Straw Feminist Weekly: The Marriage-Hater

Charlotte Hays thinks feminists are going to turn on Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert because Gilbert’s new book is about the ultimate crime against feminism: Getting married!

Wait, what?

Hays:

Will Ms. Gilbert’s fans now spend their book-club meetings plotting to find a man? Or will they be plotting revenge on the supposedly strong, single woman who betrayed them?

Getting married = betraying your feminist readership, apparently. (And/or inspiring them to desperately pursue their own weddings.) I guess that makes sense, if your research into contemporary feminism consisted entirely of a Sex and the City marathon on TBS:

[Gilbert] is a giddy girl with lots of giddy girlfriends. And they are, in the way that feminists always seem to be but hate to admit, boy crazy and sex crazy. When a chipper Ms. Gilbert, having just met Felipe, gives a New York friend with boy troubles some happy-talk advice, the friend replies: “Spoken like a woman who already had four orgasms today.”… Such women rarely remain single—even if they profess to be feminists.

And because of that:

loyal readers may well feel that their heroine has deserted them for a man. But women have been doing this to their girlfriends since time immemorial. Sisterhood is powerful, but not that powerful.

What the fucking fuck? I don’t even know where to begin. Fortunately, Anna North at Jezebel has done a pretty thorough takedown, so I don’t have to.

All of this is actually kind of difficult to pick apart, but what Hays seems to be saying is that feminists equate strength with singlehood, and view anyone who couples up as a traitor. But all feminists really want a man (lesbians don’t exist in the Hays universe), and would cheerfully abandon their feminist values should they find one. Of course, this is based on an outdated and wrongheaded notion of feminist values. Only a very few people still demand that feminists eschew men, and most feminists I know accept the notion that whether or not a woman is in a relationship doesn’t determine how “strong” she is. It’s true that the idea of taking a husband for “male protection” raises my feminist hackles, but the fact that Gilbert didn’t need such protection while traveling the world makes me more sanguine about her marriage, not less. She seems to have gotten married because she wanted to, and because she was in love, and “such women” seem pretty happy to me.

Yep. Pretty much.

Or, as Indiebride.com editor Lori Leibovich told Tracy Clark-Flory back when Jessica Valenti’s engagement was totally! shocking! news!:

I think the people who take issue with feminists like Jessica getting married are the same people whose perception of feminism is completely warped. They are the people, mostly conservatives, who think that being a feminist means that you love having abortions, you hate men, and you do vaginal self-exams for fun, therefore you shouldn’t want a wedding.

Adds Tracy: “In this skewed view, of course Valenti is a hypocrite, because they haven’t the slightest clue what she stands for in the first place.” Yep. Pretty much.

I would write more, but I have to go meet my giddy, boy-crazy girlfriends for our monthly vaginal self-exam party. Oh, wait, who am I kidding? I’m married! My single friends all hate me now! The truth is, my schedule for the day looks like this:

1) Iron Al’s shirts.

2) Clean toilet.

3) Spend hours preparing complicated dinner.

4) Clean up kitchen after complicated dinner.

5) Think of England while Al soullessly bones me in hopes of making a baby that will give my life meaning.

6) Take tranquilizer and go to bed.

In fact, that’s been my schedule every day since December 26, 2008. You’d think that as a feminist (formerly, obvs) I would have seen that coming, huh? But no, I just stupidly went ahead and got married, betraying everything I stood for and all of my feminist readers and single pals. I’d apologize for that, but frankly, I’m not sorry. I’ve got a man! And a ring! YOU KNOW YOU’RE JEALOUS.

219 thoughts on “Straw Feminist Weekly: The Marriage-Hater

  1. Well, SOME of us REAL FEMINISTS don’t need to get married in order to Think of England while getting boned by our dildos/turkey basters. I iron my own shirts and soullessly bone myself into depression, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

  2. Damn, I didn’t discover FA and feminism until *after* I got married. Does that mean I have to get rid of this husband? I’d hate to, as he’s a significant upgrade from the last one.

  3. Ahahahahhahahahaha.

    Anyone who spends 2 minutes with me knows without a doubt that I’m a strong feminist with my own opinions… and yet I’ve been living with a man for 9 years, and married to him for 5.

    GASP!

  4. I’ve never understood why we’re supposed to think of England. Thinking of England does absolutely nothing for me. Thinking of Jamaica…now *that* works wonders!

    (Oh, and the woman is an idiot, obvs)

  5. Because they’re such unbelievable sluts! Like all feminists secretly are!

    And the inevitable consequence of being an unbelievable slut is entering into a committed relationship! Because I am totally not using earth logic!

  6. Think of England while Al soullessly bones me in hopes of making a baby that will give my life meaning.

    Diet Coke. Out my nose.

    For a lot of reasons, I don’t have any urge to get married. I’m not against it, I just don’t really see the point to it. A couple of times when it’s come up in conversation and I’ve said that, someone has sneered “What, are you some sort of feminist or something?” Then I have to get snotty with them, and it just goes downhill from there.

  7. I don’t know. I run across women in my age group (40′s and 50ish) who still buy into the notion that independence can best be served as a single. They are divorced or widowed and really believe that any relationship involving a legal commitment will diminish them and rob them of “freedom”. Perhaps it doesn’t have as much to do with feminism as it does with the fact that once married (and with children) so much more of a woman’s time is redirected towards husband, house and kids than a man’s is?

    Anyway, I never cared for Gilbert’s book. Seemed contrived for effect.

  8. Don’t forget about those Tupperware parties, where you and your other married friends swap stories about how totally awesome your husbands are and jello salad recipes.

    Gah!

  9. “I like to imagine that feminists would be outraged should the author of Eat, Pray, Love get married. Therefore I’m sure they actually are outraged. Moreover, this outrage confirms my uncritical two-dimensional stereotype of feminists.”

    Well, hard to argue with that.

  10. “Will Ms. Gilbert’s fans now spend their book-club meetings plotting to find a man? Or will they be plotting revenge on the supposedly strong, single woman who betrayed them?” I’m in a book club with a bunch of married women and even a married couple (he’s a pediatrician, she’s a scientist). We haven’t tackled “Eat, Pray, Love,” but even if we had, I doubt we’d be contemplating “revenge” on Ms. Gilbert, because we are too busy discussing books & literature. Note to Ms. Hays: That’s what you do in book clubs.

  11. anna north: “most feminists I know accept the notion that whether or not a woman is in a relationship doesn’t determine how “strong” she is.” precisely.

  12. Oh shi– Does this mean I have to return the dress? I really like the dress. I like the fiance too, for that matter.

    Am I going to have to turn in my feminist card at the next NOW meeting? Someone, plz advise.

  13. If the right guy came along, I’d marry him. And you’d have to pry my Hardcore Humorless Feminist card out of my cold dead hands, thanks.

    I don’t, however, like traditional weddings. Because many of the traditions are based on archaic sexist practices. But there’s a massive difference between hating weddings and hating marriage.

    Plus, if I hated marriage why would I be so passionate about making sure everyone had the right to it?

  14. This is the same logic that is used to say fat acceptance is about trying to make everyone fat. Or that if a famous fat person loses weight, they are betraying all fat people, and fat acceptance might as well just fold up the card table and go home.

  15. But isn’t getting married a prerequisite for later divorcing our good for nothing husbands and taking half their money like good soulless man-hating bloodsucking feminists? I thought to be a feminist I had to be initiated by throwing my wedding ring into a champagne glass with a bunch of other divorcees.

  16. I want to say something about being a feminist and an unbelievable slut but I can’t come up with anything funny, so, can anyone make me a tshirt slogan to that end? In return you get my undying unbelievable slut love.
    x

  17. Hmm, my husband’s gonna be really sad that we have to split up in order for me to remain a feminist, when my independent tendencies were one of the things that attracted him in the first place! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make him a martini, fetch his slippers, and rub his feet, yaknow, those things are required nightly if you’re married.

  18. I’ve got a man! And a ring! YOU KNOW YOU’RE JEALOUS.

    I MUST THROW OVER MY TWO WONDERFUL GIRLFRIENDS AND FOLLOW YOUR EXAMPLE.

    QUICK, TO THE LIFEBOATS!

    Am I going to have to turn in my feminist card at the next NOW meeting? Someone, plz advise.

    DO WHAT I SAY, NOT WHAT YOU WANT. THAT IS WHAT FEMINISM IS ABOUT.

    I thought to be a feminist I had to be initiated by throwing my wedding ring into a champagne glass with a bunch of other divorcees.

    CORRECT.

    I’M GLAD I WAS HERE TO GIVE CAPSLOCK ADVICE TO YOU ALL.

    “I like to imagine that feminists would be outraged should the author of Eat, Pray, Love get married. Therefore I’m sure they actually are outraged. Moreover, this outrage confirms my uncritical two-dimensional stereotype of feminists.”

    Exactly. How can we argue logically with something she’s made up?

    I don’t know. I run across women in my age group (40’s and 50ish) who still buy into the notion that independence can best be served as a single. They are divorced or widowed and really believe that any relationship involving a legal commitment will diminish them and rob them of “freedom”.

    While obv I am not in my 40s or 50s, the thought that comes to mind is that when they were “marrying age” A Marriage as commonly viewed might have required a lot more loss of independence and diminshing of freedom than a woman getting married would necessarly expect today. The 1950s were a lot closer, working mothers were more unusual, etc. So this view is probably entirely reasonable, given marriage as their peer group experienced it.

  19. I run across women in my age group (40’s and 50ish) who still buy into the notion that independence can best be served as a single. They are divorced or widowed and really believe that any relationship involving a legal commitment will diminish them and rob them of “freedom”.

    That wouldn’t, perhaps, also involve just a smidgen of enjoying the upsides of one’s current life, whatever it is?

    Sure there are days when having to negotiate between what I want and what my partner wants gets old. There were times when living alone got old. On the whole I enjoy being married and I enjoyed being single.

    (OMG, it’s almost as if my primary form of life happiness wasn’t about having a man!!)

  20. Ok, this:

    I’ve got a man! And a ring! YOU KNOW YOU’RE JEALOUS.

    and this:

    Damn, I didn’t discover FA and feminism until *after* I got married. Does that mean I have to get rid of this husband? I’d hate to, as he’s a significant upgrade from the last one.

    made me snort with laughter! I love you guys.

    I’m a feminist who wants to get married and have children! Clearly I’m doing it wrong! I’m single and childless, so maybe there’s hope for me yet!

  21. My head is doing ‘splodey things just reading this.

    The only thing I know for sure about marriage is that it’s one of the most intensely personal and individual choices a person can make. And I thought Feminism was all about choice. So it makes no logical sense to me that marriage would be a betrayal of Feminism.

    (Which is why I am so adamant that everyone should have the legal ability to make this choice if they so desire.) (And not everyone has to. It’s not for everyone. Only each person can make that call for themselves.) (But I digress.)

    But apparently Ms. Hays knows better than the rest of us. *snort*

  22. No, Charlotte, you totally got it wrong. If we silly little she-ple wanted to be just like Gilbert, we’d have to get divorced first and then get married again. And if you haven’t been married even once, that’s an awful lot of work. First you have to find a guy who will marry you, which means you have to pretend you really love him and not let on that you plan on dumping him, then dump him, and then marry someone you’re sure you want to be with forever. Except that…uh…Gilbert actually thought that about her first husband when she married him. HALP. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE EXACTLY LIKE HER.

  23. Holy fucking hell! Misconceptions like these are why I refused to call myself a feminist throughout college. Luckily, I’ve gotten over that.

    Not sure still about the kids thing, but I do know I want to get married. And have a big wedding and a white dress! (*Snort* Ignoring what the white is supposed to represent.) That leads me, however, to:

    Because they’re such unbelievable sluts! Like all feminists secretly are!

    Fine…as long as we don’t decide that women who do sleep around can’t be feminists. Can’t we, you know, enjoy sex whether or not we’re married? (‘Cause I doubt I’ll be married w/in the next 5 years, and I don’t want to be celibate that long…)

  24. > Oh shit. My husband is a feminist too. Clearly we’re DOING IT WRONG.
    Yes, THIS. (So much laughing — thank you for that!)

  25. If I weren’t married, who would do the laundry? And clean the house? And change the baby’s diapers? I don’t like to do those things, and now I have someone on whom to foist the unpleasant tasks (and you know, talk to)

    Look, I generally find Elizabeth Gilbert to not be a feminist icon, but it has more to do with her whininess and nothing at all to do with her marriage.

  26. Fine…as long as we don’t decide that women who do sleep around can’t be feminists. Can’t we, you know, enjoy sex whether or not we’re married?

    Of course. No one here is saying otherwise. We are in fact mocking the shit out of Hays for suggesting who you have sex with/marry has any bearing on whether you’re a feminist.

  27. Fine…as long as we don’t decide that women who do sleep around can’t be feminists

    Oh, I hope it was clear that I was intending to parrot Hays’ voice, not slut-shaming myself. People should have as many orgasms as they would like, with or without whomever they’d like.

  28. I wonder how she’d parse the fact that I’m married to a full-time SAHD who cooks, cleans, does laundry, and doesn’t complain when I need to go out of town on business trips.

  29. This entry and subsequent comments nearly gave me an asthma attack from giggling too hard.

    My faith in marriage took a huge nosedive after my parents’ divorce. For a long time I was like “MARRIAGE IS TEH EVIL” but these days I’m more like “eh, marriage is okay, but weddings are a racket”. Which, really, they are. I’d rather spend $5000 on a fabulous elopement to Cancun than on one wedding cake for a family that doesn’t even like me that much (mine, not the groom’s). I’d probably invite my mom along just because I know she’d love it, but she’s the type who’d witness the ceremony, cry a bit, then say “okay honey, go have fun with the new guy, I’m gonna go sailing for the rest of the week!”

    … And then she’d probably get drunk somewhere with a bunch of other sailors. XD Because she’s awesome like that.

  30. Well, I’ve never had a boyfriend or even been kissed! So clearly I am a much better feminist than any of you are! Especially you traitors who went and *gasp* GOT MARRIED! For shame, for shame. I think I shall name you all Donna Reed, you anti-feminist hussies. Never speak to me again.

    …Does this mean nuns are the ultimate feminists?

  31. …Does this mean nuns are the ultimate feminists?

    Was anyone in any doubt?

    Hee!
    I anticipate coming back to this hilarious thread several times today!

  32. oh, dear. I’ll have to go tell my feminist husband (who, btw, was probably more feminist than me when we first got together) that, uh . . . we don’t exist? or something?

  33. Wait… since when was eat pray love a feminist book? Just the title makes me want to burn something.

    And someone needs to tell these people that feminists don’t have book clubs, we have hot lesbian orgies accompanied by bongos and beat poems, after which we use our flaming bras to burn a symbol of maleness in effigy.

  34. Mishmish, don’tcha know? Male feminists are as nonexistent as English majors, bisexuals, girl gamers, and female sci-fi/fantasy fans. Married feminists even more so. Now, just go on and pop out of the universe quickly before your existence proves the internet blowhards wrong! I know that I need to do some unexisting myself, what with being a girl-gamer-female-sci-fi-fantasy fan, so I’ll be following you into the ether shortly, dear.

  35. I got married, but as several others have posted, we also seem to be going about it wrong. I’m the one who works and earns the money, while my husband is the one who takes care of the house. As a workman once put it to my husband (when hubs called me to get instructions on the work being done): “She is boss of family.” That has become one of our marital catch phrases.

    Of course, since we’re happily childless by choice, those who believe marriage and feminism are incompatible would also probably say that we’re not “really” married anyway.

