That Old Marriage Trap - Part 3
Maybe those marriages wouldn’ t have lasted for so long, if the little grandmothers had a little money in their name...
Love, romance, sex, intimacy, connection, companionship, loyalty, commitment, monogamy, trusting relationships that promise to last a lifetime? There is nothing wrong with them. In fact they are desirable by most women – yes, even feminists! But add some heavy doses of religious sexism and patriarchal cruelty in the mix, as well as a bunch of enforced, one-sided obligations and sacrifices which are mostly required by the less privileged one of the two parties involved, and all joy is taken out of such wonderful things.
I'm well aware of the fact that sure, #NotAllMarriages are like that (and I'm daily being told that by commentators on social media, even more often than I'm being told that #NotAllMen are like "that"). But the thing is, most are! And we need to be talking about it! Being critical of marriage is not - contrary to popular belief – equated with misandry or a fear of commitment. By the way, isn’t the commitment that you have for a man you love, and with whom you share your life (if not your home) without the need of joint accounts (and because of that, enforced sexual “obligations”) stronger? When the things that bind you together are not money, religious, social and legal duties, tax cuts, shared mortgages, signed contracts and the fear that you will be left destitute if he leaves you, but what you actually feel for each other? When the moments of intimacy you share are related to your love and desire for your guy, NOT your need to survive (or live in luxury)? How come, even in the Western World, we still tend to see non-spousal, long-term, monogamous relationships, as less important than spousal ones? Why don’ t we see them as a higher, more evolved form of union, because both parties are there because they want to, instead of have to?
And while we are at it: how come we also still find it hard to acknowledge a heterosexual woman’ s right to remain both unmarried and single, if that’ s what works best for her? In a world that is gradually becoming more tolerant towards people of different sexual preferences, how about we start seeing single, heterosexual women (on many levels, still the most contemptible of social demographics, one that it goes without saying, has no support groups in its corner), as having an equal right to have a say in the way they want to live their lives? But of course that would mean that we would finally face women as actually equal to men, instead of, you know, created for their pleasure… Their usefulness to them being the thing that defines them as worthy of living. And the world is obviously not ready for that!
Also, when will we stop assuming that long marriages, like the ones our grandmothers used to have, is an accomplishment? Maybe they were based on nothing but their obedience, silence, fear, desperation, and lack of a feeling of self-worth; as well as their lack of income, power and options. Maybe those marriages wouldn’ t have lasted for so long, if the little grandmothers had a little money in their name...
In fact every single detail about the wedding ritual is an eloquent indicator of what marriage really means for both sexes:
PROPOSAL: The fact that it is the guy who is asking the woman in marriage, and not other way around, says a lot: It shows that he is the one who has the main saying in this, the one who controls the rules of this game (his proposal often accompanied with “you deserve it”, you are “worth it”, or even “you win”, statements or similar, which imply that he is the supreme prize, the ultimate goal in a woman’s life, regardless of who / what he is, of course: being male is enough!). A proposal is something a man "offers" to a woman, because (unlike her) he is in the position to offer it. The position of power. And even when this proposal is spectacular and well rehearsed and it involves props and horses and dancing extras holding rare flowers, and a man who got on one knee, it still carries patriarchal connotations.It is still assumed that a man's right to promiscuity is precious and pretty much God-given, and that is why his reluctant (and possibly theoretical) surrender to monogamy, is such a gift. That is why it is seen as such a big gesture! Because he has a choice! A choice a woman mostly lacks. This is what is being celebrated with those spectacular proposals in fact. This is what is being shouted with the rings that are hidden in champagne glasses, and the releasing of doves and balloons and whatnot.... And that is why women get weak at the knees. Because they were chosen by a man who, even if he is less than mediocre, still has all the choices available to them. Unlike them.
WHO proposes, is indicative also, of who has the power to choose a mate. And for countless generations it was specifically the men, never the - usually underage - girls who were passed like goods to complete strangers. Even today, a woman who proposes would be seen as desperate, needy, and pretty much pathetic. Or disgustingly aggressive. Because she is reversing the traditional roles: she is pretending like she has the right to choose, instead of just be chosen. Instead of just be passive and grateful.
A WOMAN’S HAND: Even today, if a man asks the father of the bride for her hand in marriage, this is still seen as a sign that he is obviously a “good guy”, who is being “respectful”, and “traditional”and “doing things right”... As if her own say in the matter is not enough! As if women are merchandise to be passed from one master to the next!