Writing for the UK Times, Eleanor Mills declares that all those women who find themselves at 30-something and 40-something unmarried and without children have someone to blame: their mothers. And who do those mothers have to blame? Feminism. Mills, at 39, has no husband and no kids. But the question is: Why? She attributes this “failure” of domesticity to the pie-in-the-sky fantasies of the feminist generation who came before her, who desperately wanted to raise girls to become women who believed they could do anything. Yet, according to Mills, those mothers did so to a fault. They failed to teach their girls how to cook; that if you don’t privilege finding a supportive mate and creating a family, you may one day find yourself pining for one; and, they were not realistic. Instead, Mills asserts, some women of a certain age are finding themselves having achieved a great deal professionally, but not having much personally.
“[W]e were bred not to prioritise finding a husband and having a family,” Mills writes. “Unlike generations of females before us, we were bred to work.” Unfortunately, some of those women who focused on their careers to the detriment of their personal lives are now realizing a promotion isn’t quite as profound an experience as raising a child. “[L]ike the good girls we are, we set about achieving,” Mills confesses. “But now, and often too late, we are realising that no job will ever love you back; that the graveyards are full of important executives; that the only people you are ever irreplaceable to are your family.”
Surely, Mills’ feminist critique will raise the hackles of some who resent this depiction of the feminist movement. But it’s also possible Mills may be in part right. Never taught by their mothers how to mother, marry, and create a family, some women are looking back in regret. In the real world, Mills concludes, “fairytale endings are hard to come by.”