  36. This is ridiculous on so many levels. What bothered me so much about Eat, Pray, Love was the fact that Gilbert openly admitted that she has spent her life in relationships, devoting herself slavishly to other peoples’ needs, ignoring her own, and that this journey was supposed to be a return to her own wholeness or something… which she finds… in another… relationship.

    What?

    Seriously, she could have totally skipped India and gone straight to Indonesia. All that self-reflection was for NAUGHT!

    Something I’ve personally come to find is a big part of feminism (AND just also being well-adjusted in general) is feeling like an equal in your relationships, which means not always compulsively having to be in one in order to feel like a whole person. I’d LIKE to be in a relationship right now, but I’m not just going to be with the first person who doesn’t bludgeon me with a heavy object for the sake of being in a relationship. That was what I felt Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love. Her new awareness was too scary for her, so the first chance she got, she jumped right back into her comfort zone. Luckily it worked out. But for how long?

    So if Hays wants to hate on Gilbert for getting married again, she should hate on her for apparently not learning anything from her mistakes- not for “betraying” her supposed “feminism.”

  37. I just went to read that article now, actually, and it doesn’t make any sense to me. Is it because I missed Sex In the City, or something?

    I generally, when confronting straw feminists, have some idea of the stereotype and would recognize who I might get from Central Casting to play such a stereotype. I may have met a few people who, if I were squinting and attempting to remove their multi-dimensionality, I could reduce to such a stereotype.

    This? This straw feminist is farking strange.

    Is she conflating feminists with … Girl Power? Or… uh, all that coy gender war stuff that popular culture likes to shove down our throats?

    Only thing I can think of is this: when writing younger female characters, most feminists I know would like there to be a diversity of goals and stories featuring the young adventuress, rather than just the “getting married” plotline.

    Somehow, has this translated into “no marriage”, as opposed to the idea that you could have adventures AND relationships, Just-a Like-a Men Can Have?

    Wow. Way to limit a person.

  38. Meems, I get it. :) I have no slut shaming! I in fact got socially ostracised in (Catholic) school for repeatedly advocating the crazy notion that I would have sex with whomever I want, whenever I want, thanks. Good times.

    And someone needs to tell these people that feminists don’t have book clubs, we have hot lesbian orgies accompanied by bongos and beat poems, after which we use our flaming bras to burn a symbol of maleness in effigy.

    I actually did do this last week, but in my defence I’d had a few hard shifts at work and needed to let off some steam. The fire department were very forgiving.

  39. Look, I generally find Elizabeth Gilbert to not be a feminist icon

    Yeah, Anna makes that point, too. I haven’t read EPL, so I have no opinion, but it seems as though False Premise #1 here might just be the assumption that either Gilbert or her audience would self-identify as feminists.

  40. after which we use our flaming bras to burn a symbol of maleness in effigy.

    Also, please remember to take the bra off before setting fire to it. Not that I would know that from personal experience or anything ;)

  41. “And someone needs to tell these people that feminists don’t have book clubs, we have hot lesbian orgies accompanied by bongos and beat poems, after which we use our flaming bras to burn a symbol of maleness in effigy”- Shinobi

    God, I really need to join your book club! Oh wait, I may be busy that night soullessly coupling with my oppressor/husband and contemplating the sweet bliss of my evening tranquilizer. Oh well, maybe after?

    Love this site!!!!!!!!

  42. Exactly. How can we argue logically with something she’s made up?

    You know, Caitlin, you’re on to something. I’m making up a violent extraterrestrial laser-gun-toting species that will be VERY ANGRY if I don’t have a scotch and soda this evening.

    BUT I AM NOT CURRENTLY HAVING A SCOTCH AND SODA.

    Uh-oh. Following my own shite logic, that means… that means…

    THE ALIENS ARE ANGRY. AT ME. Wullllll, shoot, I’d better get a scotch and soda then. Cheers!

    (Yeah, I like Uncle-Grandpa-type drinks. Manhattans, Scotch and soda, Old Fashioneds, all that crap. I don’t know, maybe they’re trendy again. Sometimes I’m so genuinely dorky that I back right up into fashionable without meaning to.)

  43. Lucy, I actually thought part of the narrative was about her finding herself and then entering a relationship and holy hell, it’s kind of different when you’re, you know, a whole person unto yourself first!

    But then again, I adored the book.

    So does being married to a girl make me a feminist or not a feminist? ;-) Can someone please clear that up?

  44. Hays is a tool (of the anti-feminists), and I think her slam at feminism is ridiculous, but one thing her article brings up for me is my very real disappointment when people (not Eliz. Gilbert) who show me how to be single and happy wind up permanently partnered.

    As I’ve examined my white (and much more) privilege, I’ve also become aware of other kinds of privilege that I do not have. And one of them is being partnered.

    I’m pretty sure there are plenty of women (and maybe men, for all I know) who feel a kind of hurt at Gilbert’s choice of re-partnering. Because it’s hard for us, for whatever reason, to find a partner at all, and it just seems so goddamned easy for most people, and when there’s someone famous who bucks the tide and is happy unpartnered, it’s like finding a piece of gold on the street.

    Then they get married and we have to give the gold back.

    I don’t disagree with the gist of this post and the general trend of the comments at all. I think it’s laughable to equate marriage with betrayal of feminism. It’s just that Hays hit on something that may be causing a certain amount of pain to a lot of people out there, even if she does twist it unrecognizably to suit her agenda.

  45. but it seems as though False Premise #1 here might just be the assumption that either Gilbert or her audience would self-identify as feminists.

    But she goes traveling! Without a man! Clearly she’s Emmeline Pankhurst reincarnated.

  46. I don’t understand if the author of the article can’t seem to differentiate between “being in a relationship” and “desperately needing to be in a relationship to feel as a valuable and complete human being” or if she thinks feminists can’t see that difference and are therefore against all relationships. I’m going to go out on a limb and say she’s an idiot anyway.

    5) Think of England while Al soullessly bones me in hopes of making a baby that will give my life meaning.

    Also, funniest mental image ever.

  47. God I love this site! It makes me laugh and think. What is better than that? I may not comment much but I read it voraciously….just don’t tell my husband…

  48. @A Sarah: I was introduced to gin and tonics a few years ago (I was in my *cough* late 30′s *cough*) and I think they are amazing. I had no idea. Now I’m thinking about trying rye and gingers, my mother’s favorite drink from waaay back.

    @Monica M, I am just beginning to think out loud about this, so I’m sorry if it’s not a really well formed idea: I don’t think you have to give the gold back. Everyone moves through phases in their lives and we get to take examples and/or strength from them as we move along our path and they move along theirs. The role model (or whomever) was unpartnered and happy – can that not serve as a model even if s/he moved to another phase in their life? I have had few times in my life when I have not be partnered (although a lot of the time married the first time sucked), so I may be making being alone better than you are experiencing it.

    Also, I think the privilege comes from being *married*, not just partnered. There is tremendous social cachet (and economic benefit) from being able to say that you are “married,” which is one of the reasons why it is so important that same-sex marriage be legal everywhere.

  49. Count me among the ranks of Those Doing Feminism Wrong at Those Who Want to Hate on Feminism.

    Mr. Twistie is doing it all wrong. He’s a feminist even though HE HAS A PENIS AND EVERYTHING!!!! Shocking, I know.

    In fact, a few months ago we needed a small electrical job done in our kitchen. Mr. Twistie did some research (he knows a lot more about electricity than I do) and called a couple of companies to come in and give estimates. When the guy arrived from the first company, Mr. Twistie threw him out about two minutes later. The guy felt he didn’t need to acknowledge my presence in the room, let alone answer my questions. Buh bye. And yes, we both told him why in glorious technicolor with lots of informative diagrams.

    We went with the other company where everyone seemed happy to talk to whoever happened to be home at the time…which was me.

    BTW, nobody gave me that rulebook that explained how I couldn’t be friends with people sans wedding rings anymore unless I was constantly rubbing their noses in my (non-existent) diamond and making sure they know they can never find happiness and fulfillment without one.

    Plus there’s that bit about no diamond to be dealt with.

    Hmmmmm…guess I just suck at everything, don’t I?

  50. Also, please remember to take the bra off before setting fire to it.

    Gives whole new meaning to the phrase “Rack of Doom.”

  51. I’m worried about posting this, not in the least because I know I’ll get flack for it and haven’t the energy, but to be perfectly honest, this sort of thing is why I don’t feel welcome as a queer woman at Shapely Prose. If you ask me, yes, marriage (at least in the US) is absolutely anti-feminist, because it means choosing to exploit one’s heterosexual privilege. The only way you could say that marriage doesn’t oppress women is by saying that queer women aren’t really women.

    (This completely regardless of all excellent points you have made in the post, which I do agree with.)

  52. //Also, please remember to take the bra off before setting fire to it.
    Gives whole new meaning to the phrase “Rack of Doom.”//

    Actually, Shinobi, I think it gives new meaning to the term ‘doomed rack.’

  53. Also, please remember to take the bra off before setting fire to it.

    Gives whole new meaning to the phrase “Rack of Doom.”

    Shinobi, that was probably the funniest thing I’ve read all day. You win at life!

  54. I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love either, but it seems that whatever Gilbert’s fans do in their book club, it involves “plotting” something or other. So where do I sign up? Sounds exciting.

    I like how Hays has to turn to the National Catholic Reporter to find Gilbert-related verbiage (about “extol[ling] each other’s talent and footwear”) weird enough for her to comfortably mock. Yeah, I’m sure you’re distilling every single feminist/made-up Elizabeth Gilbert cultist’s line of thinking with that meticulously culled quotation.

    That “succumbs with only a token struggle” line is also gross. Feminists “succumb[ing] with only a token struggle” to marriage due to their inherent sluttiness (implying that they–we–say one thing but secretly mean another, don’t know our own minds, are blinded by our whorish desires, and just need a good man to show us these truths) reminds me way too much of rape apologist speak.

  55. If you ask me, yes, marriage (at least in the US) is absolutely anti-feminist, because it means choosing to exploit one’s heterosexual privilege.

    Sarah, you're certainly not going to get flamed by me for saying that, since that's one of the primary reasons I'm not married. I don’t usually comment much on marriage-related posts here because I too usually don’t have the energy to get into a debate about it; it’s just not an issue we’ve chosen to take up here on that level, and I’m sorry that makes you feel unwelcome. I wish it didn’t but I get where you’re coming from.

    But you must admit that that’s not exactly a monolithically held feminist tenet as Hays implies in her article, which literally says that " feminists always seem to be but hate to admit, boy crazy and sex crazy." She's making a straw man argument about feminism as an excuse to snark on Gilbert's career; she's not acknowledging the complex debates about the place of marriage in feminism and queer activism.

  56. If you ask me, yes, marriage (at least in the US) is absolutely anti-feminist, because it means choosing to exploit one’s heterosexual privilege. The only way you could say that marriage doesn’t oppress women is by saying that queer women aren’t really women.

    I won’t give you flack for saying that, and I don’t disagree that getting married is an expression of heterosexual privilege. But that doesn’t mean the Marriage-Hating Feminist described by Hays is any less straw. She’s not talking about feminists who oppose marriage because gays and lesbians are excluded from it, but imaginary feminists who oppose marriage because an independent heterosexual woman shouldn’t be in a committed relationship with a man. As Anna said in the part I quoted, lesbians apparently don’t exist in Hays’s world, which is a big part of why Hays’s world is fantasyland.

  57. While I don’t think that this kind of thing makes me feel unwelcome here, I did want to post *sort of* along Sarah’s lines – in that I hope y’all feel there is room for the position of the feminist who actually isn’t super comfortable with marriage. And yes, absolutely, it’s partly because I’m a queer woman, but mostly because…well…I spent many years as a historian, and the origins and meaning of the western institution of marriage make me decidedly squeamish.

    I absolutely applaud women who, still wanting to be married, make a concerted effort to erase the patriarchal markers that surround “traditional” weddings, etc. And I’m never going to think less of a feminist friend who is/is going to be married because for me, it’s about an inability to reconcile ideas in my own mind (same way I never look down on friends who eat meat even though I genuinely just can’t).

    ALL THAT SAID calling out this straw feminist is a worthwhile point and Hays’s claim is egregiously stupid. I just…sometimes get the same feelings I would get when the whole “good fattie/bad fattie” thing comes up on the fatosphere (oh and believe you me this blog has not been a place that has caused weird feelings on that issue).

  58. hope y’all feel there is room for the position of the feminist who actually isn’t super comfortable with marriage.

    Hell, I’m not super comfortable with it as an institution, and I’m married.

  59. Heh! Interestingly, I think most of my (few) married friends are the same way.

    I really like this straw-feminist series; while making really important points it also has been fabulously hilarious. But it’s also a little weird for me. Because in some ways I feel like I am “that guy.” I mean, obviously the straws are all caricatures, and the element of them that is most glaringly “strawmanesque” (shush, it’s after midnight and I’m addled) is the way these people portray the motivations of the straw feminists. Like, duh Daphne, you don’t hate babies or marriage (or sex or heterosexuality or femininity or shaving or any of those other million straw feminist claims out there). But I sometimes (often?) do grok those stereotypes. Embodying a negatively-perceived stereotype does not make me evil, though, as this blog has helped me come to terms with.

    Still, though? The Hayses and the Roiphes infuriate me maybe more than they do the people who are the complete opposite of what they describe, because they purport to represent accurately the feminist who dislikes marriage or isn’t interested in children and ARGH THAT IS NOT WHAT IT IS FUCKING ABOUT YOU STUPID GASBAGS.

    (I apologize if it being late means I make no sense and am rambling….!)

  60. One of the things I find hilarious (in the “geez, surely no-one can really be *that* irrational” meaning of hilarious” is those conservatives who think marriage and the family will be *weakened* by acknowledging gay marriages legally. First, the larger and more diverse a group is, the stronger it is; so including gays in the legal defense of marriage would make it stronger. Secondly, what about the kids in gay families? A primary* reason for marriage is to raise kids, and those kids in gay families need the protections and stability we’ve imperfectly created in marriage and divorce law. It’s foolish to think that just because gays aren’t allowed legal marriage they won’t create families with kids; kids are a basic drive in humans; who can help but think those kids need the legal protections of two parents. In fact, I think polymarriage is reasonable too; but a whole lot more complicated to create because you have more people involved. It’s not as simple as legalizing gay marriage. Also, just as an aside; I think that gay people who use husband and wife to describe the people they’d marry if allowed are doing a good thing. Get people over the shock value of the words and they’ll adjust.

    *primary, not single only acceptable reason. We got married when we realized we were discussing kids and felt they needed the stability of married parents. This is not to say that only married people can do a good job; but I think it is easier if you are married and raising kids is complicated enough for me without making it more difficult.

  61. Hays: Feminists ALL hate marriage because they ALL hate men. Even though ALL feminists are total sluts.

    Real Live Feminists: We have a wide spectrum of opinions on marriage, almost like we’re real people or something.

    Now I want a T-shirt that says “Real Live Feminist!” on the front.

  62. “If you ask me, yes, marriage (at least in the US) is absolutely anti-feminist, because it means choosing to exploit one’s heterosexual privilege. The only way you could say that marriage doesn’t oppress women is by saying that queer women aren’t really women.”
    ———————
    That’s like saying no women should choose to get an education because it is not available to ALL women. Of course marriage and education should be available to all, but you sound like you partook of education nevertheless. White, western priviledge. No snark, it really is.

