Jun 13 2007

The post on marriage

Today’s rambling glob of an essay on marriage was inspired by two items in my inbox this morning. One, an email from one of our prominent blamers:

I’m on Feministing right now, and people are getting upset with me for saying that marriage is a sexist institution. It’s making me feel a bit insane.

And then this, an unsigned communiqué linking to an article about a “surrendered wife” named Skye Lamont. Lamont was once “a high-flying career woman” but now “much prefers being a submissive housewife” who “wears make-up, takes real good care of herself and leaps into [his] arms when [her asshole misogynist alpha-prick of a husband] come[s] home each day.”

Ay yi yi.

As a radical feminist dyke spinster aunt, I am the world’s leading authority on marriage. I have other matrimoniological credentials, too. I am the offspring of two married heterosexuals who dominated me for over 18 years. I’ve read Jane Austen. I’ve spent almost a whole year watching Turner Classic Movies on TV. I was ‘maid’ of honor at my sister Tidy’s wedding.

Not only that; some of my best friends are married!

And it’s gotta go, I tell you.

Sure, a wind has to be pretty ill to blow nobody good, and I’m not about to tell you that marriage isn’t a pretty sweet deal.

If you’re a dude.


The dude-friendliness of marriage is not merely a function of the usual sexist crap you’re expecting me to list here — viz., that even among such ‘enlightened’ dual-career Western married couples as would consider Skye Lamont a mental defective, the majority of the drudgery falls upon the woman; that women who drop out of the work force to raise kids for 20 years get totally screwed financially as well as personally; that women can’t, in fact, ‘have it all’.

This marriage wind blows extremely ill for creatively stifled housewives, yes, but my main beef is with its brutal success as an organizing force of a social order predicated on violence, exploitation, and oppression. And I don’t just mean that marriage is a get-out-of-jail-free card for batterers and rapists, or that in many parts of the world a wife is a slave, or that international marriage brokerage, wherein women are trafficked as slaves, is a thriving business. I mean that marriage benefits not just individual men at the expense of individual women; it is the very foundation of global patriarchy. Wives are the unpaid labor that supports misogynist male culture.


Everyone knows a few intellectuals or hippies whose curiously enduring child-free marriages seem to be mostly about companionship and health insurance, but the reality is that marriages tend mostly to produce in droves that primary repository of patriarchal ideology known as the nuclear family, and its dutiful self-sacrificing menial, the wife-and-mother [1].

It is in the wife-and-mother’s cavernous receptacle that male society stockpiles its ideals of femininity, submission, and sex, ideals which must be passed to each new generation to ensure the ascendency of patriarchal oppression. A married woman’s value is assessed according to the success with which she assimilates and performs wife-and-mother behaviors. These behaviors are not limited to reproduction, shopping, child-rearing, husband-servicing, and toilet-scrubbing, but also encompass a woman’s fundamental sense of her own inadequacy, and of the inadequacy of women generally. This sense of defectiveness ensures that her identity is little more than a function of her service to male culture.


Even modern American marriages between progressive, trendy hipsters are, at the least, fanciful or ironic reenactments of a gruesome misogynist hegemony, and wreak some degree of megatheocorporatocratic carnage. Especially when the male hipster is a depressive artiste, and the female hipster has one of those Bettie Page haircuts.


Two heterosexual people may marry for ‘love’ but sooner or later they find their ideal subsumed by duty to bogus culturally constructed expectations. ‘Love’ as it is commonly understood — a sense of unbridled benevolence toward one of your own kind — cannot withstand the pressures wrought by the power differential between dominator and dominated. Because all of society, not to mention the global economy, turns on the difference between two classes — oppressor and oppressed, man and woman, white and black, top and bottom — love, initially an affinity between two like entities, morphs into a class struggle. Couples struggle against the world and each other for fidelity, for money, for sex, for kids, for individual happiness or fulfillment. Thus, marriage is ‘work’, as patriarchybots like Oprah will tell you, but it is the woman who has to do most of it; the dude merely has to show up at the wedding.

Your Nigel is different, of course, but unless he is a woman (and sometimes even if he is), he enjoys a privilege that you will never see for as long as you live. I allude to the privilege of personal sovereignty. Deny this truth at your peril.


Every marriage is a replication of the basic unit of patriarchy [2].

1. Before you flame me, O thou feminist wife-and-mothers, know this: I acknowledge your right to have made such choices as are commonly available to women in this male-dominated world. I do not disparage you personally, and I do not blame women generally for gettin’ hitched. I merely allude to a paradigm that generates enormous suffering for the several billions of women who aren’t as fortunate as, perhaps, you are.

2. Yes, even gay marriage. Marriage is currently heteronormative, but when gay marriage is legal, as it will undoubtedly be sooner or later, it will align itself precisely with the heteronormative model, since the primary function of marriage — yesterday, today, and forevermore — is to institutionalize the policing of penis placement.


19 pings

  1. Dr. Helmet Breath

    That Skye Lamont article… oy. The only thing that keeps me relatively sane is the fact that, on some level, I’m positive she KNOWS she’s full of shit. She’ll get sick of this Stepford Wife charade once she realizes that Frank does not inherently deserve a femmebot to dote upon his sloppy, lazy, tired ass.

    Also, thanks for the post as usual, Twisty. I’m 22, I’ve had a steady boyfriend for 3 years, and already people want to know if we’ll be “getting married anytime soon.” I simply don’t have the mental fortitude to launch into an explanation of how absurd on every level that question is.

  2. mustelid

    I mentally fast-forwarded twenty years, where Skye Lamont is being traded in for a younger, perkier femmebot and crying about how she doesn’t know how this happened.

  3. Meredith

    I sit here waiting for people to start flaming you, people who don’t seem to grasp the differences between individuals and systems. Individuals who get married may or may not be “bad”; either way, they’re making the best choice for themselves in a system that affords them nothing but bad choices. The system, however, totally stinks, for lack of something more eloquent to say. Besides, you already said it in this post.

    Why yes, I do realize that this kinda-sorta paraphrases your first footnote. Maybe if it’s in bigger text, they’ll notice it better. (Some people, however, wouldn’t get it if it were printed on a two-by-four and subsequently imprinted in their skulls.)

  4. Alie

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, having recently argued against marriage with my sister (another radical feminist).
    Though I argued against it with her, claiming basically Twisty’s principles as my argument (sadly, much less articulately), my mind is beginning to turn. I also spoke at length on how irritating I find the whole proposal business. I’m supposed to wait around for my boyfriend to propose to me, hoping against hope that he’ll choose me as the bride he wants to buy–oops, I mean marry. Proposals of the romantic sort (if such a thing were to exist, I would use “dripping sarcasm” tags on the word romantic there) are nothing but a acting-out of the worst extremes a heterosexual relationship could tend to. They remind me of a man picking out a couch to buy, and it irritates me that my so-called feminist friends don’t think that a heterosexual, feminist-friendly relationship involves equality, they think it means “he treats me like a princess! and like totally idealizes me in every way! I hope I don’t fall off this pedestal ahhhh!”

    Here’s the rub, for me anyway. I don’t really think that the pledge of two people to love each other for a long, long time is patriarchal in concept, and I love (love!) big parties with open bars and foi gras appetizers. And I also love having an excuse to get all my friends from all over the world into one city to have fun together. What’s more, I don’t think all relationships have to follow a dominate/submit paradigm–I mean, we can’t escape our socialization, but we can resist it, right? Isn’t that what blaming the patriarchy is all about? So if two people, regardless of gender, who are on the same page about respect and trying as hard as they can to avoid privileged assumptions and actions, and who strive toward the same goal of equality and a rejection of the heteronormative, patriarchal bullshit paradigm, want to have a party to announce that they love each other a lot and plan to for a good while and also want to have all their friends and family hang out and party with them, it seems like a good plan to me.

    However, I just realized that since I don’t think divorce is a big deal, nor does the baby-makin’ thing really apply to me, that what I define as marriage is probably more likely to be defined as “party” to most folk. However, if we can define “woman” as “a member of the sex class” and recognize the essential truth in that definition (instead of “contains vagina,” like most folk), then I suppose I can define marriage any way I want, and defend that position.

  5. Twisty

    Did I mention that some of my best friends are wife-and-mothers?

  6. changeling

    i agree with what your saying, but your missing the big picture. all the things you list aren’t just bad about marriage; they’re bad about *ALL* heterosexual relationships.

  7. Twisty

    Well, Alie, if having a party were all that marriage entails, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  8. Dr. Helmet Breath

    Haha, good point mustelid, but perhaps you’re being rather generous with Frank’s allotment of Skye’s “Wifey Time”. I’d give the asshole 5-10 years to ditch his current trophy for a newer, shinier one.

  9. Panic

    Thank-you. I’m not going to sit here and tell you all the shit that happened in my marriage. I’ve typed it too many times, and it’s the same old story: he bought into the patriarchal structure of marriage completely, and I didn’t. I was a self-identified Feminist before we got married, and I have no idea what the hell he was thinking, because that never changed, though I guess he had hopes that it would. He’s not the devil, but he certainly loves male privilege, and all that goes along with it, and like a lot of the privileged, he just wouldn’t open his eyes to what I was dealing with, because he’d have to give some of it up. We’re on speaking terms (again, he’s not the devil) but lesson learned from my end: the way I want to live my life is not compatible with marriage. And you know what? As a hetero girl, sometimes it’s pretty fucking lonely. But I’d rather be lonely than capitulate.

    Huh. Typed more than I thought I would there. This is a huge issue for me, obviously.

  10. Panic

    And holy run-on sentences there! :(

  11. wren

    Hey Twisty, thanks for this. I’ve recently embarked on a venture of cohabitation with a (yes, “enlightened,” whatever that means for one of them) dude so chock full o’ privilege it’s falling out of every orifice. I happen to love him in spite of this, but I’m keeping a bag packed for the inevitable time when it all goes to pot on me.

    The point of all that being, I’ve been getting pressure from all sides in response to this arrangement. This includes my heretofore independence-supporting parents, who rock, but are all “Well, shouldn’t you just marry him then?” and not quite understanding why that makes it unnecessarily complicated and much scarier, despite the fact that my father is in fact the original patriarch and they should both get it. It’s good to have my instincts reaffirmed.

    Plus, as you yourself acknowledge, if you can’t go to a radical feminist dyke spinster aunt for marriage advice, who CAN you go to? Everyone else is too bitter and corrupted by its very institution, after all.

  12. slythwolf

    This is all very true.

    I’m engaged right now. I love my fiancé, we’re happy, we have an equal partnership. I fully expect us to have the intellectual-hippy marriage, but if we don’t, I’m so out of there.

  13. skyscraper

    As always, very thought provoking post. I totally follow your line of thinking, agree with it, and love your wonderful use of words.

    What do you propose as a way to right this marriage situation? Or how can a person make a wise choice in this area of life? It seems to get clouded and tangled with a big glob of emotion.

    I mean an answer for a reasonably sane feminist. Not the Skye Lamont’s of the world. Those types become old ladies eating cat food in retiremnt.

  14. Sniper

    Ay yi yi.

    This is probably an insane question, but did you get this from The Manolo?

  15. ceezee

    That article about Skye Lamont is a joke, right? I mean, no serious publication would ever publish those words in that order unless it was a satire of something, would they?

    Why yes, I have been called hopelessly naive, why do you ask?

  16. Twisty

    I wish people wouldn’t expect me to propose solutions. The only solution is revolution, which, as you might imagine, requires something of a commitment.

  17. Calidor

    Speaking as a feminist wife and mother, I was going ‘hell yeah!’ all the way through your post even before reaching postscript number 1. And I think I’ve got a good marriage to a gentle man. Given the choice of doing it over I would make exactly the same choices. But that’s because I’m living in the Pre-Twisty Revolution years. Any attempt to raise children in a nuclear family unit is predicated upon the at least partial surrender of the mother/wife’s sense of self. My view was that if you’re going to procreate you might as well get married because at least gives you some legal protection (and yes, an excuse for a big party). But it’s still a compromise with the patriarchy.

  18. Twisty

    Ay yi yi.

    This is probably an insane question, but did you get this from The Manolo?”

    Nope. Ricky Ricardo.

  19. Bubbas' Nightmare

    To which all I can hear in my mind is, “Lucy! I’m home!”

    Talk about synchronicity (or some such Jungian BS). I created a new post at my blog, flipped over to see Twisty’s Wisdom o’ th’ Day, and I found the above discussion.

    And yes, given the premises of feminist thought, marriage indeed comes out of as a pile of steaming male privilege. IBTP.

  20. Bubbas' Nightmare

    And dammit! As can be seen above, I really miss that comment preview of yours, TF!

  21. delagar

    I *want* the revolution. Can’t we start?

  22. ew_nc

    This Skye Lamont person sounds like The Total Woman, revisited. I think that happens ever 17-20 years, sorta like cicadas.

  23. tinfoil hattie

    ew_nc: ha, ha, ha–hilarious!!

    I’m married. To a great guy. He’s kind. He’s loving. He’s an amazing father. He does shit like come upstairs, see that the dining room floor is full of 3 days’ worth of meal detritus, and gets out the broom.

    He never expects adulation, kudos, or any special recognition for participating in the running of the household.

    I have two kids, and I love them. And they’re really cool, of course. Funny and smart and loving and lovable. Of course.

    Yet honest to goddess, I still agree 100% with Twisty. Maybe it’s middle age; I don’t know. But sometimes I wish I had just done whatever the heck I wanted, whenever I wanted.

    However, that choice was never open to me, was it? I Blame (wait for it) You Know What.

  24. Alie

    Upon going for a thought-provoking run, I’ve realized that my great plans for that party I was writing about actually have nothing to do with an actual marriage, but are more of a redefinition of a wedding, I suppose. Marriage has little to do with dinner parties, methinks.

  25. George

    “The only solution is revolution” – Fair enough!

    But after the revolution, what should we expect long-term child-rearing relationships to look like? Would we end up with something that is essentailly similar to marriage but without the backgorund of male-privilege? Or will we get soemthing completely different?

  26. anon for this one

    Welp, I got married. Two het, hipster, intellectual, punkhippy types. Artists, y’know. He’s a good man, and we have a good marriage, by any standard. And it sucks. It’s actually pretty hellish, for a whole lot of stupid, boring, trite reasons that you can easily imagine. I can’t even begin to imagine how much it sucks for women stuck with men who are not as nice and good as my husband.

    All I have to say to women is: whatever you do, do not get married. Because it sucks.

    Every woman I know told me this before I got married, but I thought “oh, he’s different, I’m different, it’ll be different.”

    I was wrong, all those women were right, and now I’m stuck.

    No matter how wonderful he and the relationship is–he will change, it will change, it will be bad and you will be miserable. (He’ll be completely blissful, of course.) It will suck. A lot. Don’t get married. Just live together or something. Do not get married.

  27. Patty

    I love being married.

  28. banshee

    Twisty- I appreciate that you used the word “child-free” rather than “childless”. I hate it when people miss the distinction.

    That’s one of the reasons I don’t want to get married; I know that no matter how egalitarian the marriage may be, no matter if we both share the housework and don’t have children and allow each other total freedom, the marriage will always be a model of the patriarchal institution of marriage worldwide.

  29. auntieintellectual

    Damn it, now you had to go and make me cry.

    Even when you try to work it out differently, American marriages boil down to a truly ghastly arithematic. I’m not sure what the actual algorithm is, but I’m pretty certain that it involves 7 dinners a week, the weekly number of loads of laundry in the household, the average cost of a house in your town, and of course the ever-present .77, for the amount that the wife makes compared to the husband’s salary. Then you can multiply whatever hideous answer you get by the number of children.

  30. tinfoil hattie

    Doesn’t “child-free” sort of slight one group of people, while “childless” slights the other?

  31. Niki

    I don’t understand women (who weren’t imported) in the western world that say they were forced into marriage, or that they are stuck in a marriage they are unhappy with.


    It’s really not so awful and terrible to be single, also known in some circles as “independent”. It’s just what the patriarchy wants you to think.

  32. magickitty

    Reason why I got married after 8 years of cohabitation and a child on the way?

    Legal guardianship costed $400, and a wedding license costed 0.

    And now I hate it. I don’t hate the alleged husband, because he’s an excellent father and does more than his fair share housework, but I just HATE being married. I feel so trapped. I should have spent the extra $300. :(

  33. HelenJ

    Yes, yes, yes. From the comfort of a happy marriage I know that the ‘what-ifs’ of its limitations will be with me to the end. What will child-rearing, long term relationships look like after the revolution? Hopefully as happy and as comfortable and as fulfilling as the best partnerships can be but without the need to do the ‘what-if’ and ‘if only’ routines (which I think are not only the exclusive preserve of women). IBTP for the way in which social expectations and assumptions result in marriage that confines and limits the potential to take chances and dare to please yourself before everyone else!

  34. Rainbow Girl

    As a member of the doubleX caste bound in a patriarchal union with My Nigel, I have to ask what will most likely come across as a stupid 101 question:

    Supposing I accept the arguments against marriage (and as a twenty-something new generation feminist slowly realizing I may not be able to have it all let’s call that highly likely), and supposing I want to engage (heh) in the solution/revolution…

    …do I have to lose the husband?

  35. Rainbow Girl

    Because he’s really nice.

  36. Twisty

    Well, Niki, I get what you’re saying, but some women can’t leave. Poor women with kids, no job, no prospects, no support system. Such women are literally enslaved.

  37. Spit The Dummy

    I am married and have two children – and I couldn’t agree more with everything that Twisty has said about marriage. It costs me a lot to say that, at this stage of my life after 20 years of marriage and with two children still under 12, but I have come to believe implicitly that I am living a life that is mired deep in the patriarchal shitpile – and what can I do about it now? Dump my kids and husband for my radical feminist beliefs? By god, I am so tempted at times, especially when the patriarchy is getting me down, but mostly I just resolve to live a life with as much radical feminist integrity as I can within this prison I set up for myself when I was young and stupid.

    anon for this one said: All I have to say to women is: whatever you do, do not get married. Because it sucks.

    Good advice. I would add: Don’t have kids, either. They are the ultimate trap. Frankly, if I had the chance to do it over again I’d go the whole hog and be a radical feminist lesbian separatist and try and organise a collective somewhere far from the madding crowd.

  38. Jezebella

    Here’s what I figured out, the hard way: living with a man, without the marriage license, is just as oppressive as living with a man you are married to. I’ve done both. The minute you move in, he expects you to turn into Betty Fucking Crocker. With the live-in relationship, I spent three long, miserable years thinking “haven’t you MET me? did you really think I was going to turn into Betty Crocker?” And then I moved out.

    I think the ideal solution for two people who love each other and want to spend a lot of time together is to either live next door to each other, or else in a shotgun double, with one connecting door. My kitchen, my mess level, my bed, my thermostat, my decor, my computer, MY GODDAMN BATHROOM, and my noise level. The only thing you absolutely have to share is the mortgage. You could even raise kids that way. At the very least, don’t live with a man until you can both afford to split the cost of a housekeeper to do all of the crap he’s going to expect you to do for free.

  39. Panic

    It’s not so easy to leave. A lot of women really do marry for “love” and it’s difficult to give that up, even when the guy is acting like an asshat. If he’s not hitting you, or cheating on you, you spend a long, long time second-guessing yourself, wondering if you’re being unreasonable, wondering if love > self-respect (yes, I really did do that math). In the end, love wasn’t greater, but I was raised to be completely independent. Many women weren’t. It’s still not expected of them. So that makes it, again, harder. It’s not easy to leave someone you care about, at all.

  40. herdottiness

    Here here!!!

    Marriage is so very steeped in the patriarchal tradition that there is currently no way for a woman to entertain the notion of equality in the relationship. Ever.

    Left to do it over again, I would never marry. If I would have had children (and I actually did, two great people), I would have raised them strictly on my terms.

    A woman should decide on a pregnancy fully informed; she should understand she will probably be the only person responsible for the health and economic well being of the child, no matter what. (Mr. Kramer not withstanding.) Its out of our bodies into our lives.

    Men do not/wish not to understand. None of them.


  41. Rainbow Girl

    This is like reading a horror story set in the future. My future.

    If I was the shoot-the-messenger type I’d be so pissed right now.

  42. anon for this one

    Spit the Dummy, I hear you. Every day I thank dog we don’t have children.

    We really need the revolution.

    Jezebella’s solution sounds workable.

    Anyway, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t. But life is complicated, and here we are.

  43. legallyblondeez

    Despite having a “good one” as a partner, being married is all the things Twisty said. I’m afraid of having children and sinking deeper into the wife/mother role, even though I would like to participate in the raising of children.

    Although that time I had a cluelessly entitled roommate was way worse (he seemed to think being gay and able to quote some feminist and queer theorists made him all feminist without him actually having to act differently from straight entitled idiots). Living with or depending on others for essential pieces of your life opens you up to domination, period.

    Changeling has it right that all heterosexual relationships–including non-sexual friendships–are inherently unequal because of patriarchy. Marriage cements one relationship in a patriarchy-approved manner, allowing the participants less fear of the other one leaving and therefore more freedom to walk all over each other. In fact, since I’m the wage-earner I often blithely walk all over him in role-reversing patriarchy reenactment, not noticing until later how horrible that is. Everyone knows who to blame.

  44. Twisty

    As for post-patriarchal child-rearing, I’m fond of Shulie’s utopian sci-fi scenario: ‘motherhood’ is eradicated; kids are not ‘raised’ but instead are allowed full independence in a cooperative of assorted adults; ‘childhood’ ceases to be sentimentalized or romanticized; kids receive fully human status; domination of children as possessions by neurotic parents who have reproduced for self-serving reasons (currently, nearly every reason for reproduction is self-serving) is a criminal act. Etc.

  45. littoralmermaid

    My parents have been divorced for years and I’m 20, so I’m not an expert on marriage. I’ll add myself to the chorus asking what everything looks like after the revolution.
    For now, is it more feminist for two people who want a long-term commitment to each other – whether of the opposite sex or the same sex – to cohabit and be “partners” rather than “husband/wife”?
    I’d assume that even in a post-patriarchy society people would still have children, although it wouldn’t be required or expected. It seems unfair to make the mother bear the entire financial/psychological/medical burden of pregnancy and rearing children alone, so would there be a way for the father (unless it was via parthenogenesis) to help out without slopping back into the oppressive marriage model? I mean, if the kid is half his, shouldn’t he have bear responsibility?
    (Sorry if it seems like a stupid question or attracts a lot of MRAs/FRAs, I’ve only recently learned about the “marriage is oppressive” model and I’m very intrigued.)

  46. magickitty

    Yep, so fucking hard to leave once children enter the picture. How can I live with my three-yr old on $16K/year (that would be a conservative estimate of my current earning potential, but I think I would be lucky to even make that) when I can offer him so much more with my husband’s three-times-as-much income? I can’t do that to my kid. And that’s only one of the minor reasons I won’t leave the marriage.

    It’s easy to encourage someone to leave an unhappy relationship, but you can’t judge unless you know all the facts.

    (Jezebella – love the duplex idea. However, I’d modify it so that the child’s bedroom also adjoined to both parents’ portions of the house – the kid(s) should be able to come and go as they please.)

    (Or maybe no. Dunno.)

  47. H

    Ooh, this thread …. I’ve come over all Philip Larkin, so to speak.

  48. PhysioProf

    “As for post-patriarchal child-rearing, I’m fond of Shulie’s utopian sci-fi scenario[.]”

    I find it really attractive, as well, in part because I was raised by parents who were loving, but otherwise completely incompetent to guide my development. What I like about Firestone’s vision is that children could freely gravitate towards those adults who happen to be good at guiding the development of children.

  49. marc page

    I have been married since 1981, and I could not agree more with the proposition that marriage (like the monotheism that spawned it and continues to enforce it) should be avoided at any and all cost.

    As for families, I think Clifford Odets said it shortly and sweetly (in the ’30s): “Abolish them all.”

  50. Spit The Dummy

    Rainbow Girl siad: This is like reading a horror story set in the future. My future.

    I wish I could lie to you and tell you it wasn’t. I was where you are now. I was young and in love and married to a great guy who “believed in equality for women”. It worked really well when we were both working, I was young and hardly noticed all the extra work dumped on me when we got married. Then we had kids and suddenly I was IT. I was at home and I was doing everything, from servicing the car to all the housework and cooking to being on call 24/7 for everything to do with the baby, isolated at home with no support network and still expected to “give him some space” at the end of his working day so he could unwind. We almost didn’t make it through the first two years after the first kid was born but it got better because I screamed loud and hard and called him a selfish prick and insisted he become a decent human being about it all.

    He’s a great guy so he woke up to himself and became a helpful spouse – a great spouse compared to about 90% of the husbands I hear about regularly. But the truth is that marriage is great for him: as Twisty says, he’s a guy living in a patriarchal system set up to benefit him, while I’m a woman set up in a system set up to screw me over unless I’m willing to immolate myself as martyr for husband and children – and I’m not willing to do that. I want to be a person in my own right and so I do not fit into the current system. I suffer depression as a result, while I struggle to survive the label “wife and mother” that is strangling me.

    I have no words for the mental shock it was for me to be a stay-at-home mother after years of working. As a menial worker in a government office I received bucket loads more respect and validation than I did as a stay-at-home mother. I used to yearn to go back to work so that I could feel good about myself, which should tell you heaps about how little regard is given to mothers on this planet. I’m currently retraining at university and the simple recognition for attending classes and handing in essays is water for my parched sense of self. The greatest horror for me in giving in to the patriarchal institution of “marriage and children” was that I almost lost me.

  51. Layla

    What reasons are there for having children besides self-serving ones?

  52. Joanna

    Wordy word fuckin’ McWord. For as long as I can remember, the idea of being married has horrified me. I watched my mother stifle her spirit and talents, and sacrifice her earnings and retirement in her mistaken allegiance to a cultural ideal that put her at the mercy of a heartless drunk. I swore I would not marry, not have a child unless I could be completely financially responsible for her, and never give up my independence. My daughter is 12, her two dads are married to each other (whatever, it was a great party) and I am supremely happy that the only curly pubic hairs I have to clean out of the bathtub are my own. My mother is finally free to make her living as the artist she has always been. A partnership of equals? sounds great! Marriage? not to be confused with the above.

  53. magickitty

    Crapola. My post upthread should say “$100” for the marriage license. One hunnered.

    Spit the Dummy, I’m glad to hear of your current activities. As soon as my little one is enrolled in all-day school, I’m’a going back to school myself, for the degree I should have taken the first time around. Yet another reason I can’t leave my marriage – I need someone to pay for schoolz.

    Rainbow Girl – I’m sorry. It just sucks. Even if your partner stays “good” and doesn’t descend into patriarchal slovenliness, the daily grind of work, cook, clean, sleep can just wear you down, and it’s so hard to pick up and go, when and if you feel like it. I hope it can be different for you – keep your independence, fight for it tooth and nail, and don’t give a millimetre. The moment you give ground, even if it seems like the best decision at the time, then it all falls apart.

  54. Dawn Coyote

    This describes my now blessedly defunct state of holy fucking matrimony to a P. Mr. Coyote was a depressive who leaned on me for his constant emotional support while directing his frequent rages at me. I was expected to make him look good, work, and produce children. When I became burned out from job stress and suffered a relapse of chronic fatigue, we split up. Two years later, I hear that he is still furious with me for not “keeping up my end of the bargain.” I wish I was joking, but I’m not.

    Although I was trying to get pregnant when I got ill, I am now so releived that I did not have a child with that man, because it probably would have killed me.

    So, now I have a sweet boyfriend who lives a long way from me. I’m planning to move to be with him (he has kids, so the move is more reasonable for me), but I don’t want to marry him or get back into what is essentially a business deal made in a romantic fugue. What should I do?

  55. Zeep

    Thanks, Twisty. I was having this argument this other day, and my opponent suggested that my view was particularly harsh because I remain bitter about a divorce that happened 5 years ago. You’ve given me fresh ammo.

    I spent almost 3 years trying to teach my ex-husband about delegation of responsibility in a relationship. It didn’t take, hence the divorce. I will never marry again because I know now that the number of human beings that can participate in the institution without defaulting to the patriarchal norm is about 9, and none of them live around here.

  56. Patti

    I did the single mom thing (pregnant by my college professor), then got married, had another kid, put my business on hold to raise him while my husband moved onward and upward in his career, got divorced, and now I’m working my ass off, doing all the child-rearing, and mopping up after the crap he pulls with our kid. I find myself thinking “I want a fucking divorce!”, but we’re already divorced. Kids, marriage is forever. You’ll never get the albacore off your back.

  57. Spit The Dummy

    magickitty said: Rainbow Girl – I’m sorry. It just sucks. Even if your partner stays “good” and doesn’t descend into patriarchal slovenliness, the daily grind of work, cook, clean, sleep can just wear you down.

    This is it exactly.

    My husband is a great guy. I bet magickitty’s guy is, too. And yours. The trouble is the patriarchy will get you every time. It grinds you down, year after fucking year until you’re so tired and worn out that you get tired of the struggle.

    The best you can hope for is some sort of attempt at equality within your own personal partnership living as best you can within the wider patriarchal shitpile, which isn’t easy because you will have to make compromises again and again and again just in order to co-exist with it. And guess who will have to pay for that compromise? Hint: it won’t be the guy.

