Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why I Am Not Married

“I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.”  
Gloria Steinem

People ask me a lot why I am not married. I try not to roll my eyes or get defensive. As a woman in this world, I think we internalize that question negatively. It seems to say “Why has no one ever offered to marry you so you wouldn’t be a spinster? What’s wrong with you.” Most women equate: “Why aren’t you married?” to really saying: “Why does no MAN want you?”  It’s a stupid question people, and we should really just stop asking it. Emily Post would agree with me.

Other questions I get are: When will you get married? Or what do you have against marriage? Or why are you so cynical about love? Or why are you so picky? Or why aren’t you dating online? Or did you really leave your religion because of the pressure to get married?

What I usually say is, “It’s none of your business” or “I hate babies” (I know that’s not even a question they asked, and I really love babies a lot), but it throws them off track.  Truthfully, I feel that people do not want to hear my real answer. My real answer doesn’t even compute in the mind of my mother. Poor lady.

But here it is: My real answer is that I just can’t get married until the definition of what “marriage” means changes a little more in my favor.

Let me explain.

I’ve seen young women and old women get married (and I’m usually their bridesmaid). I’ve seen conservative and liberal women get married. I’ve seen skinny and chubby women get married. It’s not like I’m a marriage leper. It’s not like no man has ever wanted me. It’s not like I haven’t gotten offers. I have. And I’ve thought long and hard about those offers. I’ve almost accepted two of them. I was very, very close. I almost had myself talked into the idea that this was finally the man for me.

I could be married right now you guys! Right now! And then I'd never hear the damn question again. (Never hearing the question again is almost reason enough for me to go get married!) I could have believed past lovers’ promises to split the work 50/50. I could have swooned (ok, I did swoon, a lot) when one of them told me how much he longed to be a father and that he would do more of the changing of the diapers and the late night feedings than me, he would. He promised. He would take off work to pick them up from school. He would do it all with me. 50/50. 

I desperately grasped onto the lovely phrase of the man who told me that he loved my feminism and that he would always support my career as equal to his. That if it came to the point where I had to relocate for work, he would relocate with me. It wouldn’t always be me forced to relocate or adhere to what his job was offering 

BEGINTANGENT This brings up another question women and men ask me, "Why do you like to work?" and they shudder a little when they say it. Call me crazy, but I chose to follow my passions in life and my job reflects that. I LOVE what I do. I can't imagine not ever doing it. I'm a photographer, you can see my work here ENDTANGENT

We would make the best decisions for our family and those decisions would not always land in his favor because he was the man. And also, he would cook and clean. We could do it. We were educated.  We were committed. We could make it work. And our love would see us through any of the technicalities. These men have been rare, but they have been. 

Of course, there have been more of the other kind of guy too. These are the men who wonder why I have to “ruin an afternoon” by bringing up feminism.  Or the ones who expect me to cook most of the meals. Or the ones who just assume that I would not mind "being supported" and "not having to work" if we had a kid. Or the ones who wanted me to not be as smart as they were. Or who thought we should vote the same (aka, I should vote just as he would because we should always be united on that).  And most of all, the ones who look at me blankly when I say  “My last name is way cooler than yours, why don’t you take my name on?" (I’m actually not kidding about this, though most people think I am). 

Even with the best of intentions on either side of the marriage, I have seen, again and again, how things change once the marriage happens. As a friend said to me, “it’s like gravity, you just get pulled into the gender roles, no matter how hard you try not to, they just suck you in.” Wives do just end up taking care of the kids more. Wives do end up cleaning the house more. Wives do end up sacrificing their careers more in favor of the husbands. Wives do end up not following through on their dreams for many, many reasons. For the most part, wives do more of the things that I don’t want to do.

And that is why I am nobody’s wife. 


Ruahines said...

Kia Ora e hoa,
I always thought Tara's last name, de Lau Tour , to be far cooler than mine. I was surprised she used mine to be honest. Now, in her writings and studies for her post grad she is using her name once again. Go Tara. And Go D'Arcy.

Anonymous said...

I can't decide if you are wise or foolish, but either way, there is a wee little part of me that is envious. Be courageous for the rest of us.

knixphan said...

I have decided you are wise.