  63. So I was wondering if Kate could clear something up for me. While I was reading I noticed this quote:
    I
    “think the people who take issue with feminists like Jessica getting married are the same people whose perception of feminism is completely warped. They are the people, mostly conservatives, who think that being a feminist means that you love having abortions, you hate men, and you do vaginal self-exams for fun, therefore you shouldn’t want a wedding

    I don’t think this is true, I think it’s totally valid to question marriage and I think it can be done without being compared to a feminist suicide bomb squad. It’s’especially important to be able to continue to critique the institution of heterosexual marriage for reasons already mentioned. And I don’t think we should hide from that. But we also shouldn’t let voices who are completely unfamiliar with feminism dominate the conversation (which is difficult given our media culture.) So I don’t think this quote is very useful, in that it (inadvertently, I hope) conflates all who would criticize a prominent feminist’s entry into the “marriage institution.with people who have no idea what they are talking about.” So to me, the straw feminist here isn’t being dismantled very well.

    Of course, were Ms. Hayes more familiar with feminism she would be able to make a critical-historical distinction between radical and liberal schools of feminism, but she isn’t a feminist. I think it’s wonderful, Kate, that you’ve called this lady out on her shit because she doesn’t have the chops to say what she’s saying about a political movement. But i worry that some folks here will take it to mean that there’s no validity in the criticism of heterosexual marriage as an institution of patriarchy. Hope that made sense and wasn’t too rambly And sorry if I’m repeating something that’s already been touched on. Happy Sunday!

  64. *Joins Shinobi’s book club*

    …as long as we actually do discuss science fiction and fantasy (and -not- Atwood) sometime between orgies.

  65. *looks up* *notes punctuation weirdnesses in last comment*

    IDK what was going on but earlier when I posted that my posts were being imput all weird and the typing was going left to right and so there are some befuddlements with the punctuationz!

    Just want to point out that this:

    “…prominent feminist’s entry into the “marriage institution.with people who have no idea what they are talking about.””

    Should read like this:

    “…prominent feminist’s entry into the “marriage institution” with people who have no idea what they are talking about. ”

    Oopsers.

  66. You know, I do believe that marriage should be legal for all people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, but I also want to get married. As a heterosexual woman, while I understand that I have more options in terms of getting married, I’m perfectly happy and willing to limit myself to getting married (when/if it happens) in a state in which marriage is legal for all people and with a rabbi who performs marriages for both hetero and homosexual couples (e.g. in Massachusetts with a Reconstructionist rabbi). I know it’s not perfect, as marriage shouldn’t really be a state by state issue in my opinion, but rather a matter of federal civil rights.

    Of course, as someone raised by two feminists (male & female, as the case may be) who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, my idea of marriage is extremely egalitarian. Even understanding the historical context, I would still choose to make legal my commitment to a person I love and wish to spend the rest of my life with – as long as he’ll do the same for me, of course!

  67. we also shouldn’t let voices who are completely unfamiliar with feminism dominate the conversation (which is difficult given our media culture.) So I don’t think this quote is very useful, in that it (inadvertently, I hope) conflates all who would criticize a prominent feminist’s entry into the “marriage institution.with people who have no idea what they are talking about.” So to me, the straw feminist here isn’t being dismantled very well

    I hear you, but that quote, like my post, was specifically in response to the “voices who are completely unfamiliar with feminism” (in that case, it was Kathryn Jean Lopez), which is clear when you click through. Actual feminist reservations about marriage are not even on these people’s radar. They’re just trying to play “gotcha” based on a completely false idea of what feminists represent.

    And of course, feminists represent a lot of different things, including being anti-marriage for good reasons. But this idea that feminism dictates that any heterosexual woman is diminished if she commits to a man (legally or otherwise) is total fucking bullshit, hence the post.

    Also, obviously, anything I say about marriage is going to be self-justifying, but I want to touch on what Lori said above, because it’s really at the core of why I did get married, despite being furious that so many people can’t. And that is: I choose to exploit my privilege all the damned time. And I’d wager that all of us with some sort of privilege do.

    Take where I choose to live. My apartment is bigger than what Al and I strictly need, because we’re willing and able to pay for the extra space, and it comes with loads of amenities and a landlord who maintains it well. Our neighborhood is extremely diverse, socioeconomically and ethnically, but within a few blocks of our apartment, it’s especially white, middle-class, safe and well-policed. Our rent, although quite modest compared to that for equivalent spaces in many neighborhoods in Chicago (to say nothing of New York, Boston, or San Francisco), is still more than many of my friends who share several layers of privilege with me (i.e., white, educated, professional) can afford, let alone people with fewer or none of those layers. And the apartment is on the second floor of an old, inaccessible building.

    So choosing to live here is choosing to exploit my class privilege, white privilege, and currently able-bodied privilege, just as getting married was a choice to exploit my heterosexual privilege. But no one’s ever challenged me on whether living in this apartment is consistent with my values, because all the exploitation of privilege involved is much less obvious. And I compromise or have compromised similarly on a bazillion other choices: what kind of food and clothes I buy; getting two degrees; having health insurance; traveling quite a bit; having owned a car for much of my adult life (though I don’t now); pursuing a writing career that didn’t pay enough to live on at first, because I had support from family and a partner with a much more stable and remunerative career, etc.

    Now, obviously, “But I exploit my privilege in loads of other ways, too!” isn’t the most persuasive argument. And although I ultimately decided that getting married was right for me, I’m not going to argue that it was a morally pure decision, 100% consistent with my values, or unoppressive. It was none of those things. It was, like so many other decisions I make, a compromise between what I stand for and what options are available to me as a white, heterosexual, upper middle-class, able-bodied, American cisperson.

    I daresay most of us with any sort of privilege are making such compromises all the time, and all we can do is try to be conscious of it and determine where we draw our own ethical lines. I didn’t draw the line at marriage, just as a lot of feminists — straight and queer — haven’t or wouldn’t. So the fact that some feminists do oppose marriage for perfectly good feminist reasons still doesn’t mean that feminists as a group are marriage-haters, much less for the reasons people like Lopez and Hays seem to think we are.

    As you acknowledge, challenging false images of feminism is important, and that’s the entire point of this post and this series. I didn’t get into the actual feminist arguments against marriage in this post because they aren’t relevant to Charlotte Hays’s bullshit in particular, and don’t make the “feminists” she’s depicting any less imaginary. So I think what it comes down to is what Fillyjonk was saying in another recent thread, that each post can’t be every post. Feminist arguments against marriage are welcome here, including in this thread — I’m in no way trying to shut down that discussion — but each post has its own context and limitations. So I stand by the arguments in this post — to wit, that Charlotte Hays has no fucking business talking about feminism, and the contemporary feminist movement, to whatever extent we can be lumped together, is actually not overwhelmingly anti-marriage, even if it arguably should be. There are good feminist arguments against marriage, and certainly, there are anti-marriage feminists. But Hays isn’t talking about those arguments or those feminists, so within the limits of this post, I wasn’t either.

  68. I’d never know who the current feminist icons are without antifeminist pundits pointing them out to me. I’m sure Gilbert’s fans will be intrigued to know they are all feminists now.

  69. To my way of thinking, the degree to which I’m strong and independent doesn’t actually bear much of a relationship to how feminist I am. I mean, I’m a staunch feminist and proud of it, pro-choice, and I absolutely believe that women are equal to men and deserve every right and privilege that men have.

    But I do depend on my husband. He’s my best friend. And I hope he would say he depends on me. As far as strength, sometimes I’m strong and sometimes I’m not. Certainly when I’m yelling for my husband to come and kill a giant spider in the bathtub, I don’t feel strong at all. But I’m still a feminist either way.

    I’ve read Eat, Pray, Love, and I’d venture to say that Elizabeth Gilbert is the same. Definitely a feminist, but also a woman with many insecurities, hangups, and general weirdnesses, related to romantic relationships and other things too. I think that (perhaps) many of her readers can relate to the insecurities and hangups. But if I thought she came across as antifeminist in the book, I would have stopped reading immediately.

    I’m honestly looking forward to what she has to say about marriage. I don’t think it will change my life, but it might be interesting.

  70. To my way of thinking, the degree to which I’m strong and independent doesn’t actually bear much of a relationship to how feminist I am.

    This is a good point. Feminism is about women’s right to be strong and independent, not their duty to.

  71. People should have as many orgasms as they would like, with or without whomever they’d like. –SM

    Words to live by. ;)

    I don’t think you have to give the gold back. Everyone moves through phases in their lives and we get to take examples and/or strength from them as we move along our path and they move along theirs. The role model (or whomever) was unpartnered and happy – can that not serve as a model even if s/he moved to another phase in their life?

    Noelle – I can’t speak for Monica, but the problem with this is my life never leaves the single phase, and while I believe in life after 40, I’m dubious it ever will. Some days I’m okay with that, some days it’s really fucking hard to cope with. There are so few role models of single women who are successful and not partnered that losing any of them hurts.

    Monica – I’m totally with you. Unwanted singlehood can suck and some days when people barf out the usual “Oh you just haven’t met the right person yet hang in there kitten it’s almost Friday!” garbage platitudes I want to buy an axe and go on a rampage.

    No amount of feminism can compensate for feeling incredibly fucking lonely. And it has nothing to do with feminism. I’m a human being and even with the social awkwardness and Aspergers, I do need contact with people sometimes. And holding the world up on my shoulders alone gets tiring quite often. I don’t need a partner to be complete, I don’t need to get married to feel worthy. I just wish sometimes I had some help.

    All of that has nothing to do with gender – it’s about humanity. If only the OP here had taken that thread and run with it – the struggle it is for the 27% of the country that lives alone when our whole culture presses upon us to find a partner (the right kind of one, of course) and how to live with the reality that for a lot of us, it just won’t happen. Instead she chased after fictional feminists who live in her head.

    DRST

  72. No amount of feminism can compensate for feeling incredibly fucking lonely. And it has nothing to do with feminism.

    Absofuckinglutely. Being single when you want to be in a relationship completely fucking sucks.

    But vis a vis the post, feeling hurt and disappointed when you see a single person couple up — and I’ve felt that, plenty of times — does not mean you or the sisterhood have actually been betrayed, any more than you’d be betraying single friends/the sisterhood if the right person came along and you coupled up. What I’m hearing from you and Monica is not that you’re philosophically committed to singlehood — the idea Hays is talking about here — but that you’re single because of circumstances, and would be happy if those circumstances changed. If they did, would you be selling out the sisterhood?

    Losing the company of someone who’s going through that struggle with you can be really painful, but it’s a different kind of pain from finding out your friend (or beloved author) has sold out principles you thought she held dear. There’s nothing inherently anti-feminist about falling in love, even if some women behave badly toward single friends when they do, and some single women (and again, I’ve totally been one of these) can’t help feeling hurt and even lonelier when they see someone else partner up.

  73. Kate wrote:
    “Now, obviously, “But I exploit my privilege in loads of other ways, too!” isn’t the most persuasive argument. And although I ultimately decided that getting married was right for me, I’m not going to argue that it was a morally pure decision, 100% consistent with my values, or unoppressive. It was none of those things. It was, like so many other decisions I make, a compromise between what I stand for and what options are available to me as a white, heterosexual, upper middle-class, able-bodied, American cisperson.”

    I think this is a point that needs to be emphasized again. We all do this to one extent or another, in a billion ways, overtly or subtly, no matter what your privilege happens to be, for a myriad of reasons. It doesn’t mean that you are compromising your values or giving up on the movement, so to speak. It just means you are responding to whatever curveballs are thrown at you, based on a multitude of circumstances. I don’t believe anyone has the ability to fight against everything 100% of the time. I struggle every single day to accept the person in me at the weight I am. I don’t have the energy or ability to battle everyone who looks at me snidely, dismisses me summariily, or flat out insults me. I pick my battles based on my circumstances of the moment….but that doesn’t change what I fundamentally believe in.

    Hays took yet another pot shot at feminist principles by pointing a finger at a choice made by a feminist author. And yes, it was a choice Gilbert made…to marry….thankfully, she HAD a choice. This kind of policing is an attempt to undermine THE ENTIRE FEMINIST SYSTEM by focusing on ONE decision of a woman who is trying to live her life in a feminist way.

  74. @Kate, DRST, Monica, et al:

    I think the differentiation between people who are single by circumstance and single by choice is especially important. I don’t think I’ve ever felt betrayed by coupled up friends, per se, but I have noticed that people prioritize their lives differently when in relationships, and certain people will make less of an effort for other friends, especially those who don’t live nearby. Of course, I also once had a roommate who, the second she got into a relationship, only went out on double dates with also coupled friends. Previously, we’d all gone out to bars/clubs as a group and I was pretty suddenly excluded. That really sucks.

    The other thing is that, as much confidence I have in my own appearance, it’s sometimes hard to trust or believe that other people see me the way I see myself. I think I’m pretty, I think I have a nice figure (whatever that means), but it’s hard to maintain that without some level of outside reinforcement or confirmation, you know?

  75. DRST, Monica, et. all:

    I think part of this is about social privileges of marriage and couplehood: I was just talking to a good friend who ended a relationship that wasn’t working for her. She didn’t miss him but she was missing being accepted, not feeling left out in a very couple-heavy environment. I’m lucky to be in a big city where, even though I’m no longer in my 20s, my social circles are a pretty good mix of singles, gay and straight unmarried and married couples, singles, couples with kids and without, singles with kids, etc. IT’s much harder in a traditional environment where being single as a woman past whatever age makes you feel singled out – which adds to the sense of isolation you might feel – lots of married people feel lonely, but the greater social status seems a counterbalance to that.

  76. Wait, so now feminists are all secretly boy-crazed and sex-crazed? I thought they were frigid man-haters.

    Now I’m confused.

  77. IT’s much harder in a traditional environment where being single as a woman past whatever age makes you feel singled out – which adds to the sense of isolation you might feel – lots of married people feel lonely, but the greater social status seems a counterbalance to that.

    Yes, definitely. Having a partner makes a million things easier socially, and so many people forget how hard it was to be single 5 seconds after they find one.

  78. Yes, definitely. Having a partner makes a million things easier socially, and so many people forget how hard it was to be single 5 seconds after they find one.

    This. There’s also a small, but significant, economic privilege involved to being in a couple, particularly when renting accommodation or paying for things like hotel rooms and package holidays.

  79. Meems, on September 5th, 2009 at 9:15 pm Said:

    Holy fucking hell! Misconceptions like these are why I refused to call myself a feminist throughout college. Luckily, I’ve gotten over that.

    When a high school friend who I hadn’t talked to in a few years responded to the news I’d gotten married with, “Really? But you were always such a feminist!” I hesitated to call myself a feminist for a while as well. But I could never find another word that so neatly summed up a driving force in my life.

  80. Jamie, on September 5th, 2009 at 9:59 pm Said:

    Mishmish, don’tcha know? Male feminists are as nonexistent as English majors, bisexuals, girl gamers, and female sci-fi/fantasy fans. Married feminists even more so. Now, just go on and pop out of the universe quickly before your existence proves the internet blowhards wrong! I know that I need to do some unexisting myself, what with being a girl-gamer-female-sci-fi-fantasy fan, so I’ll be following you into the ether shortly, dear.

    Blimey, I almost totally disappeared then. Luckily Im not married, so my atoms just about managed to stay together in this human form. Close call though

  81. I help organize a feminist discussion group. Our male friends think that we sit around and discuss beauty tips and gossip about them. I don’t think anyone but feminists know what feminism means. : /

  82. There’s also a small, but significant, economic privilege involved to being in a couple, particularly when renting accommodation or paying for things like hotel rooms and package holidays.

