It reads like the final scene from a great romance: Risking it all, our heroine leaves everything she knows to be with the man she loves. He’s not just any man, but a man worthy of our daring heroine, one who truly knows and understands her, who has promised—before God and man—to love her unconditionally.
There was a time we valued such endings; when our heroes and heroines ventured out boldly in the name of love, and we cheered them on in their adventures and sacrifices to obtain the true happiness found in being with loved ones. But somewhere in the intervening years, third-wave feminism reared its ugly head, telling us our heroine has made the wrong decision. Now, instead of cheers, she meets boos and whisperings of “traitor.”
Online women’s publication Verily recently published a refreshing perspective on the delicate balance between love and career that women like me face in “What It’s Really Like to Quit Your Job to Accommodate Your Husband’s Career.” In the article, career-driven young woman Ashley Dobson is like our nameless heroine, telling us the story of her decision to give up her position as the publisher of a D.C. news site to follow her husband to Germany, where his career was taking him for the foreseeable future.
Since I’m a fellow job-quitter and husband-follower, the article certainly struck a chord with me. Rather than stifling my professional aspirations, I’ve found the move actually gave me the freedom to focus on what I wanted out of my career, and challenged me to think creatively about how to achieve my goals. Besides, third-wave feminism notwithstanding, I’m still a sucker for romance (the real stuff, not Nicholas Sparks-style garbage), and there is arguably nothing more romantic and downright adventurous than putting everything on the line to be with the one you love.
Woman Seeks Happiness, ‘Friends’ Condemn Her
While Dobson acknowledges that many friends were supportive, she naturally encountered others who thought her decision was “anti-woman.” These unfortunate individuals (otherwise known as third-wave feminists) viewed Dobson’s choice as a “step backward for women.” No matter that Dobson made the decision of her own free will, or that giving up everything to move to a foreign country probably sounds like the adventure of a lifetime to many people.
No, to a feminist, Dobson is a traitor to womankind, and refusing to let her hard-won publisher’s desk chain her down thousands of miles away from her husband means she’s committed the cardinal sin of championing love over status and power. As if we needed any more proof that the feminist cause and its affiliates hate romance than Slate’s mind-numbingly ridiculous “Down with Spooning” article.
Dobson’s choice was full of courage, adventure, promise, and, like any good love story worth its salt, sacrifice. After all, Dobson mentions the great happiness her husband has found in his new laufbahn; ostensibly, that’s the reason she chose to give up her own job versus pursuing the alternate scenario. It is clear Dobson loves her job, but from her actions, it’s clear that she loves being with her husband (and contributing to her husband’s happiness) even more. No wonder it’s a choice that rankles the same people who hold the patently un-romantic view that all relations between the sexes are a power struggle.
The choice third-wave feminists would have Dobson make elevates the selfish pursuit of power and the confines of comfort above all else. Instead, like a classic heroine, Dobson jumped into the great unknown: a new life in a new country, with only the man she loves by her side. Remind me—who’s the liberated one here?
Family Always Needs You More than Anyone Else Does
While we’re on the subject of liberation, let’s discuss that other often-used, greatly misunderstood third-wave feminist buzzword, “empowerment.” Dobson’s story is an excellent reminder that sometimes the boldest, most empowering thing anyone can do is to walk away from the familiar, have a little faith, and trust enough in her own capability and resourcefulness to believe that she’ll be able to figure things out along the way.
I bet that’s exactly why Dobson says she quit her “job,” and not her “career,” because it’s the same reason I use that terminology for myself. Don’t you dare call me a feminist (unless it’s of the Anthony or Stanton variety), but I’m of the mind there’s nothing a smart, capable woman can’t accomplish once she puts her mind to it; even more so when she’s been blessed with a stellar partner and fellow adventurer.
Back when I was still grappling with my own decision to quit my job and follow my husband across the world, a colleague gave me an excellent piece of brutally honest advice: she told me that I was replaceable where I worked then, and that I would be replaceable wherever I worked in the future. As cold as that sounds, her point was well-taken: Your career owes you nothing.
Although she didn’t say it, the corollary was also clear: You are only irreplaceable to the ones who love you. Not to speak for Dobson—whom I’ve never met—but I’m willing to bet that, like me, she chose to take her chances on finding happiness and fulfilment by boldly choosing the adventurous path that led her into the loving arms of her husband, instead of the plastic arms of her deskchair. That’s no step backward for womankind. It’s a step forward for our heroine, and romantics and adventurers like her everywhere.