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Due to this communicative nature of marriage, I think it's an ideal way of making clear to society at large that they can take their prehistoric, misogynistic concept of marriage and shove it. [Read More]

Comments

Maialu

Wow. You always make me think--thank you!

I have been married for nearly 7 years and we opted out of the wedding experience all together. I was not a "wait for him to pop the question" kind of girl"--that leaves me out of the process! So, after some discussion, we decided to elope.

So, now I am a living example of the other conundrum you discuss. We have two children who I stay home with while the hubby goes off to work--I am, for all intents and purposes--a "Traditional Housewife." So, have I opted out of feminism? I don't think so, really. I have chosen this path and I do the "drudge work" because, quite frankly, it needs to be done and I'm here to do it. It's not work that I detest, and I know that my family appreciates it--I don't feel taken advantage of. This distinction is key, I think.

My story is "to be continued" I think, as I am applying to PhD programs for fall 2007. Our lives will shift dramatically as we go from our current model to a family with two parents working/schooling full time and splitting the housework and kidwork 50/50.

I hate the thought that I am somehow on the fringe of feminism because I have chosen a "traditional" role. I don't view my time out of the work force as a "sacrifice." One thing I believe to be true about marriage is that you have to have a bit of team mentality--and, sometimes you have to take one for the team. I have waited to start my career while my kids are little and my husband will likely be giving up some opportunities as we will be moving for me to go to school. It's all about balance.

Thanks for your blog--I enjoy it!

Jess

What I hate about all of these issues is that women seem to be always in a position of explaining themselves. When men take a feminist or non-traditional stance on issues of parenting, housework, etc, they are seen as forward-thinking, progressive, caring men, except for a few trogolodytes who get caught up in machismo. But when women take either side, feminist or traditional, they're left with explanations to make - "why are you abandoning your sisters, traitor?" or "your poor husband, to not have a wife who knows how to take care of him..."

I wish we could get beyond that stuff and talk about holistic family life, and how to create meaningful, working partnerships that have more to do with individuals coming together than the gender roles each one plays or doesn't play.

kc

Oh Happy! You must have been reading my mind... I'm in the process of planning my wedding and it is driving me slightly crazy. Just the language that people use is enough to make me want to tear my hair... I've been fussing about the wording of the invitation (and my delightful fiancee is in this with me all the way) and even though the traditions in his culture (he's not from the US) tend to be more machista, their invitations are not! It's the smallest things that surprise me, at times.

Erin

Sometimes traditional gender roles come in quite nicely. When my husband and I married, I informed him that getting rid of bugs was the "guy's job". He also never questioned my expectation for him the mow the lawn and take out the trash.

As I'm thinking about this, I realize that he has never held these types of gender expectations towards me. For instance, if stuff doesn't get done, he doesn't ever ask me why I'm not doing "my job". If dinner didn't get made, he cheerfully goes to pick up some takeout. His great attitude makes me REALLY WANT to do the best job that I can at making a nice home for us all the more.

R

Thanks for this, and for your earlier wedding post. If things go the way I think they will, my boyfriend and I will be in a position to start planning our own wedding within a few months. I've known since I was very young that I didn't want to be "given away" by my father, and the older I get, the less a traditional wedding interests me. I don't want to wear white! I look terrible in white!

So it's very nice to see that 1) I'm not the only person who thinks about this stuff (I knew that I wasn't, but seeing personal accounts in the blogosphere is powerful reinforcement) and 2) the ways in which other people have dealt with their weddings.

Shawna R. B. Atteberry

I did not have a traditional wedding--I didn't want to plan one, so we went to Vegas. We found an outdoor wedding chapel, and they did everything--we just told them our colors, the hors d'evoures we wanted, the picture and video package we wanted, and how many would be coming. They had all the services we needed: florist, photographer, videographer, and caterer. I wore a red dress that I ordered on the internet, and if fit perfectly! (Although I had a friend who could alter it, if needed). My headpiece was a renaissance circlet (I hate veils). Then all I had to do was show up in the dress. Both my parents gave me away (because they both raised me), and my father-in-law, an ordained minister, married us. We had around 30 people, and it was perfect. I did take his name, but kept mine as well: Shawna Renee Bound Atteberry. I never wanted a big wedding, and wearing white: uh no. I'll wear a nice white shirt, but that's the extent of me wearing white. And I think My Hubby was more into the details than I was to be honest. But that is our personalities as well: he's detail-oriented, and I'm the big picture person.