    It won’t be his fault – your guy or magickitty’s or mine – but they will benefit from our patriarchal society while we suffer the fallout, time and time again. That’s just the nature of the beast, of marriage, under patriarchy.

    We know who to blame.

  58. kanea

    There are places that do not have marriage. Amazing as it seems, most of them are gone now. Some have changed like Japan. Japan in ancient times before Chinese and Korean influence, that brought confusionism and Buddhism Japan did not have marriage. They were a matrilineal, matrifocal and polygamous society. Men would visit the homes of the woman, or women he had relationships with. Women would have the man or men she had relationships with visit her house. If a couple was monogamous the man would just stay at the woman’s house living with her only and helping raise children and other work. But that ended with confusionism and Chinese influence.

    However I know of one existing culture that still does not have marriage. The Mosou who live in south west china (formerly Tibet) live on Lugu Lake(in the yuan province). The mosou maybe one of the few matriarchies (matriarchies are still being debated if they exist or ever have) in existence. The mosou are matrilineal matrifocal society. In traditional mosou society there are no fathers. The biological fathers or other people who the mother has a relationship with have nothing to do with her children’s upbringing. Her brother is the one who will be the child’s adult male care taker. The biological father (or fathers, the mosou are polygamous) only visit the woman at night (when she asks them to) and leaves in the day.

    Since the mosou’s land is now Chinese* territory they are subject to Chinese rule. And during Mao’s era the mosou were forced to marry but this ended with Mao’s death and thus the majority of married mosou got divorces.

    I wanted to share with my fellow blamers what a world with out marriage might be like.

    *the chinese group the mouso with the naxi, whom are their neighbors but signigicantly culturally diffrent. so sometimes information on the mouso is actually information on the naxi who are a patralinal patriarchy. just wanted to make that clear to anyone one who searches for info

  59. Mar Iguana

    “I mean an answer for a reasonably sane feminist. Not the Skye Lamont’s of the world. Those types become old ladies eating cat food in retiremnt.” skyscraper

    Whoa! Somebody hold me back.

    And, the answer is “No.”

  60. anon for this one

    Before I married my husband, I made sure he was a good guy. We’d been friends for 20 years. I saw how he lived. I carefully checked out his life and his apartment. I mean, I’m not stupid, OK? He lived alone. He kept his apartment clean (including the bathroom). He didn’t fuck with women. He respected and admired strong women. He cooked and cleaned and did his laundry and kept a decent, if difficult, job. He paid his bills.

    As soon as we were married, he turned me into his servant. All of a sudden, he apparently forgot how to clean or do laundry–he still cooks occasionally. He quit his job and I was forced to be the responsible one (if you knew me, how you’d larf).

    He spends most of his time sitting in the comfy chair, drinkin beer, smokin dope, and watchin movies on DVD.

    I work three jobs and I’m responsible for the bills. I’m expected to do all the cleaning and laundry. And all the kin work. And all the emotional work in our relationship, which I refuse to do, so of course everything is my fault.

    And no–it’s not the work I object to. It’s that I can’t stand being made into a servant. And I don’t believe that if you love someone, you turn them into a goddam servant. And then, you know, I do not feel like having sex with someone who treats me like a servant, because: Not. Sexy. So–no sex. No talking. Just good old fashioned icy WASP politeness. Joy!

    But he’s a good man. He’s nice to me–no cheatin or beatin ferchrissakes. He never says anything judgemental about my personal appearance. And he’s kind, and good to our pets (that I care for and clean up after).

    (Jeeze, Twisty, it’s so hard not to use ellipses–I feel a need for ellipses here.)

    Anyway. It sucks. And it just happened. As every woman out there told me it would. I didn’t believe them, I wish I had.

    But whaddya gonna do? Leave a good, kind, smart, gentle, funny man because he doesn’t do laundry? And it’s me that doesn’t want sex. You see what I’m saying here? You can’t just say, anywhere except here, “Hey. What am I, a servant? How did that happen? WTF?”

  61. cycles

    Another benefit of the sci-fi child-rearing scenario: without families, there would be no notion of carrying on the sacred family line. No one would be pressured into having children. Population down. Less draining of the planet’s dwindling resources. Yay.

    I’ve been told I would be a good parent because I’m creative, energetic, etc. But I don’t want to apply those traits to ushering a child into adulthood. I have other shit I want to do. And people tell me it’s a shame when I say that, because I’d make such a GREAT parent. They don’t seem to get that this scenario limits me to two bad options: either become a neglectful parent who applies her talents elsewhere, or become a resentful parent who gives up her life for the kid and regrets it. Either way, I don’t want to put a developing human being through that hell. And, of course, ironically, that makes me selfish in some people’s eyes.

  62. Rainbow Girl

    It is disquieting that the best marriage advice I’ve heard to date comes from blog commenters under amusing aliases.

    Thanks for your advice, Spit The Dummy and MagicKitty. From what I’ve learned so far, you are right. Part of my willingness to get engaged was my conviction that as a feminist, unequal patriarchal marriage wouldn’t apply to me. Slowly, disturbingly, that has changed.

    Now, the boundaries I selfishly set for myself now are often the only things that make me feel like I’m still an autonomous human being. And no, it’s not him. He really embraces the idea of an equal marriage and puts it in action. But the broader culture sets it up a certain way and you can’t avoid these problems. What I am left with is a situation where I feel like I’m battling him to set those boundaries, including such lines in the sand as “I shouldn’t do things that are totally wrong for me”. Our relationship is paying for cheques we never wrote!!!!

    I am thinking about having kids down the line, but as thirty/thirty-five starts to look younger and younger every year I have huge worries about how that would play out. I hope we can come to an arrangement-I fantasize sometimes about living next door, or in apartments across the hall, or even going long-distance again as hard as that was. Good thing he likes alpha females, I would be in so shit-deep if I had pretended to be anything other than myself right from day one.

    Women, as 101-ers so often point out, are blessed with modern day choices. But I don’t want to choose between. I want everything, just like men get to have, except without having an easy life buttressed by inequality. I want a fair and joyful life, buttressed by my/our ability to imagine and enact what a good relationship should look like.

  63. Dawn Coyote

    anon for this one:

    I thought my husband was a great guy. It took me a long time to understand why I was so profoundly relieved when he left. I just wish I hadn’t fried myself to a crisp trying to be a good wife and partner. I wish I hadn’t self-destructed rather than destroy the illusion to which I clung. He was’t worth the price I paid.

  64. Bitey

    anon: “But whaddya gonna do? Leave a good, kind, smart, gentle, funny man because he doesn’t do laundry?”

    Yes. Or, rather, no. Leave him because he doesn’t care about you, your life, your time, or your soul.

    “You see what I’m saying here? You can’t just say, anywhere except here, ‘Hey. What am I, a servant? How did that happen? WTF?'”

    That’s just the thing to say. How is he–or anyone–going to wake from their testosterone haze unless you speak the hell up? I think one of the things we’re doing here is hipping ourselves to the fact that the deck is stacked in their favor, and they will never even see it unless they have to. Change him, leave him, or let yourself die inside. Those are your choices.

  65. Random Lurker

    I got married to improve my health insurance. Though I don’t have any data on it, I’d wager this is the reason a lot of Americans get hitched. I’d have happily gone through life cohabiting if my health didn’t depend on having a piece of paper saying I was someone’s property. It seems two practical steps toward keeping women out of the marriage trap would be universal health care and closing the wage gap.

  66. anon for this one

    Dawn Coyote, I appreciate that. You know, I’m actually being kinda sarcastic. I mean, I’m trying to say what I think, while including what I think other people will think. OK, never mind.

    Long story longer, these days I think my husband’s kind of an asshole. I’m trying to figure a way out. Things are, of course, since this is the grownup world we’re talking about, complicated. We’ll see.

  67. Bubbas' Nightmare


    Kids, marriage is forever. You’ll never get the albacore off your back.

    Amen, sister. Even when the children are grown you will have to deal with the ex-spouse, and the ex-spouse’s new spouse, and their kids. It’s like having poor relatives that won’t leave your house.

    And I must have missed the school lesson that mentioned “albacores on your back”. Did you mean “albatross”? I don’t even like tuna.

  68. anon for this one

    Bitey, thanks. I really don’t want to hijack this thread into a whole Thing About Me. I appreciate your kindness and wisdom, though.

    I’ve basically gone on strike–I just refuse to do any of his work; I take care of myself and the animals. As in: I do my laundry, not his. If he wants clean clothes, I guess he can get up outta the comfy chair and wash some. So far, my strike has resulted more icy WASP politeness, not any noticeable increase in love or respect.

    I can’t be bothered, actually–life is goddam hard enough as it is without going on some crazy crusade to fix my husband or this stupid marriage. I don’t care at this point. I have too much to do.

    In fact, right now I have to go do a whole lot of freelance work, so a round tacos for everyone and I’ll see ya later.

  69. littoralmermaid

    “kids are not ‘raised’ but instead are allowed full independence in a cooperative of assorted adults … kids receive fully human status”
    I have no idea if my local libraries (university/public) have Shulamith Firestone, but I’m not sure I understand. I assume someone would have to be patient enough to teach the kid potty-training and to change diapers, and take care of the child when he or she is sick. Does allowing kids “fully human status” mean that there are no age restrictions for certain acts/decisions, like driving, starting work, etc.?

    “What reasons are there for having children besides self-serving ones?”
    Maybe some of the mothers in this thread can answer it better than me. Also a lot of people who have kids don’t plan them. It’s theoretically possible that post-patriarchy two people of the opposite sex would have sex, choose not to use birth control/birth control fails, conceive and decide not to have an abortion (although I assume that birth control and abortion would be available to anyone who needs it).

    “They were a matrilineal, matrifocal and polygamous society.”
    There was a discussion about polygamy at feministe, and looking at most of the polygamous (well, polygynous) societies, I don’t think that polygamy is any more pro-woman than monogamy, if not less so.

  70. dilexi

    My favorite marriage/kids arrangement is in Ursula Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed”. Without private property, the idea of obligatory cohabitation sort of falls away (in this situation anyway) and so does the possession over kids.

    I’m not saying that private property = patriarchy, but they are intricately intertwined.

  71. PhoenixRising

    About twenty years ago, as a young blamer in a first-year philospohy course, I wrote a paper (the first of college! 6 pages!) expanding on the themes in point IV, above. (Got an ‘A’ from the crabby old dyke who taught philosophy to young blamers without ever, once, smiling.)

    As an older married lady–yes, my Nigel is a lady also, and yes, I get the better of this deal by a long shot, as the party in the marriage often referred to as ‘sir’ by strangers–I feel it even more strongly than I did when I was just starting out blaming: There is no relationship between two people, in this here patriarchy, that doesn’t succumb to its dom/sub paradigm somehow.

    And yet I say it to my straight married friends whose Nigels are, at least, groovy enough to encourage them to hang out with me ’cause our kids are friends: I don’t know how you make these mixed marriages work. They seem so much harder than any connection between two people should have to be. And there’s no way around it. Guess who I blame?

  72. PhoenixRising

    “What reasons are there for having children besides self-serving ones?”
    Maybe some of the mothers in this thread can answer it better than me.

    Ahhh, maybe not.

    Honestly, most people are raising kids because they had sex. I’m raising a kid I adopted for self-serving reasons, and so is everyone else who adopted even if they deeply, sincerely feel otherwise.

    Yeah, it’s slightly less self-centered that I refused to spend big bucks to create a little me to use more fossil fuels, when there were babies without homes around. There may be a mix of altruistic reasons sprinkled on the frosting over the cake of self-serving reasons, but nobody decided to raise a kid exclusively for altruistic reasons–the math doesn’t work.

  73. roamaround

    “…the way I want to live my life is not compatible with marriage. And you know what? As a hetero girl, sometimes it’s pretty fucking lonely. But I’d rather be lonely than capitulate.”

    Hey yeah!! I am really enjoying all these posts that critique marriage, but am I the only other single, hetero woman out here who is going to point out how rough THAT particular row can be to hoe?

    I know a thing or two about marriage. I am divorced from a millionaire who was a sweet guy but had a very controlling uber-patriarchal family. My youthful good looks snagged him, it seemed like the thing to do, but I soon realized I was being groomed as a brood mare and left. My mama didn’t raise no mares.

    I’ve enjoyed a lot of freedom and am lucky enough to have been able to travel and pretty much live it up. I remember visiting an Aussie friend on one of my carefree holidays. She had married when I did but stayed on and had two kids. Standing in her modest kitchen away from the men, with a screaming baby in her arms and a toddler clinging to her legs, she warned grimly, “Just never have kids.” We have a picture of the two of us on that visit. She’s puffy and exhausted; I’m chic and radiant.

    But my current reality is another story: it is not easy to be a single woman over forty. Some of the woes are financial since we women earn so much less and have to survive on one income. I worry constantly about becoming the old lady eating cat food.

    But the hardest part, really, is not having anyone automatically there. I broke my foot and it was a nightmare trying to get food up the stairs and the dog walked. I have to go alone to work functions where I know I am pitied and/or scorned. I do it and hold my head up, but it’s not easy.

    Maybe the ideal would be feminist collectives, where we could find companionship and solidarity (and look after each others’ kids), without the bonds and binds of marriage.

  74. Marcy

    And you know what? As a hetero girl, sometimes it’s pretty fucking lonely. But I’d rather be lonely than capitulate.

    Amen, sister. You know there are times I really wished I was a lesbian. I just sucks to crave male companionship when you’re a woman living in a patriarchy. It just totally sucks.

  75. Jeanne

    Bless you, Twisty. Like a few of the other folks who have commented on this post, I have been married for almost seven years to a “good guy,” and I agree 100% with every point you made. I feel like I’ve been a feminist my whole life, and despite that, in my early 20’s I fell for the marriage racket hook, line and sinker. And yes, “racket” is the word I use most often these days to express my attitude about marriage.

    I was particularly thrilled by your point IV, about how love can’t hold up under the power differential inherent in marriage. You managed to put into words the ridiculously contradictory nature of two platitudes that are constantly getting bandied around: “I married for love,” and “Marriage is work.”

    I’m going to stick with my good guy for the time being, but I am proud to say that I’m no longer terrified of the idea of ending my marriage if I ever reach a point where I feel I can no longer handle the aforementioned power differential. And instead of being scared of divorce, I’m grateful that it is an avenue that is open to me, because I know there are countless other married women in situations far worse than mine who don’t have the option.

    I decided about a year ago that if I ever do find myself single again, there’s no way in hell I’m ever getting married again. It’s not for me, in large part because of the reasons you outlined above. I shared my decision with my Mom (herself a married feminist and one of my role models) and her response was music to my ears:

    “Me neither.”

  76. Panic

    I just want to thank everyone that has commented here, and has shared stories and particulars about their marriage (something I didn’t do). Even two years after I left, I still question myself. I know I did the right thing for my sanity, and for my worth as a human being taqueau. Sometimes I still wonder “Was it just me? Did I choose wrong? Did I fuck this all up?” But it’s not me. It never was me. I could have written half of these comments, word for word. That is how strongly I identify with these experiences. Thank you all for reinforcing that it wasn’t me. Doubt is evil, and you all have helped me a great deal. I can’t thank you enough.

  77. Anne

    Random Lurker: “It seems two practical steps toward keeping women out of the marriage trap would be universal health care and closing the wage gap.”

    Maybe. Let’s not hold our breath waiting for these, though.

    Reading through all of these comments, I thought about all the readings I’ve done in feminist studies regarding the CR movements/gatherings. All of y’all are sharing your experiences and trying to figure out what to do now that you’ve Realized.

    Great stuff that makes my heart turn.

    Maybe there is a chance for revolution after all.

    Although, we’re all the ones who have, in one way or another, sought out this particular website. There are still a lot of folks who don’t quite get it, in the “Wow, there are systems at play?” sort of way.

    My cousin (age 22) became a wife two weeks ago. She took his last name. The wedding was extremely depressing for me because, as so many of you have shared, the dude does as little as possible while she has been doing EVERYFUCKINGTHING. A ring on his finger won’t change that.

    I have been trying to ease into the conversation of breeding/procreating/having children, as I fear that would only turn out for the worse, but I have no idea how to broach it. She comes from a family of four children and parents who have been married since high school; the shit will be in her genes.

    These people. How do we reach these people? Or do we leave them?

  78. kim

    Here’s my 2 cents.

    — Get married ONLY if you want to and ONLY if you have had time to enjoy being single, to establish a career, and to have lots of relationships with lots of different people. You can’t be afraid to be single.

    — Do not have kids.

    — Hire a house cleaner.

    — Enter the marriage financially independent, with your education behind you, if possible.

    — Don’t settle for anyone who isn’t perfect for you, a feminist, and comfortable with the idea of divorce.

    These things aren’t possible for a lot of people, which is why marriage probably isn’t a good idea in general. I have a great marriage, but I think this is rare.

    I got married to someone who I would have spent my life with regardless – and did it for the health insurance and moving expenses. He’s in the military, a fact that has led to some people telling us that it isn’t possible for either one of us to be feminists (we both strongly disagree with this). In any case, we have a marriage based on equality and it works.

    I agree with Random Lurker – removing legal conveniences from the framework of marriage would subject fewer people to what is essentially an outdated institution, and make it possible for everyone to benefit from the ability to make health care and child care decisions together and on each other’s behalf, and to benefit from tax and estate planning advantages that are currently available only to married people. Also, of course, there has to be universal health care. If my coverage wouldn’t have been interrupted every time we moved, well, I might not be married, despite how awesome my husband is.

  79. kim

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that I hate that some of you feel trapped and sad. I know lots of people in unhappy marriages, and they are consumed by it. For what it is worth, I think it sucks.

  80. yankee transplant

    I’m ready for the revolution. And I’m bringing my daughters with me.

  81. Border Heeler

    A “joke” that a male college professor told me:

    Definition of “wife”: a device you screw on the bed that does the housework.

    The fact that we all “get” the “joke” demonstrates everyone’s true, if buried, understanding of the institution. Straight women all know that marriage is rotten to the core – is rottenness itself – but it is baked in a pastry of romantic fantasy that is too delicious for them to discard, especially when they are starved for love and respect that they have never gotten.

  82. Panic

    – Hire a house cleaner.
    I have huge issues with making other women clean my house. It just seems so exploitive to me.

  83. Spit The Dummy

    Layla said: What reasons are there for having children besides self-serving ones?

    What reasons are there for not having children besides self-serving ones?

    Border Heeler, does your colleague still have all his teeth? If he does, I admire your restraint. I have acquired a reputation as a humourless bitch from my unimpressed reaction to similar jokes told in my presence, but the upside is that I hardly ever have to put up with anybody telling such a “joke” near me these days. The older I get the more I agree with Sartre: “Hell is other people.”

  84. kanea

    “They were a matrilineal, matrifocal and polygamous society.”
    There was a discussion about polygamy at feministe, and looking at most of the polygamous (well, polygynous) societies, I don’t think that polygamy is any more pro-woman than monogamy, if not less so.”

    well, the mosou aren’t polygynous they’re polygamous that’s the diffrence. they also have large families, sisters and bothers all stay in the house as adults and the grandmothers. the children have many uncles and aunts and their mom and granmother looking after them. the point is their love life is separate from their family life. the men that the women are in relationships with are in no way conected to their finnacial well being or social standing. there is no money involved no social contract, when she doesn’t want to see someone anymore she doesn’t invite him over and/or she finds someone new, he doesn’t want to see her he doesn’t show up, he stays at his mother house or he finds someone new.

    also polgyamy could be good for women or bad for women, its how its used. if we wanted to get rid of marriage we’d have to get rid of patralineal decent.

  85. Kyso K

    It’s so nice to have these sentiments expressed from a source not in my head. It helps me understand why I threw away my engagement to a generally lovely man. I think he hopes I’ll change my mind, but I look at the things that are driving me nuts now and I think “this didn’t bother me when we were friends, it’s gonna be worse when we’re married, so what the fuck?”

    Tension levels in the house went down dramatically once I finally said “I don’t want to get married” out loud. Honesty is always the best policy.

  86. Jezebella

    Panic, word. I struggled with hiring a housekeeper. But I FUCKING HATE CLEANING. I realized that if I started eating lunch at home more often, I could afford it. And I’m not MAKING her clean my house, although her choices are clearly limited if that’s the way she’s making money. My lame rationalization: she makes the same hourly wage I do. She doesn’t get benefits or job security, but at least I’m paying her as well as I am paid.

    I feel like a bourgeois asshole sometimes, but I also love having a clean bathroom without ever having to scrub it myself. I guarantee I will never, so help me, live with a man again if he won’t split the cost of hiring a housekeeper with me, or swear to do it himself as well as she does. Weekly.

    It is exploitive. But so is buying anything made in China, eating animal products, wearing leather, and shopping at big-box stores. I’m aware of this. Until someone invents a self-cleaning bathroom, this is my solution.

  87. kim

    Panic – you could hire a man. I get your point, though – but honestly, our house cleaner, who is a woman, has a flexible schedule, gets paid well and seems to enjoy the ability to work unsupervised, while listening to music and watching TV.

    We would rather delegate and pay for housecleaning than find time to do it, as that takes away from time we can enjoy being together.

    Honestly, housework seems to be a big issue in a lot of marriages. How about just taking it out of the equation, at least as much as possible, if you can afford it?

  88. Panic

    I hear ya. I know people who do it also, though they have children and dual incomes and while they’re not well-off, they’re completely overwhelmed at times. For myself, I’d just not do it. Maybe I’m a proletariat asshole!

    Funny thing, I hated cleaning before I got married. I was a bit of a slob, for sure. Then, living with someone who just expected me to clean and left messes everywhere, turned me into some raging anal crazy lady. I’m constantly swiping at crumbs, or drips on the counter. I clean my shower while I’m in it.

    What makes me really nauseated about this behaviour is that my mother has these behaviours as well, but she’s exhibiting them at advanced stages of dementia. She has very little left, but what she has, is the years and years and years of cleaning up after my Dad and I. These are the behaviours she repeats, all day, every day. She can barely talk, but she’s still cleaning.

    THAT is the patriarchy at work. And I’m going to cry about it now. Excuse me.

  89. Border Heeler

    Spit The Dummy: Worse than him being a colleague, he actually was my professor when I was about 19 years old. About a year before I came out. (Hmmm…. but then, I don’t buy the gay male assertion that homo- and heterosexuality are biological/genetic/determined before birth/magically preordained. As long as we’re on the marriage subject, straight women should know: not all Lesbians toe that political line. And it is a POLITICAL line.)

  90. Vilda Dentata (Formerly Shakes)

    My second semester of college I took a course that should have been called “I Blame the Nuclear Family.” This class is one of the biggest factors in my “awakening” to feminism. One of the books we read, “The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap” by Stephanie Coontz, was incredibly eye-opening. She has another book called “Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage” that I haven’t read. Has anyone heard of it?

  91. Pen

    I think this sort of exploitation of women is not limited to marriage, but extends to (almost) all relationships with men. I am not (nor will I ever be) married, however I am in a relationship with a man, and live with him, and have the same goddamn problems with who’s going to wash the dishes, care for the children and clean up after themselves.
    Obviously household labour should be equally divided according to your abilities. My children belong to our house and contribute to household chores. Trying to get my partner to contribute ends up with me treating him like a child, creating lists and star charts etc. it’s wearing, and I shouldn’t have to do ‘teach’ him basic survival skills. We have now come to a mutual arrangement regarding household labour, however I had to fight to get there, and I had to leave him. I deeply resent the culturally inflicted slavery of women. I resent that I am expected to ‘care’ for someone as able-bodied as I am.
    I fight against it, but it’s hard work opening My Nigel’s eyes to the inequity within our relationship brought about by his gender privilege.

  92. Sean

    I’m 19, in college, and don’t ever want to come within a mile of marriage. I tell this to people, and they say that eventually, my opinion will change. Maybe if my rent went up, and I was in some sort of “relationship” (the word itself makes me cringe since the current relationship model is all about giving up a part of one’s individuality), I might consider cohabitation, but probably not. But it’s not just marriage that seems to be such a huge trap. I’ve recently started working full-time at a job that is actually pretty great compared to most people’s (except for the pay) and in an area I love. And I still hate it. 40 hours a week doing nothing but helping someone else get richer. It doesn’t help me–in an individualist, transcendental sorta way–one bit. After a few weeks of this job, a friend of mine who’s also recently started working full-time called me and said, “Sean, could you ever imagine doing this for the rest of your life?” And both of our answers we’re a firm “No.” Marriage is even worse than this–a 168-hr a week job with no pay and no time off. I now plan on becoming an academic and doing whatever the hell I want with my life. But institutions like marriage and the 40-hr work week just make life seem so very shitty.

    And someone mentioned two people making a “commitment” to each other. I have no idea what that word means. Does it mean I’m supposed to stay with someone for one second longer than I don’t enjoy it? Because if it does, I’d rather go read, write, hike, camp, bike, go to a concert, see a movie, visit an amusement park, travel, etc., than ever make a commitment. It’s probably possible to love someone without resorting to patriarchal bullshit, but the answer is never in a “committed relationship.” And I certainly haven’t found anyone yet who I’ve loved that doesn’t believe in such a relationship.

  93. magickitty

    Thanks everyone, for being so open. It’s made me feel a little less miserable. (That’s why we need the forum back! We need to quit cluttering up Twisty’s space with confessions and commiserating.

    Panic – when I can afford it, I get someone in to clean. I use a company that pays its staff well after they take their cut, and who provides some percentage of benefits – very hard to obtain for most cleaners, who work part time. They employ mostly women, but every so often they send a guy along on one of the teams – usually a non-english speaking family member of one of the regular cleaners. So they’re flexible about who they hire, and seem like they help families out when they’re in a spot.

    So that’s how I chose my cleaners, and how I can live with “exploiting” other women. At least the company seems caring enough. And I know a few people who use independent cleaners, usually single moms and older married low-income women, who get paid under the table. These are women who have the basics taken care of, but just need that extra bit to get through the month with a bit of breathing space – and who don’t want to declare the income. As they’ve explained it, they don’t want to accept charity, but they’re happy enough spending two or three hours a week cleaning, in exchange for (upwards of) $25/hr.

    How do I justify it?

    My husband loathes working on his car, so he pays someone else to do it. I loathe cleaning, so I pay someone else etc. etc. If men can feel completely comfortable paying someone (a good wage) to do something they don’t like, then I refuse to feel guilty doing the same.

    (However, IBTP that cleaners don’t get paid as much as mechanics.)

  94. Lara

    “And you know what? As a hetero girl, sometimes it’s pretty fucking lonely. But I’d rather be lonely than capitulate.”

    No fucking kidding. I have actually tried to fantasize about women, and it doesn’t work. I do not even have the luck of having bisexual tendencies. I am doomed to being attracted to men and men only. So…what’s a het girl to do? Every time I crush on a guy, I also think, “but what is he really like?” As Twisty pointed out, and others did too, even if a man and woman do not sign a marriage contract or piece of paper they are still in a power differential. It makes me wonder whether I should even associate with males at all, and this is scary because most of my friends are guys…..ahhhh!!!!
    I can’t tell you how lonely and isolated I feel people. It’s so so hard having the desire to intimately connect with a male only to realize that it is probably going to be fucked up into some dom/sub S&M role play somewhere down the line. Patriarchy manages to construct the most fucked up notions of “love” or “companionship” or “sex.” It’s gotta be the worst thing that happened to humankind…

  95. Jezebella

    Sean, becoming an academic is going to mean more than a forty-hour work week. Also, you should read Ms. Mentor as you move toward grad school and the tenure track. Her book is terrific, but you can get started with her column archive at the website of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Aaaand, now we’ve done it again: Twisty had her blog back for a brief shining moment, and we’re turning it into a forum again. I wish I had mad coding skilz so I could help make the forum go again.

  96. No Blood for Hubris

    You are correct.

    The fish in the sea know nothing other than the sea that surrounds them; sexism is so all-pervasive as to be almost imperceptible to those who operate within its strictures and have always done so.

    Seen another way, big fish know damn well that they can eat the little fish and get away with it. They wish to remain big, thus they keep on chomping.

  97. Lizzie

    I recently turned down my dream job because it would have required that my girlfriend give up her career in order to travel with me. Until then I (as a woman) and never thought of this career thing from a man’s perspective. It never occurred to me how easy it must be to just assume that your career (and other needs) are always more important than your wife’s. But how on earth could you justify this automatic superiority with the love and respect you two are supposed to share? The very idea of “love” in our society is warped by this constant assumption of the male half’s superiority. I turned down the job because I’m in love and if she’s not happy, I’m not happy. What kind of patriarchal “love” thinks that wife = servant is an acceptable situation? Dear lord, but men must be self-centered!

    Thank God I’m gay, that’s all I have to say.

  98. Twisty

    “Thank God I’m gay, that’s all I have to say. ”

    Amen, sister.

  99. malalou

    geesh, am I sorry I read that article. How very Stepford. You can almost hear the collective chorus of the bepenised chiming ‘now that’s how a real woman behaves’… Fucking Puke.