    Oh, hell yes. You do not want to get me started on the year when I had like 5 weddings to go to solo, all involving hotels, rental cars and gifts I wasn’t splitting with anyone else.

  83. This may sound really stupid (especially since I’ve always considered myself a feminist), but I’m having trouble coming up with a definitive explanation of what that actually means. I’ve always assumed that feminism, in a nutshell, means that women deserve the same opportunity for growth and development that men have enjoyed for centuries. That our gender is not an excuse to deny us the right to higher education, reproductive freedom and professional success and fulfillment. I thought feminism was about choices made among a wide-range of choices. So if you chose to be a wife and mother, for example, that was fine as long as you were aware that you had many options for fulfillment and were choosing out of desire and not economic or cultural necessity. But if you’re a wife and mother with a burning and unfulfilled passion to become, say a firefighter, that’s more problematic. Especially if for cultural, family, religious reasons, etc. you feel that you have no right to pursue that dream. I I always thought feminism existed to allow women to choose their path and to hell with patriarchal expectations regarding our worth and abilities.

    It’s just that lately I’ve encountered so many different opinions and philosophical debates about the actual meaning of feminism that I’m getting confused. Besides the obvious sources (i.e. The Feminine Mystique, The Second Sex, The Beauty Myth, Backlash, etc.), I’m wondering if anyone could steer me in the right direction regarding feminism as a historical and philosophical movement? I’d really like to sound intelligent when I discuss these issues. Especially when it seems to me (and I could, of course, be wrong) that the kinds of arguments I’m encountering about feminism are a bit ridiculous and oh-so-straw-feminist-y. (You know the ones: All feminists hate babies and never shave. Women need affirmative action because otherwise they’d never be big and strong enough to be cops/soldiers/firefighters, etc. All feminists are lesbians who hate men and think all heterosexual sex is rape. And on and on and on…)

    Thanks for any and all suggestions. And again, this is such a fantastic site! It makes me so proud to be a real-life, body-image struggling, married, breeding, educated multifaceted feminist. Thanks for being here!

  84. Oh man, thanks for this, the giggles have made my day. That whole last paragraph had me laughing so hard, and that was before the comments…

  85. Redfairy, on September 7th, 2009 at 12:25 am Said:

    I’ve always assumed that feminism, in a nutshell, means that women deserve the same opportunity for growth and development that men have enjoyed for centuries.

    That sums it up for me. I’ve also seen it argued the feminism is the belief that humans are people first, male or female second – meaning that the similarities far outweigh the differences, and using a person’s sex to limit them is stupid. Those concepts are like the “feminist creed” – but within feminism there are any number of “denominations,” with a lot of disagreements over how that opportunity for growth should be explored; or how we can pull or push our culture in the right direction in order to recognize or support these rights.

    The idea that women are not lesser beings who should be controlled by men goes back to at least Susan B. Anthony and the feminists of that era in the States (I haven’t read any early British feminists so can’t say on that front), so fits the various movements most associated with feminism. I tend to think the roots of feminism go back further, myself.

    According to Sally Roesch Wagner, there’s evidence that American feminism was influenced by native American beliefs about women’s roles, particularly the Iroquois, and I think you could argue that some of the ladies writing in the Middle Ages were early feminists, in that they were arguing against the idea that women are lesser beings, lacked souls, had no right to make their own decisions, etc.

    If you go by the guys complaining about women wanting equal rights, there were feminists in ancient Rome, but I’ve never read anything by a woman defending the feminist position back then so all I know there is the straw version. But I suspect that the idea that women are as fully human as men goes back at least as far as the idea that men should have more rights than women.

  86. It bothers me that someone’s throwing out the idea that feminists don’t get married, and that feminists also don’t let feminists get married. But what’s worse is that someone has confused Elizabeth Gilbert with a feminist, and thinks that her writing must somehow appeal to feminists. Why? Because she got a divorce? Because she dared travel around the world without a man by her side? Or because she’s a self-absorbed woman who creates her own problems but can’t take responsibility for them?

    Ugh. The horrible labels that people pin on feminism.

  87. What I’m hearing from you and Monica is not that you’re philosophically committed to singlehood — the idea Hays is talking about here — but that you’re single because of circumstances, and would be happy if those circumstances changed. If they did, would you be selling out the sisterhood?

    Kate – I wasn’t actually suggesting that anyone sells out by getting into a relationship (or out of one, etc.). I was just pointing out that being terminally single is alienating and frustrating and you can feel sad or even personally betrayed by it, without accusing someone of an ideological betrayal of a cause (because emotions aren’t exactly governed by logic).

    To make a weak comparison, being fat and having a fat friend who goes on a diet that is, at least initially, a success… what happens then? Do you feel betrayed on some level? Probably. The extent of it depends heavily on the friend’s behavior both before and after. Do you accuse them of selling out the FA movement? Also depends a lot on the circumstances. But as I said, emotions are what they are.

    I don’t have any personal investment in this particular writer’s life choices, but it’s tough to lose your friends to any new interests and it’s particularly tough when the reason for the shift is something that is so fundamental as love and romance (or self-esteem, in the case of the diet example). When you see someone you know or even just a person you look up to who is no longer like you in such a respect, it can (to be really blunt) make you hurt from bitter & wistful envy — which you cannot share because it would hurt the other person deeply.

    All of this is personal, not political or ideological.

    The other thing is that, as much confidence I have in my own appearance, it’s sometimes hard to trust or believe that other people see me the way I see myself. I think I’m pretty, I think I have a nice figure (whatever that means), but it’s hard to maintain that without some level of outside reinforcement or confirmation, you know?

    Meems- so much fucking WORD on every word of that. Which reminds me I haven’t logged into OKC for weeks and I’m a little afraid to.

    DRST

  88. Great post, though I must say for all the commenters that talk about their husband’s being also a feminist, that that really is an issue that is still debateable, as in I really, really do NOT believe that men can be feminists. I think they can be wonderful feminist allies, but I absolutely hate the term male feminist. Personally, I think it’s a myth. Why can’t a man be an ally? Why can’t just womyn being feminists be okay?

  89. All of this is personal, not political or ideological.

    Right. And it’s absolutely worth discussing in that context. I was only making the distinction to explain why I didn’t address that in this post, which was about political/ideological shit.

  90. *chortling helplessly*

    i’m only half-way down the comments and i have to stop! it hurts!

    can i keep my feminist card if i propose to plurally gay-marry half the shapelings that are making me laugh tonight? because i totally would.

  91. Monica, DRST–I’m with you, it’s sometimes like a moment of “Hey, ouch!” when a happy strong single woman in my world gets married. Because the perceived narrative is usually that she was great and happy and content and everything was just peachy, and somehow that put her in just the right mental place to meet her perfect partner. So now, not only am I not getting any, I feel like a frickin’ failure at BEING SINGLE, which is adding insult to injury, don’t you think? Because if I were just a cool-enough single woman . . . .

    On the other hand, I don’t get actually homicidal unless the woman in question says something like, “You’ll find him when you least expect him.”

    Marriage is such a big complex subject. I’ve started a couple comments and each has drifted into a huge mess of “but then, and so, but wait, ack!” So I’m just going to say that being able to enter into a legal lifetime commitment with a romantic partner of your choice in no way conflicts with the ideals of feminism. Add the baggage of the here-and-now, the repression of the past, and an awareness of discrimination–the waters muddy. But there’s still that ideal of love and passion and companionship and a rejoicing when people find happiness in it.

    Except, of course, for Straw Feminists, who hate joy and companionship and babies and want to spoil them for everyone else. Damn their cold alfalfa hearts!

  92. marriage….such a complex issue as many have already stated. I am a very independent person. My mother had 8 different kids from 6 different men…the last two were twins. She got married 3 times, once with my father, the second time with my sister and brother’s dad and she did not have any children with the 3rd man (long story). My oldest sister was given up for adoption so I was raised as the oldest. I met my husband when I was quite young. I’m in shock that we are still together.. .He asked me to marry him several years before we went through with it. We did it for the party, gifts and to protect our children to be quite honest. I felt nauseous for weeks afterwords….he never looked so happy…it was very weird…. I never thought I would get married, much less meet that person at such a young age. Should something go awry I probably wouldn’t do it again. I think anyone who wants to get married should be able to, whatever their reason. Feminism is about choices for women…period…

  93. Having a partner makes a million things easier socially

    If you fall into people’s expectations. If not it just makes things more complicated.

    * I have a full-time job; he mostly does contract work. So he’s on my insurance. HR and insurance companies seem to have difficulty with this concept. “What’s his insurance?” “Mine.” “No, his employer…” “He doesn’t have one.” “No, I mean…what?”

    * Doctor’s offices and hospitals have problems with this too.

    * Visiting a church. “Are you divorced?” “No, I’m married.” “Oh, I thought you were here alone.” “He’s of a different faith.” “Oh.”

    * Even parties — if one of us feels like being social and the other doesn’t, it’s “Why are you here and your partner isn’t?”

  94. DRST – A resounding YES to your last post!

    One of the most depressing things that ever happened to me was when my best friend annoucned that she was engaged. I knew that from that moment on we would inevitably drift farther and farther apart and it has happened. It may be illogical, but I feel almost completely betrayed. Really, we’re almost best friends in name only. It’s tough seeing friends that would do anything for you if you were hurting before now care more about someone else and because I’m queer it’s easier to see it as them finding a man to take my place. Fucking depressing…

  95. DRST: Re: logging into OKC… aiieee. I hear you.

    Way upthread: are nuns the ultimate feminists? I dunno about “ultimate,” but you might be surprised. Within the Catholic church they can be shockingly anti-authoritarian. This would be why the Vatican is running an investigation on the adherence to doctrine of communities of women religious in the USA. And they might be single, but I don’t know that they especially hate marriage.

  96. Gosh Kate its almost as if you’re arguing feminism might be more complicated than hating men…

    Most feminists I know would have moved past the marriage thing and gone straight to questioning why white people are incapable of finding themselves unless they go somewhere with really ‘spiritual’ brown people around.

    I think straw feminists would be more disturbed to know that a lot of feminists have more of a problem with weddings than marriages. I get why two people might want to say ‘hey I like you enough to hedge against the odds this will end in 10 years and you’ll get half of everything I own’ What I don’t appreciate is the continued use of traditional vows, traditional ceremonies and symbolism, the bizarre amount of consumerism, women taking their husband’s last name, the embarrassingly transparent expectations that the B&G have for their guests and the ongoing farce of using diamonds as engagement rings (ie: they’re not that damned rare, their value is rigged by a cartel, and do you know whether or not that diamond is funding civil war?). And for the love of all things holy if one more person says ‘every woman has been dreaming of this special day since she was a little girl’ I’m just going to …. scream.

    However, I’m not going to lie just this weekend I found myself staring gape mouthed at the TV while Christina Aguilera talked about her engagement to her sweet hottie husband, Captain Von Trapp told Maria he loved her, and that part where Jack asks Lucy to marry him by dropping the diamond ring in the token slot at the train station. *sigh

  97. Way upthread: are nuns the ultimate feminists? I dunno about “ultimate,” but you might be surprised. Within the Catholic church they can be shockingly anti-authoritarian.

    Well, it makes sense, I figure if you live only amongst a lot of women, taking care of everything that needs taking care of, organizing everything that needs organizing and generally living a full life devoid of men, you’ll probably start developing a very feminist view, even without consciously realizing it. Could be something interesting to look into (not joining a convent, mind you, but the social interactions that take place in one).

  98. Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…

    Ahem. Somebody had to say it.

    I think part of the problem with the whole being-single thing is the way that coupled people can act once coupled, namely how they often drop their single friends and only hang with other couples, now that they’re coupled and have that magic ticket into social acceptance.

    Not everyone does this, of course, but there’s enough around who do it to one degree or another to be irritating. And since women are conditioned to look at themselves for any perceived shortcomings to explain assholish behavior on the part of others, it’s really easy to think that there’s something wrong with *you* when a friend who’s been happily single gets coupled up and then starts spending less time with you, or more time in couples-only situations in which you’re not welcome.

    Why, yes, I’m still a bit bitter about my college roommate’s behavior when she got engaged after a whirlwind romance. We were supposed to go to the homecoming game at our college that year, using her parents’ season tickets, and she claimed to just have “forgotten” about it when I called her up to see what the final plans were (which I didn’t believe, because her parents weren’t going to let her forget). Then, she told me that her mom had invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them (my parents are gone, my family is scattered, and my mom passed away over Thanksgiving, so it’s a touchy time for me), but she told her mom I was spending the holiday with my sister. Which I wasn’t. So it was then I realized that she *had* gone to the homecoming game, she’d just gone with the new guy. And he was also going to meet her parents at Thanksgiving, and rather than just tell me that she’d rather do that without anyone else there, she made up some lie about me having other plans.

    Frankly, I’d have taken all this much, much more personally had she not acted similarly bizarrely over the 20 years I knew her whenever she had a man in her life. Something about her and male attention. But she’d never before outright lied to me, or *about* me, and so I decided it wasn’t a friendship I cared to maintain.

    And now the man’s gone, though I have no idea what happened there. So she lost a friend and her man by being a dweeb.

  99. As for marriage, I also find the whole thing a bit problematic. I don’t like that so many legal goodies go with it, let alone social goodies (like, say, being recognized as an adult in fact long after you’ve reached the age of majority). I mean, is there some reason that I need to get married to have my partner recognized as such, or to be able to pass property to him without legal challenge? And let’s not even get started on health insurance, which is the reason for a few marriages that I know of.

    OTOH, that’s exactly why I want *everyone* to have access to it. Until we have the revolution, wherein we dump the institution entirely, let’s make sure all non-blood-relative adults can marry.

    But then, I hate babies, too. Except with barbecue sauce.

  100. KC Jones, I’m so sorry that your friendship is strained! I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to ask this without being an ass. I think there might be; I’m not confident in my ability to get it right, though.

    Okay. So, from your description it sounded like you knew/decided in advance that, once she was engaged, the friendship would “inevitably” end. And… well, hm. As a married person I guess I am interested to know what she could have done to overcome that (because of course there’s that little thing we humans all have called confirmation bias); and also whether that’s fair to expect of her?

    I mean, your feelings are your feelings and if you find it unacceptable / unworkable / infelicitous / logistically difficult / philosophically difficult to be friends with people who has a legally-recognized dude spouse as part of the package, then that’s what it is and I think it’s actually fine just to own that. (Like people who just can’t stand being around kids aren’t going to probably see me very much socially, and that’s sad, but it’s not their fault or mine.)

    But I can also empathize with this friend who, while adjusting to the life changes that come with marriage (and maybe in her case there weren’t any; for me there were and I’m doing lots of projecting) also finds herself having to overcome a best friend’s hypothesis that the friendship is almost certainly over.

    Well, okay, I went out on a limb and maybe it was a bad idea to do so. Maybe I read too much in to your words.

    (Oh, and since we’re being self-disclosing here about marital statuses: I didn’t have as much of a clue about many things when I got married. Had a wedding with elements that today would make my teeth hurt. I wish I’d have been in a place where it would have even occurred to me not to get married because not everyone has marriage rights. But it didn’t. I’m disappointed in myself over this.)

  101. Zuzu–it didn’t occur to me, but you’re right; it drives me insane when I’m still considered a kind of junior adult while all the married people are “real” grownups. I don’t take that particular crap much any more, especially since I realized that there was an implicit “Isn’t your husband or daddy going to handle that?” I have never brought a man to buy a car or a house, and any realtor or sales person who looks around for my male keeper is sooo not getting my business. Now I’m in my thirties, I get it less, although there is still a certain amount of nonsense, primarily from the older generation.

