Today, I watched a segment from Good Morning America featuring Meghan McCain and Maria Shriver discussing the Women’s Conference and by extension, the report. Normally I would not bother, since I tend to dislike daytime television in general, and despite the banner for the GMA website proclaiming the show has won the Daytime Emmy for Best Morning Broadcast three years in a row, I was not convinced that I was going to be seeing anything that spectacular. But I was mildly interested, mainly because I like both Meghan McCain and Maria Shriver.
Both women were as expected, Meghan earnest and excited, the First Lady of California very professional, but the piece was unremarkable. Until Diane Sawyer (future World News anchor!) had to ask the dumbest question of all, following Maria Shriver’s comments on choices:
Can you have a completely fulfilled life without marrying, just as a career woman?She then points out Meghan’s age, 25, and then says the average age of marriage (first time, for women) is 25-26, implicitly implying that Meghan, who as far as the public knows is not heading down the aisle any time soon, is facing that possibility.
What an incredibly stupid and insulting question.
Of course the answer is of course, which is what Meghan gave—and to her credit, answered it directly, though with a stone face.
Why is this question still being asked? Why is it only asked of women? I have never once heard someone ask this question to a male. We ask, “Do you think you’ll get married?”, or “Would you like to get married someday?”, or “When do you think you’ll get married?”, always implying there’s an option. But for women, it is an either/or question. Why is the assumption made that all women want marriage, that it’s a good thing for a particular individual, that that is the only right choice—and that “career woman”, that 1950s term, is the only alternative? Or that you can’t be both? The whole point that Maria Shriver made 15 seconds before was that women can make different choices and that they should not be demonized for their decisions!
Some marriages are terrible. Some people don’t want to get married. Some people shouldn’t get married. People can live their lives the way they want to, and they shouldn’t be forced to conform to a set of outdated standards that supposedly promise fulfillment. Asking this question, no matter how it is answered, only reaffirms the outdated thinking behind it. If the whole point of A Woman’s Nation was to spotlight how women actually think, what they want and how they live, they can start by asking some new ones.