    I never married. I’m 38 & a single mom of a 14 year old. It can be rough w/ no help (I’ve never gotten any) – but it’s worth it to be in charge on my own life. I think it would have been harder had I married. I am also convinced that I am a bettter parent as a single than many are partnered. I’ve enjoyed being a mom, and I’d do it all over again the same way. I have a sane, smart (feminist) son -because he doesn’t have a patriarch to mold himself after.

    I’ve almost been married three times, and it always seemed like a bad idea, so I made a run for it every time and never looked back.

    My advice to anyone thinking about marriage: (Echoing) Don’t do it.

  100. Violet

    As much as men praise their wives for their ability and willingness to perform menial and soul-destroying tasks like ironing and child-rearing, it’s usually a front to conceal their absolute contempt for the woman who fulfills this function in their lives. Like the “skank” who submits to sex in a night club toilet stall, the woman who keeps the toilet bowl sparkling at home is yet another sub-class of species whose “willingness” to take on such demeaning chores is proof of her lowly status. Men often pay lip service to the asanine role a domestic slave plays in their lives with such clichê-ridden hate speech like “She really IS my better half”, but beneath this smarmy, self-effacing facade is an undercurrent of raw hatred.

  101. smmo

    Is it frivolous of me to wonder what Twisty wore to be MoH at Tidy’s wedding? Radical feminist dyke spinster aunts do not do taffeta.

    I am married, and I think marriage is a crap institution. That is not a comment on me or my husband or our relationship, which as such things go is pretty damn good. It is just the truth. I know I wanted to marry for completely stupid reasons that had NOTHING to do with the man in question. Insecurity, competition, the white dress.

    It seems to me that loads of women get married for the wedding part. Maybe if we kept weddings and got rid of marriage people would be more amenable to forgoing marriage?

    I know one thing, I am damn sick of everyone telling me how “lucky” I am that my husband is so involved with our son. As if a man caring for his own offspring is some sort of odd behavior that only the rarest of the breed can manage. I call bullshit.

  102. Ollie

    Panic: Your words about your mother have struck deep. Thanks for that.

    My mother, too, cleans obsessively. I’m the oldest of four children, and all of them but me are still living with the parents. I haven’t lived at home for five years now, and the phone conversations I have with Mama have gone from motherly concern/advice to more of an opportunity for her to vent. I keep trying to get her to come visit me (by herself!) so she can get a break and enjoy herself without having to stress about who’s leaving a mess in the kitchen, but I have realized that she would stress anyway.

    As I am coming into my blaming consciousness (having recently moved in with a Nigel helps clarify things that might otherwise be just theory), I wonder how I can help her. The first thing I can think of is to go home and help her, bu that would only divide the work between two women, not liberate one. All I can do right now is to provide a sympathetic ear for her.

  103. Ollie

    I find it vaguely amusing (in the “its funny now way but I’m sure there’ll be repercussions later”) that as I’m reading this awesome thread on the bogusity (roll with it) of marriage, my Nigel is in the kitchen preparing dinner. Very loudly. I purposely did not procure foodstuffs in my ramblings about town today, nor did I search the cabinets for something to make. I assume the forced clanging of the pots and the “falling shut” of the cabinet doors means that he’s disappointed to have to resort to fending for himself instead of getting to sit in front of the computer, but I got here first. It would be pretty obvious if he demanded we switch places, and he’s more subtle than that. Banging pots about the kitchen subtle.

  104. doorknob

    This post was exactly what I needed at exactly this moment, this evening. You deserve a platterful of homemade tacos for this one.

    I live with my boyfriend, the “m” word hasn’t even come up, thank god, but I feel exactly like you all are describing. Bf is a good man, for whatever that gets you in a het relationship, he does some sharing of the housework, but for him it’s theory. He does what he thinks he ought to do, I do whatever else needs to be done.

    I have the physical resources to leave if he becomes abusive or something, but I’d have to leave the apartment, which I love, and I’m worried that I’d end up with no friends. I’ve had no friends before, I don’t know if I can deal with it now. I feel like I haven’t got the right to complain because I could get myself out of it financially, but the P has resources to entrap even the relatively well off, if not as bindingly.

  105. Patti

    Bubbas’ Nightmare – albacore was a joke. I know it’s albatross around the neck. I combined a twist on albatross with monkey on the back. I forgot a word – it should have been “stinkin’ albacore”.

    I detest cleaning. I’m a single mom and can’t afford a cleaner, but I’m watching my life get used up by everyone else’s needs, and I refuse to keep the house as clean as I would like it.

  106. winna

    But he’s a good man. He’s nice to me–no cheatin or beatin ferchrissakes. He never says anything judgemental about my personal appearance. And he’s kind, and good to our pets (that I care for and clean up after).

    How heartbreakingly sad is it that we have such low standards for what is a ‘good man’? I could have said the exact same thing about my husband, before I fled screaming.

    I am not financially secure. I get very lonely. But I will never again put myself in a situation where my happiness depends, even in part, on a person whose position in our social hierarchy will perpetually be above my own.

    Marriage is a bad, bad plan. I left my husband because I couldn’t stand being trapped any longer. He thinks I left him because I was cheating on him. I left him because I couldn’t recognize who I was any more, and I didn’t like the person I had become.

  107. ruby

    The revolution begins at home for me. I’m a single mom who started my own business when I became pregnant with my daughter. The “father” wanted nothing to do with me after an 8 year “relationship” and it was the best that could have happened. Yes, it’s hard being a mother without a partner but it has to be much easier than taking care of one child and one azzhat. And yes, it’s hella lonely. I’ve been celibate since I found out I was pregnant, ten years ago. And not for lack of offers. The thing is that as soon as my girl was born men became repulsively entitled selfish brats. Why didn’t I see it before? Sadly I did, I just put up with it. Marriage? I seriously doubt it.

  108. thebewilderness

    The albatross goes around your neck. The albacore goes on your back with the monkey.
    I like the community model of extended family childrearing Firestone proposes in “The Dialectic of Sex”.
    I have thought for some time that marriage contracts should expire at either three or five years. That should be plenty of ‘commitment’ for any sane person.

  109. communicatrix

    Sweet Baby Twisty!

    A huge “amen” from the amen corner. Been there, done him. I’m a hetero lass, signed on to a “progressive” marriage at 29, then universally reviled for setting myself free at 37. And even now, almost 10 years later and so much wiser, I occasionally mull over the thought of co-habitation–dreamily, yes, and in the soft focus that indicates some kind of early and unconscious induction to the ranks of the pod people, but there it is.

    Ladies! Reserve dominion over your principessa-lity! Do not cave! Therein lies the road to ruin!

    No matter how progressive, how liberal, how freethinking, how marvelous they are, those mens are a product of the patriarchy, just like you. Sorry. Game over: you lose.

    (That said, if there are any foreign national mens interested in swapping health care for resident status, I am all ears.)

  110. niki


    I understand that there are a lot of women who are poor and uneducated and struggling, etc.

    However I also know a few mothers of babies born of drug-addicted fathers who are now in jail, and babies born of homeless and very young mothers and so forth where the mothers have had to work unbelievably hard to make it work but still managed to care for themselves and their kids in the heart of a big city without a man. These women walked away. Yes, it takes facing up to situations I can’t even comprehend, and it’s a fortitude hardly common, but is it better to stay?

  111. niki

    Sorry, here’s another one: My father passed away 2 years ago. He was a great father and, to my knowledge, a fabulous husband as well. My mother had a good 30 years, thought she was set for life, and now she has to figure out how to be a single female in the 2000’s.

    Luckily they were both independent individuals even in the marriage and although she had a rocky foster childhood and minimal education, my mother is a financial wizard. She does her own thing now. She doesn’t want to be in love ever again. I applaud her decision because I recognize she’s from a generation where women felt they had no other options and, although we miss my father, I am enjoying watching my mother become a completely independent person.

    I wish this sort of self-actualization for everyone in this blog who has expressed discontent with their situations.

    Oddly, despite the golden model of marriage that my parents presented, I never wanted the hubs or the babies. And I’m straight and quite often in love. But not a financial wizard, alas.

  112. littoralmermaid

    Sorry lost track of who said this first:
    “…the way I want to live my life is not compatible with marriage. And you know what? As a hetero girl, sometimes it’s pretty fucking lonely. But I’d rather be lonely than capitulate.”
    How did you say what I’m thinking?

  113. insaan

    It can be lonely for us non-dude beta-males who are hooked on IBTP, too. Maybe there should be a post-patriarchal personals site. (And Twisty, all kinds of non-Christian amen!)

  114. MM

    Well worth looking for on the internet – The Politics of Housework. It’s a short essay that describes how and why relationships that start off as equal descend into patriarchal hell.

    I have observed over and over that a guy can experience a blissfully happy marriage while his wife experiences the marriage as miserable. And the comments here made the answer plain as day: his enjoyment is at her expense.

    I Blame the Patriarchy.

    Twisty and everyone here really brighten my day. Thanks for being here.

  115. Toonces

    Count me as among the sometimes lonely het gals. But I look around my lovely house, and my space is my own. I look in my art studio, and see a painting on the easel I have all my time in the world to finish, because I don’t have to act as caretaker to a man who now assumes I am his personal slave and sexbot. I look into my fridge, and see all the good-for-you organic produce that I make into lovely meals for myself when I am hungry, not when someone else is. I sleep in a big lovely bed that I can sprawl out in, hog all the blankets in, and fart loudly in without some husbandthing giving me looks of horror and disgust.

    I also know myself well in that I think marriage would be something I would eventually walk out on. I lived with a man for 6 months, and it ruined the relationship. I was the domestic servant who did all the cleaning, laundry, meal preparation and grocery shopping. He worked at his construction job during the day and at night came home, ate the meal I prepared, and then retired to his music room to drink beer and play guitar. The older I get, the more I look around me and realize there just aren’t many fabulous, feminist men who really want to be with a woman who has brains, ideas, opinions, and a strong sense of her own self-worth. Once I remind myself of that, suddenly I don’t feel as lonely. I just can’t play the game of settling anymore.

    I consider the fact that I get to live my life for myself as a true gift. There is much to be done. To waste my life on being a man’s housekeeper while giving up my dreams and goals just seems kind of nuts. It would be lovely to have a true life partner, but given the sampling of men I have come across over the years, well, let’s just say you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Naturally, IBTP.

  116. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    Fabulous post, great comments! How did I ever survive before stumbling across IBtP??

    Not much to add, just chiming in with the ‘wishing I were gay don’t make it so crowd.’ And still toughing out the single route in spite of the loneliness. It really helps to know others are walking that path.

    One place I seem to differ from other posters is that being 40-something with the clock ticking loudly, and in spite of having three nieces I absolutely adore, I still find myself in that wanna-be-a-mama-but-not-a-frickin’-WIFE frame of mind. Maybe I’ll get over it, but I find myself imaging a scenario similar to what someone else described:

    Maybe the ideal would be feminist collectives, where we could find companionship and solidarity (and look after each others’ kids), without the bonds and binds of marriage.

    Maybe if enough of us are wishing, the energy to make it happen will follow.

  117. Kev

    I read this post with hearty agreement. I am not married, but am long-term-partnered to a *good* man, and I am the mother of two daughters. The fact that I did not marry, and did not take my partner’s last name, seem such paltry little resistances in the face of this overwhelming system. Who did I ever think I was kidding?

    As others here have pointed out, it is not straightforward, the business of leaving, although I wish I could, and I may yet. I also feel deeply for all those women who have even fewer choices than I do. And I worry for my daughters. I’ll do all I can to ensure that they feel able to make real choices in their lives. But the patriarchy is much bigger and nastier than I am, and I fear it will get them too. Well, as if it hasn’t already.

    Honestly, I don’t know, at this point, whether to find comfort in the shared experiences of so many women here, or whether to despair yet further because we are all in the same creaking boat, which we seem to help keep afloat by our every action.

    Can we start that revolution now, please?

  118. Nausicaa

    Nope, I don’t agree with you (and usually I do).
    Look, I completely despise all this stuff associated with marriage you mentioned – this notion that married people should fullfil different roles. It caught my attention especially lately because I’m married myself and I was surprised and sometimes enraged (and sometimes it’s just funny :-)) to find that people think that we have this kind of marriage ourselves – i.e. that I’m responsible for cleaning more than my partner, for example. But that just isn’t so. Really. And this is not one of those pseudo-feminist rebuttals in style “Each of us does what he likes or what he can”, etc – and actually somehow it’s always the woman who does the most, and men never seem to like tedious tasks like ironing or dusting. No, we really just share all the shores between us, and we really do the same amount of work. And if we ever have a child I don’t see it as my responsibility and have no plans to stay at home and be his primary caregiver.
    So it’s just two people living together. Married (for many small reasons it was beneficial to register it officially). And as we both don’t have a lot of family it helped us immensely to be able to be there for each other. That’s just not the same kind of support you can get from a friend.
    So I don’t think there’s something fundamentally wrong with marriage/living together as a couple. The problem is with the idea of how marriage should work. And gay marriages for this reason imitate the traditional ones, cause this idea is that there coldn’t be REAL marriage without one person being subservient to the other .

  119. Spit The Dummy

    Nausicaa said: No, we really just share all the shores between us, and we really do the same amount of work. And if we ever have a child I don’t see it as my responsibility and have no plans to stay at home and be his primary caregiver.

    So did my husband and I in the beginning. I wish you better luck when/if you have kids – they really expose the patriarchal tendencies in a male partner. Especially once you’re good and trapped by a couple of kids, lack of current experience in the work-place and an increasing lack of confidence and self-respect reinforced by society’s true opinion of mothers.

    So I don’t think there’s something fundamentally wrong with marriage/living together as a couple.

    Of course there isn’t. Patriarchy just screws it up. It’s hard to try and live up to an equal partnership ideal when you live in a world that automatically ensures the male patrner’s superior status in any heterosexual relationship.

    I don’t know how old you are but when I was first married I was young and idealistic (21) and I thought I could move mountains, so the patriarchy held no terrors for me. I figured I could live my own equal relationship within its frontiers while I fought for greater equality for my sisters. Ha! I’m 43 now, older, damned tired of fighting the patriarchy within my relationship and feeling that if I haven’t lost the entire war then I’ve certainly lost some significant battles.

    And I know for a fact that if this current relationship ever ends, I’m never having another relationship with a man EVER again. I’ll either find a woman to love or I’ll remain single for the rest of my life, but no more men. Been there, done that. Ain’t prepared to do that much compromising ever again.

  120. arlene

    Meh, I’m happily married. He cooks and takes care of the garden, I clean and do laundry, we both work from home and we get along great. Sometimes compromise is a whole lot easier than fighting just for the sake of fighting.

  121. pyramus

    “And gay marriages for this reason imitate the traditional ones, cause this idea is that there coldn’t be REAL marriage without one person being subservient to the other.”

    What exactly do you know of gay marriages?

    My partner–a dude–and I–another dude–are getting married in a few weeks: we live in Canada and we can. We’ve been together for twenty years, so we’re not doing it for the usual media-fueled hetero reason of being dreamily in love with no idea of what’s coming. We’re doing it because otherwise, in a patriarchal society, we have no way of making sure that we get to define our relationship in our terms. Because otherwise, if I get hit by a bus, my asshole father gets to swoop in and take everything because he’s a blood relative and my other half isn’t. Because otherwise, if he’s lying in an irreversible coma, his unhinged relatives get to be in the hospital room–AND I DON’T, on their say-so–making all the medical decisions.

    We divide the housework however it needs to be divided. He irons better than I do, so that’s his job (usually). I don’t like the way he does the dishes, so those are mine (usually). We just figure it all out as it comes up, and we make it work. And even after twenty years, we’re still in love.

    So how about you not tell gay people what their marriages do or do not entail, okay?

  122. Anna

    I live on the opposite side of the planet from my husband (13 time zones and counting) and quite enjoy this version of marriage. By the time I’m back in the same hemisphere with him, we’ll have been apart for a year. This came about because I wanted to live in Australia, he didn’t, and voila, here I am. Cuz that works for us.

    However. Just last week I was blamed for my husband’s flat being dirty. Just last week.

    I’ve *NEVER* seen it. He moved to Canada *after* I moved to Australia.

    Yup, still my fault. Cuz, see, I’m the “wife”.

    Stupid patriarchy.

  123. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Twisty, you’re preaching to the choir in my case. I observed at painfully close range the marital antics of my parents, all four of my sisters, various friends and relations, and let me tell you, some mistakes you don’t have to make yourself. My temperament precludes connubial bliss.

    And to be honest, I’ve always been happiest without a strong male presence in my life. The day my father died felt like getting out of jail to me. If something happened to separate me from my longtime significant other, I’d be sad for a while, but I wouldn’t go looking to replace him.

    It’s almost always a financial struggle living with one paycheck, but it’s worth it. I’d rather be thinking about where the money’s going to come from to re-roof the house than plotting to grease my husband’s house shoes and send him down the basement for a jar of strawberry preserves.

  124. CD

    ah, marriage. i’ve written against it several times, my big post on it got plenty of angry responses. i’m with twisty and the rest of the blamers who say: avoid it. i still remember, back when i was all comfy and middle class and pseudofeminist, how shocked i was to realize that the legal system was completely patriarchal and didn’t give a shit about abused women. marriage costs woman, over and over and again and again and forever. how crystalizing it is to come to understand that in truth.

    my ex? a “good liberal.” a “working man,” a “family man.” there’s little to complain of him- if you’re another man. but all those virtues went out the door when it came to how he treated “his” woman. oddly, few wanted to believe me when i related how i was abused. you don’t appreciate the vileness of the patriarchy until you are told that your broken face and ruined credit/empty bank account are “your fault” despite any actual action to create them on your part. by those who “love” you.

    my sister has a “happy” marriage, and i’m watching her sacrifice her integrity, creativity, energy and individuality upon the altar of being a “good” wife. it’s sad, once upon a time she was such a shining and inspirational person. but in order to remain “happy,” she must needs put the desires and sensitivities of her men (sons and husband) before anything in her own life, always and forever. if this isn’t slavery, i don’t know what is.

    and breeding? please. there are literally billions of impoverished and unwanted children in the world, and american children have the blood of the rest of the world’s young on their little pitty pats. no, really, they do. every plastic toy and sailor suit bought to adorn some soft, pampered american child comes at the cost of innocent blood. in slave factories in china or central america, in destroyed ecosystems offered up to feed the moloch of american consumerism, in dark pits where children labor to bring you the least expensive shiny thing on a shelf in wal-mart. if you want to feel a “lifegiver,” adopt one of the millions and millions of children who are the victims of the vampirism of consumerism, and let them try their hand at living in something other than slavery to patriarchy’s primary modus operandi, hierarchical capitalism.

  125. Kim

    I don’t entirely agree or disagree.
    I do think, however, marriage has progressed beyond the bleak picture painted by Twisty here. Frankly, very few married folks I know fall into any of the categories presented in this post.

    There is still this pressure or myth that women can “Have it all.”
    I don’t think they can.
    That part of the post, yep, I agree.

  126. Mr. Man

    Twisty said: “Well, Niki, I get what you’re saying, but some women can’t leave. Poor women with kids, no job, no prospects, no support system. Such women are literally enslaved.”

    Enslavement is embraced by those who have accepted this position under the weight of their own complacency, denial, lethargy, apathy, and a myriad of other reasons. If you want to truly empower those who are “trapped”, always give them something more than a few sour words.

    I agree with many of your statements and can understand your anger. I can’t stand “asshole misogynist alpha-prick” men either. Machismo drove me out of sports and martial arts. This sort of man truly makes me sick.

    Re: Marriage – My wife kept her own name. She’s independent, intelligent, successful, and doesn’t take shit from anyone…especially me. We share the thought that courtesy and respect is of the utmost importance in any relationship. We also agree that life is whatever you make it (and that includes marriage). Apologies for the cliché. She is not my property nor will I ever treat her as such. After all, she is my friend and not just some walking vagina/checkbook.

    Keep shaking things up. I don’t want to live in a world of sheep and I like being challenged when it comes to ideas and philosophy.

  127. CD

    reading comments up (i can comment more than once on a post, right?) i notice that a lot of the “we’re happy” folks seem to use the word “compromise” and similar terms. i wonder if this would be the case in a discussion by patriarchs on this subject, somehow i doubt it.

    also, let me bear my teeth a tad:

    It can be lonely for us non-dude beta-males who are hooked on IBTP, too. Maybe there should be a post-patriarchal personals site. (And Twisty, all kinds of non-Christian amen!)

    wow. so much in one little comment i could scream. you’re “lonely?” look at this violin i’m playing. it’s so small. the soul crushing, millinnia old, universal lonliness of women that is related here, and a patriarch chimes in to remind of us of his needs. paramount, they are. let us not forget. and sex! we need to always make sure the male porn space is available. even when we’re in an uberfeminist space run by a dyke. even on a post about emptiness of marriage. the penis and its satisfaction are the most important thing in the world and must never, ever be discluded. let’s save twisty some time: ladies, which of you is ready to satisfy his need? it’s your duty, you know.

    i’m sure you’re a nice guy, isaan. IBtP for my outburst, i hope you can too.

  128. SourDad

    Hey for the “modern” man marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. We’ve both made huge careerer sacrifices which at current has me as a full-time dad, and part time CC adjunct. Sure it’s nice that my wife makes the bacon, but I’m the one that cooks it, all the while being reminded of what a bad house keeper I am. So what it it’s true…

    It’s sure not non-stop sex or a free meal ticket either way. Rant off I have to go switch the laundry before I start the floors.

  129. Feminist Avatar

    Anna: this actually made me laugh out loud.

    I really enjoy being married, although I agree entirely with everything Twisty said. I make compromises within my marriage but then so does my husband. We got married because it made financial sense and because we wanted to. I am sure we probably fall into that intellectual hippy style marriage. I would say though that doesn’t stop the patriarchal grief and I sometimes have to call my partner on his BS but then he has to do the same with me.

    I also wonder how much of the pressure to be the perfect wife/housekeeper is self-imposed. As my partner and I both work more than fulltime hours, our house is often messy, which doesn’t really bother us- but it is me who worries what his (immaculate) family think when they come to visit- even though, to my knowledge, they have never commented on our lifestyle. My own family are messier than me and my mother did minimum housework her whole life- my father usually did it.

    For Sean: working in academia is a lot more than forty hours a week and a lot of pressure, even if it is fulfilling and you do have a degree of flexibility. And if you are really lucky, like me, for the first few years of your career you will be so poorly paid that you will clean people’s houses for extra cash. How many cleaners do you think are out there with a PhD?

    On Stephanie Coontz’s Marriage: A History- its on my reading list so I haven’t yet got round to it- but I have read a lot of reviews. My feeling is she is quite good on the modern day, but her history is not great. My reading of the reviews is that she argues that love is a modern invention, whereas I (and many other historians for the last thirty years) argue that love has always (? certainly within the written record) existed, but that is not to say that love and power are separated- I argue they are intricately connected.

  130. TinaH

    Maybe the ideal would be feminist collectives, where we could find companionship and solidarity (and look after each others’ kids), without the bonds and binds of marriage.

    Kate & Allie, anyone? One of my close girlfriends and I, both of us are having to “work” at our marriages, joke about doing the Kate & Allie thing. I figure that we could move in together, raise our kids together and if either of us needed a man to scratch a particular itch, we could simply go find one.

  131. Loosely Twisted

    Amen Twisty.

    One question: After the divorce, and after the patriarcy has mushed you up and spit you out, how do you move forward?

  132. Panic

    Agreed. It is a gift. I feel that much like you do. Esp about all the good stuff in the fridge. I have never been healthier than I am now, as divorced person. Somethings shake you up and make you think straight (pardon the pun).

    Sometimes compromise is a whole lot easier than fighting just for the sake of fighting.
    I’m happy that you have a great marriage, but to assume that the rest of us who didn’t, didn’t attempt compromise? Well, did you read this thread? We compromised with him, with ourselves, with society, with our ideals, until there was nothing left. There are a lot of smart, rational folks here, and I really don’t think they fight just for the sake of fighting.

    Mr Man is a good example of the fundamental disconnect we’re looking at in this thread. He sees “ideas and philosophy.” We’re talking about our lives. Men see our lives as abstract concepts. Awesome. Sign me up for more. :\

  133. fishboots

    Long time listener, first time caller!

    I am a married, stay-at-home, husband name takin’,engagement ring wearin’, Christian white (practicaly transluscent) woman (CWW). And I say, BULLY FOR YOU! I have never understood everyone’s need to feel like their choices can only be validated by everyone else making the same one.

    I like being married. I need that permanent bond thing, emotionally. That’s my speed. I drive in the carpool lane. I cannot say it’s for everyone, and I don’t understand why the same people that think marriage is the BEST THING EVER! won’t let gay people share teh married joy. Gay people couldn’t possibly screw up the institution of marriage any more than the Hetero amoung us already have. I do think that there are many people that shouldn’t get married, if only to spare their would be partners the misery, and then the rest society from having to listen to them bitch about their divorces. And there are those that function best autonomously. Alot of days I wish I was one of those. But I’m not…I love babies, and kids, and my husband, and my basset hound. These things make me happy. The trick in life, I think, is fining what satifies your needs. God* makes all kinds.

    The only thing would add that may be controversial is that children need continuity and stability. But honestly, however that can be achieved, as long as it is, I think kids do just fine.I believe that many of societies “ills” can be laid at the feet of the lack of support families in this society have. Children need to feel safe to thrive, and constant changes in their enviroment aren’t the ideal. Health care, child care, fully supported school funding, these are the things people that are actually concerned about the “family unit” would support.


  134. V.

    In addition to marriage, we need to do away with the construct called ‘romantic love.’ It is, for women, a conflation of erotic attachment and actual love. This is what drives women into marriage, and then the patriarchal power structure traps them.

    I agree with Twisty. The benevolence of real love, which is, in part, wanting to support the other person’s being, ideals and goals, and wishing them only success and the goodness of life, cannot survive marriage.

    And of course, I assert that under the patriarchy, men cannot love women.

    I, too, wish I was not heterosexual.

  135. Debby

    Hell yeah, Twisty! As the child of divorced (from each other) divorce attorneys, I grew up knowing that marriage existed primarily to economically control women.

    Now, fast forward several years, and I’m married. Meh. I met a guy I loved, we were together for 10 years, and now we are married. I invoke the brilliant Twisty principle from the Spinster Aunt explains Patriarchy post of, “eh, you do what you do to get by”

    In fact, a lot of awesome feminist women I know have recently gotten married: for health insurance, for the big happy party, for immigration and other state-related reasons, to please grandparents, whatever.

    Honestly, if you are already so conventional as to be in a heterosexual cohabitational relationship, it doesn’t seem to make you any more lame to be in a state-sanctioned one. Marriage, as it is lived in my privileged little educated middle class urban bubble, isn’t a big deal.

    It’s the kids thing that screws everything up. Suddenly these feminist women are having babies, and telling me that it “just doesn’t make sense to keep working.” They are telling me that it is somehow a radical choice to become completely economically dependent on their partners while they sacrifice their careers and self-sufficiency to raise little Chloe or Enid or whoever. In fact,they assert it is noble and radical to devote oneself selflessly to raising one’s children rather than selfishly pursue and maintain their own self-sufficiency. Somehow devoting their entire lives to making sure that only organic vegetable cross their beloved babies’ lips is truly enough for them, and they willfully ignore the fact that they are totally and completely dependent on their husbands for all of their material possessions and necessities. They do not realize or do not think about how when their husbands decide to stop providing these things, they and their precious offspring will be fucked.

    What gives?

  136. Silence

    Single here. No — I’ll say it. A spinster. What a fucking ugly word. You know you’re living in a patriarchy when there are ugly connotations connected to a word for single women and none to the word for single men.

    And that, my fellow blamers, is one reason why women are so eager to marry. Marriage represents (to society) a graduation to adulthood, to personhood. Ironic, because as many poster here have pointed out, they felt that their personhood was stifled during their marriage.

    But for a woman, the flipside, singlehood, means opening yourself up to ridicule or pity. I’m in my mid-thirities, never been married, struggling to start a small business, and none of my more distant relatives give a shit about me because I’m not married. My aunt and uncle didn’t even know when I received an MA in history becuase they barely ever bother to talk to me, and when they do, they do it in a way that implies I’m still a child because I never Caught My Man.

    Well, back in my twenties I had ideas about ‘getting a man.’ Fortunately for me, my roomate in college was even more determined to catch a man and succeeded first. I went to her wedding, and the priest married them and told them to face the congregation. The priest said: “May I present Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.”

    Just like that, in an instant, my friend vanished. She was no longer herself, but an appendage to the man standing in front of us. I don’t know why it shocked me so much, but those words made me think a lot. They made me very wary of marriage. And with reason. My one cousin, a guy, married recently. He’s a nice fellow, but when his mother asked him if his wife was going to take his name he replied: “Well, she’d better!” in a tone of great indignation. Yeah. How dare she consider NOT taking his last name. How dare she insist on remaining herself. It’s so steeped in patriarchy that I don’t know how anyone imagines their marriage can be the exception. At best, I think some marriages are slightly less spattered with shit than others are.