    I do find it annoying when, at family reunions, my sister and her husband (ten years younger, thank you very much) get a room and I get to bunk on the couch. On the other hand, I’m a grown-up, and I can get a hotel room if it bothers me. Still, if we’re going to go on vacation together, there ought to be rooms for all. Grr. (By the way, this is an example of older-sister privilege conflicting with married privilege and losing. I never feel guilty about my older-sister privilege.)

  102. Zuzu–it didn’t occur to me, but you’re right; it drives me insane when I’m still considered a kind of junior adult while all the married people are “real” grownups

    YES. Although that did occur to me, many times, when I was single. I second pretty much everything Zuzu said, except the specific story, of course.

    But one crucial thing I realized as I got older was that people who blew me off when they got into relationships were probably not very good friends to begin with. Sure, sometimes good friends lose their minds when they first get into a new thing, or when they experience marriage as an enormous transition (personally, I didn’t find it to be so), but those friends regained their senses and their social lives pretty quickly. The ones who really seemed to think there was a big dividing line between the married and the single were people I was ultimately happy to be rid of, even if it hurt a lot at first.

    Thing is, even when I was single and lonely and tired and terrified I would never fall in love again, I suspected that if I did, and I got married, I STILL would not buy the idea that marriage makes you a Real Grown-up, or that it involves all sorts of secret, important experiences unmarried people could never understand — even unmarried people who have been cohabitating with partners for years. Lo and behold, I’m on the other side now, and I do indeed find that attitude to be bullshit. Which confirms what I suspected before, which is that people who see marriage that way are just not my people. But it was much harder to see that clearly when I was dealing with the immediate feelings of abandonment, fear, and frustration.

  103. @Starling–Hey, quick question–is there such a thing as a Real Grownup, or does one just get good at faking it?

    I’m both married AND almost 50–I’m still wondering when I’m going to feel like a grown-up!

  104. Starling, there’s no such thing as a Real Grownup. The concept itself is a trap; just as soon as you’ve hit each supposed target, another pops up.

  105. “Well, it makes sense, I figure if you live only amongst a lot of women, taking care of everything that needs taking care of, organizing everything that needs organizing and generally living a full life devoid of men, you’ll probably start developing a very feminist view, even without consciously realizing it. Could be something interesting to look into (not joining a convent, mind you, but the social interactions that take place in one).”

    It’s not that hard to find out. Convents with hospitality rules will allow you to go on personal retreats on a weekend. Just hanging around where the women are doing their thing is pretty enlightening that way. It’s an example of The Sisters Doing It For Themselves (har har).

    I suppose like any community, there is variation among the individuals, and between groups.

    My mom points out that in her day, joining a convent was a way to become educated and have a career. She went to a Catholic women’s college and attributes her going to grad school rather than following a more traditional career path to Sr. Mary Ferocious. She collared her and said “here’s an application to the University of Chicago MA program… off you go!” It would never have occurred to my mom to do that without some Sisters of Saint Joseph intervention.

  106. what I don’t get is the assumption that all the people in the book club are going to go out looking for husbands not that she wrote a book about marriage.

    I often do look into things that interesting writers/musicans/artists etc. do. But watching a TV show that was recommended by Elizabeth Gilbert, hell even deciding to take a trip to Italy or something because she recommends it, is a much less bigger deal than deciding I need to be married because she says so. If it’s a decision of that magnitude, it will be because I want to get married and not that someone else says it’s the right thing to do. Just because I’m influenced by people doesn’t mean I’m influenced to THAT extent, I mean c’mon.

  107. Re: nuns.

    They’re known as “Brides of Christ,” so they don’t really escape the whole marriage thing, either. They just all get married to the same guy.

    Because gawdfabbid you should have a woman running around without being tied to a man in some way.

    OTOH, they are, as a group, pretty cool, which is why, as mentioned above, they’re being investigated by the Vatican for not being sufficiently anti-choice and anti-gay-marriage, and anti-contraception, etc.

    But one crucial thing I realized as I got older was that people who blew me off when they got into relationships were probably not very good friends to begin with. Sure, sometimes good friends lose their minds when they first get into a new thing, or when they experience marriage as an enormous transition (personally, I didn’t find it to be so), but those friends regained their senses and their social lives pretty quickly. The ones who really seemed to think there was a big dividing line between the married and the single were people I was ultimately happy to be rid of, even if it hurt a lot at first.

    Yep. It’s hard to tell sometimes whether it’s temporary, though. Which leads to a certain amount of cynicism when you’re the one who has to deal with getting shoved aside over and over as your friends couple up (and I use “couple up” deliberately, because it often happens long before the wedding). It can start to make you wonder about how much your friends really value you, and it can also make you start feeling like being tossed over in favor of the new man is inevitable. And while I agree with A Sarah that it isn’t really fair to the newly-engaged friend to view the end of the friendship as inevitable, if you go through getting tossed over enough times, it’s difficult to extend the benefit of the doubt.

  108. //what I don’t get is the assumption that all the people in the book club are going to go out looking for husbands not that she wrote a book about marriage.//

    But MA! Don’t you understand that feminists are monolithic sheep of the first water, baa baa?

    If one of us would just jump off a bridge, chances are Charlotte Hays would never be forced to even worry about feminists getting married – or doing anything else at all – anymore.

  109. Hey, quick question–is there such a thing as a Real Grownup, or does one just get good at faking it?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. My body keeps telling me I’m older, but I don’t feel like an adult yet, but then I think hell, I’m pushing 40 with two kids and a mortgage, what on earth else should I need to feel like an adult? Yet still, I don’t.

  110. She went to a Catholic women’s college and attributes her going to grad school rather than following a more traditional career path to Sr. Mary Ferocious.

    Was that really her name???? JEALOUS.

  111. Starling, there’s no such thing as a Real Grownup. The concept itself is a trap; just as soon as you’ve hit each supposed target, another pops up.

    Not to take too sad a tangent, but this is something I’ve been thinking about a ton since my mother’s been seriously ill. I’m partnered but unmarried; I don’t have kids; I don’t own property; I don’t even have a “real job” (because I’m in grad school). To a lot of people, I haven’t passed my Grownup Test, and that drives me crazy. But those are the milestones of the standard marriage –> house –> kids path, which I always knew I wasn’t going on. Right now I’m 30 and I’m facing the “watch your ailing parent die” milestone, which hardly anyone I know who’s my age has been through. I feel like I’ve skipped about 20 years ahead in terms of things that make me a Real Grownup in the eyes of others.

    Anyway, like I said, something I’ve been thinking about a lot — but probably fodder for another post.

  112. God, SM, I’m so sorry. That..sucks more than words can say.

    As regards marriage, I never got the “adult” milestone of it. A good marriage makes things EASIER, it doesn’t ipso facto inflict some test of emotional maturity. It can, of course, but no more than any other long term relationship–within which I include family (parents, siblings, close friends).

    I have to say, while I’ve had plenty of sqeechy moments re: marriage as an institution/gender roles within it/hetero or monogamous privilege, the goodies are pretty damn compelling. Of course, being randomly lectured by strangers about why I didn’t change my name is frustrating, but there you go.

    @ zuzu:
    “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… ”

    –I made the rabbi say this at our wedding. LoL.

  113. Re: Sra Mary Ferocious… sadly not a real name. It’s the name my dad uses to describe the nuns he and my mom had in grade school.

    (Evidently a tiny 70-year old Felician sister picked up a classmate of my mom’s a chucked him across the room into a pile of desks for… doing something? Maybe throwing an eraser? Anyway… my mom said her parents and all the other parents on her block heard that story and responded with… “well, serve him right.”)

    I expect the nun that made my mom fill out the grad school application was more Sister Mary Subversive or Sister Mary Awesome.

  114. SM: As chava said, I am sorry. That is sucky.

    A friend of mine lost both his parents before he married, even though he was in his mid-late 20′s, had a job (and had become a homeowner through inheritance, heart-wrenchingly). I heard folks describe him as “orphaned.” I think that says a lot about how people think of the death of parents relative to one’s other “grown up” attributes. And he is a man!

  115. I don’t iron my partner’s shirts. Nor do I take tranquilisers. Otherwise, I realise to my dismay, that’s my life, as a co-habiting unemployed woman with a useless PhD.

    Hm.

  116. There WAS a St. Christina the Astonishing. (At least I think she was a saint but she may have been a blessed. Googling…)

  117. Okay, she was a saint. Her Wikipedia entry had a tidbit I’d not yet heard about her:

    In winter she would plunge into the frozen Meuse River for hours and days and weeks at a time all the while praying to God and imploring His Mercy. She would hop around on one leg exclaiming “Look upon me o Lord, for I am like unto a flamingo.”

  118. I love St. Christina the Astonishing too. I read somewhere else that after she came back to life and spoke her revelation, she climbed up the roof of the church, and that she used to wad herself up into those tiny holes in tree trunks and stay there for hours. For God. (Yes, that was me who’s jealous of Sr. Mary Ferocious. I was incorrectly logged in.)

    @Starling- what you said about older-sibling privilege being outdone by married-privilege is totally striking a nerve for me. My younger sister is not married, but she and her boyfriend have been together for so long that they probably will be some time in the next five years or so. My parents really like him, which is great, but I do get that sense sometimes that the two of them are regarded as “better adults” than I am, who hasn’t been in a relationship for at least three years. Even though I’m generally considered the more independent and self-directed one (I haven’t lived at home for years, I’ve pretty much supported myself since immediately upon college graduation, I’m making proactive decisions about my education and my career, etc.), I still can’t help feeling like my mother will not take me as seriously until another person decides they voluntarily want to spend half their life with me. And most of my extended family couldn’t care less what I’m doing professionally- the first thing they always ask me (after commenting on how I’ve lost weight or not saying anything about my appearance at all) is ask if I’m seeing anyone. I know it’s so stupid to care, but it doesn’t make my anxiety about dating any lower. (Especially since I do feel like I want a relationship, not just to casually date.)

  119. Okay. So, from your description it sounded like you knew/decided in advance that, once she was engaged, the friendship would “inevitably” end. And… well, hm. As a married person I guess I am interested to know what she could have done to overcome that (because of course there’s that little thing we humans all have called confirmation bias); and also whether that’s fair to expect of her?

    I mean, your feelings are your feelings and if you find it unacceptable / unworkable / infelicitous / logistically difficult / philosophically difficult to be friends with people who has a legally-recognized dude spouse as part of the package, then that’s what it is and I think it’s actually fine just to own that. (Like people who just can’t stand being around kids aren’t going to probably see me very much socially, and that’s sad, but it’s not their fault or mine.)

    But I can also empathize with this friend who, while adjusting to the life changes that come with marriage (and maybe in her case there weren’t any; for me there were and I’m doing lots of projecting) also finds herself having to overcome a best friend’s hypothesis that the friendship is almost certainly over.

    Well, okay, I went out on a limb and maybe it was a bad idea to do so. Maybe I read too much in to your words. ”

    Yeah, you’re comment was a little hurtful, even though I know you didn’t mean for it to be. And I do wish you hadn’t put it out there.

    The reason I knew what was going to happen when she made the announcement was because we had been steadily been growing more distant ever since we went to separate colleges.

    Also, I seem to have an extra sense of intuition about some things-it’s hard to explain, but sometimes I just know what’s going to happen next, as in last week I knew there would be a new person at church (and we’re a very small church that does not often get new members). I don’t know how, I just knew that would be a new female member with absolute certainty. And there was! With enough of these incidents happening, I’m beginning to learn to trust my intuition.

    I know that there are couples who are able to support their best/close friends from before they got married, but she is not one.

    But what I really want to emphasize is that is it is way too easy to say that she was not a good enough friend before, because she was the greatest friend a person could have and to say that she was never really good enough is too easy and frankly makes me feel like scum. Our relationship before was not faked, but I do feel like it was replaced.

    What could she have done or now do? Call more than three times a year would be a start. And it’s not as if I don’t try,but I can’t force a person to call/communicate more, nor am I going to guilt trip them into doing so. After awhile, trying so hard becomes like co-dependent and desperate and I’m not going there.

  120. And by that I mean I’m sorry for projecting and being hurtful, not sorry as in please-don’t-be-mad-at-me sorry. I’ve been on (what I imagine as) both sides, so in reading your comment I filled in the missing information with what was familiar to me and tried to think, “What would I want someone to say to me, and/or say on my behalf, in that situation?”

    But of course I didn’t have all the information, and even if your situation exactly matches the one I’d filled in in my mind, it doesn’t mean that you’d find the same things helpful as I would. Erggh, I don’t mean to say I should get points for trying in a very hamfisted way to have empathy and just botching it up. I’m just… really regretting that what I said was hurtful, I just thought it might be a little less hurtful to you if I explain how I got there. I apologize.

  121. I am a little in love with St. Christina the Astonishing. Holy eccentricity is a lovely quality. What odd person of faith doesn’t want to be strange for God?

    Lucy: re: younger siblings being better adults because they are pair-bonded…. sounds all too familiar.

  122. Sweet Machine—
    That’s a terrible thing, and I am very sorry to hear it. I suppose the ultimate test of adulthood is to be able to stand on your own, apart from your parents, but what a brutal way to find yourself there. I am baking you a virtual casserole, with a virtual lime jello mold containing grated carrots. In my culture of origin, that’s what we do when someone is sick. (Trust me when I say that you’d prefer the lime jello to remain virtual.) This is one of the times when I wish I were a Real Grownup, because I bet a Real Grownup would know exactly what to say that would be comforting and sympathetic instead of the sort of thing that inspires crockery-breaking. Real Grownups have all the answers, dammit.

  123. so many smart women told me to read Eat, Pray, Love. and so i did. and just hated the book. so maybe this is defensive pr in advance of bad reviews and those who find her work vapid. it’s not about her marital status, gender identification, or children, or not. EPL was just not worth the read.

  124. Starling, I appreciate the virtual casserole! (It reminds me of one of my favorite bits from Futurama — of which there are many — when Fry does “the native dance of my people,” aka The Hustle.)

    This is one of the times when I wish I were a Real Grownup, because I bet a Real Grownup would know exactly what to say that would be comforting and sympathetic instead of the sort of thing that inspires crockery-breaking. Real Grownups have all the answers, dammit.

    The thing is, and I hope this will be why my comment about my mom is less of a digression than it may appear, they don’t, you know? My dad, who is a pretty decent and supportive grownup, didn’t lose his parents until they were in their 80s and 90s and he was getting older himself — so he can sympathize with grief, but not with the feeling of being too young to be in charge or not having parental guidance through adulthood. What I’ve come to recognize is that we all go through life and hit many of the same stages, but we don’t all hit them in the same order and we don’t all experience each one with the same gravity. So in this thread, for instance, A Sarah says that being married did feel like a substantial change to her, whereas Kate says that it was basically the same as before, but with rings and parties and stuff. They’re both married, and yeah, that looks the same from the outside, but it’s clearly not. And for those people who’ve lost friends when they coupled up, I think that probably has more to do with the friends’ view of what coupledom (and friendship!) means than the fact of dating/getting married per se. Mr Machine and I have been together for over six years now; I have friends who were married for less time before they got divorced. Which of us is officially more grownup?

  125. DRST et al: big hell to the YES about being single and wanting to be in partnership. The “you’ll find him when you least expect him” / “when you finally stop looking, he’ll show up” trope that people for some bizarre reason think is helpful, I find somewhere between supremely insensitive to infuriating, depending on my mood. It’s such faux, cheap “spiritual” advice.

