What 2020’s Female Presidential Hopefuls Can Teach Young Women
They didn’t always follow the traditional romantic script, and you don’t have to either
Young women seeking inspiring role models on how to build a satisfying life need look no further than Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. Not because they are running for president, as exciting as that is, but because they have somewhat outside-the-box life stories beyond the traditional romantic script.
Some have spent most of their life single. Some married and had children in their mid- to late-30s, and are the breadwinners in their family. Some have no children of their own. Some have been single mothers. Some had starter marriages, divorced and are now in second marriages. And each of them has had long, highly successful careers that have led them to potentially be the 46th president of the United States.
Increasingly, this is how American women look.
What can young women learn from these women? (I’m focusing on hetero women because all the 2020 female presidential hopefuls are hetero.) Plenty.
You can be single
Harris was a never-married 50-year-old when she married Doug Emhoff in 2014, and instantly became stepmom to his two children.
It wasn’t always easy, of course. Singlism exists. In her memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Harris addresses the scrutiny single women have to deal with:
As a single, professional women in my forties, and very much in the public eye, dating wasn’t easy. I knew that if I brought a man with me to an event, people would immediately start to speculate about our relationship. I also knew that single women in politics are viewed differently than single men. We don’t get the same latitude when it comes to our social lives.”
Still, she has lived most of her adult life as a single woman.
So has Williamson, 67, although the best-selling self-help author was briefly married and gave birth at age 38 to a daughter, now 29, whose father has never been identified and whom she raised as a single mother.
As you might expect, Williamson has some outside-the-box views of romantic relationships. Clearly, they don’t define her — how refreshing! — and she understands that if romantic love is what you want, start within:
So many of us have not attended to the deeper issues in ourselves; in our minds, our hearts, and in our external manifestations that keep love at bay. We instead concentrate on making a list of what we’re looking for in another person. We would be better off making a list of the aspects of our own lives that we can either point to as places where we are prepared for love, or point to and recognize as places where we still need work.
The takeaway: Single women and single mothers can have rich, fulfilling lives.
You can find love at midlife
Harris was 49 when she met the man who would be her first husband, and 50 when she married — in other words, middle-aged. So much for the message that older women become invisible and aren’t valued in the dating market! Clearly, that is not the case.
The takeaway: You’re never too old to find love and marriage (if that’s what you’re looking for).
You can have a starter marriage
Gabbard and Warren both married young, divorced and married a second time. When Gabbard married Abraham Williams in 2015, she was 33 and he was 26. Her first marriage, to her childhood sweetheart when she was 21, lasted four years and ended, she says, because of the strain of her being deployed for 18 months in Iraq.
Warren was 19 when she married for the first time, a marriage that lasted much longer than Gabbard’s — 10 years — and produced two children, so not quite a starter marriage. She was 30 when she married the second time 39 years ago, and she kept her married first name because of her children.
Neither would be the first divorced president, although we’ve only had two: Ronald Regan and Donald Trump. Women overwhelmingly seek divorce and thus are judged harshly for it. Gabbard and Warren are busting that narrative.
The takeaway: Sometimes marriages end and there isn’t any shame in that; no one should stay in an unhappy marriage. Divorce doesn’t prevent anyone from being successful in their professional or romantic lives.
You can be the breadwinner
Remember the headlines declaring that when wives out-earned their husbands, the hubs weren’t too happy? That would be enough to make any professional woman pause. And yet, here are Gillibrand and Klobuchar, earning more than their husbands and — guess what? — Gillibrand’s been married for 18 years and Klobuchar for 26 years.
What can that possibly mean?
Clearly it means choose a man who is isn’t threatened by strong women.
The takeaway: Who you partner with is important. If your career matters to you, you need to have a partner who will support you and your goals as much as you are willing to support his. That is truly an equal partner.
You can be childfree
The U.S. has had five childless presidents, but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem because they were men. A childless woman? That’s a different thing because there’s still a belief that all women naturally have a maternal instinct ( we don’t).
Two presidential candidates, Gabbard and Harris, have no children of their own although Harris is a stepmom to two adult children and has talked glowingly of her role as “ Momala.”
Some female presidential candidates are using their experience as moms to push for progressive policies aimed at helping parents, which may make being childfree seem problematic. But you don’t have to be a mother to understand what all people — single, married, parents or childfree — need to live a happy, healthy life and to care for loved ones (we all have them).
The takeaway: Not every woman wants to be a mother, and increasingly women are choosing to be childfree. There are many ways to mentor and nurture others without having to be a mom. If motherhood isn’t your thing, you’re in good — and growing — company.
You can create your own life
All of the female presidential candidates have had long, successful careers, some while raising children, some solo, some with supportive partners, some while going through the turmoil of romantic breakups. They have had to face judgment for their choices and all have faced, and continue to face, gender bias. And yet they are undeterred.
“Nevertheless, she persisted” became a rallying cry when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell prevented Warren from finishing her speech on the Senate floor in 2017. These women have persisted; you can, too.
Want to live your most authentic life? (Of course you do!) Then read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore (please do) or order it on Amazon.
Originally published at http://omgchronicles.vickilarson.com