From burning our bras to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Run The World’, women have certainly stepped it up in the world, compared to the days when some had to give up work the second they got pregnant.

We see ourselves as equals in the workplace with our male counterparts and demand an command respect. Maybe we do run the world after all? However, there is one fact that cannot be ignored and that is: is every aspect of a woman’s life driven by her search to find a relationship?

Despite some women reaching the top of the career ladder, some would still view them as a failure if they did not have a husband or a family. Many would be led to believe that, despite women wanting to succeed in the world of work, secretly they still want a family but are forced to push aside those feelings in order to move up in the corporate chain. It’s a sacrifice that they make to live out the dream of those who were repressed in the 40′s and 50′s. Yet, despite their success, they still dream of finding love and building a future with their partner. If this is not achieved, they risk appearing as cold and career-driven in the eyes of many, not to mention feeling unfulfilled in themselves.

Take for example Jennifer Aniston: successful, talented and unbelievably stunning at age 44. Many would do anything for her success and fame yet on a weekly basis she is lauded by magazines and critics alike for not having children. Or there are the false stories that she is in fact expecting a baby. Why do we want this actress to have a child? There is nothing to suggest that Anniston is unhappy with her way of life but still the media continues to run stories about her failure to not be a mother. On the other hand, her arch enemy Angelina Jolie is seen as Mother Earth incarnate for having her own biological children and adopting several from around the globe, not to mention still managing to hold onto Aniston’s ex, Brad Pitt.

On another, perhaps more serious, note, we can look at the vilification of Amanda Knox in the world media during her trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher. The American student became the undoubted “celebrity” of the case, spawning endless tabloid inches and much media speculation about her private life. ‘Foxy Knoxy’ was young, attractive and American, but most importantly she was female and sexually active. Philippa Willitts on the British blog ‘The F Word’ wrote:

“The fact that Amanda Knox appears to be a young woman with some confidence in her sexuality has certainly worked against her. That she had condoms and a vibrator in a see-through bag has been widely reported, as some kind of proof that she was deranged enough to kill her housemate in a sex game.”

But is this not the 21st century? Have women well and truly not reached the day of sexual emancipation, in first world countries at least? Feminism in this day and age loosely goes by the ‘Sex and the City’ model. ‘Sex and the City’ is billed as a show about sexually active, cosmopolitan women, who are independent and career-driven.

But a bit of research will tell you that while the book on which the series was based was written by a woman, the script writers of the show were predominantly male. The four main characters are basically the ideas of men as to what a 21st century woman should be. If you think about it, almost every episode seemed to revolve around the characters searching for a man in their lives. Even though the show was meant to convey the confidence that women possess, it still managed to portray how easily a woman’s life and emotions could spiral out of control, the second she was left single. Carrie Bradshaw’s whole career was based around writing about men. Even by the time the series has finished, Samantha, who was the biggest advocate against marriage and relationships with men, is in a steady, happy relationship.

The whole goal of the Feminist Movement was to secure equality between women and men and that women were free to pursue their own interests, not just be condemned to be a ‘housewife’ and merely subservient to men. In a way this has been achieved, as women in this generation have more power and influence than ever before. But has the media’s portrayal of women moved on with the times? Or is the sort of feminism that we have come accustomed to in ‘Sex and the City’ something which remains a mere ideal?

If the media portrays women as needing a relationship to be happy, then how can young women progress in the world of education and the workforce without feeling like a failure because they don’t have a significant other? If you are the single one of your friends, then you feel like the black sheep. People tend to pity you. Even if you choose to not be in a relationship you still get judged. It’s damned if you do, or damned if you don’t.

Clearly people need to be loved and require relationships to develop as a person, but if the media continue to put out the fact that if you don’t have a partner or children, then all your other successes are meaningless, then Betty Friedan’s 1963 classic text on the subject of feminism, ‘The Feminist Mystique’, might as well not have been written. It’s quite alright to pursue a relationship and not a career and vice versa, women have that freedom now. Unfortunately the media has not caught up with that fact and still condemns women for their choices.