    Yes, it’s wonderful and important to cultivate one’s sense of self, self-love, and self-fulfillment, and to learn how to be as content as possible in the midst of the life you are, in fact, living (i.e. singledom). I’m sure none of us would dispute that, and I’m sure all of us experience much joy, pleasure and satisfaction in our single lives. But there’s got to be something somewhere between putting your life on hold and waiting for a guy to let it begin, and entirely purging your heart of the desire for partnership, since that desire renders you somehow unworthy or ineligible (or even just less likely) to encounter it.

    If you’re geared towards partnership and yearning for it, and have trouble finding it, the suggestion that you somehow have to make that go away before it can show up in your life is crazy-making. Especially since, as we all probably know, that desire can be so poignant and potent, can feel like a fundamental hunger just like any other (and aren’t we all here basically trying to figure out how to feed ourselves well?). I see no reason not to honor and respect that yearning just like I would any other, and to make space for the deep sadness that comes up around not having it met (yet).

    That’s when I bump up against shame for conforming so completely to the “woman in early thirties desperately seeking man” cliche, which combines with the new age-y “you’re not even supposed to want it in the first place if you really want it to happen” trope to make me choke on that yearning with the kind of shame and self-consciousness once reserved for the yearning for chocolate ice-cream.

    Hey, surprise FA twist at the end! cool beans.

  126. p.s. sorry for hetero-normative bias above – me be mostly straight – “waiting for a guy” should really be “waiting for a partner”, etc…

  127. Big hugs to SM. I thought about this a lot this last year, when my mom had a few surgeries to go through. Hers weren’t terribly life-threatening, but it made me think about how she was my age (now) when her mom died. I was a teenager then, so I remember it all very clearly, and it really shook me up to reorient my memories about it; that is, I remembered my mom being grown-up and in charge and able to deal with it, and now I’m that age, and I realize how scared she must have really been, and how she probably felt as little of an adult as I do now, and it’s just… I don’t know. I guess you develop the strength to get through things as you need to, and everyone else can see that you’re mature about it even if it doesn’t feel that way inside. What’s that saying about bravery – being brave isn’t being fearless, it’s doing it even though you’re so scared you can barely stand it? Yeah, that.

  128. I am a little in love with St. Christina the Astonishing.

    I have been a lot in love with her for years — wrote a big term paper on her for a medieval history course, and have been toying with the idea of trying to write a novel about her forever. So I’m delighted to see her make an appearance here.

  129. “Mr Machine and I have been together for over six years now; I have friends who were married for less time before they got divorced. Which of us is officially more grownup?”

    The ones who know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, to use the spiritual musings of The Great Rogers. It’s sad to see people’s relationships fail, just as it’s heartening to see a lasting partnership flourish. But dang, there have been a few friends I have had who, when they finally decided to walk away (or knew it was time to run…), I thought “thank GOD.” In the case of one in particular, it may have been the most grown up thing she had ever done.

    Making grown-up decisions means having the skills to evaluate a situation and make choices that are the best for yourself. And for that to work, of course, we need to have all the rights and entitlements of personhood.

    Being judged or feeling pressured to be married, stay partnered, or be single or plot to avoid singletondom sure as hell doesn’t make it any easier to do anything in a grown-up way.

    This is one of the crazy-making things about the straw-feminist of marriage hating (and the real problem of attenuated adolescence via singleness)… the societal expectation of what “should” be interferes with an individual person’s understanding of what actually “is.”

  130. Meems- so much fucking WORD on every word of that. Which reminds me I haven’t logged into OKC for weeks and I’m a little afraid to.

    DRST

    Thank you. I sometimes feel like there’s something wrong with me because my confidence in my attractiveness is – at least partly – reliant on outside confirmation…

  131. A Sarah – Thank you! That means more than you know.

    I’m having a really bad day physically and emotionally, so I’m probably also a little more sensitive than usual.

  132. And socially-not to sound pathetic, but I live with my parents and talk about not feeling like a grown-up… Living with my parents at 28 and trying to find a job, but having a hard time due to my physical limitations (just was diagnosed three weeks ago with fibromyalgia) makes me feel like I’m more like 8 some days.

  133. In an effort to cheer myself up-You know who else was really awesome? Hildegard of Bingen! http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/med/hildegarde.html

    I learned about her in my ancient women’s literature class.
    From the website:
    “Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine”, produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Although not yet canonized, Hildegard has been beatified, and is frequently referred to as St. Hildegard. Revival of interest in this extraordinary woman of the middle ages was initiated by musicologists and historians of science and religion. Less fortunately, Hildegard’s visions and music had been hijacked by the New Age movement, whose music bears some resemblance to Hildegard’s ethereal airs. Her story is important to all students of medieval history and culture and an inspirational account of an irresisible spirit and vibrant intellect overcoming social, physical, cultural, gender barriers to achieve timeless transcendence. ”

    I don’t know about the “less fortunately” part-I don’t listen to a lot of “New Age” music, but recordings of her music are pretty awesome and inspiring. It was one of the first website’s I found, so…

  134. The thing is, and I hope this will be why my comment about my mom is less of a digression than it may appear, they don’t, you know?

    Yes, this. I remember when my grandad died suddenly in his early 70s and at the funeral all his kids were at least 35-40+ and had been adults my entire life, but that was still suddenly, clearly what they were — children that had grown up, and now both their parents were dead. My uncle referred to himself as an orphan and they all just seemed so sad and scared. It just kind of brought home to me how adults seem (to children) to cope because they have to, but they really are just people like us but older, not some mysterious Other Class of Human Beings.

    It’s like when you’re a kid and something terrifying and adult happens (like sickness or death) and you have no clue how to deal with it but nobody expects you to — you supposed to get all the comfort and advice from adults around you*, but you’re not expected to have any to give back. And one time when I was 17 and on AIM (lo those many moons ago) something bad happened had happened to a mutual friend and in discussing it I said “I don’t really have anything useful to say, I feel like I’m too young” and the person on the other end said “Well, no offense, but you’re 17 now. Are you really too young?” And it was at that point I realised no Adult really knows what to say, you just accept that you have to find something, and do your best. There is no point marked Grown-Up beyond which you have all the answers. There is perhaps a point marked Grown Up beyond which you accept that you have to try.

    *This ties into the fact that neither of my parents ever actually parented us to any degree, and there are essentially no elder mentor figures in my life, so I feel like I have been continually raising myself with no one older or wiser to turn to and how hard and lonely that can be, but that’s another digressive comment.

    And since women are conditioned to look at themselves for any perceived shortcomings to explain assholish behavior on the part of others

    YES. THAT.

    Starling, we’re grown-ups now, and it’s our turn to decide what that means. :)

    In winter she would plunge into the frozen Meuse River for hours and days and weeks at a time all the while praying to God and imploring His Mercy. She would hop around on one leg exclaiming “Look upon me o Lord, for I am like unto a flamingo.”

    I CANNOT EXPRESS HOW EXCELLENT.

  135. Just chiming in to say a huge YES! to the adult orphan syndrome.

    I was 36 when my father died, and that was nine years after my mother’s death. Standing over him in the hospital awaiting the inevitable end, a weird thought suddenly popped into my brain: ‘at least now I’ll be safe from the Pirates of Penzance.’*

    About a minute after I stifled the inappropriate laughter that thought nearly caused, my brother the alpaca rancher looked dolefully at me from the other side of Dad and said: ‘I’ve finally figured out the upside to this; we’re safe from the Pirates of Penzance.’

    *For those not raised to be die-hard Savoyards, the Pirates of Penzance never, ever attacked orphans, for they were all orphans and knew what it was.

  136. My GOD Caitlin, that’s it exactly! Hooray xkcd!

    Adulthood: when we realize we don’t get the answers because there are no answers that work for everything. Except for playpen balls, maybe.

    Twistie, I *heart* your family.

  137. SM – I’m really sorry. I’ve had a few friends lose their parents now, and in talking one of us (I cannot remember who) said “It’s like having the roof taken off your life and then having to get up there and build your own.”

    It’s hard, and it’s sad, and I hope however you’re experience your mom’s illness that you have all the resources you need at hand.

  138. The adolescence and “real grownup” thing is really striking a chord with me, because I turn 18 in less than two months. It seems like throughout your whole life, people tell you “Oh, you’ll be grown up when…”- when you are a teenager to a pre-teen, when you are sixteen to a 13-15-year-old, the BIG 18 when you are officially An Adult, then 21…
    I’ve sort of gone through my whole life thinking that when I hit the “grownup” age I’ll suddenly know everything, be beautiful and a confident, not have any doubts, be more self-assertive, and all the mysteries of life will be neatly solved and of course understood- only to discover once I hit The Age, life continued to be a confusing screwed-up mess. In fact, I find that the older I get, the less I know. *sad smile* I have a feeling that 18 will be the same, and I’m not harboring any false illusions about suddenly becoming An Actual Grown-Up. I’ll still write fanfic, collect dolls, and wear my hair in pigtails on occasion. And I don’t think I’ll ever be “adult” enough to not love all of those things.
    Starling (very wisely) said: Adulthood: when we realize we don’t get the answers because there are no answers that work for everything. Except for playpen balls, maybe
    Does this mean realizing I’ll probably never “grow up” make me a grownup?

  139. SM, I’m so sorry you and your mom are going through this! I lost my dad a year ago, so I feel you. I’ll keep good thoughts for you both!

    As for Ms. Hays: the next time I meet an empty-headed, never-left-the-frat- house guy who thinks marriage is a “trap” for men, I’m gonna say “What are you, some kind of feminist or somethin’?”
    I will then take a picture of his face and plaster it all over the internet, to illustrate the idiocy of this mindset, whether it comes from aging fratboys or so-called feminists.
    Isn’t one of the points of feminism to lift up ALL women? No matter our skin color, religion, sexual orientation, relationship status, etc.?
    I hate it when women turn on other women.

  140. To Jamie – My dad officialy pronounced me a grown-up when I graduated from college and I was then 26, so at least according to his standards, you may have a few years yet…

    The irony is that I don’t think he really believes it and I still feel like I continually have to prove my grown-up-ness to him.

    But I think we also grow up in stages-I don’t think there is usually a day of no looking back. I go to DragonCon every year where people dress up as Super Heroes! lol

  141. I think that some people get wrapped up in their romantic relationships and abandon their friends, though it has little to do with marriage. It’s definitely hurtful to be the friend who has been betrayed, I totally get that. But I’m honestly getting confused by the conversation, because I don’t really see how being hurt by broken friendships is related to having a feminist perspective on marriage, you know? I feel like I’m overlooking something.

  142. Okay, I’ve been living with the same guy for about eleven or twelve years now, although we’re not married. Part of the reason we’re not married is we’ve never seen the need for it. According to Australian common law, we’re considered to be married by most legal institutions (we hit that point at the seven-year mark) and my rights as his partner are protected by law as a result.

    My main reason for not getting married, or at least my main serious reason (the facetious ones start with “a white dress would make me look as wide as I am high” and work downward from there), is that I don’t want to become a wife. I have an image of what a wife is which is created from my mother and my grandmothers and aunts, and most of them were deeply annoyed with the whole business at least part of the time. My partner has his own image of what a wife might be which is formed from his mother and female relatives, and I’m pretty damn certain I wouldn’t fit it. This has been reinforced by the experience of my younger brother and his former wife (who got along fine when they weren’t married, and get along okay now that they’re divorced) and their marriage – he started acting like our father and expecting to be married to our mother, she started acting like her stepmother and expecting to be married to her father. Given my mother and her father would be compatible only if you were looking at “ways to start an explosion”, it worked out fairly badly for all concerned. So, rather than becoming Himself’s wife or Mrs HisName, I’ll stick with being myself, Himself’s partner.

    Besides, not being married to Himself means when phone sales folk call asking for Mrs HisName, I can honestly say she doesn’t live here.

  143. GimliGirl, we’re still pricing printers, but I hope to have all Hardcore Humorless Feminist cards available at our next potluck bra burning session.

  144. Jamie said

    Mishmish, don’tcha know? Male feminists are as nonexistent as English majors, bisexuals, girl gamers, and female sci-fi/fantasy fans. Married feminists even more so. Now, just go on and pop out of the universe quickly before your existence proves the internet blowhards wrong! I know that I need to do some unexisting myself, what with being a girl-gamer-female-sci-fi-fantasy fan, so I’ll be following you into the ether shortly, dear.

    Me too. I mean, as a married feminist girl gamer who likes sci-fi/fantasy and majored in English, I’m not sure how I’m even existing enough to reply to this. Must be a figment of your imagination.

  145. All this talk of “real grown-ups” is reminding me of a song I’m currently enamored of – Photosynthesis, by Frank Turner. While it’s far more cynical than this conversation, I love how these lines sort of some up the middle finger to the BS concept:

    Maturity’s a wrapped-up package deal or so it seems, ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams. All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will have to grow up, be an adult, be bored and unfulfilled.

  146. May I go slightly off the topic of the post, while staying on feminism, and say that, freshly returned from a weekend with my parents, I need to get the following off my chest? My 80+ yr-old mom, bless her, started talking to me about how angry she gets about the status of women around the world and how that and the exploitation of children are like the #1 civil rights issues we have to address or the world will keep going to hell in a handbasket. <3

    My father, meanwhile, opined in a separate discussion (he wasn't there for the women's rights talk) that the "one thing feminists did for women" was make it safe for them to "talk dirty." !!! My mom explained to me that he remembers back in the 70s, when he was helping run a semiconductor company, he was shocked that the women in the lab used such filthy language. (He's very into being a prude. He's also shocked by men who swear, too, btw.) I looked at her, taken aback, and asked, "How does he think those women got into the lab in the first place?? It was FEMINISM." (*Sigh.*)

    P.S. Back on the topic of marriage, you should have heard my father in the 1970s railing about how all women now think they have to get divorced, because of the feminists. Still, of course, he was partially right, though he pointed the finger at the wrong place. If anyone actually lived through that time, you'll know it was in fact a very braless, Jill-Clayburgh-in-An Unmarried Woman kind of time ;-), and there was an element there that divorce was an act of Women’s Liberation. But that’s because it WAS. Lots of women came to realize that they didn’t have to stay married to the soul-sucking jackasses they were shackled to, and plenty of men resented it.

  147. Slightly OT:

    Yeah, I like Uncle-Grandpa-type drinks. Manhattans, Scotch and soda, Old Fashioneds, all that crap. I don’t know, maybe they’re trendy again. Sometimes I’m so genuinely dorky that I back right up into fashionable without meaning to

    A Sarah, my oppressor/feminist boyfriend used to run a great cocktail bar, and *really* knows his stuff… His favourite drink is an Old Fashioned, and he maintains that you can tell how good or bad a bar/bartender is by whether they make it properly! The downside of this is that I have to watch him with his head in his hands and biting his knuckles pretty much whenever he orders one… we’ve only been to one place that ‘did it right’… But anyway, my point was that you’re not dorky or trendy, but timelessly elegant! :-)

  148. Zenoodle, what’s the correct way to make an Old Fashioned? I’m a bartender and it’s one of my favorite drinks, but I rarely get to make it for customers because it’s such a little-know old man drink. (Although I think Mad Men is making those kinds of drinks cooler now.)

