This week’s Jezebel column looks at a fascinating new book about young women and their life choices:
As feminists have been pointing out for some time, expanding opportunity for women without also expanding expectations for men leaves us with a lot of anxious and exhausted female overachievers. As Bell argues in ‘Hard to Get,’ one way that anxiety manifests is in young women’s growing “contempt for vulnerability.” If we want to get past this maddening dichotomy between romantic happiness and professional success, we need to do more than teach young women emotional self-defense. We need men to change.
We make public life less risky for women not just by encouraging them to take self-defense classes, but by demanding that men respect women’s bodies on the street, in the subway, and at work. We make romantic life less risky for women by challenging men to show the fuck up. The myth that excuses rape is the same myth that makes men into such apparently risky propositions as boyfriends or husbands. As long as we believe that men are too weak to control their sexual impulses, we’ll force the burden for preventing rape entirely onto women; as long as we believe that men are uniformly incapable of being exciting, reliable, and emotionally aware life companions, we’ll continue to mock and shame young women who make romance a priority in their lives.