Still in bed with first coffee and the news, I was taken here: an article written by Lena Dunham on marriage. Now that America has marriage for all in love, what does that mean for her feminist views on marriage, those views always confused by the odd sensation/ desire/ programming that she wants to wear the fluffy white dress…?
I think this is a great read …and perfectly timed. Yesterday evening I afforded myself the pleasure of a massage with a man around my age, with a history of education in women’s studies and with some great thoughts on the world. We started discussing Japan as he has been there (and I am recently just back), then we got talking about the dynamic between men and women.
I had some confusing times over there, faced with feelings as confusing as Lena’s- I want to look as perfect and as immaculate and as cute as the Japanese women but I DO NOT want to live in a world where men excerpt control and desire over that image, particularly when ‘immaculate’ and ‘cute’ also means looking like a 12 year old girl. I don’t want to be at the service of men. I don’t want to be so polite that I don’t speak my mind (or my heart). I want a career and be in an equal relationship with a man …but still I want nice legs, and to be desired by men…to be wanted. To fit in even. Very confusing.
My massage therapist shared this belief with me- that until a man can bear a child there will never be equality for the sexes. Woah. Explain I said.
He told me examples of women he sees, big CEOs who have taken calls while. in. labor. to prove that they can be a mother and work at the same time; women who, though they earn more money and are expected to work longer hours , who have more responsibility in their jobs than their husbands in their jobs, the husband won’t take time off work when the kids are sick because that’s not as acceptable. The woman should be at home with kids.
At the end of the day he said, women also have a clock. That a man can happily wait til he’s in his 60’s with the attitude / understanding that ‘he’s not ready’ then shack up with someone much younger and have a baby. A woman, who may not be ready, in a successful and blossoming career, still has to make a choice at a certain time …and as Toby Abbotts little plan awhile ago proved, SHE not he is expected to make that choice (and persuaded to with $ from the government if SHE does. Not he. The same money would not be given to the father if he took the paternity leave).
This is why so many women my age (I am now 35) are freezing their eggs now, as an article in The Age stated a month ago. We live in a non-committal society where we throw out our mobile phones, not because they’re dead but because we want the next better, shinier, ‘cuter’ one. Women are having a hard time finding men who are willing to ‘give commitment a go’ (and I phrase it this way because it’s not as if commitment doesn’t scare us too) because the world tells us we don’t need to commit to anything (we can give you/make you/ make you want to desire ‘cuter’, ‘shinier’, ‘better’). Couple this with the fact some women want to be at their careers for a little while longer, they are lead to spend upwards of $10,000 on freezing their eggs so that they can have their independent lives, their careers…and maybe one day, have that baby their bodies are in part made for and that many so desire.
Lena- marriage/ not marriage. Baby/ not baby. Man/ woman. Human/ human. I’m confused too.
Though not about the dress. I can’t ever see myself in white and fluffy.
Read Lena Dunham’s comment piece here:
Epilogue: On posting this on my Facebook wall a dear friend of mine wrote this…
“It’s nearly impossible to detangle personal preference from social conditioning, our deepest desires from the codes we have been taught to follow.” Brilliant (thought by Lena Dunham in the article). I would also try to differentiate between the getting married (the event) and the being married. I always wanted to be married to (my husband), but the rite of passage of bridehood was another matter. And it is a rite of passage which has huge cultural significance for women, less so for men. It’s a public acknowledgement of a woman’s acceptance and desirability.
Let the conversation begin…