    I don’t want to accuse anyone. And I don’t want to say any one choice is more valid than anyone else’s. What I want is respect for all the choices a woman can make. But under the patriarchy, you’re screwed whether you decide to be married or single. And it sucks.

  137. whyme63

    MM–and everyone;
    The Politics of Housework, by Pat Mainardi:


    “Housework? he said. Housework? Oh my god how trivial can you get? A paper on housework.”

  138. Mr. Man

    “Mr Man is a good example of the fundamental disconnect we’re looking at in this thread. He sees “ideas and philosophy.” We’re talking about our lives. Men see our lives as abstract concepts. Awesome. Sign me up for more. :\”

    Of course I realize this concerns lives and not just some abstract thought. I didn’t mean to imply that you are merely false data absorbed by my existentially twisted brain. :-) The point is, it starts with an idea or philosophy, then you break it down, analyze it, and rebuild it into something you can use in a more practical application (ie. your lives). I like Twisty’s dismantling of the bullshit archetype and hope that it challenges everyone into more thought as it has done for me.

    I am not fundamentally disconnected and also find fault in your generalization of all men seeing your lives as abstract concepts. That’s pretty close-minded, don’t you think?

    Anyway, try to avoid becoming humor-impaired and make your life a good one. :-)

  139. Claire

    Reading the comments about loneliness when you’re a single hetero female reminded me of a poem I wrote before I met my partner. It was my way of saying that even though I was without the shelter of a relationship, I had greater freedom of action. Here’s one verse.

    I would rather be a proud and vicious warrior
    Than a spinster crying in her tub.
    You build your castle
    And I will win the land.
    Let me not envy
    The safety of your keep.
    I have the tavern’s warmth.
    Let me not envy
    Your shelter in a war.
    My armour has been tested
    And it holds strong.
    Does yours?

  140. the Reverend B. Dagger Lee


    Bridezilla strikes again!

    Dude, despite all the drama of comas and buses, the Patriarchy has given you two choices: Get married or Live in Sin. You are choosing to get hitched.

    What if there’s more than apples and oranges?

    And what if there’s something inside that Trojan Horse?

    Also, dude! Read the FAQ!

  141. Panic

    try to avoid becoming humor-impaired
    “Feminists have no sense of humour”

  142. the Reverend B. Dagger Lee

    I’m keeping my marriage fantasy, though. Miss Patsy and I go on a really really long crime spree in my grandma’s 1961 Buick, ending up in Niagara Falls where we force the Justice of the Peace to marry us and then we climb inside a barrel and rock and roll over and into the sunset.

  143. eggbert

    What single woman isn’t afraid of living alone and without the “support” that marriage (allegedly) entails? What single, child-free woman doesn’t envision a future for herself that involves a State Nursing Home and discount catfood?

    There’s this intense fear of loneliness, isolation, and poverty that drives people to pair off, and that fear is cultivated in nearly every aspect of the media and in every “concerned” comment made by family members, and it is no surprise that women end up actually believing that it is impossible to have a support system unless you are appended to a man and slotted neatly away in the nuclear family filing cabinet.

    This, I think, is one of the most tragic things about marriage and our heteronormative culture. You know why? Because we don’t HAVE to be alone! In fact, if people weren’t cordoned off with their precious “me and mine” and beholden to husbands and housekeeping and the bonds of nuclear family, people-women-could support one another. The institution of marriage is what circumscribes our support system so tragically. It isolates us, makes us dependent on itself, and encourages us to replicate it. Isolated in families, we are more vulnerable and less likely to chum it up with the gals. OR get too chatty about changing the craptastic status quo.

    An alternate narrative: My mother’s single friend dated men and cohabitated with men for much of her adult life. One New Years Eve about ten years ago, she announced that she was saying To Hell with Men. We toasted her, my dad thought she was just “giving up”, and then life moved on. Last year, she and five friends, all of them single or divorced, purchased a large plot of land in rural Kansas. They divided up the land and are building their own houses on it. They intend to retire there, ensconced in their idyllic, self-created support system. I get misty eyed when I think of the courage and foresight of these women. While many of their married friends will be alone in old age or trapped in crabby matrimony, they will be picnicking and laughing and drinking mojitos.

    Already, in my mid twenties, most of my friends have been lost to marriage or cohabitation. My best friend cries herself to sleep at night because her husband harasses her mercilessly about her “baby weight” and the condition of their house. Another one is trapped in an abusive relationship with two kids and a possessive, violent dude who kicks her like a dog. She won’t leave “for the children.” Still others are loudly happy about their relationships. But all of them are absorbed in marriage, and as the institution demands, they have traded their large and generous group of supportive friends for a single close relationship with a man.

    Pretty soon I think I will be the only one standing. Where is my farm? Where are my friends? Where are my mojitos?

    Yes, and as always, I love your writing Twisty! Thank you for posting and for mentioning the iconic Betty Page haircut.

  144. RP

    Dang, first my mom says that I’m a reincarnation of a “hippie dude” (something to do with my uncolored hair and messy house, I’m sure) and now Twisty says that the dude and I are hippie child-free folks. I seriously have to stock up on patchouli.

    I think the dude and I are well-matched, and I reflexively refuse to do more housework than him. Most of the time we’ve been married, I’ve made more money than he does, and surprisingly, that *does* make a difference. And not having kids not only gives me the silence and relaxation I crave, it also eliminates a huge category of shitwork that would devolve on me.

    But even with the best intentions, the patriarchy still whispers in all our ears, making me feel bad about the aforementioned messy house (when I lived by myself, I did clean more, but I’ll be damned if I clean up after two people!) and making him ignore messes that women have been trained to focus upon. It takes conscious resistance all the time, but that’s a lot more enjoyable than succumbing to the idea of Sexy Housework Robot. And I prefer him to be my partner-in-crime/ next-of-kin to any relative. (Of course, real progress would be to allow people to name their own next-of-kin, married or not. That plus health insurance would have me living happily unmarried with the dude.)

  145. the Reverend B. Dagger Lee

    Rah rah blessings on eggbert! Great analysis.

  146. Weeze

    My husband and I have separate homes about four hours apart, and spend about half of our time together. I can’t imagine being married without a place that is entirely my responsibility and my possession. He used to complain that he felt like a guest in my apartment, to which I replied, in essence, “damn straight.”

    Of the people who are cognitively dissonated by this arrangement, the men among them invariably say, “I could never do that.” The women say, “I would love to do that.”

    Oh, and I’m having a male guest stay overnight while my husband is away this August, and this guest just wrote asking if my husband will feel weird knowing there’s a strange man in “his” home. IBT fucking P.

  147. CD

    Pretty soon I think I will be the only one standing. Where is my farm? Where are my friends? Where are my mojitos?

    they will come back to you sans men and babies, some of your friends. you can make new ones at places like this. i would alter the scenario to reflect coming economic realities (i don’t know how old you are but i’ll assume it’s a few decades before you reach Crone stage); the commune i’m planning with my gay friends is very similar but we’ll share a smaller number of buildings for energy conservation purposes.

  148. Vera

    Each time I read a Twisty essay I nod and think to myself “yup; she’s hit the nail on the head again.” But how did you do it this time? It amazes me that this is written by someone who has not personally withstood the soul-numbing experience of marriage:

    A married woman’s value is assessed according to the success with which she assimilates and performs wife-and-mother behaviors. These behaviors are not limited to reproduction, shopping, child-rearing, husband-servicing, and toilet-scrubbing, but also encompass a woman’s fundamental sense of her own inadequacy, and of the inadequacy of women generally. This sense of defectiveness ensures that her identity is little more than a function of her service to male culture.

    No matter what you think you’re going to make of your marriage, the dominant culture has already defined marriage. Once married you engage in constant struggle against that definition. I suspect that the reason Skye Lamont is feeling so good these days is that her “surrender,” by comparison with constant struggle, feels peaceful.

    When I got married I thought I knew what I was doing. I figured that it was up to me to define my marriage, and that I could simply ignore the dominant culture’s expectations. What did I know? Now I realize that every time I scrub a toilet or cook a meal I’m reenacting cultural expectations of me, and those acts are tainted even if my husband scrubs an equal number of toilets or cooks an equal number of meals. I literally can’t do these things without feeling like a stereotype, and a defective one at that.

    The power of marriage to reduce me to a stereotype has nothing to do with “my Nigel” and whether or not he is different, or good, or reasonable, or whatever. According to my personal, quirky cosmology, ideas are entities, and the marriage idea is a very big, powerful entity that’s a few thousand years more experienced than I am. I embarked on my struggle with it while I was in my tender twenties, with little or no consciousness of what I was getting into.

    All I can offer as a reason for choosing to get married is that after surviving a hellish childhood and adolescence, I fled to what I thought was the most peaceful of my alternatives. And who knows? Perhaps it was the best of the available alternatives. I’m not going to say now that marriage was a mistake. But I will say that the only way I can keep self-esteem intact within a marriage is to be sure I have two things: my own, independent source of income, and the companionship of women.

  149. TP

    I agree with Twisty on the whole marriage thing, and look at it all as just what we do with the limited range of choices in our culture. One thing marriage provides is a limited set of legal protections for women.

    These protections are deeply flawed and arbitrary, more available to women with the means to hire good attorneys than poor women who need them more, and are sometimes even anti-women in key ways, but they are all many women have to protect them from being even more exploited by men who would otherwise use their free services for years and then dump them in the streets with nothing.

    Women seek the protection they hope for from the law when they consider marriage. It’s probably a bad choice, compared to a contract of some other kind, but I can see the normal women out there longing for marriage being influenced by this piece of the puzzle too.

    Since I do at least half of the child rearing and cleaning and more than half of the cooking, the sting of Twisty’s comments about marriage is not acute. But I still feel like any man must struggle every day to ignore the hundreds of cultural cues to be a man and a husband and a domineering dad and stick to being a human being helping another human being get through the day in dignity.

  150. Jezebella

    CD, thanks for that answer. I’ve lost of my girlfriends to marriage/mommyhood, and I’ve been wondering who I’d spend my retirement with. Ah: they’ll be back!! Thank bog. Any chance a gay commune would let a fun straight friend join? Most of my social life right now is with my gay friends because the wife/mother-work has swallowed up my straight friends. I’d hate to think I couldn’t live on the Lavender Mojito Compound because of my unfortunate heterosexuality.

    Less buildings is a good idea. But you have to separate the allergic from their allergies, so a cat building, a dog building, and a no-fur building is probably the way to go. And a bar. You’ve got to have a bar.

  151. julia

    you are SO SO SO right on twisty! thank you for this entry. i use these arguments and more as the basis for my decision to gently decline going to straight friends’ marriages (“but our’s will be different, julia!” they’d say, others i never heard from again – hmph – so they get the privilege and i get the alienation???). now the dilemma is worse, for in our enlightened province of ontario, ya, in that country to the north, and other provinces too) us queer folk CAN get married. and i STILL don’t want to go to weddings. it is so much more difficult to deal with this situation than the straight folks. i want to support my queer friends in their relationships, god knows we still face discrimination every day, but i continue to REFUSE to buy into the marriage thing. so now i find myself somewhat alienated from some queer folk too. it makes me want to barf when i hear some of my dyke friends referring to their legal partner as “my wife”, as in “my possession with whom i can get tax and other benefits without issue while perpetuating the idea that this is how the world works best for people.” in my mind it’s buying in and selling out at the same time.

    whew. ranting makes me thirsty – and i’ve just started!

  152. purpleshoes20

    Dear Aunt Twisty: No offense, but I hate it when I agree with you. It puts the megatheocorporatocracy a little too all up in my face.

    I do not think there is anything wrong with the formation of small, stable households in which individuals are linked by mutual affection, a smidgen of economic self-interest, and even some division of necessary life-supporting sorts of labor. In fact, I think, as human arrangements go, it’s a pretty good plan. Unfortunately, as you astutely note, the good parts of this arrangement get subsumed into patriarchal bullshit even when both adults in the household call themselves feminists and are trying hard.

    I do wonder how prevalent marriage actually is, though. My experience in poor communities across the western hemisphere is that people at the bottom of the economic ladder tend to actually live in extended female-headed households, with only transient male presence.

  153. Cunning Allusionment?

    When we got engaged, my fiance and I read Stephanie Coontz’s “Marriage: A History” together. We both thought it was excellent.


    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that she is saying love is a modern invention. Rather she’s saying that love being the primary reason people should marry each other is only a few hundred years old. She argues that “the perfect storm” that have engulfed the institution of marriage in the last 40 years was a predictable (and predicted) outcome of the romanticist assertion that people should marry for love and not financial well-being. Critics of “the love match” in the late 1600’s (not sure I’m remembering the century right, sorry historians, no offense intended)argued that if people married for love then they would expect to be able to get divorced just because they didn’t love each other any more. Even more dangerously, if marriage was reconceptualized as a union of equals, women would expect to be treated as equals in marriage and eventually society. Most proponents of the love match said this was absurd and no rational person could possibly believe or expect such a thing. Coontz describes a rising tide of liberation (my metaphor, not hers, so blame me if it sucks) that has been growing throughout history. Each generation sees a radical “high-water mark” followed by a “pull back” in the form of moderate compromise between the previous generation’s compromise and the new high-water mark. Since each compromise has resulted in a marginally more liberated social environment, and this trend has remained consistent for three hundred years, she supposes that it will continue, though she doesn’t really speculate much on what marriage will look like.


    Reading “Marriage: A History” helped us place our relationship in the arc of history-present-future. That is, we can see now that our ideas about love and marriage, and the structure of our relationship is very much a product of our time. We expect that our children and grandchildren (we both want children), will see our relationship as being no less patriarchal and “old-fashioned” as we see our parents’ and grandparents’ relationships. They will be right. On the Gaussian curve of heterosexual relationships, ours is in certainly situated very far into in the right tail, but the curve is moving further to the right every day. We will try to keep with it, but we will not be surprised if it out paces us sooner or later. This is no more our fault than being born in the United States is our fault. What will be our fault is our failure to never be satisfied with anything less than a complete exorcism of patriarchal and other oppression from our relationship, and our lives (which is probably impossible within our lifetimes).

    Given that our wedding is in less than two months, I am currently freaking the fuck out. As someone said, it’s like finding out your living in a horror movie. In my case, it’s like finding out your living in a horror movie, and you’re the villain. I’ve got a bunch of work to do around the house while she’s busting her ass at work, or else I’d try to articulate my (comparatively irrelevant) fears, apprehensions, and self-loathings more clearly.

    I blame myself for not doing more right now to overthrow the patriarchy I benefit from. I blame myself for needing to learn how to be a decent human being at the age of (almost) twenty-seven. I blame myself for wanting my fiance to help me through that process. I blame myself for a lot of things, and though I know that I’m a good person, I also know that I deserve every ounce of this blame and more.

    PS. Maybe instead of shooting for equal distribution of the workload, we should overcompensate by having me to much more than half the housework. Do you think adjustments like that would matter in the long run, or am I naive?

  154. littoralmermaid

    Hmmm, reading off my antifeminist bingo card we’ve got, “Patriarchy hurts men too”, “You feminists all hate men!”, “But I want to talk about this. Listen to me!”
    But unfortunately, Panic, “Can’t you take a joke?” is free space.

    And CD at 6:49 AM … you made my morning.

  155. Dawn Coyote

    Fucking oxytocin! And I’ve got lesbian-envy, too.

  156. justicewalks

    I do wonder how prevalent marriage actually is, though. My experience in poor communities across the western hemisphere is that people at the bottom of the economic ladder tend to actually live in extended female-headed households, with only transient male presence.

    Yes, but in my experience this is not their ideal. They idealize marriage and male headship as much as anyone else. Many of those grandmothers and aunts lead their households only grudgingly because there was no one else. If the men in their communities were lining up to head these families, many of these poor female heads of household would gladly relinquish a role they feel was unnaturally and blasphemously thrust upon them.

    Sad but true.

  157. Cunning Allusionment?

    Hmmm, reading off my antifeminist bingo card we’ve got, “Patriarchy hurts men too”, “You feminists all hate men!”, “But I want to talk about this. Listen to me!”

    While I would say that being an agent of patriarchal oppression “hurts” me, I think that this pain is irrelevant outside the context that it’s the pain that alerts me to the fact that something is wrong (namely, me).

  158. Panic

    Thank you so much for that link to the anti-feminist bingo card. It has been bookmarked and will be used frequently. Actually, I’ll be emailing it to a friend of mine right now, since we’re in the middle of a very relevant discussion.

  159. lexia


    Reading the comments has been like a trip through the last 30 years.

    In the 1970s, American women had a chance to permanently change their legal and human status. Abortion was a legal, unpicketed event, women were taking the decriminalization of themselves and their sexuality into the next stage by making refusing sex culturally acceptable, women’s sexuality was becoming as publicly assumed and as invisible as men’s, the Catholic Church was running scared as the minority governed, male supremacist organization it was and is, women dressed down and men dressed up, the word “bitch” was hate speech that tagged the speaker more than the target, employment discrimination laws were growing the teeth they were so soon to lose and extraordinary human beings like Thurgood Marshall were on the Supreme Court writing majority opinions that were slowly granting all the disenfranchised in America, including women, full citizenship status.

    Then men held their breath and turned blue and women caved in. It would be interesting if Twisty’s talent for laying out the bones of a concept and the Commentariat’s talent for fleshing it out resulted in more durable law.

  160. mAndrea

    Before I read all the comments, I just have to say, “I swear to god I’m psychic”. or at least psychotic

    Last night I started making a get-out-of-jail-free card for rapists, based on that old Monoply game. The Twisty Bingo card, based on the Milton Bradley game, Twisterâ„¢, had to be dropped from the queue due to lack of inspiration. It’s basic assumption is that dude nation has to contort themselves into ergonomically impossible positions in order to connect all the dots.

    If somebody else thinks it would be fun to take a crack at it, knock yourself out. (Matching spinner would be nice.)

    The other thing I was thinking about was that “submissions” drivel the church uses to brainwash independence out of women. For the last 2000 years, it’s been a steady of “wives submit to your husbands” and “submission is the only way to be pure, please god, and get to heaven”. How convenient for men! Only after the feminists put that through the wringer, did the church magically sanitized it into “submit to each other”.

    But the church didn’t independently act to progress the rights of women, the church acted in response to and defense of their position.

    By the very definition of the word, only one person can really “submit” to another. The person being submitted to must by necessity be in higher place that the one submitting. There is no other way to make that word fit it’s original and still-current definition.

    The church is hoping gullible women will experience cognitive dissonance; on the one hand we can say we’re rilly rilly equal, but on the other we will still submit to hubby in practice.

  161. Ermingarde

    I enjoyed your passionate prose, CD, and am hoping you could give me some tips. I want very much to adopt, but I don’t “qualify”: I have debt, I’m not a Christian, my husband drinks more than is socially acceptable these days. Do you know know any agencies that would consider me? Please don’t tell me to lose the husband, my marriage is much less shit-spattered than most and he’s a keeper for now. The fact that he offered to take my last name is not, of course, a cure-all for the whole patriarchal paradigm, but a pretty good symbol of our marriage. Thanks for the great blog entry Twisty, I love ya!

  162. arlene

    @ Panic.
    Sometimes compromise is a whole lot easier than fighting just for the sake of fighting.
    I’m happy that you have a great marriage, but to assume that the rest of us who didn’t, didn’t attempt compromise? Well, did you read this thread? We compromised with him, with ourselves, with society, with our ideals, until there was nothing left. There are a lot of smart, rational folks here, and I really don’t think they fight just for the sake of fighting.’
    I didn’t assume anything. Taken in context of my entire post you can see that I said what was relevant to me.

  163. Marcy

    Already, in my mid twenties, most of my friends have been lost to marriage or cohabitation. My best friend cries herself to sleep at night because her husband harasses her mercilessly about her “baby weight” and the condition of their house. Another one is trapped in an abusive relationship with two kids and a possessive, violent dude who kicks her like a dog. She won’t leave “for the children.” Still others are loudly happy about their relationships. But all of them are absorbed in marriage, and as the institution demands, they have traded their large and generous group of supportive friends for a single close relationship with a man.

    That’s what drives me nuts being a single woman. I can’t develop really close friendships like I did during my school days. I met a woman at work whom I hit it off with, but our interactions are limited. We work in health care, so we work weekends, usually on a rotating basis with the other coworkers. Anyway, I found out early on that if we both happened to have the same weekend off, too bad, because as she put it, “I save my weekends for my husband.” Which would be fine if he saved his weekends for her. There are lots of times when he goes off to do something with his friends on the weekend that doesn’t include her, but she feels she must be ever-available for him. Blech. She always tells me not to get married.

  164. Panic

    Hey Arlene,
    I understand that, but it definitely feels like you’re putting it out there as an example that we should take something from? If I’m wrong about that, then I do apologise.

  165. insaan

    CD: Thanks, it was well deserved. Part of trying to participate here is getting the stupid bits pounded out of me from time to time. For what it’s worth, it was really late and I regretted the post as soon as I clicked “blame”.

    I had meant to say something more about how the loneliness factor can easily drag down anyone who doesn’t fall neatly into the roles assigned to them by the patriarchy. Those who would love nothing more than to see its demise often don’t know even one person who shares their feelings, and such isolation can easily lead to resignation.

    Forums like Twistyville here are beautiful, but only a shadow of what real post-patriachal community would be. Pardon me, I need to go read Shulamith Firestone now.

  166. Marcy

    And of course, I assert that under the patriarchy, men cannot love women.

    Oh my god! I have been thinking the same thing recently!

  167. Nausicaa

    Suddenly these feminist women are having babies, and telling me that it “just doesn’t make sense to keep working.” They are telling me that it is somehow a radical choice to become completely economically dependent on their partners while they sacrifice their careers and self-sufficiency to raise little Chloe or Enid or whoever. In fact,they assert it is noble and radical to devote oneself selflessly to raising one’s children rather than selfishly pursue and maintain their own self-sufficiency.
    Oh yeah, I thought about it a lot too. It really saddens me, and on the other hand I’m puzzled as to why and how does it happen to somebody with a good job, who invested years in her education. My husband had an interesting idea -he said that such women are probably not driven enough to continue their carier because they are not REALLY interested in their work (just like many men aren’t), but in their case, as opposed to men’s, society isn’t forcing them to stay. They have this opportunity to run away from the competition in which nobody is cheering for them anyway-this stay at home mom deal.

  168. mAndrea

    *sigh* It’s called a friend. Share a house with a friend, another woman with kids. Help each other raise ’em. Visit the dildo on weekends.

    I’m starting to think about finding a couple women to share a big ole house out in the boonies, for friendship and ecomonic stability during retirement. I have no kids, and if the other two didn’t either, then the house and property could be left to up-and-coming radical dyke lesbians. Gyrrl power!

    Bitey said, “I think one of the things we’re doing here is hipping ourselves to the fact that the deck is stacked in their favor, and they will never even see it unless they have to. Change him, leave him, or let yourself die inside. Those are your choices.”

    I’m not sure why feminists think doing the same old thang is going to result in different outcomes. Isn’t that called insanity? Magical thinking?

    When have men ever improved simply because they wanted to, and not because the feminists nagged them to death? They have changed only when they had no other option.

  169. Marcy

    I am not married, but am long-term-partnered to a *good* man, and I am the mother of two daughters. The fact that I did not marry, and did not take my partner’s last name, seem such paltry little resistances in the face of this overwhelming system.

    I don’t mean for this to be directed at you specifically, but reading this just reminded me of something. So, you’re not legally married and don’t share your partner’s last name. But what are your children’s last names? Yours or his?

    That’s my big beef. Even women who think they’re flaunting convention by keeping their names or breeding without a marriage license will STILL give any children their husband’s last name.

    Hell, women who have gotten knocked up by a one-night stand whom they will never see again will give the kid Mr. One Night’s last name.

    As a couple other people mentioned already, when children are involved, you realize how controlled you actually are by the patriarchy.

  170. Frumious B

    I’ve never been married, but I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years for many of the reasons people have described for hating their marriages. It’s the life of constant support, either emotional or chores, that wears one down. And the fact that I was tired of it at least a year before I broke it off speaks volumes about how hard it must be to walk away from a marriage.

  171. lexia

    Sorry. In my usual long-winded way, I forgot to tie my post in with all this. Please add to the 70’s nostalgia:

    And marriage was on its way out as the only “choice” women had to keep themselves and their children healthy, housed, clothed and fed, to have sex legally and to be accepted as a functioning adult in America.

  172. Lisa

    I am one of your misguided heteronormative readers. For a long time, I have luxuriated in your prose, but didn’t quite get it. One day recently, the scales were lifted from my eyes, and I couldn’t believe the difference.

    My husband and I get punished for our allegedly different relationship: no kids and he moved for my career. His family rarely condescends to speak to me, which in some ways is a gift, and punishes him in other ways.

    But I’m not writing to explain, wait my relationship is different. I’m writing to say thanks for making me get it.

  173. Urocyon

    Kanea, you don’t have to go as far afield to find recent examples of “not what Westerners would call marriage”, for lack of a spiffier term. Many Native American groups–I am mainly familiar with the East–had similar matrifocal, matrilineal setups. (See Barbara Mann’s Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas for an example.)

    There was marriage, but it looked very different from what we usually think of with the term, much like what you describe in parts of Asia. Divorce was a matter of telling the man to get out of her house, and a number of cultures I know of (including some Iroquois) allowed for multiple husbands. These Native cultures were not working on the assumption of basically any of the same power dynamics, in the first place.

    I’m Virginia Indian myself (Tutelo), and it’s an interesting mess now, after so much forced assimilation. Things have changed enough in just the past 50 years, since my mother was a kid, that we are frequently talking at cross purposes. While far more patriarchal than used to be the case, her idea of marriage has much more built-in equality than what has been shoved down the throats of my age group. She honestly can’t understand why we put up with a lot of this crap–or that we rarely have much choice. Not surprisingly, there is a lot more violence against women going on too, besides just the daily soul-tarnishing unpleasantness. Misogynistic behavior is increasingly tolerated, when a lot of it was quite literally unthinkable a couple of centuries ago.

    I did not want to get married, and my mother still can’t understand why. (I wound up doing it anyway, for reasons too complicated and boring to go into right now.) I could see the plethora of bad choices available–marry, live with a man, it makes little enough practical difference.

    I feel like I’ve been turning into a Professional Indian lately, and really don’t want that. But I think it’s important to point out some things, the way Western society has willfully covered up what it used to know too well about some embarrassing cultural differences, including how women were/are viewed and treated.

  174. mAndrea

    Anon for this one.

    Since you’re being anonymous, surely it’d be all right to tell us why leaving your dood is complicated? I promise I won’t jump all over you, and perhaps someone would have ideas to help you out of your predictiment?

  175. Vilda Dentata (Formerly Shakes)

    “Hey for the “modern” man marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. We’ve both made huge careerer sacrifices which at current has me as a full-time dad, and part time CC adjunct. Sure it’s nice that my wife makes the bacon, but I’m the one that cooks it, all the while being reminded of what a bad house keeper I am. So what it it’s true…” -SourDad

    This “role reversal” of yours doesn’t mean shit. It’s still a division of household labor based on gender binary.
    My dad once referred to himself as “the wife” in the relationship because my mom made all the money and he did the “women’s work.” Bullshit.

  176. Cunning Allusionment?

    This “role reversal” of yours doesn’t mean shit. It’s still a division of household labor based on gender binary.
    -Vilda Dentata (Formerly Shakes)

    Would it be correct to say that having men do more of the housework is meaningless so long as the division of labor still exists within the framework of gender? Do I understand you correctly that the only way household labor divisions can be meaningfully anti-patriarchal is if they aren’t framed in the context of gender at all? Would you agree that such a thing is probably impossible in this society? If you do agree, how does it make sense to shift a disproportionate amount of the workload onto the men as an “in the meantime” solution? Or is it so fundamentally privileged to discuss things that happen “in the meantime” as “solutions” at all, that we should instead focus entirely on the probably impossible (in this society) task of degendering housework?

    I’m sorry if this is obvious to everyone else, but by “gender binary” do you mean to support the existence of gender as a binary construct or do you mean to say that thinking of housework in terms of the (false) construction of gender as binary is meaningless?

  177. ginmar

    God, I keep talking about Geektopia, where a bunch of women can support one another and have some rest away from men. I’m so grateful I never got married. I can just see it now; marry the boyfriend when I joined the Army, accidentally get pregnant becuase he wanted to have sex, have a bitter divorce that linked me to him forever, and have to take care of a kid who would have kept me from travelling to Russia, Korea, France, the Ukraine, and so forth. Instead, I turned him down—and my mom was a major part of that. She was married for fifty years and she took her widowhood as an opportunity to have her house the way she wanted it at long last and so forth and so on. She liked being by herself after four kids and grandkids and so on. She served as an example to me that marriage didn’t have to be inevitable.

    I look at that avoided marriage and shudder every now and then at how close I came, but I was young and stupid and not feminist yet. I would hvae been trapped not just for a while but forever. I think I could have lost myself.

  178. therealUK

    Why are men(husbands/boyfriends) being excused here because it’s “the patriachy” made them do it ?

    It’s all very well recognising systems of oppression, but people can (and should) exercise some control over themselves within that – particularly when it comes to the way others are treated.

