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ding dong the bells are gonna chime

So the other night in the Stag's, a friend said something about wanting her boyfriend to propose before she was 35 and started joshing me and P about when P was going to make an honest woman of me, etc. She certainly didn't mean to be obnoxious, but I found it slightly irritating. And no, not because it touched some secret, instant-marriage-craving nerve. Because it seemed to be based on a bizarre expectation of what women want. And what we want is for our boyfriends to ask us to marry them, the sooner the better.

Lest anyone misunderstand my feelings here, I must say that I am, very definitely, not against marriage - as anyone who has heard me squee with delight at the announcement of my friends' engagements will know. I'm against the idea of traditional marriage, yes, and I'm against what marriage has meant for women throughout history. But I don't see any connection between a woman being essentially sold to her father's friends as part of a land deal (as was commonplace in Ireland all too recently) and the happy marriages of my friends who have made their own, new sort of marriage. A sort of marriage which is about loving commitment to each other rather than the female half being the Angel in the House who's given up all autonomy to her husband.

However, what I am bewildered by is the assumption that, as a 29 year old woman in a stable, happy relationship, I am automatically dying to be married as soon as possible, and that I think my boyfriend is somehow to blame for not asking me yet. The whole thing seems such a bizarre, Cosmo way to carry on - and view gender roles - that I am amazed that someone in my social circle could even bring it up. Has anyone else actually encountered this sort of thing outside crappy magazines? And should I expect more people to start asking me when P and I are going to "give us all a day out"? Don't worry, I don't suddenly feel under pressure to oblige, but I am still somewhat aghast at the whole thing. Not least because I don't particularly like getting oddly defensive about my currently unmarried status during a nice night out in the pub.

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missbassey
Mar. 8th, 2005 03:22 pm (UTC)
Both the words 'wife' and 'husband' are equally horrid in my opinion (and I'm married, so technically I'm a 'wife', though I would never describe myself as such and have threatened to kick M. in the nuts if he ever refers to me as - horror of misogynistic horrors - 'the' wife).

The cultural tendency for a woman to be considered somehow incomplete without a man who adores her enough to ask her to spend the rest of her life with him is undeniable. Look at that vile little book, 'The Rules'. I actually pissed myself laughing when I started reading it (esp. the little bits where the publishers had tried their hand at culturally-specific 'humour', substituting 'Brookside' for some American show that was obviously originally in there. BTW, the idea was that you NEVER interrupted your scheduled evening's telly to take a call from HIM. No way. Mustn't, you know, be *honest* and actually tell him if you really like him and want to see him.)

The whole premise behind that stupid shitting book and all the journalism and pressure that belong to that tradition, is that as a lay-dee, you NEED a husband. Note, not a quality relationship -- just a husband. Anything with a knob and balls will do. Following 'The Rules' will probably result in your attaining wifely status, but it only really works if you're prepared to hitch yourself to any auld tosser who happens along.

I also think that now, too many people seem to concentrate on the fun of the wedding, rather than the gritty reality of making things work long-term. On the plus side, I really do think weddings are ace -- they've a v.important function in terms of contemporary culture and our lack of rituals. So here's a ritual where all the couple's friends and family and people who love them, all get together and give their group blessings to the relationship. Such a lovely surge of happiness and wonderfulness, can be a great start.
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