HEYMANN: Shaking Up Traditional Tribes
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 01:01
Men and women have been working together for millennia, striving to find the best way to survive in this world. For all of history, these equal and autonomous groups have coexisted, cohabitated and thrived. And for all this time, it has been commonly believed that men and women need each other in every dimension of life — for love, for stability and, of course, for procreation. Yet, as I sit writing this column, I reflect on the fundamental changes in the world’s social fabric. With a growing generation of same-sex couples and female breadwinners, the idea of stability — of men bringing home the bacon to their helpless wives — is on the decline.
The same is true of procreation: As artificial insemination and single parenting have become increasingly prominent lifestyles in modern culture, love remains the only dimension of necessary interaction between men and women in the customary sense. The traditional “tribe” has begun to fall apart with changes in society — and I say let it happen. Our generation has the opportunity to redefine male-female relationships — in new friendships, in acceptance of different sexual orientations, in our ability to earn our keeps and in the understanding of one another’s strengths. It’s time to find our own new families, and college might be the perfect place to do so.
My best friend has a mantra: “Find your tribe,” she always says to me. “Find your tribe.” For a long time, I didn’t understand what she meant. What was the “tribe” she was so adamant about finding? And where exactly was I supposed to find it? I eventually realized what she was leaning towards — a tribe is your family that extends beyond your kin. My best friend realized early on that the bonds we developed throughout high school were bonds intended to last a lifetime. I don’t know how she possessed this wisdom so young, but her insistence that we stick together and grow as individuals now has a ringing importance to me.
Over my year and a half here on the Hilltop, my tribe has grown. I have met intellectually curious individuals, culturally aware individuals and personable individuals. And every time I meet someone, I instinctively think, “Will you be part of my tribe?” The relationships that we are forming here at Georgetown will most certainly carry on into our adult lives, and they are some of the most unspeakably important relationships we will ever make. These are the people who will dance at our weddings, cry on our shoulders, eat from our kitchens, help raise our children and be included in every other Hallmark-style act you can think of that has a place in defining true friendships. Personally, I have been shocked by the number of amazing young men and women I have met, the people who will inevitably complete my tribe.
As Hoyas, we see each other as academic, social and artistic peers. We are the best of friends and the closest of confidantes. It frightens me to think that in 30 years, a member of my tribe might look at me and ask one of the following questions:
“Why are you making more money than me?”
“Why do you have a better career than me?”
“Why aren’t you married? Don’t you want a family?”
“Why are you working instead of your husband? That’s strange.”
“Don’t you care about your children/family life? You can’t have it all you know.”
These are questions that men and women ask each other in today’s world. They are so confined by the idea of the traditional tribe that they are afraid to see that social change is progressive, amazingly necessary and ultimately beneficial. Stereotypical gender roles are flipping upside down and inside out as the structure of the “tribe” changes.
Think hard: Who comprises your tribe? How deep are your bonds? Would you ever look at members of your tribe and belittle them for their success, deride them for their happiness or question their morals? To be quite clear, these are not just questions men should be aware of. These are questions that women must also reflect deeply upon. A tribe should be a collection of individuals whose love for one another surpasses social norms — and it should allow each person to be whomever and whatever they so choose.
Allie Heymann is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. THROUGH THE GLASS CEILING
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