    Demanding, spoilt, idle men need to be described as such, and we should be setting an expectation that they grow up and take responsibility for their behaviour, rather than setting the bar so low that it can be cleared just by them not being criminally violent.

  179. Coathangrrr

    You forgot “I’m a nice guy, why don’t I get any?”

  180. anon for this one

    mAndrea, that’s a damn good question. The more I read Twisty and the commenters, the less complicated things get, but not less difficult.

    So, now I just don’t know.

    Mostly because I’m struggling with life enough as it is, without uprooting everything and going through the screamin horror that a divorce would be? Especially from such a good Nigel?

    I think I’ll probably just continue my strike and see what happens next.

    I’m haunted by Bitey’s comment, “let yourself die inside,” though. I really just don’t know.

    I’m telling everyone, though. Don’t get married. Figure out a different way.

  181. Bubbas' Nightmare

    No one’s mentioned the notion of line marriages yet. That’s the notion that a group of adults marry each other–co-wives, co-husbands, shared responsibilities, more and better feedback on negative behaviors, lessened financial impacts in cases of disasters, more and better nurturing of children, etc. (The matter of children in particular harkens toward Firestone’s vision of proper childrearing, IMO.)

    Does anyone see this possibility as less patriarchal, or are we just talking patriarchy on a different scale?

  182. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    I’m sorry if this is obvious to everyone else, but by “gender binary” do you mean to support the existence of gender as a binary construct or do you mean to say that thinking of housework in terms of the (false) construction of gender as binary is meaningless?

    I think what she means to say is that it doesn’t matter how many men do housework as long as housework is by definition women’s work. The dad who joked that he was ‘the wife’ reinforced the gender binary by stating that, even though he was doing the work, he recognized that many, if not most, people probably thought him ‘less of a man’ for it.

    The gender binary, as best I understand it, means men define themselves in terms of whatever is ‘not woman’. So it constantly makes us the Other.

    Do I understand you correctly that the only way household labor divisions can be meaningfully anti-patriarchal is if they aren’t framed in the context of gender at all?

    I believe that’s exactly what she’s saying.

    Would you agree that such a thing is probably impossible in this society?

    Difficult, yes; impossible? no. We’re having this conversation, aren’t we? And if I’m understanding your intent in being here at all in this conversation, you’re doing your best to figure out how to bust things up from your position of relative privilege.

    So stop talking about housework in terms of ‘yours’ vs. ‘hers’. Just DO the damn housework. It needs to be done, it’s endless, and just the fact that any men at all are getting an awareness of the mind-numbing tedium of being someone else’s personal house-slavey means you’re breaking the mold a little.

    If somebody gives you shit about it, call them on it; explain how you see it. Explain to them about casting away your privilege and working to create a level playing field. People judge you harshly because when they see you breaking the norm, resisting conformity, they’re afraid somehow you’ll upset their comfortable little apple cart.

    That’s why this online community is so essential: A place to come to to salve our wounds, offer each other comfort and support until such time as we’re able to create the communities we seek in real life.

  183. therealUK

    Is it frivolous of me to wonder what Twisty wore to be MoH at Tidy’s wedding? Radical feminist dyke spinster aunts do not do taffeta.

    Oh, I don’t know, teamed with a nice pair of cowboy boots it would work rather well I think.

    “…the way I want to live my life is not compatible with marriage. And you know what? As a hetero girl, sometimes it’s pretty fucking lonely. But I’d rather be lonely than capitulate.”

    I think everyone and anyone can be lonely, but it’s not really a sexual orientation thing.

    a “good liberal.” a “working man,” a “family man.” there’s little to complain of him- if you’re another man. but all those virtues went out the door when it came to how he treated “his” woman.

    Oh, yes this is spot on – the standards by which men are judged is how they treat other men (or at least those men that qualify as human to them). Their treatment of women and other lower persons is no reflection on their character at all !

  184. therealUK

    I think everyone and anyone can be lonely, but it’s not really a sexual orientation thing. (was my comment, didn’t close tag)

  185. julia

    pyramus: gay marriage thing just keeps things exclusive. as in the ‘benefits’ aren’t share with all non-married types, regardless of sexual orientation.

    to queer folk out there, especially in the canadian context. don’t think that getting married will solve our legal issues related to our discrimination! don’t fall into the trap! (hopefully you have the cash to) see a lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, etc. for good advice re: how to protect your/their/joint stuff – like how to own property ‘jointly’ (if you want to or do), share or not share your money, make clear your wishes re: medical treatment and access, etc. make the longest (recycled) paper trail in the world of your relationship and for god’s sake WRITE A WILL! ya, the a**hole parents can still challenge it (any one can, regardless of your s.o. or marriage status), but you will have close to failsafe case if there is a will naming you as the beneficiary. if your parents/family members are real idiots, ask for something to be put into the will which specifically excludes them. this will further protect you if there are any anti-homo shenanigans.

    you need to know you don’t need to buy in to the institution just to protect yourself. you pays the money you gets the prize?? how is that any different than women marrying men because being married is the ‘best’ way to survive? what kind of survival is that?

    panic: thank you for sharing about your mum. i shed a tear. mine has alzheimer’s. she is in a residence now, with her own room and bathroom. she was always very clean. she, well, isn’t now as she used to be in the cleanliness department. i associated that task with her. maybe i mean i associated that task AS her. panic, you enlightened me. and i feel a bit guilty about it, but live and learn. thanks.

  186. Babs

    Cunning Allusionment:

    My husband and I both have day jobs, we live in a fixer-upper house with acreage, and we run a small business together. We both work on those various endeavors, all day long, every day. Most of the time he gets up before I do and goes to sleep after I do, and he does waaaaaay crappier work (like haul compost all day long in the heat while I can do light chores inside while watching t.v.). Follow this model and you can’t go wrong. As a man, it is your duty to care of all the crap hoisted onto your married shoulders by patriarchal constructs, so your wife is free from drudgery to pursue Truth and Beauty as she sees fit.

    Reading this board, you must be terrified at the prospect of what your future wife’s future inner monologue will be. It is you who must keep that from happening. You must remain useful!

  187. Weeze

    I just got back from couples’ therapy wherein my husband maintained that my feminism was equivalent to his undergraduate Maoist phase. I need a drink.

  188. Kev

    Marcy, regarding the surnames of children of non-married parents. That is a pretty big beef of mine too, actually, and the best I could come up with was giving them both of our names. That way they can use both, either, or when they are old enough, something entirely different if they choose to do so. My elder daughter likes the idea of taking my name.

    I am also aware, of course, that in choosing to keep my own name, all I was doing was keeping the name of my father, and the name my mother submitted to on marriage. But one has to start somewhere, I suppose.

  189. Catherine Martell

    If I remember correctly, getting married gives the average man a couple more years of life expectancy, and the average woman a couple fewer.

    The problem with eradicating marriage in a capitalist patriarchy like ours is that it’s inherently a property contract, and capitalist patriarchies thrive on property contracts. If a couple (of whatever sexual identities) love each other, there is no reason at all to get married these days apart from (1) religious belief, if any and (2) the fact that most states legislate against the unmarried. Laws vary, but unmarried people in many societies (including the UK and, I think, the US, though please correct me if I’m wrong) suffer badly in terms of inheritance law, tax allowances and labour rights.

    So much of the problem with marriage stems from the remarkably recent myth of marriage as an act of ultimate true love. You don’t have to look far to work out that the fairytale was created in the 1950s – probably as a response to all those wartime women who had gotten themselves “men’s jobs” and no longer really felt the need for a man to accessorise them. Prior to that, marriage was what it has always been: a useful way of determining inheritance of capital and shoring up social alliances for the upper classes, and a way of enforcing morality, compliance and cohesion on the lower classes. Love was still widely experienced, but not necessarily with one’s spouse.

    Even if you read, as our spinster aunt has, Jane Austen, it soon becomes evident that our ideas of her novels as love stories are largely back-projection. Austen was hugely cynical about marriage, as ought to be blindingly obvious to anyone reading Pride & Prejudice. Remember the bit where Lizzie Bennet falls in love with Mr Darcy? Because in the book, it isn’t the bit where he comes out of the pond in a wet shirt. It’s the bit where she sees his great big expensive house.

    Like most things, marriage is both bourgeois and patriarchal. If we ever get to the stage where private property doesn’t exist, marriage as we understand it will similarly expire. Possibly to be replaced by a big party where you declare your love for each other without any stated time commitment or implications for personal wealth. And definitely without that nasty bit where your dad hands you over to your husband as if you were a prize Jersey cow at a county show. Because that’s the worst bit about the property contract of marriage: as is obvious from the ceremony, the contract is in fact between father and husband. The woman is merely a vector of their exchange.

    Also, weddings are always vulgar. Obviously apart from yours with your Nigel, which was beautiful and deeply moving.

  190. legallyblondeez


    I can’t speak for what Vilda Dentata meant but as a person in that kind of realtionship (traditional work roles reversed by gender) I can tell you that it still sucks.

    On the one hand, I am reproducing acts of domination based on the fact that I have all the money and feel entitled to do nothing at home because I work outside the home. Since I don’t want to be in the reverse position, I feel very guilty and conflicted about it–I don’t want to be controlling or make him my servant, but why should I do housework when I work 80 hours outside the home and he works none? I desperately want him to have a job–any job–outside our home so that we can lessen the inherent power differential in this situation.

    On the other hand, doing the housework doesn’t magically erase his male privilege. And he is righteously indignant about being treated as an underappreciated homemaker in ways that I’m sure a woman would not be, because he wasn’t raised to expect to do this work. And in other aspects of our relationship he holds a lot of patriarchal power, regardless of who does which kinds of work in our house.

  191. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    Why are men(husbands/boyfriends) being excused here because it’s “the patriachy” made them do it?

    I don’t think women are ‘excusing’ men for not changing – I think most women tie themselves in knots trying to get men to change. And finally collapse in a heap because he won’t change. He sees no reason to change. If we bitch and nag enough (and how does one person having to bitch and nag all the time to get their needs met make it an equal partnership?) he eventually just leaves. Or we do, in desperation or despair.

    So our devil’s choices are to suck it up (tantamount to emotional suicide) or leave him. Which leaves us alone, again, and often stigmatized/ostracized by family and culture. Thus isolated and lonely. How do we win?

    I think if you re-read this whole thread a few times, the pattern that emerges is that most women eventually come to see the double-bind, catch-22 nature of the system. We do eventually make the connection between the patriarchy and the individual men in our lives. And then we do the best we can in that narrow range between living like a social pariah or putting up with some entitled knob’s blissfully oblivious sense of privilege.

    As so many commenters illustrate with their personal stories, we are caught in a rock-and-a-hard-place array of unpalatable options.

    We continue to make these compromises and not call men on their shit every single time because most men don’t perceive any incentive to change. As someone said above, most men aren’t going to change until they’re forced to. Therefore, if women don’t do the social caretaking work, it doesn’t get done.

  192. Miller

    God, I absolutely hate Feministing, Feministe, and Pandagon! I’ve had it with them

    Feministinng refuses to believe “bigotry” or “slurs” can exist on the basis of gender. No, it’s just being rude or sexually explicit.

    Pandagon told me the Missing White Woman Syndrome was not a misogynistic mockery of the human rights of girls and women, but a legitimate attack on racism b/c white men only covered these cases out of a patriarchal anger at their “property” being taken from them (And here I thought it they were gender-based hate crimes!). How does that remotely explain it?! Doesn’t such a mentality actually enforce patriarchy? Especially, when its white men “taking” such “property.” Amazingly, this “logic” does not apply to gay bashing (No one mocks it by saying, “Oh, yet another *white* gay man bashed!”). Nor do their claims to fight racism involve combating the widespread acceptance of brutal, ultra-violent hate targeting black women and girls in rap culture.

    Right now, on Feministe there’s this blatant embrace of prostitution w/ such gems in logic: Although, while true most women are impoverished, survivors of child rape, etc., to say that a woman can’t become a “sex worker” w/o being exploited is “fishy.” Yes, let’s assume that there are these magical women who willingly expose themselves to extreme physical harm–even death–wholeheartedly in a “career” that society openly condemns (“Whores!) to the point of celebrating their grisly deaths (Jack the Ripper, Green River Killer) and they’re completely immune to the omnipresent culture of brutal misogyny that conditions them from childhood to believe that not only are they not human but also deserving of eternal blame and punishment.

    Even if this *were* true, it would be such a extremely slim minority of women they would not be able to meet overwhelming demand. Especially since Johns don’t merely go to “sex workers” for just “sex,” but to use sexuality as a medium for callous bigotry and the harnessing of the power of an orgasm to be conditioned to such violent anti-female hate endangers *all* women and girls b/c it cements our status as legitimate targets of vengeance for perceived wrongs. Good God, we all know minstrel shows incite racism and no blacks are involved let alone brutal anti-black violence, yet an entire institution that depends on survivors of child rape/incest (many of whom still need drugs to cope), brutal oppression, and downright slavery AND exploits the power of sexuality to enforce cruel misogyny, which inevitably will escalate in violence (see: evolution of porn imagery, including pedophilia) does not even merit opposition?! Islamic jihadists are forcefully attacked for exploiting the power of religion to embolden violent anti-Semitism and global terrorism, and yet when bigots exploit the explosive biological power of sex to incite terrorism against a gender on the claims that being non-male is so offensive to (hyper-sensitive) males it’s persecutory, it’s nothing to worry about?! Of course not.

  193. Panic

    I didn’t really come to the realisation about the cleaning thing until this all happened. My dad is doing the best he can, but when I visit, I do clean up, because he never had to before, and he’s a bit useless at it (though when you’re living with someone with dementia, cleaning is sort of the last thing on your mind, I’d guess). She’s sort of losing the concept of toilet also, but she’s still there at the kitchen counter, with a rag, cleaning, cleaning…

    I feel guilty about a lot of things right now. This is the first and only place I’ve told this story, about this particular part of my mom’s illness. It’s the only place I’ve felt safe to do so, and when I told it, up there, I started to cry. It’s the first time I’ve been able to publicly acknowledge this one thing. There are lots of others, but it’s all too much, and would get really off topic. I’ve been hogging this comment section altogether too much these past couple days.

    We are hoping to get her into a residence soon, because she is not getting the care she needs at home (again, no fault on my dad, but he’s not a medical professional).

    Relating to all the “but he’s a good guy” comments here, my dad is a “good guy” too. He’s a Feminist ally, he’s the reason I ever felt empowered in the first place. And even he had my mom do a majority of the work in the home, after they both worked 40-hour weeks (he did all the cooking though, because he’s really great at it, and I don’t think eever thought of it as “women’s work”). Their marriage was about as good as it gets, folks, and it still had all the trappings. However, looking at them, knowing them like I do, it makes it hard for me to believe that love is impossible in a patriarchy. He’s always loved her, and the way he treats her now that she’s so sick, the way I’m watching his heart break (under the British stoicism neither he nor I can seem to crawl out from) makes me believe in truth, and beauty.

    Crying again.

  194. Otter

    RIght on, Twisty… in your usual awesome way. All of which is why I am not that interested in pushing for same-sex marriage (as a lesbian in a long term relationship) as pushing for same-sex marriage is just a way of seeking to imbue certain relationships with the social scripts and benefits that straight people get. Rather than deconstructing that whole messed up system of privileges, we’ll spend all our energies begging for a hand out of a few coupons for some of those privileges to a worthy few who are willing to imitate the patriarchal norm….not available in every location, some restrictions apply and the whole deal can be rescinded if they feel like it.

    But I also need to say to those of you blithely wishing you could manage to be lesbians, that life as a lesbian ain’t glamorous under patriarchy either. Sure, the blatant gender dynamics are not at the center, but there are still all sorts of other interpersonal issues to deal with, not to mention the double-whammy of being in a relationship where BOTH partners have been injured (to greater or lesser degrees) by living as women in patriarchy. Typically: Less income. More PTSD. Less self esteem. More body image issues. And housecleaning is no less drudgerous.

    I’m glad I’m a lesbian… I’d rather deal with this crap than that other crap. But there’s crap everywhere… we all know where the blame lies.

  195. Belle O'Cosity

    I am 38 and have never been married, never had kids and have never had a desire for either. Man do I get shit for this. Every time I meet someone new and they discover my status they freak the hell out. Especially the men. A man actually asked me the other day, “you’re pretty and funny and smart, so what’s wrong with you?” He went on to say I must be a psycho if no guy had “snapped me up.” I had to point out to him that that it was a choice I made, and marriage had no advantage for me. If I want companionship, I have great friends. If I want sex, it really isn’t that hard to find someone to have sex with. Oh that freaked him out. He simply could not conceive of a woman making that choice.

    That article made me think of this wanker, Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Gah! He is so utterly horrid I can barely think about him.


  196. Bird

    Bubba’s Nightmare, I live in a sort of adult collective, I suppose. It’s not your “line marriage,” but it has some similarities.

    My partner and I live together, but we also share our home with his brother, who has spina bifida. Labour is divided differently in our home because of our varied abilities. Brother looks after cleaning most of the kitchen and bathroom because he can do that on his crutches. I take care of washing the clothes (laundry’s in the basement, so I do brother’s clothes too) and cleaning the floors. My partner does the yard work (lawn, snow shoveling, and the like). He also does the ironing because he’s good at it and I hate it. Other jobs are done collectively as needed. As for cooking, brother prepares most of his own meals, as do my partner and I most nights because of busy evening schedules. On the weekends, I like to cook, so I usually make one or two dinners.

    It works well for us. Brother has people to help him with things like grocery shopping and getting to the doctor. We get to enjoy his companionship and help around the house, and since we travel a lot, there’s someone around to occupy the place. The financial burdens are more shared. Eventually, when there are smalls, brother will be a part of their lives too (he’s amazing with kids). And there are more people in our world than just the two of us, which makes for a happier time all around.

    It’s a different sort of family arrangement, I guess. I’ve had a traditional isolated marriage before, and I can’t imagine going back to that. I fully intend to raise my children in a more collective atmosphere too. I grew up spending time with extended family and family friends (regularly sent off to different places over summers, too), and I think that’s vital to healthy development.

    Of course there’s still patriarchy. I live with two men—it’s inevitable that it will come up. But it’s a hell of a step up from my previous conventional arrangements.

  197. Jezebella

    OH there you go, that phrase: why hasn’t someone “snapped you up.” Like a bargain at the discount store. Like a fish in a barrel. Like a tomato from the vine. My skin crawls when I think about unpacking a statement like that.

  198. Otter

    Bird– men or not, I applaud the active choosing and creation of households that are non-standard and non-traditional.

    We lesbians have both the advantage and burden of being (somewhat) free of straight-relationship scripts. We both get to and have to make up our own rules. I admire anyone who has the courage to do that, whatever the resulting relationships look like.

  199. scott

    Would what Twisty’s talking about be true of any significant relationship? That power, or the urge to dominate, ultimately corrupts and perverts it? I first felt the urge to deny it but was left with the uncomfortable feeling that, yeah, relationships often do come down to perceptions (or the grim reality) of who has the power.

  200. Miller

    Question: shouldn’t the tag on this post me “Society hates you” rather than just “Men hate you?”

    I know the most influential haters are male and that even if every woman and girl alive revolted it wouldn’t matter if males remained bigoted, however, I know of plenty of women (even of the notorious “strong, independent” variety) who are staunch defenders of the patriarchy, *especially* teenage girls (“OMG!!! Eminem is so hawt!!! Take it, bitches, XD!!!”) and even condemn rape and DV victims (“She got herself in trouble.” or “Stop playing victim.”). Oh, and they even show mad love for Hostel and Saw. To me that’s a hard-core hater.

  201. Miller

    Correction: “Shouldn’t the tag on this post *be (not “me”)…


  202. legallyblondeez

    Bird, your situation reminds me that I’ve been meaning to research housing discrimination laws–my Nigel and I would like to move into a rental house with a good friend of ours and landlords have been balking at our proposed non-traditional arrangement. One actually asked if our friend were disabled, as if only his inability to live alone could excuse our wanting to live together. I’m glad that you see benefits to living with Brother besides his health–they are some of the same reasons we want to include our friend in our household. IBT nuclear family.

  203. Jennifer

    Yeah, some people are all surprised that I don’t have someone. Yeah, well, I haven’t had a date in 3 years and the only person to ask me out in all that time had a pregnant girlfriend. It doesn’t matter how pretty and smart I may or may not be, really, because I’m still not wanted except by skeezebuckets. Nobody is single any more when you’re 29 anyway.

    Another spinster old maid here. Got engaged once, but I got really ticked off when my ex’s latent Traditional Male kicked in. God knows his mother tried (there were no daughters in the house, so men did “women’s work”, and my ex did it better than I did), but even though I told him otherwise, he’d still whine at me to hyphenate our names (to be fair, he said he would as well), and he said “WHEN we have kids” so many damn times when I’d told him I wouldn’t, and would call me a MILF (I’ve never been pregnant), and would make noises about how I should be the one that stayed at home “to do my art”… In short, it was all bullcrap. The ex before him would say similar stuff, and then expect me to do his laundry when we weren’t even shaked up, and after he dumped me he started screwing our mutual friend, the Domestic Goddess, who did all of his cleaning for him and cooked for him and was the wife he didn’t have to be faithful to. Lovely, eh?

    I love how the only people my age that will even talk to me are either 23 and under or 35 and up. The college student crowd (I live in a college town) doesn’t care if I come as a package deal, and while the 35 and up friends of mine are married, they truly don’t give a shit and *gasp!* even go out without their spouses attached! Hell, I’ve barely met the husband of one of my friends.

    With three exceptions (my lone friends around my age, either a year younger or older than me, and none of them are married), people my age act like I have cooties because I am not married off. They want “couple friends.” One of the people I approached for friendship that ignored me after she found out I had no man is having a wedding shower at work tomorrow. I already hate showers (especially ones held during work hours, but no way in hell am I going to hers. I’m “not our kind, dear.”

    Honestly, if I didn’t have to be stuck being the goddamned wife, I might not be so against marriage. But being born hetero and female, I’m stuck in that role if I’m with a guy. Blech.

  204. Niki

    Panic, rather off topic perhaps, but do you have a couple of brothers in California, one named Tony? You’re going through some very parallel parental strife to a close friend of mine, just curious.

    Or maybe it’s more common than I’d imagine that when a woman develops dementia that her husband flails around helplessly and doesn’t clean or caretake because he’s not used to it.

    Very sad to hear it.

  205. Panic

    Hey Niki,
    Nope, I’m an only child in Toronto, parents are in Calgary (guilt). He is a caretaker for her though, I won’t take that away from him. Probably all the more reason the house is a mess.

  206. ekf

    Twisty, it fills me with relief that being a wife-and-mother does not disqualify me from being your friend, because there’s a part of my cold, obsidian heart that wishes and hopes someday to meet you, buy you awesome food and call you a friend. Maybe I’ll DQ in some other way, or never work up the intestinal fortitude to re-enter the Lone Star State, but at least that possibility ain’t dead from having made an effort at breeding!

    Because even if I didn’t totally heart you for so many things, I would heart you all over again for this line alone:

    Especially when the male hipster is a depressive artiste, and the female hipster has one of those Bettie Page haircuts.


  207. mAndrea

    Anon for this one.

    Ok. But you do have a place to vent, and be among friends who care how things are going for you.

    Please take care.

  208. Katherine

    people my age act like I have cooties because I am not married off. They want “couple friends.”

    I wonder how many married women avoid single friends because they’re afraid it will make them realize how bad their married lives are by comparison.

  209. anon for this one

    mAndrea, and all the blamers, believe me, I feel an intense sense of relief. I feel less crazy and much calmer. Oddly, I feel less angry and bitter at my husband. I feel like my strike now has some of the strength and courage of the companeras here. And maybe it’ll go somewhere good. Tacos and mojitos all around, big time.

  210. anon for this one

    But I still say: Don’t get married.

    OK, I’m out. More freelance work.

  211. Zora

    As usual I am too late to the game to read the whole thread, but I want to add my own “Right On!”

    My Mom is happily married to my Dad, but she was divorced with three kids before they met. I heard from her why she left that marriage and how much better things are with my father. I look at their marriage where she pulls nearly all the weight and say to myself, “I don’t think I’m wired for that.”

    And dog-nab-it, if I ever get a piece of mail that’s addressed to Mrs. Someguy’s Name I will hunt down the sender and slit their throat!

  212. RadFemHedonist

    That marriage is used as an excuse for battery and rape is more than enough to insist that it be destroyed.

  213. josie my source of most frustration

    I got married when I was 25 and I took his name. I regret that most of all. I was young and dumb and entering adulthood scared half to death and looking for someone or something to cling to. To be honest, I am glad that I am with my husband. He is a good guy and we have an atypical marriage due to the fact that we are childfree and make relatively equal incomes (I make a little more). He also does most of the cooking and cleaning.

    However, I often wish that we hadn’t married. In my frightened youth, I don’t think that either of us understood that you don’t need to be married to stay together for a long time. Our culture strongly encourages the opposite belief. I just wish that I would’ve waited until I was a little older before I decided how to define this relationship, and I definitely wish that I never screwed around with my name. That was a hugely dumb decision on my part.

  214. Bird

    I changed my name back after my divorce. I will never, ever give it up again. It took a lot of time and effort to reclaim it, and I refuse to resign my rediscovered identity for any man, no matter how much I may love him.

  215. rafalah

    Twice married, twice divorced. I left both times for all the underlying reasons listed above in the posts, sprinkled with my/our own personal issues.

    I live with a man now and felt weary, bone tired and sickened at the pressure to marry again; living together is a ‘sin’ doncha know, while serial marrying is not so much.

    Anyway!Last year his company, Nestle, began providing Domestic Partner Health Care Benefits! I don’t have to marry him to get health care! Oh, the joy! The profound joy! Like winning the lottery.

    We keep our finances totally separate and, because I own my home, have a lease. (although the reality of who pays what ebbs and flows with our mood).

    So, we live together like lovers but legally and financially like roommates. Maybe that is one solution to those of us non-lesbian women who want to live with a man (marriage or not): Write a contract, keep money and spending separate.

    Speech I gave to Mr. #3 when he moved in and it became apparent we had different ideas about cleaning: (this is a summary) “When you go to work, you rely on your co-workers to do their job. You don’t list it for them, or remind them, or do it for them more than once before the shit flys. You don’t even think too much about their job, except when they don’t do it and it pisses you off because your day is ruined. That is how it is here–you have your daily tasks that need to be done so that we can get on with life, and I have mine. We both DO them, like at work. Don’t piss me off. I won’t piss you off. I don’t even want to think about your chores because you will do them, they will be done, and never my problem. I promise to do mine, likewise.”

    Sorry this is longwinded–but it worked. The work place analogy really worked. Of course, this speech came after we had divided up chores according to skills, preferences and then, one by one as we took turns choosing, until all the household chores were sorted out.

  216. J.G.

    “I am also aware, of course, that in choosing to keep my own name, all I was doing was keeping the name of my father…”

    Kev, why does your father have a last name and you don’t? Why does your husband have a last name and you don’t? Why do even feminists view names as something that only men really have? How do newborn boys acquire their own last names while their sisters do not? Anyone here who has children, do you view your sons as having complete names while your daughters are just Mary Ann [?].

  217. chezjenne

    Miller: “I know of plenty of women (even of the notorious “strong, independent” variety) who are staunch defenders of the patriarchy, *especially* teenage girls”

    Twisty had the answer to this one a while ago when she said that women hating on other women are just men hating them by proxy. In other words, they are hating other women to gain approval of their own patriarchs.

  218. Sol Niger

    I’m in a relationship for the first time at the age of 23. Why I kept away from men till now has a lot to do with things I observed in my parent’s relationship, which is a case study of all the points mentioned in twisty’s post.

    the verdict so far: you guys are right, I was right. The patriarchy is hell bent on denying women any individuality or sovereignity.


  219. I am Also anonymous for this one

    The only hitch I see in the Firestone solution to child rearing is when children are born with disabilities. Mine really do require all of my energy and it is really rare for unrelated people to be willing or able to provide that energy. Whether that is a patriarchal construct or whether that would be true after the revolution I don’t know. But I quail when I think what their life will be like when I am gone.

    Their father left me because he couldn’t handle the stress and my unavailability. I was no pushover I’d been telling him for years that I was not his domestic slave but I was really worried how the hell I would cope financially. We are fine. It can be done. Once I asked him if I could borrow his second car because mine had broken down and it is no fun trying to take public transport with a profoundly autistic child. He refused saying I couldn’t rely on him any more (as if I ever had). Punchline is that a month later he died. My sister said that when someone reaches the point where they refuse to evolve any more the universe just takes them out. Thankyou Universe.

  220. Miller

    Oh, so since such women are serving The Man ultimately, the tag should remain “Men” hate you? It’s just whenever I meet the inevitable “man-hater” line, it’s so much easier to dismantle them by reframing misogyny as an ideology that an entire society subscribes to rather than some testosterone-based quirk (females have testosterone, too), which only serves to enforce the idea that it’s natural rather than custom.

    Whatever. I’ll leave the tag alone.