    Jamie (I think?), it’s the Fantasy Of Being A Grown Up! I have that too. I’ve got a milestone birthday (rhymes with schwenty) coming up in a few weeks and it makes me so nervous. I feel like I must have missed that day in high school when they told everyone how to be a proper grownup. Every once in a while I catch myself doing “adult” things (like cooking a nice meal and sitting down with a glass of wine and a good book with some Nat King Cole on the stereo) and think, “what am I doing? I’m still a kid! Someone’s going to come in and catch me pretending to be an adult and expose me for the fraud I am!” And I feel like there’s so many cool things I can do once I’m grown up. I want to travel, I want to quit my job and get a different one, I want to go back to school, I want to marry my boyfriend, but…I just feel like I’m not old enough for any of that yet. And it’s not even like I was a coddled child (I practically raised myself and I moved out at 16), and I’m not destitute. I just don’t have enough confidence in myself to do all of these things until I’m “grown up” – whatever the hell that means.

    Sorry. A bit of a derail there.

  149. As for Ms. Hays: the next time I meet an empty-headed, never-left-the-frat- house guy who thinks marriage is a “trap” for men, I’m gonna say “What are you, some kind of feminist or somethin’?”

    Alyssa WINS @ life.

  150. Annie, I just asked my oppressor/boyf to email me the explicit instructions for making Old Fashioneds — watch this space! Also he is now shy that I boasted about his skillz on the Internetz :-)

  151. Ok, to continue the threadjack (sorry!), here are my boyfriend’s instructions for an Old Fashioned, made properly:

    Place a barspoon (5ml) of muscovado sugar in an old fashioned glass (rocks glass).

    Place one ice cube in the glass and 5ml of quality Bourbon (Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve or Grand Pappy Van Winkle if you’re feeling flush), brandy if you’re making a brandy old fashioned (Hennessy XO would be my choice) or Rum (Havanna Club 15 or the much cheaper Appleton Estate VX) and stir until the sugar has melted.

    Then place three ice cubes at a time into the drink with 10ml of bourbon/brandy/rum and stir for about a minute at a time.

    You will end up with 2 1/2 shots of spirit in the glass and ice up to the top if you keep doing this.

    Then take some peel of orange (make sure you don’t get any pith) and spray the zest by squeezing the peel over the top of the drink.

    Rim the glass with the outside of the peel and then drop it in the top. Garnish with a fresh maraschino cherry if you want.

    serve with a sip straw.

    Drink lovingly!

    ps. along with the dry martini it’s a bartender’s drink. Meaning, you can separate a good bartender from a bad one by how they make these two staple classics.

  152. (To clarify, those are instructions for making the three versions of Old Fashioned, ie bourbon or brandy or rum, because I got confused when I first read it and thought you put all 3 in – doh!)

  153. I was only making the distinction to explain why I didn’t address that in this post, which was about political/ideological shit.

    Kate – Understood. I think “no post can be every post” might need to become a new motto around here. :)

    I don’t really see how being hurt by broken friendships is related to having a feminist perspective on marriage, you know? I feel like I’m overlooking something

    volcanista – I think that’s kind of the point? Being hurt by a broken friendship actually doesn’t mean you have an antifeminist or profeminist POV about marriage, it’s just a human reaction.

    So now, not only am I not getting any, I feel like a frickin’ failure at BEING SINGLE, which is adding insult to injury,

    Starling oh fuck yes, that makes me nutty. “Clearly I’m not cool/hot/confident enough to make it happen by being so awesome my One Twu Luv appears!” etc. which is a handy way to make being single still all my fault rather than partly my fault and partly the universe’s fault, and it’s just crazy-making.

    When people tell me there’s a partner out there for me and I just haven’t met him yet, I usually say “Yeah, he moved to Tibet 10 years ago and is never coming back. Sucks to be me.” (That line really makes me nuts.)

    Meems To again be very blunt, for me it’s all well and good to tell myself I’m perfectly attractive and worthy of love, but when only skeevy men who are too old for me seem to have any interest in having sex with me? This pummels my self-esteem pretty damn good. *sigh*

    SM – *hugs* I’m the youngest of 6 kids and my parents have always been significantly older than all my peers’ parents. It is incredibly hard watching parents age and get sick, and I can’t really turn to people in my own age group about this because many of them have no idea what it’s like.

    DRST

  154. A Sarah, my oppressor/feminist boyfriend used to run a great cocktail bar, and *really* knows his stuff…

    I am so calling my husband “oppressor” from now on.

    Hey, oppressor, are you doing a load of whites?

    Oppressor, do you want to drive?

    It works.

  155. ZENOODLE OMG ARE YOU MARRIED TO THE DUDE BEHIND THE DRINKBOY WEBSITE???!?!?! THE GUY WHO INTRODUCED ME TO OLD FASHIONEDS?!?!?!

    If so, and perhaps even if not, am I correct in assuming that he does NOT load it down with seltzer and a shit ton of mangled fruit carcasses? Because then… [does Jon Stewart gesture]… Kudos.

    I think I might name our new kitty Oppressor. Or rename our mean old kitty Oppressor.

  156. Whoops, just saw his instructions pasted above… and… WOW, he DOES make it without drowning it in seltzer and throwing in a bunch of mangled fruit crap. Yay! ***gives Zenoodles oppressor a virtual Old Fashioned*** Cheers!

  157. Lu — Love the 70s stories! I was alive for 1/2 of them, but not quite old enough to remember it, except for, inexplicably, Sha Na Na.

    It really was a different time. I read a famous 70s book, Open Marriage, a few years back. I thought it would be about sexually open marriages, but most of it was actually things like, “Share your thoughts and feelings with your spouse.” Like it was radical to do so. I’m not being articulate enough here … There are still so many sexist men, but in the 1970s the percentage was nearly 100% it seems. When I want to get that 70s feeling vicariously, I listen to Loretta Lynn’s The Pill.

    Re a different decade, it’s great for Mad Men to show us the “bad old days.” My mom, a lifelong secretary, started out in those days. She tells stories of how, once feminism rolled around in the 70s, the women all signed a petition to be allowed to wear … wait for it … pants! in the office!

    re: abandonment by friends post-marriage. Some people totally suck that way. Nothing against anyone on here who did happen to marry young, but in my personal case, my friends who married young did this much more than my friends who married older than, say, 28 or so.

    After that age, I found it easier, for whatever reason, to be friends with both spouses as individuals and as a couple. Maybe because marriage wasn’t as big of an adjustment for people who marry later, like Kate said.

    And maybe should this go in the “baby-hater thread” — but I think it relates to life-stages and friendship: I really hate how the self-seriously intoned phrase “priorities change” has become such a stupid cliche for parents in justifying their friend-abandonment. Yeah, duh; infants are helpless, they die without constant attention; everyone gets that. But using that self-righteous cliche in just that tone … I think you gals know what I mean. There are more pro-social ways to explain that your free time has vanished, that aren’t so self-righteous. Please don’t argue, “but my priorities did change!” It’s not the _fact_ I’m protesting, it’s the cliche. It’s an offense against language.

    Ironically, any recent abandonment has been by the *male* friends of my boyfriend/oppressor. He and his buddies lived a [slightly, not extreme] rock n roll lifestyle up thru their early 30s. Then, it’s like some of the guys married as an alternative to AA — they use their wives (they married homebody women who are quite unlike them, and outside their old social circles) as an excuse for why they can’t go out with friends anymore. Lame! If you were being self-destructive before, own it, admit it, change your ways — don’t blame your friends or make your spouse into your mommy.

  158. On topic:

    On the subject of the 70s and earlier, and Madmen… My mum (in her fifties now) is still suffering from the vestiges of the kinds of attitudes that existed to hold women down in the workplace… It seems to be because she has worked for small companies run by (usually) men of a certain mindset who are a bit older than her, and apparently never got the memo about feminism. We’ve talked about feminism and her experiences a lot recently, and it’s really begun to hit me how much she has done for me by encouraging me to be more confident than she ever was while I was growing up — I’m so, so grateful. She and some other ladies in her workplace basically keep each other going with moral support and have a sort of nolite te bastardes carborundorum type of thing going on, and they stick up for each other when they can… but all have in common that they get talked down to and treated like crap despite being BRILLIANT women, so it makes me sad, but their solidarity with each other also seems like a really good and hopeful thing… We also talked about the current obsession with ‘vintage’ eras (especially topical since I discovered that I LOVE a lot of 40′s and 50′s style fashion), and she made the point that the vintage era lots of people think they’re ‘into’ with all this cupcake and 50s housewife fetishism didn’t really exist… much like the world of Jeeves and Wooster is not truly representative of that part of English society at that time maybe, so there’s this nostalgia for something we never even had. Though I don’t think that makes enjoying cupcakes/wearing vintage stuff/calling idiots perfect perishers somehow wrong, so long as we remember not to conflate it with nostalgia for a nonexistent past reality!

    Re cocktails/threadjack:

    A Sarah, on September 9th, 2009 at 12:41 am Said:
    ZENOODLE OMG ARE YOU MARRIED TO THE DUDE BEHIND THE DRINKBOY WEBSITE???!?!?! THE GUY WHO INTRODUCED ME TO OLD FASHIONEDS?!?!?!
    If so, and perhaps even if not, am I correct in assuming that he does NOT load it down with seltzer and a shit ton of mangled fruit carcasses? Because then… [does Jon Stewart gesture]… Kudos.

    Hee. My Oppressor is English and my boyfriend, not husband (does this mean he’s just my Demi-Oppressor?!), and we’re both doctoral students… He left the Real World Of Work to return to study! I actually suggested to him that he could set up a website and/or small business on the side to help keep him afloat… He used to run a beautiful cocktail and jazz bar in Brighton (which went to someone else who ruined it when he left, so it later closed)… He basically loved inventing cocktails, designing the concept of his bar, and working there but grew to massively disliking being The Manager because it meant he had less time for being creative, which is the side of things he loves. I think if I mentioned the very idea of adding weirdy fruit crap and/or seltzer to an Old Fashioned, he would suffer from Head Explosions! :-)

    I actually don’t even drink alcohol (only because to me it all tastes like yucky burny ethanol – weird tastebuds!) but he makes such amazing non-alcoholic cocktails that I can only begin to imagine the brilliance of the ‘full fat’ ones! Funnily enough, I’m really creative with puddings and cakes, and we ended up having a discussion about ingredients of both desserts and cocktails and each inspired lots of ideas in the other…Nomnoms!

    … Also, A Sarah, if you like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans, that’s probably enough to go on for me to ask him for other tippling suggestions for you to try… Maybe on the Ning site?

  159. Oops, I think it might have sounded like I thought there were only ‘vestiges’ of shitty attitudes to women in small companies… I totally didn’t mean that as simplistically as it sounded. I obv realise plenty of small businesses are not run by total arses, and that businesses of all sizes are more than capable of treating people like crap… Just for my mum it so happens that she has ended up working for a string of inept ‘businessmen’ who appear to have never left the 60s/70s (and missed all the social campaigning that was going on at the time too!). It’s invariably been my mum and her coworkers who clear up all the messes and they get paid crap and treated like crap for the privilege! Rargh!!

  160. Feminism is about women’s right to be strong and independent, not their duty to.

    Totally coming in at the end of the thread and slightly off-topic, but FJ, you just managed to sum up in one sentence what I’ve been trying to get across to certain people for a while as to why my neurotic mess-ness and feminism are not mutually exclusive! So, yay.

  161. Gives SM a tape recorder so she can record all the stories her parent wishes to share before dying. My father died young in an accident, and my brother took some old tapes and put them on a CD a couple years ago. I don’t know why, but I am too much of a coward to listen to them. It’s not like I knew him, I was only three when he died.

  162. Does this mean men can’t be feminists? Because both my father and my husband self-identify as feminists… I guess I need to inform them.

  163. SM, I missed your comments upthread about your mother (although I know your situation from the other things you have written here, and I would send you a virtual hot meal and comforting beverage if I knew what you liked), but I just went back and read them. Your analysis of how everyone goes through the stages but at different times is so true. I’m going to be in the situation your dad was vis-a-vis his parents, as mine are now in their 80s.

    My mom is in excellent health for her age but still has been talking about “preparations” for several years now, showing me where important papers are (I’m the designated Responsible Child) and putting me as cosigner on the safety deposit box, etc. This past weekend she informed me that she expects to have another 5 years or so. I’m freaked out, while recognizing that we’re lucky and that she’s had a good run, and that I will do my best to support her however she needs me to when the time comes. No, I won’t be ready ever, and I must confess that, in my opinion, if I were partnered, thus having (theoretically/ideally) a steady source of personal support—which I don’t have otherwise—my parents’ deaths would be less devastating than they will be. I can’t say; no one can; that’s just my feeling.

    But one thing I will say about this feeling that some have expressed, that marriage per se, and/or parenthood, usher in a more profound feeling of grown-up-ness: I have been the recipient of several comments from my mother that I and my single friends (including my gay sister) are sensitive to more subtle things (like work crises and fights with friends) because we don’t have “big” things to worry about, like sharing your life with children and a husband. Huge eye-roll here. (Not that she’s saying I should have those things; she is all for the life of the independent woman. She didn’t get married until she was in her mid-30s, and this was back in the “Mad Men” days. Literally: she was in advertising in NYC.) She seems to think that personal human misery itself is something that appears smaller the “bigger” the other problems you have to worry about. Like I’m a Peter Pan, even though I have a mortgage and a 20-year career.

    Yes, I do feel like a child in some respects, but again, it’s the question of different stages at different times. Some of the things I’ve gone through psychologically and emotionally …. I suspect they’ve involved inner places that some people don’t ever go to; peoples’ circumstances are different, and you can’t measure personal growth by whom or what you have acquired over the course of your life.

  164. much like the world of Jeeves and Wooster is not truly representative of that part of English society at that time maybe, so there’s this nostalgia for something we never even had.

    EXCUSE ME WHAT ARE YOU SAYING

  165. SM, Volcanista, I’m so sorry, you caught me out. I should have known that your razor wits would be more than a match for our pretences… In actual fact we do all run about shouting tally-ho and PIP PIP, eating scones at every opportunity (actually, that part is definitely true for me) and drinking tea (hmmm, and that bit…). It’s just that it gets so terribly tiresome because tourists follow us around waiting for us to do it so that they can take photographs.

    Hee. You might enjoy this

  166. OMG ZENOODLE MY LIFE IS COMPLETE

    It’s just that it gets so terribly tiresome because tourists follow us around waiting for us to do it so that they can take photographs.

    Oh, I totally understand. I mean, as an American, I like to spend most of my time shooting big guns and eating cheeseburgers and then shopping until I collapse, but I just feel so *used* when I do it where foreigners can see me. Actually, I only do that on alternate days, because of course as a feminist I have to make time for burning bras, growing my leg hair, and abortion parties too.

  167. All I really care about is that your valet cleverly and invisibly gets you out of all the scrapes that result from your clumsy hijinks, while disapproving of your distasteful American clothing.

  168. “Does this mean men can’t be feminists? ”

    It depends on who you talk to, but I do not and I get offended when guys self identify as feminists. Why not, as I mentioned earlier, can they not identify as a feminist ally? I just don’t believe that they have the right to identify as something that they cannot fully experience. I am not a man hater and as a bisexual, I am even open to having a relationship with a man, maybe even marriage-but to a feminist ally, if to a man, and not a feminist, because I need my man to understand the extent of his privilege and saying that he is a feminist, to me, is using that privilege in an offensive way. Now I am friends with guys who self identify as feminists and I’ve never told them how I feel about it, because I am not incredibly close with any of them.

    It is possible that I could be wrong and there could be a guy out there who is actually a feminist, but every time I have met a male who has self-identified as one, that person has also been very arrogant and irritating and I have left feeling like his opinion on things mattered more than mine, which is ultimately why I have come to the conclusion that men can not be true feminists. But I would like to be proven wrong.