Maialu, I think your decision to stay at home with your family is no less feminist than if you worked. The point of feminism is to give us the choice. I have several friends, like you, who chose to stay home when their kids were little, and they never regretted it. I also have friends who continued to work, and they have no regrets either. Only your family can decide what's best for your family. And I do agree about the teamwork--even with it just being my husband and I. Compromise is always going to come about at some point.

Antigone

Add something else into the mix: money. My boyfriend and I tend to fall along the traditional gender roles when it comes to gifts: him giving some thing and me doing something. This isn't because either one of us is too enamored with gender roles, it is because of money/time thing. While neither one of us has much of either, he has more money than he has time and I have more time than I have money.

So when I feel like expressing affection, it normally comes down to doing his dishes or sending him a note or surprising him with lunch. When he's feeling affectionate (or when he's feeling blue: he always says seeing me smile always makes him smile, isn't he a sweetheart :D) he normally gets me something: a book I've been wanting to have, a hair thing I was admiring, or he'll go and make me a nice dinner (which I include as "giving" and not "doing" because dinner is danged expensive when you're a college student). Sometimes we swap: I just got him one of his favorite books because I had a little financial aid left over to use at the bookstore and he helps me move, but mostly it's him giving me doing.

We fixed this problem by going like this: "This is a gift. Do not expect this. The second you expect this is the second I stop doing this". It works out great for the both of us.

joanna

I've been lurking, and this topic relates to a question that I've been asking my colleagues lately, which is, "what happened to feminism?" I won't launch into that long, convoluted question here, but just want to add that I can relate to just about everything that's been stated here. As a woman who does not cook (a great name for a woman in a bad 50's cowboys and indians serial, huh? ; ) ), I used to be apologetic about it, before anyone even asked why I do not cook. And it was that old cultural script bearing down on me. During my first mariage, I'd stick to my guns about my other peculiarities, like keeping my name, not wanting kids, and being neither an ambitious career-driven type or a "justa housewife." Although I felt happy with my choices, I knew that I was breaking the rules, which sometimes made me uncomfortable, since it sometimes made me hard to define and therefore easy to expel from any group.
From the time of my divorce nine years ago ("Oh? You're keeping the house? By yourself?" and "I guess you'll be moving in with your parents" being the two dominant lines from the script at the time) up to today, I've learned to say "Fuck the script. Just fuck it. It's my life, and they're my choices, and that is that." Well, I've learned to say that from a position of strength rather than from a defensively shrill position. What amazes me as I approach fifty is that the script seems to still have a grip on us, and I still have people judging me for being childless or for keeping my name. To be sure, there are plenty of folks who don't bleat the script at me. Things have changed somewhat. But the question I'll leave you all with is this: why does the cultural script still seem to be able to affect us? What would it take for the script to change for good? Who is it that wants to polarize the issue anyhow?
I am very, very curious to hear your thoughts on this, and I hope that I haven't sounded age-ist, talking down to you all from the lofty age of 49 and two months.

UU Soul

Mine is another "eloped to Vegas" scenario. I've never been a traditional chick and had become increasingly disenchanted with the whole proposal-engagement ring-wedding progression. Before I met my husband, I had two female roommates who had a competition going on over who would get proposed to first. I was pretty disgusted by their competitive waiting. Also, one roommate's expectation that her boyfriend buy a ring worth more than the car I was hoping to buy at the time. These were not behaviors that I respected or cared to emulate.

For me the actual decision to get married rather than the wedding or the name change involved the most torment. My husband was stuck on whether he made enough money and that drove me through the roof. Since I wasn't looking for a traditional marriage and had been working at least one job since I was in high school, his income was irrelevant to me. I "added" his last name to mine because I don't have a middle name and had wanted one as long as I can remember. If I hadn't gotten married, I was considering making a legal name change anyway. Much to everyone's irritation, I insist on using my full name, no hyphens. And don't even think about using Mrs.

The ongoing dance of marriage has had its challenges. The grip of one's socialization is more difficult to escape than you hope. Even though our relationship is generally based on equality, I find our behavior slipping into traditional patterns at times. It is difficult to simply reject the old marriage model without having a coherent new model to replace it.

Amanda Marcotte

Thanks for the post. You articulated the other side of this very well. How does a feminist show love for a male partner without using a script that is geared towards equating love with subservience? I like you point about the man-hater thing, because a lot of feminist choices go under the radar because they don't fit with expectations of what loving a man looks like. With equality, you don't have to do so much more than he does to show the proper affection. I don't have to subsume my identity into my man's and he doesn't doubt I love him. But other people don't see all the things I do to love him (for one, I obstinately refuse to be the passive-aggressive female, which is hard but he appreciates). I like the private nature of egalitarian relationships, but it does feed into the problem of making feminists appear unloving, since our love is so much less for public show.

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