who knows, maybe 2015 will be the ‘good year’. The year when everyone realizes that being a girlfriend or a wife isn’t all that a woman can be. Maybe in 2015, all different societies in the world will understand how essential it is to educate girls, and stop considering them as objects. Maybe in 2015 we will understand that there is no shame in being single, and our employers will pay us the same amount they pay their male employees. In the mean time I will keep on looking up at my favourite role models, and wish that one day I’ll be like Amal: gorgeous, smart and with a kick-ass career.

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  1. Gaurav

    I am surprised to see this question from a 22 yr old, there are 60 million men and women in India in the age group 30-40 who are single and not ready to mingle, which basically means both men and women have long given up on relationships and marriage and family and that is why I say it is even more surprising to find a 22 yr trying to give this long forgotten nonsense so much thought. maybe you came across some one who belongs to the older generation an by that I mean some 80 yr old.. 🙂 indian women today do not bother about trivial trinkets like marriage and boyfriend, indian women are far ahead and have already evolved to a point where they realise the futility of being in a relationship and have thrown out such pathetic and disgusting thoughts out of the mind lock stock and barrel. quite honestly it is quite shocking to see an italian woman bringing up the topic of a boyfriend or relationships 😀 what a loser!! this article belongs to 1945, grow up, get a life

    1. Arjun Pakrashi

      “indian women today do not bother about trivial trinkets like marriage and boyfriend, indian women are far ahead and have already evolved to a point where they realise the futility of being in a relationship and have thrown out such pathetic and disgusting thoughts out of the mind lock stock and barrel”

      This is not correct. Either you have not thought and observed enough, or you have not interpreted the things from different perspectives. Try again.

    2. Federica Romana Simone

      thank you for your opinion, Gaurav.

      I know that I am not the only girl who feels that way, there are countless girls who feel that way (personally I’ve met MANY of them). It is not even a matter of age or nationality (how many Italians have you met? none I assume from your comment), it is a matter that as a girl you are expected to be someone’s partner. I am all in favour of independence and being proud of being a single strong woman, but this is not the point here. The point is that all over the world girls are always labeled as someone’s partner before anything else. Do you think this is fair? I personally don’t.

      This is an opinion piece, and I expressed mine, so how about we agree to disagree? 🙂

    3. Gaurav

      got your point…

  2. swati ahluwalia

    every individual has its own experience but wat matters is dat how u r reacting against these experiences …….
    actually itz upto u and not according to others as the exprriences taken by u cant be felt as same by others …….
    so make your senses strong and independent as a beautiful world izz waiting for us with its open arms

  3. Babar

    Countless men are asked if they have a girlfriend, so this is not a gender issue, but of course, feminists must play victims. This article also systematically demonizes the value of a woman being a mother and a wife, and downplays it to further the feminist agenda of sending women in the workforce, and finishes of with a blatant lie about the wage gap.

    1. Panda

      The wage gap isn’t a myth. The recent Sony hack revealed that female stars like Jennifer Lawrence were paid less than their male counterparts for the same amount of work. Look it up.

    2. Babar

      What measure was taken to ensure than Jennifer Lawrence was putting in the exact amount of time, effort, determination, passion, enthusiasm and her work was of the same exact standard as her male counterparts? Does Jennifer Lawrence have the same amount of experience as her male counterparts? Does she work in the same number of movies as her male counterparts? Does she take the same number of holidays?

    3. TheSeeker

      Do you know who Jennifer Lawrence is? Seems like you don’t. She ain’t one of those Bollywood item girls who make money on their bodies.

    4. Monistaf

      @Panda – The wage gap clearly IS a myth and has been debunked so many times, but yet feminists keep bringing it up to perpetuate their victim status in society. Did you also check how much all the other male actors were paid? I am sure there are several who were paid less than Jennifer Lawrence. Also, even if Jennifer Lawrence was in fact paid less, she was not forced to work for Sony. She had a choice, if she felt she was paid less, she could have negotiated a better wage or refused the work. She obviously worked because she thought she was being fairly compensated for her talent, just like everyone else on the payroll. After all, she is equally capable as her male counterparts to negotiate her own wage, no?

    5. Panda

      @monistaf: I wasn’t talking about all male stars in general, but her male stars in the movie American Hustle (which the leaked Sony email refers to). Since salaries are kept a closely guarded secret (it took a hack of this calibre to reveal them), she had no way of knowing that she was be subjected to the wage gap. She likely has a team of agents, managers and lawyers who advocate for her best interests in production deals, representatives not only skilled at negotiations but presumably well-informed on prevailing compensation standards in the industry. And yet, she’s still paid as though she’s less valuable than her male co-workers, who performed the same job she did. A FULL 23% LESS.

      @babar and @monistaf: Forget being equal to, JLaw’s standards and acting calibre are MUCH HIGHER than those of her male counterparts in the same movie. “The Hunger Games” is a billion dollar franchise with Lawrence at the center. Prior to starring in American Hustle, she had won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook.” She therefore brought an indisputable level of star power to the movie.
      Let’s compare this to her male co-stars:
      1. Bradley Cooper: best known for his less-than-Oscar caliber performances in “The Hangover” franchise.
      2. Christian Bale: has one Oscar to his credit.
      Compare them to Amy Adams who stars in the same movie and has FIVE Oscar nominations, more than Bale and her other co-star Jeremy Renner COMBINED. And she was paid a full 23% less too.

      So as far as expertise goes, these women are prolific, accepting roles that require them to have acting finesse and which garner them numerous awards. And still they are unfairly discriminated against.

      Maybe do a little more reading up on the subject before deciding to attack people on the internet next time?

    6. Monistaf

      @Panda – May be you should do your research too!! Salaries are almost always confidential. Just because she was paid less, it does NOT mean all women are paid less. If she had a team of agents who negotiated on her behalf, then they got what they negotiated!! May be the male actors had better negotiators or refused to work for less. She had the same choices and the same opportunities. She could have refused if she thought she was not fairly compensated. Are you telling me that if there are 10 men working the same job in a corporation at the same level, ALL of them are being paid equally? If not, then 9 of them are being paid less for the same work, probably because of the same exact reasons that Jennifer Lawrence. It happens all the time, regardless of gender, caste, creed, national origin, color etc. You never get what you deserve, you will mostly get what you can negotiate! It is not a gender issue, just get over it and don’t try to make it one. In a world driven by profits, it is your (or in this case your agents) responsibility to understand your worth, be aware of the competition and get you the best deal. Female models consistently get paid more than their male counterparts. When was the last time you sympathized with the male models who are being “exploited” by being paid less for the same work!

  4. Shivani Chimnani

    Brilliantly written, I can totally relate to it and the analogy of Amal Alamuddin is spot on. She is an international law lawyer who has represented Julian Assange but most people don’t know this. She is looked upon as a trophy wife of George Clooney. We all hope this year turns tables round. Keep writing.

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