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The Harmful Stereotype of the Cold, Single, & Childless Wealthy Woman

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What/If Trailer

What/If

What/If is a brilliant Netflix show: It will likely keep you glued to your screen late into the evening if you decide to watch it during your spare time.

While the storyline is flawless as far as a compelling narrative is concerned, the stereotypical villain speaks volumes about the way women who elect to remain child-free for the duration of their lives are often viewed.

After all, we have to be careful which stories we play in our brains, lest we start to believe them in reality, hurting others with our preconceptions in the process.

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The Female Villains Are All Starting to Look the Same

I have seen this trope of the evil woman who is single, childless, and wealthy so many times that I am beginning to wonder if the writers have an agenda.

Don't get me wrong, Renee Zellweger brought Anne Montgomery to life.

In fact, I think this was one of her best roles, and the character she portrayed in this thrilling TV series was exquisitely shocking and unexpected.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of wealthy women out there who are not completely sadistic and alone.

Many of them are unmarried simply because they don't want to deal with the minimal possibility of legal fees in the event of a divorce and have plenty of friends and family members they mingle with on a regular basis.

What's wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing, yet the detrimental view of powerful women as evil villains has, unfortunately, been etched into the minds and hearts of many men who then judge those who have taken an unconventional path.

Too often, they are being unfair, and the ladies in this world who dare to make a name for themselves have to deal with the consequences.

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The Heroine Is a Scientist, but that's Okay Because She's Married

The heroine is a strong woman: She's a scientist attempting to fund a company because her sister died from cancer and she wants to save lives.

She's brilliant, but she's married to a man who happens to be a convicted killer and has neglected to mention this "trivial" fact before the two of them elected to spend forever together.

At first, she genuinely doesn't know: Lisa Donovan is deeply in love, and Sean seems to be as close to perfect as any man can be, yet he is hiding a dark secret—Everyone seems to have skeletons buried in their closet.

Anne Montgomery is cruel to Lisa's husband—trying to elicit his violent nature and arguably succeeding in doing so since the guy ends up punching a wall!—but the fact remains that Sean Donovan is a murderer.

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Lisa forgives him and goes back to him in the end, even though he abruptly left her a letter and his ring with no notice before spending an extended period of time behind bars.

While I know people change sometimes, and I get that forgiveness can heal age-old wounds, I wonder if this plot line is dangerous to many women who are in abusive relationships, thinking their dysfunctional and sadistic partners will get better even though they never do.

It seems that Lisa Donovan has given away her self-respect to be with a man who completely abandoned her and has the capacity to be violent.

Maybe he changed, maybe he didn't.

Either way, I didn't like the way he just left her with no warning and no confession after they'd been together for so long.

There's also the "minor" fact that he has the capacity to kill a person...

I thought the characters in the show were appropriately complex.

What I didn't love was how these two strong women were like putty in the hands of the men who provided them with affection or money.

It was rather disappointing: Maybe don't go back to a killer who didn't tell you about his past?

Food for thought.

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The Societal Judgement Child-Free Women Face Is Devastating

I've elected to remain child-free for the duration of my life for one simple reason: I enjoy my art and I cherish my freedom.

I do not want spend precious time, energy, and money raising kids, and I never will.

Unfortunately, numerous individuals have garnered that this means I am a cold, cruel female who is incapable of nurturing anyone because, well, they'd never even thought about a woman taking on a role other than that of a mother.

This has happened with both genders and—while I've forced myself to stop caring—it has been devastating at times.

While this thrilling series is excellent in nearly every way (and it is fiction after all) the portrayal of the cold, sadistic woman who has gained wealth while isolating herself from friends and family, "cruelly" refusing to marry or bear children is anything but uncommon.

On the other hand, the heroines are usually kind, nurturing women who are married.

I think these tropes have played into the American ethos surrounding gender roles, and it's becoming toxic for the women out there who love their jobs and prefer to pave their own way in this world instead of marrying and having kids.

There's nothing wrong with going that route, but the pressure to do so can be infuriating at times if you've chosen a different path: It's your life, after all, and no one has the right to make those decisions for you.

© 2022 Daniella Cressman

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