Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Single women: find your purpose now, but once you tie the knot, forget about it

I read an interesting quote today: Marriage is a sentence, not a word. All jokes aside, I have to wonder if it is true.

Personally, I am not interested in joining holy matrimony, changing my name (or hyphenating it for that matter), and becoming one with my life partner. Instead, I truly enjoy my independent self – I have had this name for all my life, and I don’t see the value in changing it – er, becoming owned by another. I don’t want to own anyone, and I don’t want him or her to be owned. That being said, this is my opinion and I do not knock those who believe in its sanctity – particularly those who have religious or culture reasons for the bond.

BTW, Ms. Magazine states that if you are a man and you would like to have your wife's name become yours, you need to put out an ad in the newspaper, petition in court and pay hundreds of dollars in legal fees. Women simply fill out a marriage application. Only six states in the nation have statutory laws stating the rights of men who wish to take on their partner's last name.

The Washington Post reviewed “Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the Twenty-First Century,” and I have to say that there are some major issues with the ideals printed between the covers.

First, author Jennifer Marshall states that the book is meant to give single women something to strive towards as they await their lifelong partner to come (and by partner I mean man, since apparently she only points out the ills of waiting for Mr. Right). Meaning, the book will give women a reason for living, but it kind of eludes to the idea that once she is married the purpose changes – that she somehow must shift her reason for living. Ok. I get that people enjoy their partners, and want to live for one another, but I think we should be stressing the need for people to still live for themselves. People change, and I don’t know anyone who would want to break out of a relationship and have no sense of self. My mom always told me to be independent of my friends, boyfriends, etc. You never know when you are going to be without them.

Marshall does, however, discuss an important theory called Destination Marriage. She says this occurs when people ready themselves so much for the wedding, and the IDEA of being married, that they come in to the relationship feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I guess she wants people to live their lives first – getting all adventure out of the way – and then tie the night. Hmmm. I don’t know, I contend that as we grow older we change so much. There has to be more wiggle room, and remarkable milestones should not have to necessarily be hit by two people (because the common rationalization is that the two parties in a marriage should celebrate everything together). Let’s be serious. We don’t all grow at the same rate, and finding purpose throughout life – at staggered times – should truly be celebrated. The pressure to grow together may be one of the reasons so many marriages don’t do well, so why do that?

Because of patriarchy. Women, just like men, live in a heterosexual, male-dominated world that is founded on pre-destined roles. And while Marshall thinks it is ok for women to get a job and reach goals, she feels that feminists are to blame for the lack of “chances” a woman is afforded in getting herself a man. She says in the Washington Post article: “Feminism has complicated relations between the sexes and created more confusion about singleness.”

What is the confusion; that it is OK to be single, strong, independent and wealthy? That is OK to have the desire to maintain one’s own self worth, dreams, aspirations, loves, hates, and purpose, post-wedding. More, I can only imagine that she in under the common perception that women cook and clean (and work, and raise kids, etc), while men wear a suit and tie to work each day. I say MANY in our generation DON’T want to follow those crappy rules anymore. We want to branch out and switch up the roles. Feminism fights for those role reversals, which despite Marshall’s thinking, actually STRENGTHENS the relations between the sexes. It gives each individual the true freedom to live life as they want to.

Lastly, she says we live in a divorce culture (then quit telling us to get married unjustly…duh), and that in addition to feminism, the sexual revolution has increased singleness, and decreased the possibility of getting married. To her, these changes are not a good thing.

Wow. I guess we should just forgo education, equality and exploration. Better that our generation reverse all of the “negatives” that people died for.