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Archive for August, 2011

Hello, world.

It's a lovely day outside, and I am trying to get things done.

Hello. I am not dead! I have been so busy over the past few months, though. I’ve been spending so much time doing other things that I didn’t have time to blog anywhere, not just here. In other words, I’ve been too busy living my life to write about it!

Today I have a real blog post for you. I’m going to write it based off of an article I read last week, and have been wanting to share my opinions on. I’m busily cleaning my apartment today (real, deep-cleaning, scrubbing the bathtub and the floor and vacuuming and dusting, not just surface cleaning), and doing laundry, so I’ll be writing this in between cleaning bouts, when I need a moment to cool down.

Here is the article I read.

This article is, to me, a perfect example of why I have absolutely no faith in the institution of marriage. Naturally, my inital misgivings came from the extreme backlash of my parents’ divorce, which scarred me enough to make me doubt marriage was good for anyone. But as I grow older, I find more and more evidence that the emotional scar isn’t the only thing that makes me distrust the idea of marriage.

Let’s start from the beginning. Marriage was, originally, a socio-economic construct. It had nothing to do with emotions. Marriage was a status symbol, (multiple wives = rich enough to support them), a political move, a way to make money, and a way to ensure that the children produced by any given woman could be tied to specific man (her husband). For the poor in almost any era, marriage was (and is) something that only sometimes happened. In particularly religious times and places, perhaps peasants could have a quick ceremony in front of the priest so they weren’t “living in sin”, but it wasn’t really the same. Indeed, many poor people couldn’t afford to get married because the landholders required a tithe that they didn’t have.

That isn’t the most auspicious beginning, I don’t think. Now let’s look at marriage in a more modern era, shall we? With the advent of first world economics and the structure of economy, it became necessary for people to get married to gain financial stability, and rights regarding their spouse. However, this almost universally applies to women alone. Men can generally live a financially stable life entirely by themselves. Women (especially in the earlier part of the modern era) usually had limited options, and it became a choice between getting married and taking a low-paying job that they would barely survive on, and in rural areas there wasn’t even that. A man could travel across the country and sell things, or work on farms, but women who traveled were taking their lives into their hands. So, for emotional and financial safety, women got married. And despite the fact that the choices are a hell of a lot better now, this is still a problem.

As always in these types of articles, the only women they are really paying any attention to are upper middle class (and mostly white) women. Most women in any other walk of life don’t have the choice at all. And yet, despite the fact that these women are more capable than ever before of providing for themselves financially, choosing who they spend time with, and otherwise living rich lives independently, it is so engrained in our culture that women need a man that they get married, knowing that the relationship is doomed. They tie themselves financially and emotionally (and with children) to a person they don’t really want to, because the horror of being alone, the idea of the ticking biological clock, they’re just too much.

Despite the title of the article, the idea that most divorced women knew before the wedding that the relationship was doomed is not “shocking”. It’s a natural side effect of a society where women do not value themselves, where a woman alone is ridiculed and treated as a lesser person than a married woman, where the cult of Mother has elevated those with children to a status much higher than their childfree counterparts (regardless of marital status), while simultaneously attempting to force the all-sacred mothers to give over control of their bodies and their children’s lives to the management.

I have felt it myself. I broke up with my ex-boyfriend because I didn’t love him. Honestly, I wasn’t even that attracted to him. I knew when we started dating that it wouldn’t last, but I was so tired of being alone. I wanted to have someone in my life in a romantic way, and there wasn’t anyone else rushing to fill the gap. But once the hassle of the constant upkeep outweighed the good feelings, I broke it off.

There’s still a part of me that whispers that since I don’t have people falling all over themselves to date me, something is very wrong with me. It’s not just low self-esteem, or depression, or anxiety, it’s the programming I’ve had from before I can remember, that a woman without a man is useless, that being single makes one pathetic and lonely. I know, objectively, that I am an amazing person. I value myself highly, and I know that in time, I will find other people who will value me as well, who I will be attracted to and want to spend time with. But sometimes, when my emotional roller coaster is at its lowest, when I feel emotionally drained and worthless, I understand why someone would marry a person they don’t really love. Sometimes, it seems better to be with someone we don’t truly care for, than to be alone.

The unfortunate truth is that it takes a lot more effort to choose to rebel against programming than it does to simply go along with what society dictates is normal and desirable. And women who do go along are not weak. They’re not lesser than those who fight back. They’re just tired. It can be so exhausting to fight, constantly, against what other believe is right, that sometimes you just have to let go. I can’t know why anyone else does what they do, and it’s not my place to judge why any woman would choose to live her life as she does. That’s not what this is about. This is about the anger I have that we’ve had this programming in the first place, that it’s even necessary to fight.

Divorce is an ugly thing, even between just two people, no children involved. Saying “oh I’ll just get a divorce if it doesn’t work out” is like saying “well I’m gonna put my hand in this bear trap, and if it springs I’ll just hack off my arm”. It’s never that easy.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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