  169. Hi kcjones, I think I used to share some/all of your reservations about whether men really could be feminists because the ones I met who self-identified as such were usually using it as part of a ‘line’ to make themselves look good (or so they thought) or, as you said, very much gave the impression they thought they could be feminists better than me/women because they knew better (reminds me of this !) I guess I thought it wasn’t a logical impossibility or anything, because my basic definition/idea of feminism is one based in believing ‘women are people too’ and in equality of opportunities, etc, I just hadn’t met any of the ‘theoretical’ men who really ‘got’ that at the time, so had my doubts that the existed in reality….

    But, now, I actually really do believe/think I have proof, because I have no problems with my boyfriend identifying as a feminist (I also id him as one now — certainly never did any of my exes!). SInce I know him and you haven’t met him I guess it’s just my word that he isn’t being arrogant, or putting on a show (or even kidding himself that he understands what feminism is just so that he can add it to his list of evidence of being A Good Guy — that description would, however, sum up at least a few of the guys I know who talk about being feminists!), but he really is genuine about it, so I have met one at least! Also, since I have been with him and got to know him better and better over the last couple of years, the way he is has given me faith that he can’t be just a one-off… He has a couple of very close male friends who might qualify for Feminist Cards too, rather than an Ally’ (Associated?) membership…

    Another thought I had on this is that I self-identify as a feminist and have done for a long time (like, prior to birth I think my mum was sending me feminism through the umbilical cord or something!), but I reflect now on some of the thoughts I had a few years ago, and see how much thinking has developed in response to being challenged, and to thinking harder about things (eg this blog and others it links to have caused a recent shift in the way I understand lots of things — yay!). Like, I can’t understand in a first-hand experience kind of a way with all women’s experiences that are relevant to feminism, but I hope that doesn’t mean that I only have a full feminist member status in some areas and ally membership in others? Maybe this is where the being aware of privilege thing comes in? So, if there is a discussion about an issue which is very much a feminist one, but I have no direct experience of it/don’t totally understand it, I guess what I’m saying is that so long as I still hold the fundamental beliefs about women being people& equal, etc, and so long as I don’t go sticking my privileged template over the discussion, or go refusing to listen/engage/be challenged by it, I hope that I still qualify as a feminist. (A shorter way of putting that might have been to say so long as I am willing to shut up and listen rather than projecting my window of experience onto whatever the discussion is about?)

    For me, my boyfriend gets to keep his Feminist Card because he is willing to reflect on how he thinks, and how his privileges inform that, and beyond just being ‘willing’ to do that, actually challenges himself to do it, and to listen to people, will shush himself while he does it and will go away and ponder and is totally understanding of the fact that he isn’t a woman so is in many ways (his words now) ‘on the outside looking in’.

    Mmmm, not sure if I made enough sense there, it’s late. But anyway, I’m hoping my boyfriend isn’t a statistical anomaly, and that feminist men are both logically possible and hopefully exist in abundant numbers?!

  170. Volcanista, I sadly don’t think I can afford a valet on my negative money income. I wondered if I might make a decent nifty valet myself because I can be fairly sneaky and do like to eat fish!

  171. Charlotte Hays is a member of the vile “Independent Women’s Forum”, and from what I’ve read, she (and the rest of IWF) specializes in constructing straw feminists, and she seems to enjoy constructing all sorts of straw-liberals in general.

    “IWF builds support for a greater respect for limited government, equality under the law, property rights, free markets, strong families, and a powerful and effective national defense and foreign policy. IWF is home to some of the nation’s most influential scholars—women who are committed to promoting and defending economic opportunity and political freedom.”

    http://www.iwf.org/fellows/show/6.html

    Currently in my area IWF is running an anti-Health Care Reform scare campaign about socialism giving women breast cancer or some such nonsense….

  172. I definitely agree that portraying feminists as marriage haters sets up a false ultimatum between being open to the idea of marriage and being a feminist.

    I wanted to post concerning the comments of DRST and MonicaM. As someone who has never been in a serious relationship and would like to be in one, I appreciate where you’re coming from. I think involuntary singledom and the loneliness and depression that often come with it are a serious source of unhappiness.

    I’m open to being in a relationship, and always looking (or doing what I consider looking, which is basically trying to be outgoing, meet people, and try to get to know them better if they seem cool. As a brief aside, I hate it when people say that relationships come to people when they’re not looking. It always seemed like a sort of emperor’s new clothes phenomenon, designed to shut lonely people up by implying that they’re talking about their disappointment at not being able to find a partner is one of the reasons they don’t have one. What a load of crap.

    I wanted to ask the advice of shapelings–how can people who are involuntarily single try to maximize their potential, and prevent their loneliness from inflicting cumulative emotional damage? I often spend some time thinking about why people are involuntarily single, and what can be done to reduce the likelihood that people are (in society in general, not personally). What cultural and technological means can we use to reduce the incidence of involuntary singledom, and to alleviate its effects on those suffering from being involuntarily single?

    Of course, I appreciate that some people enjoy being single. Still, I think it’s good to have the opportunity to be in a satisfying relationship if someone wants. I think the opportunity to participate in a relationship can be an opportunity for a lot of self-growth. The experience may make people more assured in deciding to be single, since they have experienced both states. Anyway, enough rambling for now. : )

  173. I knew someone who really was named Arwen once. I could see her having things to do with a turkey baster, too. I always thought she was a babe.

  174. THISCLOSE to a ban, Cheddar. I just looked over your comments history and this is not the first time you’ve made an ass of yourself. If you apologize I’ll call this your last strike. If you don’t, don’t let the door hit you.

  175. Well, I have definitely met men who are far from arrogant who I believe are feminists. My husband is anything but arrogant. He’s thoughtful and passionate and validates women in their experiences and choices. He’s quick to point out anti-feminist rhetoric that I even sometimes don’t see. He gets angry and speaks up about things that demean me or my daughter, that deny us the fullness of autonomy and humanity. To me, that’s a feminist.

    I believe that people have the right to identify themselves in ways that are genuine to them and that no one else really has the right to dispute it aside from actions that obviously prove otherwise.

    As far as I know, there isn’t some “official feminist creed” that we are required to sign. That would be silly, really, since feminism (along with almost all other -isms) isn’t one homogenous blob of exactly-alike-thinking humans. It’s a group of people who agree on a core value (the equality of women), but may both experience and manifest that belief in different ways.

    It wouldn’t be right to go around telling people, “Well, your’re not a REAL feminist because you don’t think exactly the way I do.”

  176. Hi Bluesphere52, I don’t really have anything massively insightful to suggest beyond the things that would spring to mind that you already are doing (also I am bearing in mind that I’m just a lucky sod who accidentally met the person she loves by being in the same department at them, so my direct experience is not really of much use!). But I do have a friend who, if time rewound by a few years, was saying a lot of the same stuff as you do in your post, and I went to her wedding last weekend. I don’t know whether this anecdata is any use, and I’m not trying to suggest you are/aren’t doing these sorts of things and/or that you should/shouldn’t (etc), but it might be interesting/helpful maybe…

    When I met her I thought she was really happy and independent and it never occurred to me that she was sad about not being in a relationship, but after about a year of knowing each other she confided in a group of us that actually she would really like to find one despite there also being a conflict inside her head about how she ‘should’ be ok alone and not obsess about it. Another friend somewhat rashly decided to take matters into her own hands and signed her up to a dating website (one where you sign up a friend and write them a profile from your perspective, and then that friend has to approve it before it goes up — you can’t do it without someone knowing — and the person who’s getting ‘advertised’ for want of a better word gets to write their own response to that description and elaborate on it). At first Friend 1 was really annoyed at the meddling, but went ahead with it because she didn’t want to hurt Friend2′s feelings…

    She credits meeting her partner partly down to the inevitable luck factor, and partly down to having gone along with the online dating agency (though a lot of weirdos messaged her and it really didn’t seem to be working for almost a year — they ‘met’ right near the end of the subscription!), BUT not because ‘online dating is The Answer’ (although I guess it helps because it raises the potential number of contact points?).

    Rather, she thinks that a couple of things happened: Firstly, that even though she’d wanted to be in a relationship for ages, the act of telling us about feeling lonely and wanting to be in a long-term relationship had somehow made a difference because spoken aloud it definitely confirmed to her that it was what she wanted if possible. Secondly, she also realised that although she wanted this, she certainly didn’t want to give up her singledom for a relationship that would be damaging or not right for her (a la our group of friends’ many horror stories to that effect!). Also, she made a (flexible) list of what she was looking for, and more importantly a list of what she was not looking for.

    So then she kind of let the dating agency thing tick away in the background while she explored things that made her happy, and tried new things that she wanted to do, without making finding a partner her primary goal. Most of the contacts for the first 10 months-ish were either from scary sounding people or the person sounded nice but email contact didn’t go anywhere. She said at the time that not having found someone at that point didn’t make her as sad as it had done when she had previously quietly thought about it and wondered if she was ‘doing things wrong’. In fact it was kind of what she had previously been doing, plus just being more accepting of the part of herself that wanted to be in a relationship and working on not seeing having those feelings or not being in a relationship as a failing/disappointment. Right before she met her partner was pretty much a time when she seemed genuinely to be more happy than she had been for ages, while still single, because she had been finding and enjoying loads of new things to do and learn. In fact I distinctly remember the conversations we had when they first started seeing each other where she was worrying about getting into a relationship because she was in a really happy place on her own. So, I guess, she only went into a relationship with someone she happened to meet and have sparks with because she felt like it would be adding to her life in a positive way. She made sure first that he understood that she wanted to take things really slowly and be friends first, because that’s what would be right for her. He was really respectful, and did exactly that, and if he hadn’t been she was fully prepared to walk away (and says that she isn’t sure if she would have been as prepared like that if she hadn’t gone through the process she went through before that, if that makes sense).

    Not sure if that’s any help at all, and also I hope it doesn’t sound crappy and throwaway advice or anything. Full disclosure: I didn’t date until my twenties, when I got into quite a serious relationship far too young which ended badly, followed by another even more disastrous relationship with an abusive (though thankfully not physically so) guy, before a period of singledom which I was just beginning to enjoy when I met Noodleboy (whom I initially resisted going out with because I felt like being single was doing me good!). So I kind of wish I’d been single longer to begin with, and then theoretically would’ve had less baggage when I met Noodleboy, because the baggage was v difficult indeed. I guess I have no way of knowing if being single all that time would have created equally difficult baggage. The big thing with my friend seems to have been deciding to be very protective over her own happiness while balancing that with being open to meeting people, ie the being prepared to walk away if it was wrong bit (incidentally the bit I learned the very long winded way!).

  177. THISCLOSE to a ban, Cheddar. I just looked over your comments history and this is not the first time you’ve made an ass of yourself. If you apologize I’ll call this your last strike. If you don’t, don’t let the door hit you.

    Yeah, actually, I’m gonna override that offer and just go ahead and ban Cheddar. An apology wouldn’t even impress me at this point.

  178. Yeah, actually, I’m gonna override that offer and just go ahead and ban Cheddar

    Yeah I got no problem with this.

    This particular comment was so fucking weird that I thought maybe there was an explanation (“sorry, I was super-drunk and I thought I was being funny when I now see I was being a complete asshole,” or whatever). But the comment history makes me disinclined to care.

  179. I’m not sure which inaccurate assumption bugs me more: that as a feminist, I am secretly boycrazy, or that if I were, I’d be ashamed to admit it.

    I’ve been a feminist for 35 years; been married for 16; been boycrazy not ever.

  180. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about the idea of Robyn’s feminist husband “validating” women’s choices makes me really uncomfortable.

  181. “Does this mean men can’t be feminists? ”

    I think if men can’t be feminists, then no one can. I’ve always thought that the whole point of feminism is that people should not be limited, or judged, or forced to embrace or eschew any sort of behavior based on their gender.

  182. Annie, from the rest of what Robyn wrote, I think that might just be unfortunate phrasing? I didn’t even catch that word the first time I read it, but I think you can read it as in ‘validate’ meaning ‘not trying to deny that they [women's experiences] are true’?

  183. Hey zenoodle, thanks very much for your reply. It gave me some things to think about. The thing is, as much as some stories of single people finding love sound the same, talking about being lonely and having trouble finding someone is hard to do with people in person, because you worry you’re being awkward. And it’s not the kind of information that a single person will offer up readily, so I appreciate getting to hear stories about different people’s experiences.

    As much as I feel like I’ve been open to being in a relationship, I haven’t tried online dating. I’ve been a bleacher fan for a long time, since I feel like, to whatever limited extent we can influence over whether or not we find someone, meeting people and putting yourself out there (while being confident that you are happy with yourself so that you don’t come off as overly desperate) is the best way of increasing your changes.

    Also, that point about how your friend telling her friends about her feelings changed the way she thought about them in her own mind was interesting. That’s a great point. I haven’t really told my friends my feelings about it, and it’s a little complicated, but it sounds like something I might want ot work up to trying.

    Oh, and on the whole “can men be feminists” issue, I have to say that I think that they can be. Of course men are going to have a harder time relating to some of the experiences of women, but if they’re guided by a strong sense of the equality of opportunity and choices for women, I think they can come to appreciate it as much as anyone else.

    Also, think about it–limiting feminism to people who understand the female perspective is problematic, because even the experiences of women are so different (even within the context of the way women view society). Joining together to agitate for justice in any social movement requires that people be able to try to abstract from other people’s experiences, and try to understand how those experiences have affected the people who had them. Anyway, sorry about the rambling.

    But also, one more thing–what about the intersexed? If being a feminist is dependent on one’s being a woman, how does that jibe with the fact that gender is a spectrum? I wouldn’t be comfortable drawing lines in the sand saying “These people have a gender identity (either in their own eyes or society’s) that’s consistent with the being a woman, so they’re ok”.

    Anyway, I realize that it’s a complicated issue, but those concerns I have make me uneasy to exclude those who aren’t women from identifying as feminists.

  184. Thanks, Zenoodle. Yes. As in, I am not you, I am not a woman, therefore I have no idea what it feels like to be discriminated against on that basis, therefore I affirm that whatever your experiences/feelings are, they are true and real and you have every right to them and I will support you in them. As opposed to, you are just a silly woman blowing things out of proportion and taking things too personally–your thoughts/feelings/experiences aren’t real or important– which I have gotten in the past numerous times from both men and women regarding anything remotely feminist that crosses my lips.

    Does that make more sense? Sorry if my choice of words made you uncomfortable.

  185. Sarah said: “If you ask me, yes, marriage (at least in the US) is absolutely anti-feminist, because it means choosing to exploit one’s heterosexual privilege. The only way you could say that marriage doesn’t oppress women is by saying that queer women aren’t really women.”

    I certainly believe in equal marriage rights for everyone, and would have been perfectly willing to abstain from marriage myself until it was available to all, but the person I wanted to share my life with (and the father of my daughter) happened to come from another country. Knowing that we would have had no option as a same-sex couple made me all the more adamant that everyone should have the right to marry… however, I do not agree that I am *oppressing*I queer women by keeping my family together the only way I legally can… and, quite frankly, I am not willing to spend the rest of my life in a long-distance relationship to avoid offending you (would you do the same for me? I didn’t think so.)

  186. Feminist Sisters,

    I salute you (can we salute?) for an hour of fun and laughter. Hopefully it will take me days to read through all the responses. Good thing I was reading without drinking or liquid would be up my nose as well.

    These are great times and you all are great company.

    Namaste (yoga speak for “The light in me bows to the light in you.” or “You all totally rock!!!”)

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