Why are women shamed for wanting to take charge of their own lives? Author Glynnis MacNicol wants to know.
There are various ways in which one can consider author Glynnis MacNicol’s life as a ‘success:’ a wonderful, close group of friends, a great relationship with her family, most especially with her nieces and nephews, who want ‘to be just like Aunt Glynnis’ when they grow up.
MacNicols has a vibrant career, a great New York city apartment, and the ability to travel the world. Yet, as she is a woman pushing 40, she’s still constantly being told she ‘still has time’ to find the right man and have kids, as if all her personal success means nothing without a husband and kids to show for.
It’s a narrative about women that MacNicols is looking to end, and as Nylon finds out, not just in the way that she lives her life, but also in the documentation of her life that is the memoir No One Tells You This.
“No One Tells You This is MacNicol’s exploration of what it looks like to be a woman who isn’t doing things in the traditional way, one who has eschewed things like marriage and children; one who is, in a sense, driving down a road with no map to follow,” Nylon writer Kristin Iversen finds.
The map? It’s the generational ‘drilling’ into women since they were young girls that the lives they will live will ‘eventually’ lead to marriage and children, no matter how successful, renowned, and opposed to it they may be.
Iversen notes that even if our culture at the moment is now moving away from traditional heteronormative views on relationships and sex, it is still prevalent to place pressure on women to have a husband and children at a certain age.
She clarifies that while this is in no way a move to shame women who embrace motherhood, who seek it, the book wants to make it known that there is no shame for going against the ‘map’ laid out for women all over the world.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, history has been either fearful or pitiful of the single woman: from witches and crones to the old cat-obsessed spinster, these women with freedoms of their own choosing have been portrayed as evil or bat-shit crazy for opting out of traditional roles expected of them.
“I feel like, in the same way we don’t train women what to do with money, we don’t train women to deal with any sort of freedom. And when we have it, we’re told to feel shame for it. Like, what’s wrong with me that I can do whatever I want? What’s wrong with me that I don’t have anything preventing me from traveling?” asks MacNicols.
Iversen notes that now more than ever, it’s important that women all over the world have a diversity of narratives on the different ways that women can live their lives, all while not feeling lacking at having not ‘reached’ a certain milestone expected of them, and to never have to feel shame for it.