Sitting in an airport you hear all kinds of interesting things. For example, I sat for a while beside a woman who was talking on her cell phone, and I inadvertently (or advertently, as it may be) overheard her half of the conversation.
She was explaining to someone (presumably a girlfriend) why she went on a shorter vacation with her significant other than she had originally wanted because he did not want to go on an overnight trip on which they would have to share quarters. It seems he objected to them sleeping together. She expressed exasperation with people “passing moral judgment” and thought the whole thing was stupid. She’s forty-five, she explained, and he’s forty-nine. Of course that moral stuff is fine for someone who’s 18 or 20 or something, but they’re too old for that stuff, and why can’t people just leave them alone when they’re that age [“grown up”?].
Part of me really hopes he (whoever he is) dumps her very quickly and doesn’t let her bully him out of the very courageous and admirable personal stand he has taken. Part of me wants to lecture her: Don’t you ever dare start a “kids these days” complaint if that’s the example you knowingly set. If sex is a recreational right, and “grown ups” can’t be bothered with “kiddie stuff” like morality, you lose any right to throw your hands up in bewilderment when teen pregnancy and STD rates go through the roof and cohabitation becomes more common than marriage. It is not our generation that has caused a crisis of family; it is yours that set the example and we who are reaping the consequences. Believe it or not, we watch you to see what you really think is important, and you can’t expect us to take you seriously if you tell us something is for our own good but it doesn’t apply to you. Grrrr.
And then part of me is really sad for her. She’s bought the same bag of goods being pushed at women and girls from every Cosmo mag, soap, and billboard (not to mention most chic flics): If he doesn’t want something from you, there’s either something wrong with him, or with you. Permanence is something to fear. Feminism means taking what you want when you want it, because that is the only way we will be equal with men. Take the relationship for what it’s worth now, because it will probably be gone tomorrow anyway. And my favorite: It’s not a real, serious, grown-up relationship unless you’re sleeping together.
Come on, girls. We can do better than that. And yes, that is a moral judgment. Someone’s got to make them. Our elders certainly aren’t.