    On marriage: how depressing it is that it’s *men* who constantly complain about the “ol’ ball and chain.” Women are seen as the ones who “luck out” being married.

  221. legallyblondeez

    Miller, “Men hate you” is a reference to a quote from Germaine Greer. It does not *necessarily* mean that every individual man hates women in general or me in particular, nor does it excuse women for acting out that hatred to gain approval from the Patriarchy. It is apt, however, to remind us that even “our Nigels” can and do act in ways that reinforce the Patriarchy and harm us and other women. It also reflects the reality that many men truly, virulently hate women as a class and assert dominance over women every chance they get.

    That is a charitable view of the matter, as I think I am less radical and more willing to posit benevolent thoughts and ignorant acts on the part of our Nigels than many of the commentariat.

  222. ruby

    “Women are seen as the ones who “luck out” being married.”

    Uh, not by women.

  223. Coathangrrr

    I am also aware, of course, that in choosing to keep my own name, all I was doing was keeping the name of my father, and the name my mother submitted to on marriage. But one has to start somewhere, I suppose.

    My cousin and the father of her daughter, all three cohabitate, actually just made up a whole new last name for the kid.

    I kinda like that.

  224. feministnewbie

    Alie, your post about enjoying the party that come with a marriage reminds me of a conversation I once had with my parents. My dad being a stereotypical, truck driving, I want my dinner brought to me while i sit here and watch TV, misogynist kind of guy. And my mother, a trying to live up to his impossible expectations while also holding down a full time job, kind of woman. I told them I don’t know if i believe in marriage (at least not their kind). Why not just have a ceremony or party celebrating your relationship. You write what you’de lke to say to eachother expressing your love. This doesn’t have to be “lifetime vows” or an “until death do us part” kind of thing. Just a from the heart expression of how you feel for one another. No papers to sign, nothing legal. Just a personal, done your way event. I argued with my parents that people stay together who shouldn’t just because of that little piece of paper they signed rather than because they really want to be there. I believe we’re not necessarily meant to be with the same person for a lifetime. People constantly grow and change and shift and may come to a point where their relationship isn’t right for them anymore. But because they’re “married” they use this as a copout nt to leave a situation where they’re completely unhappy, or even worse, being abused. Anyway, my parents argued tooth and nail with me…mostly my dad (out of fear of course).

  225. Miller

    I read someone’s post about how they wish they were just bisexual to escape the feeling of supreme loneliness from being heterosexual in such a world: me, too. I am so straight, it’s depressing (I tried fantasizing about women and they inevitably morphed into men. Damn wiring.). In no way do I want to dismiss the homophobia that lesbians experience nor am I saying that misogyny doesn’t exist amongst lesbians. It’s just that it’d be so nice to have someone who didn’t find rape to merely be “impolite,” let alone constantly joked about it as the basis of their “raunchy” humor.

    I know not of one man who didn’t rationalize rape. Not one. The Diana Russell site documenting male attitudes during the early ’80’s plus this Mother Jones report I saw back in 1999 show just how widely accepted rape is. The 1999 report showed how nearly 3/4 of young men in Scotland found rape to be acceptable “sometimes” (read: whenever they feel like it since they considered being in a relationship, paying for dinner, or female “immorality” as justification) and, sadly, about 1/4 or 1/3 of young women agreed. One can imagine how bad it is *now*.

  226. tinfoil hattie

    All right, Debby. I’ll take on this one.

    Why do we bright, feminist, aware, educated women drop our careers to become completely dependent on some man, just so we can make sure the only foods that pass through our babies’ lips is organic pureed spinach?

    I’ll tell you why I did it. I did it because I had a horrible, fucked-up job. Eleven years ago, it paid $50,000. I had my own office. I had decent benefits. I have a bachelor’s degree, and was considered an “analyst” or “manager” in corporate-speak. I was a glorified secretary, of course. I did the financial analysis for a retired military guy who sat in his office amid “Go Gators!” pennants reading the newspaper, and made $96,000 per year to do so. My company tried to lay me off when I was five months’ pregnant (read: utterly un-hireable). I was ignored in meetings, unpromotable in spite of my abilities and experience, and just generally miserable. The patriarchy was practically invented at that company.

    It was preceded by two other companies that treated me, and all women: exactly the same way.

    So when I had to chance, I escaped. You bet your sweet ass I did. Because my other choice was: take 6 weeks’ maternity leave at 65% of my salary, and any other leave unpaid; scramble to find someone who could take good care of my baby (and not kill him as my friend’s underpaid, overworked, psychotic licensed daycare worker did to my friend’s 3-month-old); budget for the daycare; juggle schedules with my husband so we could drop off and pick up the baby from daycare; juggle schedules when baby got sick or had doctors’ appointments, etc.

    Instead, I quit my job and started doing the bookkeeping for the business my husband and I co-own. Meanwhile, we were the best parents we could be — still are — and tried deliberately to meet our children where they are, helping them become the people they are meant to be. While “wasting” my time at home raising my own damn children (Goddess forbid! Ultimate feminist crime! Raising one’s own child!), I learned a new skill that I have since parlayed into a part-time freelance career. I work my schedule around my desires and my convenience. I don’t care enough about having a clean house to actually do the work, and neither does my Nigel. So that’s not much of an issue — every now and then one of us (usually him) will pick up a broom or a mop and go to town.

    So don’t go hating on me and my ilk when you know absolutely nothing about what it’s like, and yeah, be DAMN glad there are feminist Blamers like my husband and I trying desperately to do our part to raise the next generation of decent human beings.

    And yeah, I DO take it personally, because you ARE talking about me, and if you want to see oppressed/left out women, talk to stay at homes who refuse to play the conservative Skye Lamont role, but are drummed sneeringly out of the feminist club by people like you.

  227. tinfoil hattie

    I meant “Blamers like my husband and ME” (I HATE improper use of “and I”)

  228. Miller

    I, for one, don’t blame stay-at-home mothers (my beloved sister is one) just the fact that the system, which tinfoil hattie described, essentially kicks career mothers out of the workplace (The US is one of the worst in the industrialized world). While I don’t think it’s a feminist “crime” to raise your children (Although, I must say career mothers also parent), I do think marginalizing, if not silencing, mothers’ collective voices from places where they can influence a society certainly is.

    I remember reading how we’re not raising boys to be men, but we’re raising them to not be women. Is it any wonder then that our society is so anti-mother, anti-family, and anti-child when its run by men? All this is just an extension of destroying all aspects of femaleness (Women typically being the sole or, at least, lead parent).

    Because of children (and social justice overall), the *one* parent we, as a society, can’t afford to silence are mothers. The wolves run the hen house (I believe that’s the right phrase) and children, girls especially, pay the price. I don’t advocate dads staying at home either simply b/c they’ve been so corrupted by sex-fueled, tyrannical hate that I don’t trust them (pedophilia, domestic violence plus overt hostility to nurturing, compassion). Daycare run by women w/ degrees in early education is perhaps the best compromise.

    I read that female sharks can reproduce w/o male sperm. Maybe that’s the ultimate solution.

  229. Jezebella

    tinfoil hattie: Suppose you had had a job you loved, that paid you what you deserved, fully paid maternity leave, fully funded quality day care provided by well-paid, well-trained caregivers, and a workplace that allowed you the flexibility to make it to doctors’ appointments, go to school programs, stay home when the kid is sick, and so forth. Suppose both you AND your husband had this kind of utopian option. What then?

    Would you still have quit your job when you had a baby?

    Nobody is drumming you out of the feminist club, since there isn’t one. But you are aware that you’ve made yourself more dependent on your husband, right? That your time out of the regular work-force decreases your lifetime earning potential, your future employability, and outdates your previous work experience? These are the things EVERY woman is forced to give up when she decides to spend some time mothering full-time. This is the choice you’ve made in a deeply flawed system, and it’s your right. But it’d sure be nice if there was another way to do it, and women didn’t face a lifetime of negative economic repercussions simply by opting to reproduce.

  230. Bubbas' Nightmare


    With three exceptions (my lone friends around my age, either a year younger or older than me, and none of them are married), people my age act like I have cooties because I am not married off.

    Rules of marital exclusion:
    When you get married, your single friends will drop you.
    When you have children, your childless married friends will drop you.

    Happens ever frickin’ time.

  231. Barbara

    You forgot the final one:
    When you’re widowed, your married friends will drop you.

  232. roamaround

    “I just got back from couples’ therapy wherein my husband maintained that my feminism was equivalent to his undergraduate Maoist phase. I need a drink.”

    I absolutely loved this comment and am still laughing. Says everything about marriage, progressive and/or otherwise.

    So, where are those damn mojitos??

  233. Patti

    The funny (oh haha)thing is, I work for myself doing freelance – that means no sick leave, no paid vacation, no matched retirement plan, I pay double social security tax, I buy my own health insurance. But it lets me have the flexibility I need to participate in my son’s life, from his many medical appts to his school functions. There’s no job I could get that would give me all those things. But my ex’s job pays him 6 times what I make, PLUS paid vacation, stock bonuses every year, yada yada yada. He can walk out of work any time he needs to for appointments, whatever. But he won’t step up to taking responsibility for any of the medical appts, doesn’t go to school functions, nothing like that.

    So the difference is, I WANT to participate in my child’s life. I don’t WANT to have to turn him over to other people to raise. I enjoy him, he’s growing up way too fast, I don’t want to miss it. We really need a different working system, a non-BINARY one, that doesn’t make you choose between a career and taking time out to have kids. My ex has basically the best of it all – he gets to work at his career and advance, and he has REALLY wonderful, caring childcare (me). And I see the relationship he has with our son and it SUCKS.

    The attitude that women “decide” to leave the workforce and raise their children, and that they would all rather have great childcare and continue their careers uninterrupted by all that pesky interaction with the kids, doesn’t take into account that lots of women love their children very much and want to raise them. That doesn’t mean we want to be isolated. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to participate in our culture in other ways. It doesn’t mean our brains turn to mush and we become stupid cows. It means there are times in our lives when careers are not the most important things, and we should have a totally different system, where you aren’t penalized for taking that time out.

  234. mearl

    Sooo late to the party. I have a comment on a comment, though, or I suppose on a couple of comments, upthread. The Blamers were talking about housekeeping, and this is something I have long considered after living with four different guys in four different situations (Two were boyfriends, one was a good friend, one was my sister’s boyfriend who lived with me and my sister in a shared rental house). I read Ann Oakley’s “The Sociology of Housework,” Pat Mainardi’s “The Politics of Housework” (on link upthread, but I have the anthology, thanks to a gracious soul who donated it to a used-book store), and Susan Maushart’s “Wifework,” which I will NEVER stop plugging on this site. Such important reads for het feminists!

    But here is where I quibble: “Our house cleaner, who is a woman, has a flexible schedule, gets paid well and seems to enjoy the ability to work unsupervised, while listening to music and watching TV.” For fuck’s sake, does no one realise that there is zero integrity, no matter how you rationalise it, for paying someone else to clean up your garbage and dirty gitch? If every overprivileged feminist in the G8 countries did this in order to balance out our leisure time and work time and have happy feminist marriages, do you realise that you’re contributing to the increase of an already-existing and growing caste system with Untouchables at the bottom, and those Untouchables are doing the shit work of society, paid or not? Garbage men make 22$/hour where I live, benefits and pension and health care included (Canada here). Cleaning women get $7, and nothing else. They clean your bigger, better house to make money for kids they barely ever see. Many are poor or immigrants. Do you really want to contribute to a growing near-slave society in the interests of the patriarchal capitalism, on the pretense that you are leveling the playing field of marriage with your hubby? Here is a snippet from Jan Wong’s “Maid for a Month” series from the Glob:


    (Unfortunately, Wong learned nothing from her privilege except that she should “treat her own Jamaican housekeeper better and appreciate her more,” not that she should give up her dominant-class privilege, downsize, take the blow, and share the housework among herself, her husband, and her lousy little kids. I don’t know how to link the whole series, but it’s on the net somewhere. Please check it out.)

    Make of this what you will, but I really don’t see why everyone can’t clean up their own fucking mess. That means men and women alike. There is no reason, aside from physical ableness, that everyone, male or female, can’t do whatever work is required to run a household or community. You transform “women’s work” into “shit work” and it just goes to a different level, to the women of poorer communities. That ain’t feminism. And don’t try to tell me that you’re giving someone a job. B.S., I say!

  235. mearl

    I also think Jezebella’s idea of the side-by-side or split-level with a connecting door is a great idea, for either a feminist-buddy commune or a marriage to some guy, if one so wishes.

    I’m 28 and the circus that careens around me is enough to base at least three novels on. I have recently observed the breakup of two marriages of friends my age, both relationships longer than 7 years. As well, another long-term relationship that everyone was convinced was going to end in marriage broke up. All three scenarios are hetero. So I’m already seeing the divorces start, before the age of 30.

    On the other side of the coin, I have a handful of single, independent, overachieving female friends, who are happy as clams for the most part but don’t realise it because they haven’t been subjected to the horror of living with a guy. I’m included in this category, although I’ve lived with guys, and several of my friends and I are living pretty much like Toonces (Toonces, sing it!I love my art studio and starfishing in my queen-sized bed!) but all of us live “lonely” lives in our single, cruddily furnished apartments. We’re tired, we eat alone, we sleep alone, we have no one to do daily things with. We date, but can’t find a sufferable guy to even SETTLE for, and we don’t make plans to move in with each other because at least one or another of us is still holding out for the fairy tale and the prince. That or we move around so much for our jobs and school that we’re all in different cities.

    Almost no one I know has kids, but I am fully aware that it’s when the kids show up that you revert to the traditional marriage model and find yourself face-to-face with The Patriarchy. I got on Facebook last week, and discovered SO many friends and former classmates who are now married, have disappeared into their husband’s last name, are having kids and saying what “losers” they are because they have no lives and stay with the toddler at home all day. If the couple is child-free for now, the female is enamoured with the husband and spending time with no one BUT him unless it is another couple; she’s shutting out her single friends and has deluded herself into thinking that her marriage is progressive and equal and it will always be good times. A large percentage of these friends would be living in cardboard boxes or with their parents if they didn’t have the husband’s job and house/car/investment knowledge to float them.

    My big beef is that so many women get married, have a crappy time, and then get divorced and sit there recommending that everyone else be smart and don’t even bother. However, these women, despite all the shit they’ve gone through with marriage, kids and divorce, still have the house, the car, the child support, the alimony, the payouts from mutual investments with the ex-hubby. It’s easy to rag on a system when you’ve already benefited from it, whether you stumbled into the system when young and naive or not. I don’t blame the women, I blame the obvious.

    However: what do you do when you are young, educated, working, feminist – but can barely afford, let alone maintain, the big ticket items? If all your single friends, with whom you COULD ostensibly get a house and share living expenses, are set on the dream of finding a guy someday and so will not say “Fuck the Patriarchy” and make moves for a new way of living?

    I want to tear out my hair when I think about it all.

  236. Kev

    “Kev, why does your father have a last name and you don’t? Why does your husband have a last name and you don’t? Why do even feminists view names as something that only men really have? How do newborn boys acquire their own last names while their sisters do not? Anyone here who has children, do you view your sons as having complete names while your daughters are just Mary Ann [?].”

    Because under patriarchy, and the patrilineal naming system, we are not allowed our own names; women are expected to surrender our names. I have spent the past 15 years being called Mrs XY on a routine basis, and refuting it every single time (believe me, it gets tedious). The assumption is that because I live with a man, I have submitted to him in name.

    I don’t have sons, but I consider that my daughters will probably have the same struggle that I have in asserting their chosen named identity, unless their choice is to ditch their current one and adopt that of whatever man they happen to be with. It is simply a fact of life under patriarchy.

  237. J.G.

    Why do you go along with it by stating that your name isn’t really yours? The whole “it isn’t really your name, it’s your father’s,” is just something that people say to bully and dehumanize women. It’s like the way slaves were given new names. If a woman can’t own even her own name, then she has nothing. That’s why people never say it to men, because a man is seen as owning his own name no matter who else in his family has the same name.

    It’s great that you correct everyone who tries to call you by your partner’s name (or your partner’s father’s name… or your partner’s grandfather’s name, etc.). It’s horrible when a bride says that she’s keeping her own name but that she’s “not going to make a fuss over it if someone calls me by the wrong name.” It’s as though she’s announcing that she’s not worth any effort, even to herself.

    What I don’t understand is why it’s usually the women of a family (both the bride’s and groom’s families) who do the bullying on this issue.

  238. SarahMC

    I wonder how many married women avoid single friends because they’re afraid it will make them realize how bad their married lives are by comparison

    Maybe that’s the same reason married people bug their single friends to get married already – misery loves company?

  239. SarahMC

    Kev, if your name isn’t really yours, then your brothers’ (if you have them) names aren’t really theirs either. And hell, your father’s name isn’t really his. Either everybody who exists on the planet right now owns his/her name or nobody does.

  240. Scratchy888

    Mike does all the housework, so I guess he is erased in the land of twisty!

  241. Violet

    “Enslavement is embraced by those who have accepted this position under the weight of their own complacency, denial, lethargy, apathy, and a myriad of other reasons. If you want to truly empower those who are “trapped”, always give them something more than a few sour words…”

    Thanks, Dr Phil. But a dose of reality, (or what you would call “sour words”) is precisely what people in desperate situations should take to heart, not more New-Age, victim-blaming bromides that so often dribble out of the pie-holes of sanctimonious male “feminists”. Magical thinking along the lines of a Julia Roberts melodrama, where our plucky heroine uses her previously untapped reserves of grit and determination to escape her hellish domestic situation is a gratifying little fantasy, but has little or no bearing in the real world. People whose advice to battered women is simply “leave”, clearly have no idea of what it means to be “enslaved”, or even “trapped”. I take it you have never been driven from your home and forced to take up residency on some well-meaning friend or relative’s spare sofa bed (if you are lucky that is) while psycho-spouse terrorizes you and the unlucky dupes who grudgingly took you in. In the meantime, try hanging on to your menial, low wage job because your new “home” is nowhere near public transportation, and your clothes and other belongings are being held hostage by psycho-spouse. Now add kids and/or pets into the equation, along with insufficient language skills, legal documentation, and the looming threat of homelessness because your boss “can’t afford” to give you more time off to get your shit together, while well-meaning friend or relative tells you he or she is neither equipped emotionally or financially to take on your problems.

    It is not ” complacency, denial, lethary, or apathy” that determines a woman’s decision to endure domestic violence, but often a rational decision we are forced to make unless we want to end up homeless, and even more vulnerable to abuse. Given a choice between being raped in your own bed, or being raped and murdered on the streets, most people will go with the evil they know, rather than face a potentially more terrifying unknown.

    Women in these situations don’t need “hope” or any other Opra-esque nostrums of faith-based quackery and/or self-help, victim-hating humbuggery. We deserve no less than the truth, even if it’s unsuitable for stitching on a throw pillow. Once we divest ourselves of delusions and other forms of magical thinking, we can begin to see our situation more clearly, and address its urgency,(as opposed to making little squealy noises about “remaining optimistic”, as the planet is hurtled into extinction.) Do you think that the Bolivarian revolution got off the ground based on some idiotic notion of “hope” (as in “I hope this Democratic led Congress will put an immediate end to this war”)? Or, was it a complete absence of such infantile, power-serving propaganda that enabled these dirt poor peasants to wrest control of their governments and end centuries of Western hegemony in their region?

    And by the way, the amount of housework a man does does not provide a compelling reason to buy into the asinine institution of marriage. Contrary to popular belief, psycho assholes don’t always look like ‘Daryl’, the lazy, gold-chain wearing, hairy, beer-bellied, redneck “loser” from ‘Thelma and Louise’. Just as often they are “laid back” liberal dudes who iron (insert Nobel Prize here) their own shirts.

  242. mAndrea

    Oh baby – go, Mearl!

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

    Why is this concept so gosh darn complicated? It must be, since blamers can point their fingers at the problems so elegantly, but yet the solution is just so confusing to figure out. Oh dear, cue the hand-wringing.

    Women have been having these exact same conversations for the last forty years, with no end in sight as far as I can see. I expect nothing to change in the next forty. Or the forty after that.


    Because most men don’t want to change. It’s really not all that complicated.

    Most men won’t change until they have no other option. Being slowly nagged to death by feminists over a period of centuries is an option, however it’s not the only option.

    I really, frothing-at-the-mouth really want to have a conversation on the nature of denial. Not about teh menz. About women.

    There’s lots of reasons why women make the choices they do, under the constraints of patriarchy. Although a much more appropiate word is REACT. Women are REACTING to the patriarchy, by the choices we make in response to patriarchal demands. But all of our choices have already been pre-selected, pre-approved for us.

    Be a SAHM. Be a single career gal. Be an empowered hooker. Be a pop tart feminist. The patriarchy doesn’t care what you “choose”, as long as your “choice” always includes you keeping your Nigel warm and satisfied.

    And as long as your Nigel is warm and satisfied, he ain’t ever gonna fucking change.

  243. Kev

    “Why do you go along with it by stating that your name isn’t really yours? The whole “it isn’t really your name, it’s your father’s,” is just something that people say to bully and dehumanize women. It’s like the way slaves were given new names. If a woman can’t own even her own name, then she has nothing. That’s why people never say it to men, because a man is seen as owning his own name no matter who else in his family has the same name.”

    Ah, I see what you mean. Just goes to show how hard it is to think outside the system, I suppose, that even those of us (I include myself) who don’t submit willingly in deed still end up doing so in thought. IBTP. Naturally.

    Blimey, I need some coffee. And I should be working.

  244. tinfoil hattie

    If I’d had a job I had loved, that paid well enough for me to be able to afford safe, loving child care, you bet your sweet ass I’d have stayed in the work force.

    And no, my earning potential did not decrease. It actually increased, because I learned a new and better-paying skill. Meanwhile, the woman who set up the company I own with my husband made sure I was half-owner so I could fund a 401(k) and pay into social “security” while raising my kids.

    I also increased our household income by taking over the bookkeeping and contracts management. I did draw a small salary for this.

    So you’re still judging me.

    You tell me the “perfect” choice I could make in our patriarchal system. Because guess what? Women don’t HAVE any real choices in patriarchy. So quit explaining saying “Yeah, but…” to me about the way I constructed the best life I could under my personal circumstances and society’s strictures.

    I’m one of the women in Twistopia who would be tending to the communal kids, because I love being around kids and interacting with them, and not everyone is cut that way. As a friend and high-driving, highly paid “career woman” friend of mine said, “I wish I were good at it, but I’m not.” She has excellent child care, by the way, and her kids are happy and thriving. She is also extremely wealthy and part of her child care is an $8k per year private, part time Montessori preschool. That’s not exactly the average option open for daycare, is it? (Note she and I maintain a friendship in spite of the awful, all-pervasive, “Mommy Wars”! Unbelievable, I know. We’re supposed to be pulling each other’s hair out over the moral argument about our “choices.”)

    Furthermore, the vast majority of child care workers are just another segment of the exploited underclass of women. Their pay is lousy, their hours are crappy, their benefits are nil, and their job is hard. So I agree with whoever said upthread that we don’t value women and children at all. Professional baseball players, now they’re worth paying a gazillion dollars.

    Keep saying to yourself, “Women don’t have any choices in a patriarchy.” I’m not talking about whether to wear lipstick and high heels or not. I’m talking about freely made, personally constructed life choices. I think we all know by now that if you’re a woman, the one guarantee is that you absolutely cannot win, no matter what you do.

  245. Margaret

    Here’s how I “chose” to “opt out”: had a well-paid but demanding job and it was fine while my status was married-no kids. Fast forward 3 years and I have two babies in diapers, the full-time job plus commute time, and a husband who must have thought he had me good and trapped. I got by on 4 – 5 hours of broken sleep per night. From the time I got up early in the morning until I collapsed into bed late at night, I worked at the same non-stop high-speed pace all day. I don’t know what came first – opting out or collapsing. Perhaps it was simultaneous.

  246. pyramus


    Bridezilla strikes again!

    Bridezilla? Groomzilla? Not me. After twenty years, we’re gonna stand in a little room in city hall, some government official is gonna say a few words and sign a piece of paper, and we’re done. We’ll take two friends out for a nice lunch beforehand, they’ll be our witnesses at the ceremony, a few snapshots will be taken, and it’ll all be over in no time. No twenty-thousand-dollar dresses, no insane parties, no rancour or dementia.

    Dude, despite all the drama of comas and buses, the Patriarchy has given you two choices: Get married or Live in Sin. You are choosing to get hitched.

    And that’s exactly why. After filling out some official form a while back (I won’t bore you with the details), I discovered that other people get to define my relationship, and I realized that that could come back to bite me in the ass. We’d been Living In Sin for a long time, and we were not really any closer to having any useful legal status than when we met. Getting married was pretty obviously the only other choice we had, so that’s the one we’re taking.

    What if there’s more than apples and oranges?

    And what if there’s something inside that Trojan Horse?

    There are always compromises. Every single choice you make in life has is consequences.

    I understand that marriage is a problematic institution, to say the very, very least. I understand that marriage is a different institution for women than it is for men. When same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, we briefly discussed it and decided that it wouldn’t make any difference. But, because of what you disdainfully call “drama” (which is nevertheless a daily occurrence, like it or not), it makes sense to take whatever steps possible to make sure that we get to live the lives we want to. If it takes a marriage certificate to, well, certify that, then that’s the road I’m taking.

    Marriage, troublesome though it is, is not a monolithic, universal evil. It oughtn’t to be the government’s business, or anyone else’s, how people define their relationship. But, for better or worse, society makes it its business. Some people are constitutionally suited for a lifetime of monogamy, and those are the ones for whom marriage just might work. Yes, there ought to be many more options; but there aren’t, not until the revolution comes (and I apologize for not doing my bit to hasten its arrival regarding marriage, but you can’t blame someone for doing the best they can under the restricted circumstances, surely).

    Also, dude! Read the FAQ!

    Read it already. Your specific point is?

  247. tinfoil hattie

    Margaret, I’m sorry. I hear you.

    Wanna move in? I’ll rub your feet.


  248. nazp@ct

    Wow! I have been debating this with friends the whole week! I TOTALLY agree with Twisty – we need to get rid of this marriage thing. (Followed shortly by that religion thing.)

    I know too many people whose marriages are falling apart because their husbands expect them to be a certain type of women – the type that doesn’t do anything without them, tends to the kids, cleans the house, cooks food, and is always available for sex. These smart, well educated, modern women with jobs, are expected to give it all up because ‘its better for the family’.

    When are people going to realize that relationships should be about choice? If your friend treats you like crap, you get a new friend. Why not so with husbands? The emphasis on being married and staying married needs to go. Marriage – with its strict definitions of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ is not an institution that needs to be perpetuated. Those roles need to be nixed. People in a relationship need to create their own, well thought out, mutually benefitial roles.

    When my now-hubby and I hooked up, I told him I never wanted to marry him. I just wanted to be his live-in-lover. I wanted to be friends, with benefits. Of course, being Indian and Muslim, and not willing to have cosmic scale battles with family and society at large, we had to get married. I’m happy to say, as agreed upon, we’re still just friends with benefits.

    I wanted to attend the ceremony. Traditionally, in our community, women don’t attend or they sit in the ‘ladies section’, upstairs. I went up to the local sheikh and told him that I was confused, that even in conservative Islam, if you’re dad is with you, you can go anywhere. Surely it would be okay to be there if I was sitting right next to my dad. The esteemed sheikh told me I was right, Islamically speaking I had every right to be there, but why cause a scandal in the community? He said it would not be allowed. I tried to push the issue with the family. The older uncles shot me down. So I boycotted my religious wedding ceremony. Yup, at the time I was officially married to my honey, I was at home in my pajamas, feeling angry.

    People still ask me why I didn’t attend the ceremony, after all it’s so groundbreaking that women in Cape Town can go to mosque and watch their own wedding! I don’t bother trying to explain anymore. The secular wedding ceremony had much more relevance for me. After all, I was there, and signing legal contracts for myself.

    In a community like mine, it’s really hard to operate in a feminist way without invoking the ire of your family and being disowned. Yet, the same uncles who would shudder to think of their daughters attending their own wedding are shocked and amazed when the husbands of said daughters ignore their wives (except when they want food, sex, or a mother for their kids) or have extra marital affairs.

    But surely, if you don’t view your own daughters as equal to the men they’re marrying, why expect those men to do so? Needless to say, I’ve been watching the marriages of my cousins/friends/sisters fall apart over time.

    [Okay, I know I went off topic in the middle there but that whole ‘can’t attend the ceremony’ thing still rankles me -some man said ‘Nevermind what God says, I say you can’t come’. Its just wrong and I had to vent.]

  249. Susan Johnston

    Happily Ever After: Without the Prince?

    New Release, Princess Bubble, Strikes Chord with America’s 51% SINGLE WOMEN WHO, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN U.S. HISTORY, OUTNUMBER MARRIED WOMEN

    ATLANTA, April 26, 2007—This spring, as single women scramble to catch bridal bouquets, toss their mortar boards, and contemplate “what’s next,” two successful single gals are throwing out an unstereotypical option, a redefined fairy-tale ending, “happily ever after”—even without the prince.

