Do Southern Belles Face More Pressure To Marry Than East Coast Women?
New York City women don’t play.
Clacking through the streets of Manhattan with pumps that sound like “Move out of the way! Boss chick comin’ through,” many female NYC Millennials are career-minded individuals who need, not want, to “make it” in the Big Apple.
Marriage and babies? That can wait.
Everyone has a pep in their step – we’ve got tunnel vision to get from A to B, and don’t care who we have to bump out of the way to get there.
Interestingly, this East Coast mentality seeps into the conversations that arise when we first meet new people – we want to know what you’re studying, what you do for living, and how you’re climbing up the corporate ladder. This is completely unlike the South, according to my mid-20s social worker friend who was zapped with culture shock after moving to Texas.
Ice-breaking questions like “What do you do?” turned into “So are you married and do you have kids?”
Doing pretty well in her career, back on the East Coast, she earned a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” for accomplishing so much at a young age. But living in Texas, my friend tells me the response is lukewarm: “That’s nice and all, but do you have a husband, though?”
“No,” she would reply.
Texans, she said, would then fidget uncomfortably when they realized they had nothing to “kiki” about with my East Coast friend. “Oh, so you’re the ‘focus on your career’ type, huh?” some would shade.
“I’ve been asked if I’m married at trainings, work meetings, when I’ve first met coworkers,” my friend said. “Once I say I’m not, I’m met with disappointment. It’s like marriage is a conversation starter, so if you’re not, people don’t know what to say afterward. I’ve even had people say, ‘Do you at least have kids?’ Like they’re some consolation prize,” she added.
As a mid-20s writer living in NYC, I’ve never been asked about my marriage status or whether or not I have kids.
Not even once.
New Yorkers, obsessed with upward career mobility, seem to be more interested in handing out their business cards and swapping LinkedIns than knowing who’s got a ring on their finger.
While my friend struggled to find common ground among her married peers, my NYC squad is filled with ladies forgoing marriage and kids to chase their PhDs and entrepreneurial pursuits. Upon hearing news of a fellow young Millennial walking down the altar or having a bun in the oven, there is a wave of congratulatory praise, but a somber undertone of, “Yikes, chasing those career dreams of hers will be a lot tougher.”
Conversely, from my friend’s point of view, if you’re not settled down by her age in Texas, something must be wrong with you. Needless to say, my friend misses being surrounded by the East Coast go-get-’em mentality; she’s now really feeling the pressure to hurry up and marry so she can stop being the “odd man out” in her Texas social network.
Just to make sure my friend’s perceived differences between the South and East Coast are not unfounded, I did a little research on marriage rates in Texas and New York.
According to Mic, quoting the U.S. Census, when it comes to the age when people first marry, New York has one of the oldest median ages – 28.8 for women and 30.3 for men. DC has the oldest median age with 29.8 and 30.6 for women and men, respectively.
In Texas, per LiveScience, women typically tie the knot at 25.
Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin who authored, “How Young Americans Meet, Mate and Think About Marrying,” said Southern culture is “very pro-marriage” and offered his theory on why that may be the case:
“Country music is popular. The story line in country music is the quest for love, and if it doesn’t work out the first time, you go back to the trough,” Regnerus told San Antonio Express-News.
To put it succinctly, Southern belles are more excited to show off their engagement rings and honeymoon photos on Instagram while East Coast ladies prefer to upload photos of their prestigious doctorate degrees and swanky NYC apartments.
What about you? If you’ve experienced both cultures like my friend, have you also noticed a greater pressure to marry in the South?
Kimberly Gedeon, founder of Melody of Melanin, is a creative content connoisseur with nearly 2,000 professional articles published online. Swing by and say hello to her on Twitter @sweetenedcafe or Instagram @kimmiexsweetie. She doesn’t bite … much.