A few years ago, I was watching TV and came across a show that depicted women as Christmas cakes, no good after 25. I understood this to mean that just like Christmas cakes, which are not as alluring after the 25th, probably because the excitement of Christmas has died down (and not necessarily because of the taste), women are seen the same way. The show reflected a prominent subculture found in certain Asian societies, in which a woman should be married off (so to speak) by the age of 25, after which, she may never find a suitor. While the show gave a myriad of reasons why people from these societies held this belief, I was utterly shocked and annoyed by this depiction of women.
As the show replayed in my mind, I found myself articulating reasons why I was so affected by these beliefs. For one, I considered it highly chauvinistic and sexist in nature, as it is gender specific to women alone. You seldom hear that men experience such insensitivity or have similar labeling attached to them. If anything, men are often encouraged to get married off way after the ripe age of 25, so as to enable them reach full maturity levels. So why then are women not extended the same fortunes?
Two, it depicts women as commodities, that have expiration dates, which is highly demeaning to say the least. As you would throw out a packet of cheese once it is has reached its expiration date, women are viewed in the same way. The only difference between my cheese example and how it applies to a woman in this case, is that if the woman is already “purchased” (married) by 25, then she can stay. But otherwise she should not be “purchased” after 25. While we are on the topic of food, I would like to throw in, that women actually get smarter, wiser, and more beautiful with age, just like fine wine.
Third, it views the role of a woman as purely for child-rearing purposes. The age attachment is obviously linked to statistics that argue that the best time for a woman to reproduce is between the ages of 18 and 35. Some studies even push this figure up to 30, arguing that women who have children after the age of 30 are more prone to pregnancy complications and having children with birth defects, than those under 25. I am no doctor, so I can’t verify any of these findings, but all I know is that I have seen many women have children well into their 30s’and they all seem to be doing just fine. On the flip side of things, marriage is not only for child-rearing purposes. Marriage exists for companionship, love, friendship, human warmth and openness etc. Those who view the role of a woman in marriage as solely for child-rearing, completely miss the “mark”.
Lastly, this view is myopic in nature and clearly does not take into consideration the myriad of factors that make it increasingly hard for a woman to get married before the age of 25, if she so desires. We live in a time that more and more women are choosing to further their education, advance their careers and follow their passions. This does not mean that women view marriage as unimportant. It just means that they choose to do things in a different order now. While many of our mothers and grandmothers got married first and then pursued (if they did at all) their life interests within their marriages, many modern women choose to pursue their interests first, before they decide to settle down.
Depending on the school of thought you belong to, you might agree or disagree with this changing societal norm. But that is the reality of things. And with this, women are increasingly faced with having to get married after the age of 25.