    With wisdom gleaned from their careers as single, globe-trotting flight attendants, first-time authors Susan Johnston and Kimberly Webb have crafted a modern-day book that celebrates singleness. A contemporary fairy tale for all ages, Princess Bubble was written to reduce the overwhelming sense of failure, self-doubt, and despair that some single women face.

    “Knowing how low self-esteem and depression plague many single females, we wanted to spread the message that ‘happily ever after’ can occur even before Prince Charming arrives. . . or even if he never does,” said Webb.

    “We’re definitely not anti-Prince,” said Johnston (whose college nickname was “Bubbles”). “We’re not anti-family or anti-marriage, if anything we’re anti-‘Damsel in Distress.’ Our message—the single life can also be a fairy tale. The End!”

    Princess Bubble stars a princess who is confused by the traditional fairy tale messages that say she must find her “prince” before she can live “happily ever after.” Princess Bubble dons her “thinking crown” to research traditional fairy tales, interviews married girlfriends, and even takes counsel from her mother, who advises her to sign up at FindYourPrince.com. With a little help from her fairy godmother (this is still a fairy tale after all), Ms. Bubble discovers that “living happily ever after” is not about finding a prince. “True happiness,” the book reveals, “is found by loving God, being kind to others, and being comfortable with who you are already!”

    “We’ve had countless women all over the nation tell us they wish there had been a book like this when they were young,” said Johnston. “This is a story women can truly believe in and feel comfortable sharing with their children.”

    ABOUT PRINCESS BUBBLE and BUBBLE GUM PRESS: Self-published in 2006, Princess Bubble is now available through most online retailers and in over 70 retail outlets. The Princess Bubble message, cleverly articulated by former Delta flight attendants Susan Johnston and Kimberly Webb, seeks to find an alternate ending to “happily ever after” and change the notion that life begins and ends with finding your Prince Charming. Looking to bolster the poor self-esteem of female youth and the stigma that many single adult women carry, Johnston and Webb believe “this is a book for women of all ages, a story they can believe in and share with their children.” In upcoming adventures, Princess Bubble will travel to distant lands where the knowledge of every new culture will enrich her flourishing life.

  250. medrecgal

    How refreshing…to know I’m not the only one on this screwed up planet who thinks there’s something seriously wrong with the whole institution of marriage. I, for one, refuse to be “dominated” by ANYBODY, no matter their gender. That alone is a good reason to avoid the trappings of marriage. I have absolutely NO interest in those whining, slobbering, totally dependent creatures they call babies, either, so there goes another traditional excuse for this wholly patriarchal setup. Sometimes you’re much better off alone; then the only expectations you have to meet are your own.

    I never was one to accept traditional gender roles, after all…I was the little girl who played with doctor’s kits and chemistry sets instead of princesses and Barbies and baby dolls; so why would I want to submit myself to a relationship where the expectations hinge on roles I don’t believe in? No thanks; I’ll happily spend my time being entertained by my spoiled felines and intellectually stimulated by research and an interesting career instead. Screw the patriarchy and the white horse it rode in on.

  251. Feminist Avatar

    Miller, do you have a reference for that Mother Jones’ report as I would be interested in reading it? Thanks.

    In Scotland, when a woman gets married she does not legally give up her own name. She can choose to use her own or her husband’s, and if she chooses to use her husband’s name, she still has to sign her own name as well as her husband’s name when signing important legal documents such as wills and mortgages. However, not many women know this until they come to sign something. It was not customary to take your husband’s name in Scotland until the late nineteenth century.

    On the married women ditching single friends or vice versa issue, I married quite young and continued to have close friendships with my single friends, but they could make it quite hard as every decision I made was questioned. ‘She wouldn’t have done that if she wasn’t married’. I also felt that I couldn’t ever bring my partner with me to social events as he was made to feel unwelcome.

    This became even worse whenever another within our group got married and I actually heard the comments made about her marriage and her partner. My friends constantly talk as if her husband is holding her back from her ‘dreams’ and they are really nasty about him. As I regularly point out, as an educated, successful woman, she was able to make her own decisions before she married and she chose to get married, why would that dramatically change now? You then wonder what they say about you and your partner behind your back. In contrast, I have a large group of lesbian friends who always make my husband and me feel welcome.

  252. Babs

    J.G. et al:

    About the name thing:

    I took my husband’s name because my father is a monster. Who is the son of a monster. I was eager to be rid of the last name and take the name of a man that I acutally loved- since that is my only socially acceptable option. Should I have assigned myself my mother’s “maiden” name- well, that’s just the name of her father- a man I don’t know at all but who could very well be an asshat. If he isn’t, then it is a guarantee that someone from his male line of passing on that name is an asshat. What I really would have loved to do would have been to go without a last name entirely, or make one up in the Native American style- Windsong, Crowfoot, something like that.

    Patrilineage is one of the first of the trappings of patriarchy that has to go. Nobody changes their name upon marriage, kids keep the mother’s name. How friggin hard was it to change it into something that isn’t this most logical of solutions?

  253. Twisty

    “Keep shaking things up. I don’t want to live in a world of sheep and I like being challenged when it comes to ideas and philosophy. ” Mr Man

    Thanks for the validation, Mr Man! I had been thinking of becoming a submissive housewife, but then you showed me how much ideas and philosophy benefit you personally! Now I’ll keep the blog for sure! It is always gratifying to hear from a reader who is challenged by the idea that women are human!

  254. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I too took my (now ex) husband’s name because I wanted to disassociate myself from my father’s side of the family.

    Actual conversation leading up to my separation/divorce:

    Me: I don’t know how to explain it. I still love you. You’ve done nothing wrong. You’ve been a good husband and a good father. It’s just . . . it just feels wrong. Like I’m not supposed to BE here.

    Him: I talked to mom last night. She said she went through the same thing with my dad. One day she just decided she didn’t want to be a wife anymore.

    Me: That’s it. It’s not you; I just don’t like being a wife. I hate it. This was not supposed to be the way things worked out for me. I need to be somewhere else. By myself.

    Him: So I’m not being fired; I’m being laid off. My services are no longer needed?

    Me: Something like that.

    I didn’t tell him that, aside from his keeping the car running, the checkbook balanced and the lawn mowed, I couldn’t figure out what “services” he was referring to.

  255. The Reverend B. Dagger Lee

    Though we’re quibbling over a footnote in Twisty’s polemic, O pyramus, dear queer groom, I wish you nothing but good in your marriage. You sound like a thoughtful person in your second post.

    We all live in a State of Emergency and what we have to do to survive and protect ourselves and our loved ones is what we have to do.

    My point about drama (and it was mirthful not disdainful) is that the dramas we are subject to as queers don’t excuse us from examining the institution. Drama isn’t a trump card. We need health care; we need hospital room visiting rights; we need foreign-lover-marrying-green-card-rights, etc. But perhaps even as we gain these rights through marriage we lose by fitting into the Patriarchal slot?

    You seemed miffed about your marriage being included in the general marriage harshing because personally, you’re different, you and your Patroclus in the dingy marriage office—you claimed the “not us Nigels,” exception in the parlance of this blog.

    And when you say, “So how about you not tell gay people what their marriages do or do not entail, okay?” that’s when I say “Dude, read the FAQ!” Or in other words: Where are you standing and where have you come from when you say that? That’s male privilege that you’re speaking from and standing on because you, personally, have been culturally taught that you’re at the center. But you’re speaking to women, who whether gay or straight, have always been excluded from that subjective center. Be careful when you say “Don’t Speak” because it sounds very familiar.

  256. Weeze

    Thanks, roamaround. My husband, in addition to being male, is white and the eldest son of an ex-Wall-Street-tycoon, so you can just imagine. Over a fair amount of wine last night I reminded him that although he’s read some of the literature, he’s never going to really understand what it’s like to be female, any more than either of us can understand what it’s like to be non-white. He agreed in principle, but I suspect that he only barely believes that the patriarchy exists, and if it does, that *he’s* certainly not participating in it. It’s damned exhausting.

  257. Kelda

    Panic’s mention of dementia made me think of my own grandmother. As her dementia gets worse it’s like all the bitterness and resentment of the actions forced on her by the patriarchy comes out. It’s like she’s been holding all this stuff for 60-odd years, and the pressure valve has finally gone.

    For surnames, I prefer the system of male children getting a patronymic and female children getting a matronymic. I’d probably use the Scandinavian ‘dottir’ rather than ‘daughter’ since I think it looks better. So Sue & Bob have kids; the girls’ surname is Suedottir, the boys’ Bobson. Don’t know who the father is? You can go down giving them the mother’s name, so Sueson. There’s a mediaval Arab dude whose surname translates as ‘son of his father’. So you could have ‘Anonson’, ‘Donorson’, ‘Spermson’, ‘Somedudeson’. Although ‘Evilbastardrapistson’, while taking my argument to its logical conclusion becomes more of an argument for abortion rights than a naming suggestion.

  258. Jezebella

    Mearl, not every cleaner makes $7/hour. Mine makes $20/hour to clean my 1200 sq. ft. house. I didn’t hire a cleaner so I could live in a giant house or spend more time getting pedicures.

    How come it’s okay to pay people to be garbage collectors, but not okay to pay them to clean the bathroom?

  259. Lisa


    “They have this opportunity to run away from the competition in which nobody is cheering for them anyway-this stay at home mom deal.”

    What happens over and over and over again is that Fully Functioning Woman (which in a corporatocracy means working for some money to enrich others even more) gets pregnant, blithely thinking that she will be able to continue her life just as it is, even after a new human being has slipped from her loins.

    What happens, over and over and over again, is that Fully Functioning Woman falls in love in a way that takes her breath away and makes leaving the baby impossible. Impossible! Like, ‘This is incredibly important and no one will care enough about to do it right except me’ impossible. And so, she limps along, taking adjunct positions with funny hours, in order to be The One for the baby. Her husband Does Not Get It most of the time; when she is exhausted, he remarks, ‘You’re working too hard; take it easy,’ not recognizing that with a growing person in the house, you must pay attention all the time for about 10 years straight (the hardest thing of all). The Husband equates working in the yard while the child is indoors with a friend with paying attention, which it is not. The Husband silently picks up the child’s stuff and puts it away which, believe it or not, is not paying attention. How is the child to learn to pick up his own shit?

    Some Fully Functioning Women, like me, suffer through a period of not doing anything well enough — not work, not baby-raising. But then, baby grows up and voila! we return to our pre-baby corporate-ready selves, and we begin again to support the capitalist structure. And we have been missed, and we are welcomed back, and we thrive. (You see, we’re not actually losers!) However, we also take with us the now bone-deep knowledge that, in addition to whatever fulfilling thing we do for money, we have also done something really important — raising a baby, who has turned into a person who will find it hard to perpetuate the patriarchy.

  260. LouisaMayAlcott

    Hey, Kelda, thanks for that!

  261. stacy

    Lisa: exactly!

  262. pyramus

    Rev. B. Dagger Lee:

    When you’re right, you’re right, and you’re right. No doubt about it.

    My point about drama (and it was mirthful not disdainful) is that the dramas we are subject to as queers don’t excuse us from examining the institution. Drama isn’t a trump card. We need health care; we need hospital room visiting rights; we need foreign-lover-marrying-green-card-rights, etc. But perhaps even as we gain these rights through marriage we lose by fitting into the Patriarchal slot?

    Absolutely true. The trouble is that no matter what I choose, I’m going to lose something. Marriage looks like the best card out of a bad hand. I’m not unhappy to be doing it, but as I said, it’s not my original choice, and I’m sorry that I have to buy into the system. It’s just that after trying to ignore the possible ramifications of not being married for so long, suddenly my life seemed to have turned into a kind of an or-else situation.

    You seemed miffed about your marriage being included in the general marriage harshing because personally, you’re different, you and your Patroclus in the dingy marriage office—you claimed the “not us Nigels,” exception in the parlance of this blog.

    It did come across that way now that I reread it, but I didn’t mean it to, which I’m going to address in a second, but first:

    And when you say, “So how about you not tell gay people what their marriages do or do not entail, okay?” that’s when I say “Dude, read the FAQ!” Or in other words: Where are you standing and where have you come from when you say that? That’s male privilege that you’re speaking from and standing on because you, personally, have been culturally taught that you’re at the center. But you’re speaking to women, who whether gay or straight, have always been excluded from that subjective center. Be careful when you say “Don’t Speak” because it sounds very familiar.

    You are, as you already know, entirely correct, and I apologize. I was irritated, because (as you also know) all queer folks have spent their entire lives being told what they feel (“It’s not really love!”), how they think (“It’s a mental illness!”), what they can and cannot do (“No kids, no marriage, no rights at all!”). (It must be several orders of magnitude worse for lesbians, who receive such edicts on account of both their lesbitude and their womanosity.) It was just a little maddening to be told, yet again, by a straight person, however enlightened, that “gay marriages for this reason imitate the traditional ones, cause this idea is that there coldn’t be REAL marriage without one person being subservient to the other.” Our relationship isn’t magically wonderful or better than anyone else’s, but it doesn’t mimic a traditional one, because it isn’t.

    Anyway, I’ve said my piece. Y’all are eye-opening.

  263. CafeSiren

    From way up at the top of the comment thread:

    …it irritates me that my so-called feminist friends don’t think that a heterosexual, feminist-friendly relationship involves equality, they think it means “he treats me like a princess! and like totally idealizes me in every way! I hope I don’t fall off this pedestal ahhhh!”

    Ouch. I’ve been there. The problem is that, for the first six months or so, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. Then, you come to a point where your feminism meets his privilege, and you realize it was all a big miscommunication.

    To my credit, at least I didn’t try a frantic scramble back up on top of the pedestal this time. But I did stick around for too long, waiting in vain for him to act like the feminist supporter that he clearly was not.

    I’m single now. I’m lonely sometimes, but not miserable.

    And him? He’s married again. Of course.

  264. TinaH

    What happens, over and over and over again, is that Fully Functioning Woman falls in love in a way that takes her breath away and makes leaving the baby impossible.

    My midwife told me that the biggest hit of oxytocin (the Loooove Hormone) I would ever get is immediately after giving birth. I fell head over heels into love with the little stinker and remain so to this day. Sucked my brain right out of my head.

    The Husband silently picks up the child’s stuff and puts it away which, believe it or not, is not paying attention. How is the child to learn to pick up his own shit?

    I swear, you’ve been in my house, haven’t you? I’m laughing at this – my hubby does the exact same thing.

  265. insaan

    Violet, absolutely brilliant post. Do you have your own blog, by any chance?

  266. buggle

    Twisty-thank you thank you thank you! The funny thing is now there are marriage posts on Feministe and Pandagon, and people are quoting you :)

    Reading this thread was another one of those “Oh my god, I’m really NOT crazy” moments. I think marriage and kids are a trap for women. I avoid both. To me, a wedding ring is like a dog collar-something for my owner to jerk me around with. Kids are the ultimate trap, in my eyes.

    I thank all of the amazingly honest women in this thread-it must take a lot of courage to admit that your marriage isn’t all happiness and sunshine, or that it isn’t what you expected. We need to hear more of this stuff-the reality of marriage. It’s not just about a big party and a pretty dress!

  267. Panic

    Yep, I was totally on a pedestal too. I realise now, that was a huge part of the problem. Anything about myself I changed, from hair colour to getting a tiny little nose stud, was met with anger. I know now that it’s because he had some weird idealised version of me in his head, and if I wasn’t that exact thing, forever more, his view of me was completely shattered. This may be a bit ageist of me, but his new SO is quite a bit younger than I am, and I can’t help but wonder if her age and possible inexperience with life is more beneficial to him. Though I might just be talking out my very bitter ass here.

  268. MM

    Hi, MM and Margaret are one and the same – it depends whether I sign on with Firefox or Explorer… anyway: the idea of marriage equalling man’s ownership of woman is enlightening: when I told my first husband I was leaving him, he ran for the marriage certificate and waved it at me like it meant he owned me. In his mind – it did! Even if it isn’t codified into law, I think that idea is part of the patriarchal psyche.

    To Tinfoil Hatty: that massage sounds great. The kids I spoke of are now in their mid-20’s. I’m in my 50’s and thoroughly grateful I survived their early years and their brutal father. Now I’m a widow with a large degree of freedom and now The Patriarchy is snarling almost helplessly at my door.

  269. po-mosucks

    Hmm… I am puzzled as to the lack of any comprehensive confession of what it’s like to be single before/without marriage/kids. I am. I am 30. I am working on my PhD. I am totally independent. I don’t have a boyfriend and refuse offers on principle and for logistical reasons. Running the show on my own, I don’t have the time or money to soften my perspectives and fembotisize myself to some dude’s delight. I’ve spent enough time in relationships with dudes to know that the time I take out to get cupcakey, mentally, emotionally and physically, for my “boyfriend”* is lost time and money for me.

    Being on your own is exhausting because you have to manage ALL things alone. From your emotional well being to your financial survival – it’s all on your shoulders. And, there is no financial buffer zone. The illusion that someone will “help you out” is not available. That being said, why do I insist on this arrangement? I continue to make that choice because at the end of the day I am more sane and calm, even if broke, and because I am going after what I want.

    Some of my friends, years ago, decided that they needed IKEA, mortgages, in-laws, vacations and the fembot routine more then they respected themselves. They got married. Now, some self-medicate, some are “happy” and others still are back from the battlefield. The stories they relay are horrific. Endless hours of housework, lies and infidelity so finely worked into the day that they go unnoticed for years, pulverized self-esteem, passive-aggressive manipulation, financial guerrilla warfare, constant struggle to maintain even the lowest degree of conceptual, to say nothing for material independence, and so on.

    And here is what kills me – too often it takes that degree of alienation from yourself, getting married despite better intuition and evidence, going through all that shit, to realize that you’re screwed twice as bad if you nod off on the job for even a moment and get brainwashed into thinking that getting married is better.

    If you have any doubts about it – don’t do it! You don’t have to jump off a skyscraper to KNOW it’s not good for you. Same logic applies.

    * Strictly a BS term since “boyfriends” hardly act like a friend should: with concern, selflessly and with generosity.

  270. teffie-phd

    I’ve been married almost 13 years, have two children, love them all and my answer to your post is: Yep.

    I’m very aware of where I sit in the lapdance of patriarchy.

  271. The Reverend B. Dagger Lee

    pyramus, I’m totally touched, what a great apology. But one more tiny point (the Internets: death by a thousand tiny cuts!) of clarification: Twisty ain’t straight.

    But you have my very right reverend, mostly obtuse blessings on your impending nuptuals.

    Maybe after we elect Rudy Guliani president and Miss Patsy and me have to go on our crime spree to Canada, we’ll look you and your Patroclus up!

  272. Bird

    If you and Miss Patsy ever go on that Canadian crime spree, I’m pretty sure there are more than a few of us northern Blamers willing to offer hideouts from the cops (or at least the spare bedroom and a cup of tea).

  273. National Acrobat

    You know, my wife and I never bought into that whole engagement/proposal thing. We had already been living together for several years and wanted kids, so one day I simply said ‘would you like to get married?’ and she said ‘yep’. Then we got married.

    That was 12 years ago.

    We had already bought a house together and two cars, so the usual trappings of an engagement were not part of our world, much to her mother’s discontent. Even to this day her mother still doesn’t think we did things the right way.

  274. po-mosucks

    You said it Bird!

    One more thing. Since the present discussion indirectly involves dudes I want to share another survival tactic via a book.

    This one will help you figure out why you are married/ engaged/ in a long-term relationship and yet lonely, depressed, frustrated, angry and generally miserable. Here it is:

    Living with the Passive Aggressive Man: Coping With Hidden Aggression from the Bedroom to the Boardroom.
    By Scott Wetzler

    The title is misleading because one of the most valuable pieces of advice is that he won’t change and unless you are ok with being a martyr to his cause you’re better off leaving him.


  275. Dawn Coyote

    Marry me!

    Socioeconomic validation: Parental leave in Canada at least begins to chip away at the binary roles. The article addresses the fact that women are still using the lion’s share (har-har) of the leave, but the very fact that men are entitled to it begins to shift (I believe) notions of parental roles. I see the effects of this in my friends, where there is no assumption that one or the other’s time is more valuable or more subject to caregiving, housework, etc. than the other’s.

    Universal health care goes a long way to supporting women’s choices. If I’d had to stay with my husband to retain health care coverage, I’d probably have gone postal.

    Because much of the inequity in marriage is tied to economy (time/money), developing alternative economies seems like a good way to attack the foundations of the problem (I work in Community Economic Development, so I tend to think that economy is both the root of all evil and the solution to everything).

    Since Canada has same-sex marriage, I’d like to see us change the polygamy laws, too. Then, with whatever minimum income per spouse requirement the government might impose taken into consideration, I could marry a bushel of American Blamers and we could live together in an atheist cooperative with contracts in place to protect everyone’s interests. With co-op businesses, universal health care, fair division of labour, a year of government-funded parenting for every child, and accumulation of community assets, we’d be our own micro-economy, and the problem of the wife/mother trap would be over – for us, anyway.

  276. zz

    pyramus said: “I was irritated, because (as you also know) all queer folks have spent their entire lives being told what they feel (”It’s not really love!”), how they think (”It’s a mental illness!”), what they can and cannot do (”No kids, no marriage, no rights at all!”).”

    I’ve got to admit, pyramus, I cheered when I read your first post for exactly the same reasons you stated above. It does get old, doesn’t it.

  277. Zora

    I’m so happy to come here and hear from like-minded taceaus!

    I have never once considered marriage an option, but I did live with a guy (including moving all over the country) for about seven years. Reading about “good” relationships here, I have to say I definitely had one. I think he did more of the housework than I did, if not an equal share, and he generally pulled his own weight. I just got sick of it is all.

    Your comments and comments on comments have made me see how lucky I am. Although I am 32, nobody has ever asked when I’m getting married or intimated that I might be an old maid. Nobody has ever pressured me to breed. And, frankly, as a single het female, I’m not lonely at all. At least, I’m no lonelier than I was in a couple.

    I just can’t decide if I don’t get any of the flack because I’m so obviously “not that type of girl,” because I turn a deaf ear to it or because I’m just plain lucky. In any case, thanks for reinforcing my life choices!

    No marriage.
    No babies.
    Life on my terms.

    Spinsterhood, here I come!

  278. The Patriarchy

    Dear all –

    While I would sincerely love to take responsibility for each and every one of your marriage woes, it sounds like most of your husbands are irresponsible morons all on their own.

    Hugs and kisses,

  279. Miller

    Feminist Avatar, here’s the link http://www.motherjones.com/news/mustreads/1999/10/092799.html
    and the info:

    In Scotland,sometimes rape is OK

    Sept. 30

    Just months after the outcry over rapes at Woodstock, researchers on the other side of the Atlantic uncovered more bad news on the sexual violence front. A study by Scotland’s Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust found that fully half of the young men surveyed thought forcing a woman to have sex was sometimes acceptable, reported the BBC. A third of women aged 14 to 21 felt the same way.

    One researcher said she had not predicted such a widespread acceptance of rape, saying, “We didn’t set out to find such a result so we were shocked by it.” Reasons both men and women chose as justifying rape ranged from being in a long-term relationship to having slept around. That’s not surprising in itself; kids hear those cultural messages every day. It’s the sheer numbers that are shocking: 50 percent of 14-to-21-year-old Scottish men shows a lot of justification for the unjustifiable. The number of young women buying into the rape-is-OK reasoning is equally disturbing.

    There’s one thing Woodstock and Glasgow have in common: They’re both strong evidence that media messages of women-as-victims don’t go unheard.

    For more resources on violence against women, check out the American Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Homepage.

  280. mAndrea

    “But I’m raising the next generation of feminists!”

    Only if the father is of the egaliterian persuasion. Otherwise, NO. Research indicates that much of a girl’s self esteem and boy’s view of women comes from the closest male role model – and they are indoctrinated into this mindset at a young age. In later stages of development, peers and media either reinforce, mitigate, or contradict previous learning.

    Can we cut the crap, please?

    At best, all a feminist mom can do is choose a profeminist man, limit children’s access to non-feminist men and idealogy, and expose their kids to egalitarian systems and viewpoints.

    Exact same thing the traditionalists do, only in reverse.

  281. mAndrea

    The deck is stacked against feminist moms. If you want to have kids because you want to have kids, then frickin’ say so.

  282. Caja

    Way back in late 2005, I think it was, I read an anti-marriage piece here. I’d been divorced for a few years at that point, and kinda figured that once I stopped feeling traumatized about the now-ended marriage (it wasn’t the divorce that hurt, it was the marriage), I’d probably want to get married again, assuming I found someone I might actually consider worthy of making the committment to. Anyway, 3 years after the divorce, I was still feeling vaguely uncomfortable with the notion of getting married, and that post I read here helped me figure out a big part of my discomfort: is the societal crap one has to deal with if society knows you are married. And after pondering this, I realized that actually, I didn’t want to get married again. Ever. Even if I did find a suitable partner. So thank you for the eye-opener way back when.

  283. Miller


    Your post is so right on the insanity of society asking, “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” (Notice they never ask, “Why doesn’t *he* leave *her* if she’s so awful?”), as they completely dismiss the fact that batterers are deranged stalkers who will stop at nothing to hold you hostage or kill you if you dare leave. Not to mention the “justice” system she has to rely on is a hotbed of batterers, rapists, and their apologists. You might as well have boys flock to a NAMBLA conference to escape pedophilia.

    When you mentioned The Oprah, I immediately thought of this recent show she had on DV where she discussed ways for a woman to escape. The Oprah honestly said to a survivor something along the lines, “Did you tell yourself, ‘I’m not going to be one of those women that gets themselves beat?'” Gets themselves beat! I couldn’t believe it. And she said it so casually! It is true: the more extreme the lie, the stronger the myth.

    I started hating The Oprah w/ a passion when said pedophiles “seduce” their victims, a word that implies consent (just as incorporating sex when discussing rape: “sex crime” or “sexual assault”). I am well aware pedophiles exploit sexual reflexes in children, but it is not “seduction” but cold-blooded “calculation.” Newspapers are much worse: a pedophile who had raped a 9 year-old girl for 3 years described it as him having a “sexual relationship” w/ her.

  284. Professor Zero

    So, just as I was ranting and raving on a newer thread, I was contacted by a former colleague for aid and abettance, a reference, and advice – lovely marriage turned abusive and all ways out are very difficult and problematic, needed to brainstorm and strategize. I get these sorts of calls from former students and colleagues on a regular basis. Moral of story: never be married without resources of your own.

    My grandfather (b. 1880) had a rather good idea. He took out insurance policies on each daughter. These policies started paying monthly at a certain age, *or* as soon as the girl got married. The money goes into an account whose owner can just let build up and accrue interest, or spend, or whatever. My mother is still alive and her account is still active.

    My grandfather’s official explanation of why he did this was that even if you are being well supported by a nice man and do not want to be gainfully employed, it is nice to have a little of your own money – even if just so as not to experience the slightly odd sensation of buying your husband a present with money he made (even if you did help him make it, or support him materially so he could make it, yadda yadda). He also said that it was in case you got into that pocket money situation like Skye Lamont and the pocket money was not enough. These were the explanations he gave my mother, who was still a youngster when he died.

    I do not think he wanted to trouble her with: so you will have some money coming in if your husband leaves you – so you will have a way to save up secretly and leave someone problematic. But it is pretty obvious in the way that it is set up – sheltered somehow from community property and all, I am not sure how it was all done but it works in such a way that it could function very discreetly as a real escape hatch.

    It is also pretty obvious that my mother realizes what it is for at that level. She has been married 60 years, is unlikely to separate, and my father is not stingy / controlling with money / etc. But he notices her account is very conservatively invested, thinks he should manage it such that it would make more money, etc. She says no way, that is mine only, and it is mine for a reason.

  285. Bird

    The pocket money thing makes me sad. When I went away to college, my grandmother would slip me $20 here and there for me to buy myself “a little treat,” as she put it. My grandfather disapproved of her using her pocket money that way, so she would do things like tuck it inside the wrapper of a chocolate bar or hide it in a tin of cookies (it was okay for her to supply foodstuffs). So even her “personal” pocket money wasn’t really her own.

    You know who I blame for that one.

  286. Coathangrrr

    mAndrea said:
    At best, all a feminist mom can do is choose a profeminist man, limit children’s access to non-feminist men and idealogy, and expose their kids to egalitarian systems and viewpoints.

    And have them socialize early and often with other children raised the same way. A children’s peers are one of the main places they get their ideas on society from.

    I think radical, feminist and beyond, childcare collectives are a really good idea, run by and for people who wish their children to be socialized in a way as far from the oppressive norm as possible.

  287. Amy

    My eyes are currently too tired to read the whole post – but I shall do, ‘cos I’ve been musing quite a lot recently about marriage, probably ‘cos my (pregnant) friend is getting married at 17 – but…yeah…I watched a programme called “Hidden Lives: Obedient Wives” about a month ago, and I meant to blog about it, but I was supposedly revising. I will still blog about it, ‘cos I just was so…horrified by it, but I think I need to watch it again (good job I recorded the prog).
    Sorry, rambling, somewhat irrelevant comment.

