I saw the new "Bridget Jones" movie last night, and like I do after I watch any of her movies, I left the theater deeply conflicted.
On the one hand, I absolutely love Bridget. I love how kooky she is. I give her props when she shamelessly wears slutty outfits to seduce her boss. I laugh sympathetically when she accidentally shows up to a family event dressed as a playboy bunny. And a piece of my heart feels for her when she drunkenly cries about being 30 and alone.
But on the other hand, I can't help but find her kind of pathetic for constantly needing some guy to save her. I mean, that's what all of the movies are essentially about, right?
She doesn't want to die some lowly spinster, so she's constantly on the hunt for some guy to sweep her off her feet (quite literally, in the last movie). She's a modern woman looking for her knight in shining armor, whether it's Mark Darcy, Daniel Cleaver or Jack Qwant.
Something about this concept inherently bothers me.
To understand why that bothers me so much, you've got to know a little more about me and the way I was brought up.
Imagine there's a rat in your apartment, and you're terrified. You need someone to come kill it right now.
Or imagine you're trying to build one of those impossible IKEA dressers all by yourself. You're about to give up, so you finally need to call someone to help you lift the heavy boxes and translate the gibberish instruction manual.
OR imagine your landlord gave you an updated lease, and you have no idea whether or not he's screwing you. You need to give it to someone you really trust to give it a thorough read.
From what I've gathered, for most people, it's some guy in their life. Some strong, protective, masculine figure who can handle anything. It's someone they've deemed to be capable of taking care of them.
Don't get me wrong, my dad is great and I call him for anything. But that strong person I'm going to call to kill the rat for me? Well, that's always been my mom.
My mom is a bad bitch. And I mean that in the best way. She started her own business. She paid our bills. She raised my sister by herself. She made it through two divorces totally unscathed. She built our shelves and killed all of our rats and spiders.
When I was little, I slept soundly in bed knowing that Mommy could kill any bad guy that came my way. To me, being a woman means being completely self-sufficient, just like my mom is and always was.
So this is where my love-hate relationship with Bridget Jones comes into play.
I like the picture of womanhood my mom painted for me: the strong, self-sufficient, powerful one. But Bridget goes against all of that.
She locks herself out of her apartment while nine months pregnant and without a phone or wallet. She accidentally gets herself sent to a foreign prison. She stumbles and falls throughout her life in general. And every single time, a guy has to come save her.
That bothers me. I don't like thinking of women as these pathetic, bumbling idiots who are in constant need of saving. That concept goes against all of the values I was raised on. If it didn't bother me, that would be concerning.
But then again, I love Bridget Jones.
If I see a rat, I cry and run away. Those IKEA boxes are way too heavy for me to carry up all four flights of stairs in my walk-up all by myself. And a lease written in perfectly good English might as well be in German, when it comes to how much I'm understanding from it.
As much as I want to be this strong, independent woman who can handle anything life throws her way, a lot of the time, the hard truth is that I'm just not.
I know what it's like to feel like you're fucking up left and right despite all of your best efforts. I know what it's like to have no choice but to look at the giant mess that is your life and laugh (or maybe just chug a bottle of wine and cry).
So, on that level, I relate to Bridget Jones.
Every time she fucks up, we hear her motivating herself (no matter how ridiculous or absurd her motivation might be). Whether she makes herself feel better by reminding herself she's a hard-hitting news anchor who doesn't have time for frivolous men, or that she must keep going forward and not dwell on her past or that this is the last time she acts a certain way and she promises to make more of an effort to be better next time, that's how I can tell Bridget is just as strong as my mom or any man.
She's human. She's a human who fucks up, just like me, you and literally everyone else. But she doesn't let any one of her many fuck-ups define her.
There's a lot of pressure on women right now. The bar is high. We can't just be good, we have to be perfect. We have to do it all. We have to be the best moms, the best CEOs, the best friends, the best girlfriends and the best wives.
But we're then expected to never shed a tear over any of it. We're expected to not have that extra glass of wine or fall for that one guy who didn't treat us right.
This ideal is just that: an ideal. And it's an ideal that is totally unattainable for any multifaceted human being.
And that's what makes Bridget Jones so wonderful. She reminds us that you don't have to be one or the other. She reminds us that you can royally fuck up, but still hold your chin up high and keep going.
You can be that bumbling idiot who locked herself out of her apartment without her phone or her wallet, and you can also be a CEO.
You can fall for the shitty guy, and still have self-worth and an understanding that you deserve better.
You can get too drunk at your boyfriend's office party and still be his perfect girlfriend.
You can fuck up at work and still be really good at what you do.
That's why I love Bridget Jones. She takes all of this ridiculous pressure off of us by reminding us it's OK to be human. All we have to do is try our best. And if we need some help along the way, that's OK, too.