Let it be known, I like Jane Austen. But lately I've been forced to accept that maybe she was just a little bit wrong. But she was mostly right.
It was dear Sister Jane who penned the fatal words, "any single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." She never really explains why a rich man would want a wife though, does she?
In my years of modern-day dating experience, the men with a good fortune are too busy working to earn that fortune to take the time to date. And that is why if you want a Mr. Darcy, you have to be a Miss Bennett.
But before we get too far, let's back up to what it is that dear Brother Brigham Young, did not actually say. “Any unmarried man over the age of 27 is a menace to society.” No, this line is not true at all. (Steve Young incorrectly quoted him many years ago, and the rumor has taken wings ever since.) However, Elder George Q. Cannon did say, (and rather correctly)-
“Our boys, when they arrive at years of maturity and can take earn of a wife, should get married, and there should not be a lot of young men growing up in our midst who ought to be, but are not married. While I do not make the remark to apply to individual cases, I am firmly of the opinion that a large number of unmarried men, over the age of twenty-four years, is a dangerous element in any community, and an element upon which society should look with a jealous eye. For every man knowing himself, knows how his fellow-man is constituted; and if men do not marry, they are too apt to do something worse. Then, brethren, encourage our young men to marry, and see that they are furnished employment, so that they can marry.”
Let's repeat that last line, “encourage our young men to marry, and see that they are furnished employment, so that they can marry.” This makes me think Elder Cannon would agree with Jane Austen. A man must need a fortune of some sort in order to marry. It is true men, if you want to get married, you are going to have to have a way to support your family. Stop acting like women are so demanding because they expect you to be able to provide. The end.
Which brings me to those dear single brothers who are not so young, but are above the age of 31, who should by this point in their lives be somewhat firm in their employment (all political reasons for unemployment aside)- What is your problem?
We, as a culture, joke around about our short courtships, and tease couples that are quick to get married because they just can't wait any longer than three months for sex. The exception to this cultural joke and rule is apparently all of the men over 31 who are too busy “seeking their fortunes.” Apparently all of these Mr. Darcys-in-disguise can wait, and wait they will.
Enter Elizabeth Bennett
I've yelled at men enough in this column, telling them to buck up, get over themselves, and to ask a girl out for a change. But today, I'm pointing my finger at the women. Ladies, Jane Austen would not approve. At all.
Do you think Elizabeth Bennett would really condone letting a man not take notice of you? Heaven knows her mother would gladly set you up a good excuse to run into him, or get sick and be forced to spend the night at his house. (And far too many of you are employing this technique. May I remind you, Mrs. Bennett was not a loveable or admirable character. Take note!) Lizzie would not do such things. A modern-day Miss Bennett would be forthright and tell a man what she wants.
Miss Bennett is not intimidated by Mr. Darcy. She tells him what she thinks. She is honest in every way. She is polite to Mr. Collins (and haven't we all had a few Mr. Collins in our lives?), and yet firm with him when the situation requires it. And when a woman of high-esteem incorrectly accuses her by stereotype, she shuts her up. She is quick to forgive (even though I'm not sure that Mr. Wickham deserved it). And she is quick to love and support (because some of us are Charlotte Lucas, and not filled with fanciful ideas).
Why are we not all taking more cues from Elizabeth Bennett?
If You Want a Mr. Darcy, You Have to be a Miss Bennett
One of my favorite things about Miss Bennett is that she manages to achieve our favorite LDS saying of “being in the world, but not of it.” She is aware of the mores of her social surroundings and place in the world, but she rises above them. Plus she has incomparable wit which is neither sarcastic or condescending. Oh that we could all have her tongue.
But this all begs the question, would a modern-day Lizzie be the kind of woman to make the first move with a man? Would she call him first? Would she ask him out? I say yes.
She likely would have accomplished a good education, and maybe even have a good solid career. She would not have waited around unnecessarily for life to come to her. She would go out and embrace it, and possibly travel extensively. She was a strong woman who did not wait for others to bring good things into her life. Because of those traits that I believe she would have no trouble picking up the phone and inviting a nice man to join her for dinner, a show, or a hike. She would not have played silly games. She would have just made it happen!
In a fun literary comparison I am sure will irk some of you, if you ask me, Scarlett O'Hara is the anti-Lizzie. A modern-day Scarlett would have four baby daddies, and be on welfare, always complaining that her problems were the fault of someone else, and fail to realize that her problem is that she always thought a man was the answer to her problems, and didn't take real control of her life.
So ladies, I encourage you to be a modern-day Miss Bennett. Go out there, be strong, be smart, and make things happen- including making the first move with a good man. After all, if he has a good fortune, he may be too busy earning it to notice you. Go make him notice you (in a good way, and preferably not in a way involving draperies that will be mocked by Carol Burnett).
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Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, blogger, and a social media addict. Equal parts Mary Poppins, Carrie Bradshaw, and Mother Theresa, she goes where the wind blows, writes about relationships and dating, and is devoted to serving others.