Now, before you roll your eyes and close this browser in favour of an article about what madness Justin Bieber has been up to this week or a video compilation of James Corden’s best Carpool Karaoke’s … Hear me out.
I recently read an article on The Huffington Post from a couple of years ago. The author’s take on the subject was GENUINELY that the ‘masculine energy’ we exhibit in the workplace could be harmful to our dating life. That we can have a career at any time so we should probably put our energy into finding a husband first … AND that ‘it’s a good idea to be involved with other women and/or feminine activities to maintain some level of girly-ness’. Like what? Inserting tampons and softly weeping into stuffed bears?
Why is it assumed that as a single woman in your twenties and thirties (and beyond) we are making a choice to cast aside all hopes of a fairy-tale romance onto the scrap heap in order to dive headfirst into our work? Why are we solely defined by our careers?
Why is it only women?
Why do you never hear … ‘oh, so you are one of those Career Men?’
Why do I have so many questions on this?! Generally speaking, if a man is single (regardless of what age he is) it is assumed that at the point in which he has sown all the wild oats he can muster, he will click his fingers, find himself a wife, and continue with ‘business as usual’ when it comes to work. He might have a couple of weeks off for a nice honeymoon in Tuscany but on the whole, nothing will change. There are no time restrictions, he’ll be alright, I’m sure he’s got it all under control.
I was brought up in the North of England. For some reason, there is more of a trend for ‘settling down’ earlier up there. A lot of my friends, family and people I randomly speak to on the bus have balanced a committed relationship (marriage, mortgage, kids, dog etc.) with their chosen vocation. And that’s absolutely fine as far as I’m concerned. But there seems to be a tendency to use the fact that I have been successful in my work to explain away the reason that I’m also single. The equation goes, the more successful the single woman, the louder the chants will be!
As though the pursuit of a husband is actually a fulltime job in itself (I’m sure anyone who has ever been on Tinder will attest to this) which I have ceremoniously turned my back on.
According to our good friend Wikipedia, the definition of a ‘career woman’ is:
“a woman whose main priority in life is achieving success in her career and profession. These women can also be described as more interested in her career than in being married and having children.”
Even BETTER are the Google image results for the same search. Think power suits, well-combed hair, a leather folder and an unforgiving glower. My clients will confirm that I possess none of these items/qualities, and yet they still want to work with me? Weird.
I defy anyone to pick out the photos of me seamlessly blended into these other career women..
In the interest of balance I tried out googling ‘Career man’ which came back with this rather disturbing entry:
“a man who is a careerist. Type of: careerist. a professional who is intent on furthering his or her career by any possible means and often at the expense of their own integrity.”
As shady and downright dodgy as this sounds, it’s interesting to note that there is absolutely no mention of marriage or kids in this description. Because it’s taken for granted and never questioned that men can have it all, right?
I decided that as I have manically asked so many questions at the beginning of this article, I had better come up with some answers. I have arrived at the following:
Actually, I am a ‘career woman’.
I’m also a friend. I like wine, and yoga, and watching Ex on the Beach in my gym leggings whilst eating pizza. I’m a writer. I’m not actively looking OR not looking for a life partner … I’m an avid hater of fennel. Old people holding hands fill me with joy. Young, attractive people PDA’ing on the tube make me feel sick and want to start throwing old copies of the Metro at them.
I am all of those things and more, and each one of them makes up the individual that I am. I love my work, but I’m a whole lot more than my career, and if we’re really getting into it, when have labels actually helped anyone?*
* The one notable exception being a label that says ‘70% off’ affixed to a piece of cheese.