Every once in a while, someone writes a post about how women need to stop playing around and start acting like grown adults. Here’s Jezebel’s from a couple of years ago! Here’s one on “cupcake feminism” that got a lot of play last year (warning: NSFW dessert image.) And recently, Huffington Post published a similar piece by Tracy McMillan.
McMillan has impressive TV writing credits for Mad Men and United States of Tara. A couple of years back, she wrote an article for HuffPo called “Why You’re Not Married,” which went viral and led to a book with almost the same title. The list only pertained to women wanting to marry a man, and the reasons included: You’re a Bitch (“Have you ever seen Kim Kardashian angry? I didn’t think so. You’ve seen Kim Kardashian smile, wiggle, and make a sex tape. Female anger terrifies men”) and You’re a Slut.
This recent piece is called “Nine Signs You’re a Female Peter Pan.” Maybe you’re thinking: Fun! Swordfights with pirates! Flying! Well, you may be part of the problem, you ridiculous woman-child.
McMillan begins by talking about how she has an amazing dream job, which is a great way to get your readers to like you, and then launches into her topic of women who don’t want to grow up. How do you know if you’re one of these “Princess Pans”?
I know. Princess Pan.
This list starts out well enough. She says you shouldn’t think the world revolves around you, which I imagine most of us agree with, regardless of gender. You shouldn’t try too hard to be cool. Personally, I do not know one person who does this, but sure.
#3 is: You’re uncommitted.
For every year past the age of 27, you need to take another step toward commitment somewhere in your life Instead of freelancing, you get a staff job. Instead of renting, you buy. Fine, instead of couch-surfing you rent. Just, you have to sign something, okay?
Why is freelancing bad? Why is home ownership, out of reach for many people, a sign of maturity? Having seen The Queen of Versailles, I’m unconvinced, but McMillan presents these as self-evident truths.
#4: You’re over it. By “it” I mean everything.
I agree that an attitude of apathy toward everything would be unlikely to make you happy. I don’t know anyone like this, but maybe you do!
#5: You’re uncompromising.
Grown-ups compromise. They sell out. They do things they don’t want to do because they’re responsible for boring-ass shit like the rent and health insurance. Deal with it.
This seems like another non-starter. Most people work jobs, if they can find them, in order to eat and pay rent and such. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to get the health insurance.
#6. You love reality shows.
Here McMillan acknowledges that she herself was on a reality show last year, albeit a very short-lived one. Personally, I don’t watch reality shows, which is why the above suggestion of using Kim Kardashian as a role model is lost on me. However, they are really popular. If none of the viewers were functioning adults, the U.S. would have collapsed by now.
#7. You sleep with Peter Pans.
The only drawback she mentions here is that they might not buy you toilet paper, which should not be a problem if you are in the habit of buying it for yourself. She doesn’t mention people who might be sleeping with other Princess Pans, so I assume that’s okay.
#8: You live downtown. Or in a loft. Or in Portland.
Now she’s really lost me. What does she have against lofts? For that matter, what did that Jezebel editor have against jewelry from Etsy? Damn those craftspeople! Stupid natural light! I begin to wonder if writers of pieces like this are actually just mad that other people might be having more fun than them. I start to think how I probably am, in fact, having more fun than them.
Lofts (like downtown, and Portland) are aspirational places – places that prove to yourself and others that your life is what you imagine it to be….You will be much more useful on the planet if you start getting more real – as real as possible – right now. You’ll also be happier.
Well. What is a real life, then, pray tell?
#9: You think you’re immortal.
Between the kale and the botox, it’s tempting to think you’re not actually aging and you’re never going to die. But no matter how fantastic you look, your eggs are a day older than they were yesterday.
OHHH. Babies. Babies are real life. How did I not see this coming?
McMillan talks about how some women regret not having babies, which is true. It’s also true that some women don’t. Then she says the immortality thing isn’t just about motherhood. It’s about the fact that time is precious in general. The only way you’ll achieve your dreams, she gives the examples of becoming POTUS and ending world hunger, is by growing up.
But seriously: babies. Because almost none of us will do the other things she mentions, and the problem with McMillan’s whole piece is that she doesn’t see certain life choices as an authentic adult life rather than a phase.
I do agree with McMillan that more and more people are going off the script that was somewhat in place in the Mad Men era. Instead of getting married to someone of the opposite sex, buying a house, and having children on schedule, they’re asking themselves whether they want to do these things at all, and sometimes the answer is no.
Making decisions based more on self-knowledge and less on what is expected of you strikes me as a sign of true maturity. Instead of telling single women living in lofts and having sex to, “hang up your green tulle mini-dress and your tiara,” can we grow up enough to recognize that happiness and fulfillment look different for different people?