‘Freedom, cut me loose!’

Sep 7, 2016 at 10:46 am
‘Freedom, cut me loose!’

I’m a spinster. An old maid. I would wear brown if the “Handmaid’s Tale” came to fruition, as my fertility is highly questionable, and I am not a wife. A woman friend told me that with age comes an inevitable decline in sexual currency, something (she said) I have always had in spades. A male friend told me to accomplish as much as possible goal-wise before 50, because after 50, my energy will not be able to support my hoped-for endeavors.

To naysayer-ageists: phhhlllbbbttttttt.

While it’s true I haven’t embraced Beyoncé like I did Pat Benatar, Chrissie Hynde and Joan Jett in my teens — as Queen Bey belongs to a younger generation — I am, nonetheless, adopting “Freedom” as my theme song going into my 48th year. As much as I think it’s about breaking the actual chains of historical and current violence and oppression against African Americans, it’s an anthem about claiming your power and transcending. Therein lies its universal appeal.

“Freedom! Freedom! I can’t move. Freedom, cut me loose!”

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that commands me to throw off bowlines and explore, dream and discover, because, 20 years from now, I’ll be more disappointed by the things I didn’t do, than by the ones I did. That directive would likely have been impossible for an American woman, or person of color, 50 years ago, due to economics as well as social mores.

What’s interesting is how long it takes expectations about societal roles to catch up with reality. I can travel the world alone, if I have the means, but I will probably still get the stink-eye from some in my generation, pity from those in the generations above mine and, depending on whether they look up from their gadgets, a dismissive glance from Millennials, who seem to have less of a stake in coupledom than do any of the Boomers, Xs or Ys.

They also are having less sex than did previous generations, according to numerous articles that stem from a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Researchers found that young adults born in the ‘90s reported fewer sexual partners and less interest in sex with another human, but not less interest in porn, than did their predecessors. A desire for efficiency could be the culprit, according to The Washington Post, along with a belief that dating tends to be a waste of precious time better spent in other activities, mostly via the internet.

Young Americans are not alone, it seems, when it comes to making amore, at least the kind that ends in pregnancy. Young Italians fought an online national campaign, #FertilityDay, designed to persuade them to procreate and raise the Italian birthrate. The campaign backfired like an Alfa Romeo in a city square, evidenced by tweets decrying it and chiding officials who thought they could dictate when people should have children. #ArrivederciFelicity

Speaking of dictating reproduction, add Chinese young people to the mix of childless and unmarried, partially due to the one-child policy, whereby 118 boys were born to every 100 girls, until the government relented. By 2020, officials predict 24 million Chinese men will have no women to marry. China, in its zeal to eliminate baby girls, failed to realize there would be so few girls and women of childbearing age with whom to procreate. And, in a twist less cruel than the forced abortion of female fetuses, but still cruel, the nation is utterly hoisted by its own petard. 

To recover from its massive miscalculation, the Chinese government, in 2007, created an initiative to shame and scare single, educated women into marrying and having children — to correct the nation’s gender imbalance from the one-child policy. They did this by classifying them as “sheng nu,” or leftover women, with no hope of marriage or children past the age of 27, according to an article from expat. By the ripe old age of 27, you have outlived your usefulness — it is stamped on you like you are a carton of milk — unless you are married and have children.

Chinese women over 27, you old hens, you, meet Beyoncé and have a listen to Lemonade, if you haven’t already. Take notes. Explore. Discover. Dream.

“Freedom! Freedom! I can’t move Freedom, cut me loose! Freedom! Freedom! Where are you? Cause I need freedom too! I break chains all by myself Won’t let my freedom rot in hell Hey! I’ma keep running Cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”