Friday, 6 August 2010

'Reader, we married each other'

In Charlotte Bronte’s novel ‘Jane Eyre’, our eponymous heroine finally unearths equality in her relationship with the fiery Mr Rochester, yet the resounding line of the final chapter appears to assert a certain feminine authority; ‘she marries him’. There is no ‘our’ or ‘us’, the two characters do not marry each other. As a symbol for modern women, Jane Eyre is universal; she represents our fight for equality, and some. She wants it all, she doesn’t just want to live in marital harmony and narrow the gender pay gap, she wants her husband to be utterly dependent on her. Is there a secret desire amongst modern women to be the breadwinner- because it certainly seems that way? Between motherhood and career-induced self-fulfillment, women everywhere are searching for justice, they wants to avenge a history of subservience, to maybe even be a little bit better than their male counterparts. However, there is a growing paradox emerging, as modern women demand not only equality, but also those old chivalries. Your average beer-swilling, tabloid reading microwave glutton is shifting on the couch of unease as he realizes that his partner still secretly wishes he would be her door-opening, flower-giving, complement-showering knight in shining armour.

Our yearning for equality is in danger of becoming greedy and hypocritical as men discover that actually, what we want is the best of both worlds. Both in a personal and a professional capacity, we’ve continued to enjoy a growing authority, but for this to truly become a reality we must sacrifice the golden touches that traditionally came with being a woman at home and in the office. We can’t expect to be the only one on the receiving end of a Valentine’s gift or an engagement ring just as we should no longer feel that little bit of self-satisfaction as our catwalk-inspired office outfit gets our opinion noticed. Either the hope for chivalry, or the quest for equality must be quenched and the other, binned. We, as females, have a choice to make. As pedantic as it sounds, we’ve driven our case for equality so far that surely the saying now must be ‘Reader, we got married- and I didn’t care that I wasn’t treated like a princess’.

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