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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.

Comments

jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)
And no, not because it touched some secret, instant-marriage-craving nerve.

Oh, come now. Are you suuuuuuure?

Meanwhile, AAARGH AND BLARGH AND YARGH! Yes, I've encountered it outside of magazines. Like, all the time. And it's funny, because so many of my friends actually want to be married (though in the way your friends are, not in the traditional way), and I don't, but I'm the only one who is.

The other night, I was sitting around with two late twentysomethings, girls who've been in their relationships for four and five years, respectively, and of course, we started talking about marriage. I'm always always surprised by the answers I get when i ask people about their opinions of marriage. I asked them this question: "What do you think of when you think of the word "wife"? And what makes you want to be one?" (because they both do)

One of them said that "wife" means security: if she is a wife, her man won't leave her. (EEEK!)
The other said that "wife" means that you hvae someone to take care of, who also takes care of you, and that you can just enjoy doing all those things like making dinner and doing the washing up and stroking your partner's brow, because you're a wife, and you aren't just playing at house anymore!

I'm just rambling now. But I thought I'd share those two little snippets.

Of course, they asked me the same question, and my answer was "oppression, patriarchy, drudgery, misery."
biascut
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC)
Of course, they asked me the same question, and my answer was "oppression, patriarchy, drudgery, misery."

Oh Jenn. I love you.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
Hee!
stellanova
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC)
One of them said that "wife" means security: if she is a wife, her man won't leave her. (EEEK!)
The other said that "wife" means that you hvae someone to take care of, who also takes care of you, and that you can just enjoy doing all those things like making dinner and doing the washing up and stroking your partner's brow, because you're a wife, and you aren't just playing at house anymore!


What. The. Fuck? Seriously, I wish I were more surprised, but a former friend of mine and glitzfrau explained her decision to marry someone she'd known for six months and admited she didn't fancy by saying "I can't bear the thought of ever going through another breakup, and if we get married we won't break up." This from the child of divorced parents.

I think I must be pretty lucky, really, because I never usually encounter these assumptions - even my parents don't pressurise me or indeed leedy to get married. So when I do I'm fairly shocked.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC)
UGH! I know, it's horrifying, isn't it?? And one of them is a deconstructionist anthropologist, but gets all fucking HAIR-FLIPPY and squee when it's time to talk about marriage. That being said, I do think that she has a good relationship, but the ideas floating around in those heads of theirs, oh man.

Why are you so lucky, with the no weird friends? I want some less weird friends too. And it's awesome that your parents aren't the pressuring kind.
hfnuala
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC)
Of course, they asked me the same question, and my answer was "oppression, patriarchy, drudgery, misery."

This is why I can no longer discuss marriage with my married friends. I'm enough of a 70s feminist to believe marriage can't be fixed and I choose to negotiate my relationship outisde it. Many people tell me I'll change my mind when I have kids, but I doubt it.

I have been known to point out to Alex that as the lower earning partner it might be in his interest to talk me into marriage. Especially if he does end up taking some time off to raise kids. He's usually rather rude in response.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC)
Hehe. Nice one.

70s feminism: where it's at. I never thought of it that way, but yeah, that's basically what I am. Maybe because my mom forgot to be one, so I had to be one for her, and I haven't quite looked around yet to see that it's the 21st century.

But sorry, there's a whole anti-70s-feminism backlash surrounding me, and I'm standing in the middle of the circle with my sword drawn. Even if I am hitched, after all.
pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
"wife". Ick. I associate the word "wife" with washing the dishes and not having sex. "Husband" isn't much better either. Who can say "my husband and I" without sounding like the Queen?
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
Ewwwww husband! I never call Mark my husband unless I need something from someone who will give me more respect that way, but then, i did that before we were married, also. Playing the game, baby.

I told Mark once that if he ever introduced me as his "wife" in my presence, I'd walk away without saying anything.
pinguin
Mar. 7th, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC)
Heheheh. "Dr" has a similar effect, specially with my GP's receptionist. It also puts an end to those Ms/Miss/Mrs questions, except here where I get my title helpfully translated from "Frau Doktor" to "Mrs Dr".
zoje_george
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC)
seriouspenguin got married to her dude gosh, four years ago, after fourteen years of adamantly NOT marrying. Anyway, my point is that I still call him her boyfriend.

That's a problem though, because there is just no good, compact term for grown ups to use for their partner in crime.

I'll probably still call Trash my dude or my boyfriend.
jeejeen
Mar. 7th, 2005 05:05 pm (UTC)
Heh. I want to be Frau Doktor!

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