July 19, 2002 01:53 PM

Cinnamon's blog, "Did You Know?" featured an excellent bit on common law marriage and the why/why not of marriage in general last week. Read it.

One of the comments turned the discussion to relationships as revolution and revelation. Purely accidentally [maybe we're not that poetic]. And it's true. Relationships are the one area in which women get both not enough and entirely too much guidance. There are thousands of signs for the assumed roads you'll take, but barely even a hand-drawn map if you'd like to step off those metaphorical highways.

Why is marriage an assumption? And why have so many [straight] women of my generation chosen otherwise?

The common explanation is that we're a generation [including the boys] who've seen the negative effect of divorce and the trivialization of marriage and family. That we take it much more seriously than our fly-by-night parents.

Of course, implicit in that explanation is our parents are our mothers, for what accounts for the divorce rate of the previous generation? Feminism! Women who can support themselves can choose something other than marriage. They can choose to leave bad ones, even. And we all know that feminism derides the value of family. [It's true, we all sit in little turrets once a month and mock all things male while we kill unborn children. It's fun!]

I think we may take marriage more seriously, in a way. I think we recognise it as an important choice, not something to simply expect of yourself after you've finished school and gotten a steady job. The brilliant, revolutionary aspect of feminism is that it opens up an entire spectrum of unconsidered choices as normal. It [along with the movement towards more equal rights and recognition for homosexual partnership] gives you the opportunity to choose the gender and duration of your partnerships with regard only to how much you care for that person.

This very possibility turns relationships from socioeconomic to self-transforming. [Ahem. If you accept my conviction that love is, in a way, self-improvement - for better explanation: old journal entry] And so, we've come to see marriage as a mixed bag. It can be a powerful expression of love, but it can also be a transaction, an assumption, a dangerous leap. As a queer-identified feminist, it also carries political repercussions. All of these things give it a surprising new weight.

I have to say, though, the main thing Cinnamon made me think about is all the women I know who've tested this weight in one way or another, made decisive and different relationship choices, and how exciting it is that such different experiences can be shared.

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your wicked thoughts

I agree totally with this :"Relationships are the one area in which women get both not enough and entirely too much guidance. There are thousands of signs for the assumed roads you'll take, but barely even a hand-drawn map if you'd like to step off those metaphorical highways."

Even for the assumed roads, I don't think the advice is right for everyone. When I was preparing for my wedding, I started getting inundated with advice for how to wear my hair or how to thank my in-laws, but nothing practical, like how to accept the fact that I hate my mother-in-law and refuse to tolerate her...or advice on how to deal with the masses of people who want to adopt you into their "married and boring" clubs. I swear I will write a book of realistic advice some day when I get it all figure out. Like how to tell your husband and mother to f-off when they think you should stop being friends with other men, or how to tell the nosy public that marriage should not be interpreted as being hetero.

Maybe I'm just reflecting the problems in this marriage too much, but I totally agree. If you want to know how to please a man 69 new & wild ways, you've got loads of books to choose from.

these are the thoughts of Kerri on July 19, 2002 02:44 PM

this is always a great topic of discussion (and maybe something to pose to We Have Brains). and well, i dont want to repeat everything thats already been said here, but I do recall upon researching the origins of the marriage ceremony to find that the "carrying the bride over the threshold" tradition came about because a bride in those 'great old days' had just been purchased and was kicking, screaming and trying to run away. niiiiiiiice.

these are the thoughts of eris on July 19, 2002 05:06 PM

Fab piece! I think you hit it right on the head when you say that feminism opened up a vast world of possibilities for women to consider. I also liked how you point out that we may be more serious about marriage.

It's true. Feminists are up in arms over the marriage incentives...and it's not just about trying to hook a woman up with a male caretaker, but also about taking marriage so seriously that there should never be an incentive to get people to do it.

these are the thoughts of Roni on July 25, 2002 02:00 PM

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