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Antigone

"since our love is so much less for public show". That does bring up a point I've had trouble with. My ex wouldn't do the little things, the listening to the bitching, the small comforts, the things that require so little but mean so much. He was really good at the big things: giving flowers, expensive jewlery, et cetera.

My current boyfriend doesn't do big things a lot of the time(no money, no time) but he does the little things that I love so much, and when he buys me a gift, he knows it'll be something I love. But when outside observers, like my parents, who aren't privy to the inside details look at our relationship, they think that he doesn't "treat me as nice as sweet ****". It's very frustrating, because how can you say things like "He teased me about overreacting to a paper I have to write, which calmed me down" and compare that to "He bought me a dimond/gold/saphire bracelet" in this cultural script?

David Thompson

Meh. All of this and much more devolves from placing too much stock in what other people think of how you live your life. The only people you need to please are those you specifically decide to please. The others? Fuck 'em.

(Oh wait, this is a feminist blog. I mean that in the figurative sense. Do not engage in sexual intercourse with them. Unless you want to.)

Sydney

David -- I couldn't agree with you more. Though at times it can be hard not to care, especially when gender expectations are shoved in your face on a regular basis. My solution has been to say something like (for example), "Of COURSE, I'm going to keep my name. I have a great name, and I've always intended to keep it. Why would I want to change it?" And throw the ball back into their court. Sometimes you get through, sometimes you don't, but I'm not sure I care about the opinions of the ones who don't get it anyway.

Women are encouraged (I would argue more so than men) to look to ourselves to see if we are the cause of problems or conflict. My live got 100x better when I realized that other people can be wrong too.

Cassandra

It's very frustrating, because how can you say things like "He teased me about overreacting to a paper I have to write, which calmed me down" and compare that to "He bought me a dimond/gold/saphire bracelet" in this cultural script?

*I* think that counts as adorable. One of the things that I loved about my ex (ex because we're heading to college) is that if I was down he would listen to me mope, and then he'd try to cheer me up, whether by explaining why the situation wasn't so bad, or, if that wasn't working, by joking around until I cracked a smile--and his obvious happiness at cheering me up always cheered me up even more.

And Happy, I totally know what you mean about feeling weird doing things for someone that fall into a cultural script. My ex liked to joke around by saying "now go and make me a sandwich!" which never bothered me because he went out of his way to be respectful always. Nevertheless one time he was at my house and I offered to make him a sandwich, and there was a moment of "whoa did I just sign off my independence in this relationship? why is he so happy?" and then I realized, who DOESN'T like having a sandwich made for them? Besides I liked making him happy. So I guess that was my version of joking around till he cracked a smile. (I felt down, or at least showed it, much more than he did).

Helen H

I'm with David. Just F**k them. What my husband and I do is none of anyone else's business.

As to weddings -- ick. Receptions, on the otherhand, who wouldn't want a really cool party for all your friends and family?

I have to admit though, it was kind of nice my husband's family was much more concerned that I have his support to stay in school, work, etc. My family just assumed I would; his went out of their way to help make sure it happened. They were a little shocked, but supported our choice when I stayed working fulltime and in school halftime after kid #2 and he became a SHD for the 1st year and then worked graveyard shift for the 18 mo after that.

Ann Bartow

This is a terrific set of observations. Thanks for a great post.

jen

@joanna
"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? "
i think it's pretty simple why. people still stick to this old script cause it gives them a feeling of security (if it really gives security is a different question i guess).
sticking to the old script means having a lot of decisions done for you, developing a new script would mean actual thinking. and i dont even mean this cynical when i say that actual thinking is one of the hardest things ever.
making decisions like you did costs strength, even if its worth it in my opinion, most people refuse to develop this stregth cause they are afraid to fail. one would have to think "okay, what do I really want? what is REALLY good for me?", and answering this questions that are necessary for making independent decisions with honesty isnt that easy since it might also mean to face quite some uncomfortable questions, too. it is easier just clinging to the old script that simply tells you "what is the best for you", especially since you can be sure the majority won't criticize you as much as if you made some more unconventional decisions.
and, let's face it, people ARE lazy like that. me, too, sometimes, even though i am trying to avoid that. as a feminist i am already used to it that i am sometimes uncomfortable for some people but sometimes i am just tired and wish to avoid being uncomfortable cause its not always a nice feeling. damn haha
and no, you don't sound "age-ist" haha im only 23 and i have asked myself the same things and even though i think i have an explanation i still don't fully get it that so many people actually stick to the old script without any hesitating.

Amy

My issue with the wedding was being shoved suddenly into the spotlight (I'm a middle child).

I choose to be home full-time as well. This is my work, it is work, and I don't intend to be less-diligent in it than my husband is in his. I am very thankful I don't have to work an 8-to-5; I'm not wired for one consistent activity. "Homemaking" suits me well. I appreciated the reminder from (Who was it?) that feminism means having choices.

I heard once (someone please tell me it was an urban legend) that a woman in Sweden was told, no, she could not stay home with her children and let her husband support her. The way I heard the story was that every adult who can is required to support him/herself. That is not freedom; and I hope it is not feminism.

The way my husband "empowers" me in my role is to acknowledge it is work, admire what I'm able to accomplish and work with me on the (frequent) left-overs, taking active responsibility for his felt-need for order when the house isn't there.

The house /is/ my job during the day, along with the children, but that doesn't make them less his responsibility.
///

As to the always having to explain myself-- I think usually that felt-need comes from me being a compulsive-explainer, and not particularly from the people around me.

I am becoming more and more convinced (maybe it's just from being in Alaska-- I'm told we're different here) that I could explain myself and my choices as little as I chose, and I'd actually end up more effective in "normalizing" my state.

Beautiful women don't go around /explaining/ that they are beautiful to plain women. They just are, everybody knows it, and it doesn't take any explaining.

L.

My husband wanted the big stinky wedding production -- not me (we`d already been legally married at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo). So I said, "Fine, you plan it. I`ll just show up in a dress."

And....he did! All I did was choose the flowers and invite my friends.

Sandy

We kept our wedding (twenty years ago now) small so as to advoid many of these issues. I think the larger the event, the more traditions you're likely to run up against. When conflict came up, as I knew it would, it inevitably between my mother & I, and luckily she states her opinion and then moves on. We both compromised a bit, and now I just see as it humorous when she (still!) sends me mail addressed as First Name Lastname DH's Lastname.

At any rate, DH & I both felt that the wedding was a social convention that we were doing mainly for parents & grandparents...and to get spouse health insurance. The details of the ceremony just weren't THAT important (unless it was something ridiculous, like "obey").

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