  288. Professor Zero

    Yes, the pocket money thing is sad. But if people are going to insist on believing in patriarchy, capitalism, etc., and complying with it, I’d rather do it than not. My aunt did it for me and it enabled me to get out of a very scary household at a young age.

  289. Bird

    Oh, I have a personal nest egg too. I have an income-generating insurance policy and an RRSP all set up, and I’m working on building additional savings. This little bird isn’t counting on anyone to look after her feathers for her. I advise any woman to do the same if at all possible (I know it’s not for some, for which I also BTP).

  290. Mau de Katt

    I am also aware, of course, that in choosing to keep my own name, all I was doing was keeping the name of my father, and the name my mother submitted to on marriage. But one has to start somewhere, I suppose.

    I solved this apparent conundrum by legally changing my name to one of my own creation — the whole thing, first middle and last. Odd thing was, I wasn’t the first one in my family to do it, I was just the first one to do it legally. I was also the first one to change the whole kitten-caboodle instead of just a first name.

    P.S. (Yes I know it’s really “kit-and-caboodle”….)

  291. Lisa

    To those of you who are consciously steering clear of having and raising children, I’d like to say two things:

    1) Thanks for thinking about it enough to decide that having kids is not for you. I wish more people would make a thoughtful choice. I work with lots of unwanted and/or poorly parented children, so when I say thanks, I mean thanks.

    2) We will continue to need electricians, and physicians, and barristas, and mattress engineers, and building managers, and accounts managers, and entertainers to replace the ones who get old, go blind, go to jail, or die. Whether you like it or not, you depend on people who do all kinds of jobs. Those of us who bear and raise children are supplying the once and future workforce. It’s a lot of work, and costs a lot of money.

    So: You’re welcome.

  292. roamaround

    OK po-mosucks and Zora, you think spinsterhood is fine and dandy at 30-ish, though it’s exhausting etc. Well try another decade or two of exhaustion and social censure and see how you feel.

    I just got back from a dinner of three couples and me. All us forty-something women are “feminists” and all the men are too, supposedly, but it was all so 1950’s I wanted to puke.

    The women worried about the food and did most of the preparation, serving and clean up. They all giggled about the sexist neighbor of one couple who would only talk to the husband. How would I deal with such sexist assholes as a single woman? Huh? Who cares!? That’s my problem. Nobody sees their capitulation to traditional gender roles as directly oppressing me. They don’t wear lipstick, after all.

    Though I agree that marriage benefits men more, women can also benefit enormously from the social approval and protection against outside male hostility that marriage does provide.

    I don’t want to come off as defending marriage because I certainly am not. I know it’s a trap and that’s why I escaped it. I just want to echo the sentiment that there are no easy alternatives out there either until we figure out how to support each others’ independence from marriage.

  293. Spit The Dummy

    For surnames, I prefer the system of male children getting a patronymic and female children getting a matronymic.

    I kept my own name when I got married and (after a short battle) my husband and I agreed to give the male kids his surname and the female kids mine. Then we had two boys.

  294. Feminist Avatar

    Thanks for the link Miller.

  295. Gayle

    Late to the party here but I’m posting anyway: I blame the construct of the nuclear family.

    Although promoted, mainly by the right, as a time-tested traditional way of living, it’s actually a fairly contemporary set up. Prior to WWII , most people lived with their extended families, in familiar communities, and this had benefits.

    My Grandmother opened my eyes when she announced to me one day she felt sorry for women today. She told me she felt this way because women have so much work to do, both inside and outside of the home, and they have no reliable help.

    This shocked me, as I knew she had worked hard outside the home her whole life while raising five children. She told me when she was raising her kids; she had an entire neighborhood there to help her. Like many immigrant communities, relatives and friends peopled her street—everyone knew everyone else. And when it came to looking after the children, there were always groups of women available to help. They would sit outside on porches and watch all the kids together. So when my grandmother went to work (like many immigrant families, she ran a Mom and Pop with my granddad), she could leave the kids right there, where they would be watched over by cousins and aunts. And, of course, after her father died, her mother came to live with her as was commonly done in the day.

    A similar arrangement occurred on the other side of my family, in an entirely different ethnic community. There were always relatives and friends, available and ready to help.

    Don’t get me wrong. These were not utopian communities; both groups were highly patriarchal—the caregivers, with few exceptions, were women. And as both groups were Catholic, they lived under the often iron, misogynistic fist of parish priests.

    But if there were a way to create extended communities like this without patriarchal overlords, wouldn’t this help solve some of these issues? Now we have isolated nuclear families, people who, by and large don’t even know their neighbors. Kids are over-scheduled and unsupervised at the same time. Women are overworked. Working parents are rightly paranoid, as they have to leave their kids with strangers. There was something to the pre-nuclear family set up. If only we could find a way to go back to old way without the patriarchal baggage that came with it.

  296. Kaylar

    If you know what you’re about, and can live with dirty
    dishes and unironed clothing, and know that even if hell
    freezes over you are going to work at nine am, you can
    have it all.

    You can have him do the housework or live in filth.
    You can see who gets hungry first and starts to cook.
    You can take control.

    I warned my partner; “This woman comes with a warning
    This woman does not cook
    clean, wash or iron.”

    It wasn’t a joke. You’d be surprised how quickly
    he got into the laundry habit. I think he became
    a charter member of the laundromat down the road.

    And his cooking was pretty good. His cleaning
    was not up to scratch, but a little dirt won’t
    kill you. His ironing was first class.

    The problem with most relationships is that women
    feel they have a ‘duty’ to look after the man.
    My mother, the houseslave, raised me to be absolutely
    useless in the home. I was never allowed to make
    a pot of coffee or toast my own bread.

    She would say; “If you can’t do it, he’ll have
    to hire someone to do it or do it himself.”

    As a lawyer I can testify on oath as to how many
    men change their wives for the latest model.

    The most self sacrificing women, who gave up
    everything, enter the job market for the first
    time at forty five, because after the divorce
    she has nothing.

    Her kids run to daddy for everything because he
    can give them the important merchandise, Mom can
    only hold you when you scrape your knee.

    Any woman who gives up a career for children might
    as well throw herself under a truck. Because at
    the end of the day, hubby will bring some party
    girl into the home, and the kids will find their
    own lives.

    The word ‘grateful’ does not exist in the male

    Poor Skye, she’ll soon be Dirt.

  297. purpleshoes20

    justicewalks, this is so late as to be pretty irrelevant, but that’s exactly what I meant: for a lot of the world, ‘marriage’ is a red herring, or a dead herring, an idea that a lot of people talk about and almost no one does: and yet everyone (see: governments, churches, ‘aid’ agencies) still acts like heterosexually-bonded nuclear families are the norm.

    IMO, it’s like “opting out” – I know of very few people who opted out, or opted in. I know a lot of people whose family economics made the decision for them, and a lot of people who were so strongly discouraged by personnel policies, office environments, and the cardinal assumption that one parent, let’s guess which parent, is responsible for all duties surrounding caring for children that quitting was the only sanity-preserving option.

    Am I the only person who thinks that subsuming one’s responsibilities and affections to the megocorportocracy’s demand that ‘useful citizens’ be in a cubicle 9-5 without the interruption of other human bonds is not a particularly liberated existence anyway? Anyone?

    I am not saying that you can’t love your job (I love my job), but still.

  298. purpleshoes20

    ah, crap, I used some words wrong. Mock me at will, comrades.

  299. LouisaMayAlcott

    PurpleShoes asked:

    “Am I the only person who thinks that subsuming one’s responsibilities and affections to the megocorportocracy’s demand that ‘useful citizens’ be in a cubicle 9-5 without the interruption of other human bonds is not a particularly liberated existence anyway?”


    I left it behind more than 30 years ago.

  300. Joolya

    Marriage. Yeah. How the fuck did that happen to me?
    My marriage is actually perfectly fine, and my Nigel is such a super Nigel I am pretty sure I married a lesbian with a big old penis. Which is great. I had to marry him or else we couldn’t live in the same country for a very long time or possibly forever. Thank Whomever that he does have a penis so we were able to convince our respective nations of his being allowed to stay in my house. Sorry, our house.
    Yet my issues with the institution itself persist.
    I know I am sero sed serio but I want to add my 2p on the name thing. My father, whose last name I share, is a prick. I haven’t spoken to him in 10 years. My last name isn’t beautiful or easy to spell or famous or illustrious or interesting or even the one that my immigrant great-grandparents left the old country with. BUT, it’s mine. I’ve had it my whole life, like I’ve had my nose and my eyes, and significantly longer than I’ve had my tits. I could in theory have my nose or tits or eyes changed if I felt like it; ditto my name. But I haven’t wanted to change any of those things, out of pure cussedness maybe.
    I just find it shocking – shocking! – whenever I hear of women my age (late 20s) changing their names when they marry. This has always seemed like a bizarre and evil practice.

  301. Kali

    “But if there were a way to create extended communities like this without patriarchal overlords, wouldn’t this help solve some of these issues?”

    We should take our inspiration from elephant communities. The grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters live together all their lives. As soon as the male babies grow up to be able to care for themselves, they leave the commune. The females have allegiance to each other, not husbands, not male overlords.

    In humans (and other warlike, violent animal species), on the other hand, men have been able to separate women from each other into isolated units that they can exploit for unpaid/underpaid domestic, sexual and reproductive labor (in the best case scenario) or rape and beat up (in worse case scenarios).

  302. embee

    Hmm…I’ve always wondered (and frankly, mourned a bit over it) why I can’t seem to bear even a long-term relationship, never mind marriage. I’m turning 50 this year, het, and have had no lack of what my mother calls “chances.” I also have an extreme sensitivity to the personal consequences of the power politics directed at keeping people docile…Daddy was a Southern Baptist minister, y’see, so it was a double whammy: patriarchy religion. Left me with an absolute need for autonomy at all times (which is damned inconvenient when you sprain your knee at 3 AM, yes it is).

    Silly as it may seem, it never occurred to me to blame this relational skittishness on TP. I blamed myself, of course: selfish, hysterical woman, can’t get it together, etc. etc.

    Thank you, Twisty and commenters, for shining a light into that particular dark corner of my mind.

    One part of this conversation regarding the notion of communes of like-minded folk: the cohousing movement may be of interest.
    There’s also an elder cohousing link there.
    http://cohousing.org/ I’ve been speculating on doing this sort of thing with a few friends. Mojitos!

  303. bianca

    This is great writing and great discussion. I’ve got nothing to add that hasn’t been said, other than feeling that marriage and motherhood have made me a stronger feminist because both have opened my eyes to injustices that I did not see (well, I saw but did not feel so deeply) beforehand. Thanks to blue milk for leading me here. I’ll be visiting again.

  304. Edith

    I just wanted to say thank you, Twisty. This is exactly what I was hoping for, and now I have something to link to my sister when she asks me questions like, “Do you think champagne and light blue would be good wedding colors?”

  305. Edith

    Also, when people ask if I’ve had penis-vagina sex already (I’m 23), I always say no, I’m saving sex for marriage. And then I say that I’m never getting married. And then I win.

  306. TheWrongSortofFeminist

    Jesus H. Christ. All of you should quit lamenting over how YOU caved in to the demands of a MAN, (you’re supposed to be feminists right?) and still think you’re eligible to whine about it. There are plenty of intelligent human beings out there who live by these ethical, commonsense principles, which often include being a little more than a chauvinist pig when it comes to co-habitation. Yes, that’s right. Expand your fucking horizons. Marry someone if you feel they’re worth it, marry because you love them even. Yep I just said that. And if it’s neither, live on your own. No biggie. And if you do anyway and it’s still neither, it is YOUR problem if you legally binded yourself to a dishonest, lazy, incompetent man you knew he was in the first place.

    They don’t say women have two sets of lips so they can piss and moan at the same time for nothing. This whole site is an embarrassment to feminism. I would suggest getting your ass off of that chair and DO something about changing state of society if you see it fit. What you’re writing on this blog here isn’t new, except that there are significantly less REAL barriers surrounding women now, due to it being America/Europe 2007 and not Victorian society 1840. Western women have ALL the room and capacity to support themsleves and have liberated life, with laws and legal aid backing you up if you’re faced with prejudice. The rest of the world’s women don’t often have that, and they don’t just “not count” because they live in a different part of the planet. Think about that, think about helping them, and STFU in the meantime about you and your cushy middle-class life and how it went all wrong because you started washing the dishes twice as often as your husband and how he doesn’t give a shit and he’s a stupid bastard twat.

  307. Gayle


    You’re funny!


    “I just find it shocking – shocking! – Whenever I hear of women my age (late 20s) changing their names when they marry. This has always seemed like a bizarre and evil practice.”

    As do I. I never once considered taking my husband’s name. Not once. And I’m not all that partial to my name either; it’s just MY NAME so I “kept” it. I know so many professional women who have married in their late 30s and early 40s who have changed their names. Can you imagine changing your name at 42? The name on all of your paperwork, on your business cards? I receive new e-mails and letters from women I’ve known for years and I don’t know who the hell they are! It’s as if my old friends and colleagues disappeared and some new person/identity took their place!

    Kali, Sounds good to me! I’m a huge fan of elephants!

  308. Lily

    Thewrongsortoffeminist: The point you raised about women getting upset about small issues like housework is actually a great point to make, albeit in opposition to your argument: it’s precisely the placement of a ‘just’ before such problems that serves to diminish them and reinforce a woman’s feeling of powerlessness and self-blame when even bigger problems are diminished also. It’s JUST dishes. It’s JUST the cable bill. It’s JUST another child.

    This thread has got me thinking about my own mother. In many ways she’s quite traditional: she has set beliefs about class and how boys and girls should be raised, and about how people should and shouldn’t act. She’s also an artist, married to another artist, who was coerced into having another child by my dad and my grandmother, and who never uses my father’s last name and has always told me that I should never feel the need to get married or have children. She doesn’t wear her wedding or engagement rings but my dad does, and she really just wants to paint now that she’s done with raising us. I never even thought of this as feminist really; I just thought of it as her.

  309. Helena

    Spent about 2 hours reading this thread. Wow. I’ve never seen/heard so many people expressing the thoughts I have had since my childhood. I don’t know any other feminists, so this site is both stunning and comforting for me.

    I only have a couple of points to make, as I agree with almost everything upthread and it’s all been said for me.

    1. I employ someone to clean my house and I totally disagree without whoever said that is just exploiting women. I do not enjoy housework and I am so busy I’d never do it anyway and the place would be a mess. A woman has set up her own business cleaning houses because she enjoys cleaning. She is her own boss, makes more money than she would working on a supermarket checkout. She advertised, assessed my house and told me how much money she wants to clean it top to bottom. She is my age and my class, but much fitter than me and does the work in half the time that it would take me. Her services free up my time and I use that time to write women’s history (from a feminist standpoint). If I sack her and do it myself I would lose a whole day that I currently spend on feminist activities.

    I cannot see how this is exploitative. If I (and all her other clients) sacked my cleaner, she would no longer be self-employed, choosing her work or her hours, and she would have to go back to working on the checkout at Tesco’s. Would that be more liberating and less exploitative than what she does now?

    Last week I employed a guy who steam-cleans upholstery to clean my sofa; next week a man is decorating my house; on Monday a carpenter is going to fix a door; I am just about to give some work to a typist. Am I exploiting all these people? Or am I keeping them employed and earning?

    I think those who are vehemently against women employing other women as cleaners have internalised the patriarchal belief that all women are “supposed” to clean, so they feel guilty if they don’t do it. Therefore, no woman should be allowed to escape her birth-right or should I say “birth-burden” by paying someone else to clean.

    Making all women do housework is a patriarchal plot to prevent us from having the time to fight patriarchy.

    Author, Notable Sussex Women, etc

  310. Helena

    2. My second point was that even if you get a totally equal marriage, the patriarchal outside world won’t see you or treat you as equal to your husband. Like for example if your home is untidy people will judge/blame the woman, not the man. Lots of assumptions will be made. I’ve witnessed female dinner guests announcing they are going to help the female host with HER washing up; men assuming that it’s the husband who will be driving any car the couple are going to travel in; that is is the wife’s responsibility to look after the children and the house.

    So, you may be able to get it straight between you but you will spend a lot of time having to correct other people’s assumptions.

    Same with the name. You may keep your name, but as one woman upthread has said, people will still keep on calling you by his name, and you will spend your life correcting them.

    Fach: Cherie Booth has never, ever, taken or used her husband’s name since the day they wed. And yet I’ve been infuriated a thousand times to see “Mrs Blair” this and “Mrs Blair” that. If Britain’s “First Lady” cannot persuade people to respect her wishes, what hope for Mrs Ordinary?


  311. Twisty

    Said Helena: “I employ someone to clean my house and I totally disagree without whoever said that is just exploiting women.”

    That was me what said that.

  312. Helena

    Re: raising children. I’ve often thought that we might be better off in the long run if it was acknowledged that women and children are the social unit, not women and men. So many children end up without their fathers anyway that women might as well take 100% responsibility right from the conception.

    Abolish marriage completely. Children take the woman’s name. Have the father co-habit if he wants to but don’t rely on his being there 16 years (they often aren’t in any case).

    I suppose you call call this going with the flow, but faster. I think a change of attitude might benefit women in the long run because they won’t be dependent on a man and I believe that it is this dependency that leads to men being able to control and abuse us.

    Oh and all mothers should get a fat state allowance from the child’s birthday until it is about 12 years old. She can use that to stay at home for them or to pay a childminder while she gets a job. Again this gives women freedom from men and more choices if the relationship gets nasty – she can afford to live without him.

    I’d also give fathers no rights over any children. That should crush patriarchy forever.

    Comments please?


  313. Twisty

    Helena, welcome. I suggest you introduce your topic on the blaming message board. There’s a whole kid-raising category over there, and this blog thread just has too many comments.

  314. MarilynJean

    Thewrongsortoffeminist is indeed funny. Some of these posts do sound like nothing more than the whining of middle-class, white women and not protestations against the flawed system of marriage. I ignored the solution to hire cleaning services, but to read people trying to justify doing so was even worse. The justification is worse than the act itself.

    Also, I’m slightly bothered by the heterosexual women wishing they were lesbians so that they don’t feel so lonely without a man or so they can enjoy egalitarian partnerships. Since when were all homosexual relationships equal? Lesbians and gay men can be just as partiarchal, lazy, sexist, racist, abusive, etc. in relationships as heterosexual, white men so please do not tell me that you’d rather date women so you can get a break from men.

  315. whatsername

    Like everything else you voluntarily enter into in life, marriage is what you make it, and only as sexist as you allow it to be.

    Just because some people can’t see that doesn’t mean marriage (committing to one person hopefully for the rest of your life) is a bad thing, or a sexist thing.

    If your husband doesn’t do his fair share, DON’T FUCKING DO HIS SHARE. Let it sit there until he does it. Just THINK about what you’re doing, for gods sakes.

  316. Kylie

    I’m a single mother living with my younger brother. We almost have a husband/wife relationship, as although we both work long hours, he never NEVER does any cooking/cleaning etc, except for his room, bathroom and car. He does, however like his dinner cooked for him, and lunch to take to work. I don’t know why I put up with it, but I think it’s because he’s my baby bro and I love him so much. Plus I already have one kid, just adding one more is not that hard. It’s MUCH easier than when I was with my son’s father, I can tell you that. I was a slave in that relationship. Okay, I can see that I need to get some control of my life. Anyway, my little bro’s a strong, practising, born-again Christian, and he’s a virgin (at 21) saving himself for marriage. I’m starting to feel very responsible for spoiling him now, because he’s going to expect his future wife to do everything I do for him!!! AArrrgh! I think he’s fully planning on having a wife so he can have hot meals and clean laundry and children to play with. Should I do anything about this?

  317. Dana

    Offering a few thoughts about parenthood having to do with some of the ideas offered here: Reproduction is inherently selfish, because it is the one route we have to immortality. Some part of us will always be living if we have descendants. It will eventually be watered the hell down with other people’s genes the more generations pass, but it is the key to continuance of life. If the biological reality has translated into cultural reality somewhat (i.e., because reproduction has the “selfish” effect of granting a kind of immortality, people culturally want to reproduce for consciously selfish reasons as well), as long as the kids aren’t being abused or turned neurotic by the situation, I don’t really care. My philosophy about intentions is that I never know what someone else is thinking if they don’t tell me; what is more important to me is how they behave. A person can have children for selfish reasons (i.e., having selfish intentions), but still raise them very well. It happens.

    As for possessiveness of children, that at least partly stems from parental instinct. I don’t believe people are automatically hardwired with parental instinct, by the way. We are a social species, so how well our various social instincts develop depends on a lot of factors which may or may not be present or adequately developed in individual situations. For example, if a woman has a baby but the baby is immediately taken away and kept from her, her mothering instincts will be severely truncated or never develop at all because they depend on certain hormonal surges brought on by interaction with her baby. Where raising children is concerned, it benefits the children if the parents feel attached to them because that decreases their chances of abandonment. So a certain amount of possessiveness is desirable.

    But the cool part is, a scenario like you envision with many adults raising one child can still potentially happen. Even if they did not give birth to the child, adults can still become emotionally attached to that child and want to raise her, socialize her properly and further her survival. This is how dads become attached to their infants if they aren’t fucking wankers who drop a load and then ignore the kid until she’s old enough to talk football scores, since fathers don’t have the mothering hormones. It is also how moms themselves attach to their children if they and their babies got off to a bad start. So, definitely doable. In fact, honestly, children do better in a tribal environment than they do in the present social setup. They need to be around people of all ages, and they need to see adults doing the work of the adult culture. What they currently have stunts their maturation process and leaves them dependent on a fucked-up social system, and it isn’t just moms being at-home wives and mothers, or dads being patriarchal bullies, it’s other things like schooling, families being isolated from one another, and people being segregated by age. IBTP.

  318. Nineveh Two

    I like that you wrote this.

    I’ve been involved monogamously with the love of my life for 14 years. We’re not married (although he has asked), in large part because I am afraid of falling into the exact social traps you mentioned. I don’t want to become domestic or motherly or even wifely. I don’t want “wife” as part of my identity.

    But at the same time, those tax breaks sure would be nice.

    In theory, I don’t mind the idea of legally recognized partnerships, it’s just “marriage” that I don’t particularly like.

  319. Gumleaf

    Wow. I feel like I’ve come home. Why can’t I meet a group of like-minded individuals – strong feminist hetero women my age- to discuss these things with in my own city (Sydney, Australia). I’ve already lost one friend because I lent her Maucharts ‘Wifework’ hoping she might wake up to how oppressed she is in her marriage (she went with it for while but then gradually stopped contacting me – I guess she had to make a choice and she chose the security of the patriarchy she knew -even though she’s said she doesn’t want to have kids because she’s already taking care of one child). I’m hoping she’ll come around.

    Most of the rest of my friends pay lipservice to feminism but don’t really like to talk about it, and then there are the friends I lost to marriage and the patriarchy ages ago, after I had to watch them rationalise the inequality in their relationships and eventual marriages.

    It’s depressing that there are not more like minded girls around who I can blame the patriarchy with over some mojitos – the most committed feminist I know is a guy I’m having a email conversation with – I have to fight to stop myself from imagining a future non-married life with him.

    But at last, I found you all!

    Fantastic site Twisty, and so good to hear echoes of thoughts I thought I was clever enough to have developed on my own (all through ‘wifework’ I was mentally exclaiming ‘but this is what I’ve been saying for years!!!’.

  320. Twisty

    Thanks for the compliment, Gumleaf, but if it’s “hetero” women you’re looking for, this may not be your home after all.

  321. Gumleaf

    “Thanks for the compliment, Gumleaf, but if it’s “hetero” women you’re looking for, this may not be your home after all.”

    Meh. I don’t care about peoples sexuality one way or the other; if mine isn’t an issue, I have no issues with theirs. I belong to the school of thought that says people have about as much control over who they’re attracted to as I have over my eye colour. I don’t care what shape or form these like-minded souls to discuss feminism and patriarchy come in…

  322. SoJo

    Cohabitation with heterosexual men is impossible.

    I spent 2 weeks with one which eventuated in my being confined to the apartment once the sun set, no transport and no food.

    The physical restrictions are nothing compared to the mental ones. I felt 100 times more trapped than I actually was and ended up suffering psychosis.
    In 2 weeks.
    And the man never knew this, never to this day thought anything was wrong in those 2 weeks.

    So today, as India Arie says, “I’m alone but never lonely”.

    And hey Gumleaf, I never would have guessed a Sydneysider was here! I’m from Melbourne.

  323. Jonathan

    The romanticizing of marriage by the patriarchy is like putting lipstick on a wolverine!

    I just came back from a spared-no-expense, 400-guest, $50,000 wedding last weekend, where I noted the following abuses of women during what is purported to be the “most special day” in a woman’s life:

    * Bride served people at rehearsal dinner (even though it was at a restaurant with waiters) and walked around to see guests. Groom sat, drank beer, and waited for people to come to him.

    * Even though the Bride and Bride’s family was stuck planning and organizing the entire weekend, the wedding favors were all things for Dudes: monogrammed wedding poker chips, potato chips and beef jerky, American flag pins, and (I kid you not) monogrammed wedding beer mugs!

    * Since it is “bad luck” for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding (despite cohabitating for years before tying the knot) the bride stayed locked in her hotel room for the entire night before the wedding, while the groom got drunk and partied at the hotel bar.

    * On the wedding day, Bride and bridesmaids spent from 8AM to 3:30PM on clothes, makeup, and pictures with the photographer. Photographer took the requisite picture of Bride and bridesmaids showing legs to camera. Groom and Groomsdudes stroll in with beers and half-buttoned rental tuxes at 3:30PM for about 30 minutes of pictures while the bridesmaids wait around for them to finish. Afterwards the photographer apologized to the guys for taking so long.

    * Smarmy, patronizing priest opened ceremony with the requisite propaganda, “This is the day that every little girl dreams of!”

    * Divorced dad wouldn’t come to the wedding, so the Bride’s brother is the one to “give her away”. Bride’s mother, who actually did all the work raising the family, was barely recognized during the ceremony.

    * Groomsdudes made continuous snippy comments about how the overly-accommodating and self-effacing bride would (somehow) become a battle-axe now that she was married.

    * Self-written wedding vows had bride dedicating her life to her husband, while husband promised to honor her, but declined to dedicate himself to her.

    * Smarmy, patronizing priest closed ceremony with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now proudly present to you Mr. and Mrs. (Dude’s name)!”

    * At reception, Best Dude gets to give long speech about how great Groom is while room of 400 is silent. Bride is mentioned in one sentence at the end. Maid of honor doesn’t get to speak.

    * Audience of 400, goaded by the DJ, actually boos and jeers Bride and Groom when they fail to smear cake all over each other’s faces and expensive clothing!

    * During mandatory Bride and Groom dance, elder female relatives send the youngest clan children onto the dance floor to cling to the couple’s legs. This is a not-so-subtle hint from the clan of what they expect the Bride to do next. Tons of pictures are taken of the Bride and Groom weighed down by the mass of kids, perhaps to be used in reminder cards by the clan should kids not be forthcoming by the end of the year.

    * Bouquet went missing, so no bouquet toss. Clan elders express disappointment at cancellation of their floor show.

    * When it was all over, the Groom and Dudes go to the hotel bar, while all the female relatives, including the Bride, clean up the reception hall.

    * Drunken cousin punches mother in face back in his hotel room after leaving hotel bar. Mother screams, hotel calls police. Relatives spend rest of evening defending the battering cousin until the police go away.

    * Bride and groom go to Disney World.

    And if you think the subsequent marriage will be any better than this horror show, then I’ve got a monogrammed beer mug to sell you.


  324. Jonathan

    “Also, thanks for the post as usual, Twisty. I’m 22, I’ve had a steady boyfriend for 3 years, and already people want to know if we’ll be “getting married anytime soon.” I simply don’t have the mental fortitude to launch into an explanation of how absurd on every level that question is.”

    Dr. Helmet Breath, (and I do apologize for being 337 posts late) don’t do it! My S.O. and I have been cohabitating for longer than most people’s first marriages, and it’s better that way. We still feel the marriage/kids pressures from our respective families constantly, but it would be worse if we were married.

    For awhile I was naive enough to think the right couple could make marriage patriarchy-free, but it is not possible. Even if your boyfriend “selflessly” refuses the mountain of privileges he would be granted over you by the patriarchy, your families will bring in more than enough patriarchal oppression. They’ll fawn over your “poor” husband who has to live without home-cooked meals while giving you dagger-eyes for not being a proper wife-mother slave. They’ll assume that things are wrong with the marriage once you don’t quit work to raise the kids, and lard help you if you refuse to have kids! And your family will believe they have this “right” to meddle in your life because they bought you a Cuisinart and ate your stale wedding cake a few years back.

    Don’t even bother duping them into thinking that you’ll play out the tired narrative. They won’t be satisfied until you’re miserable and saddled with three kids anyway. Stay unwed! You’ll take society’s admonishment of your life sooner, but you’ll be $30,000 richer, and you will be negotiating the rest of your life-choices with your boyfriend/family from a stronger position.


  325. Helen

    Only $30,000?…

  326. Heather

    Jonathan, I hope Dr. Helmet Breath reads your posts. Your description of the wedding was frighteningly accurate. I am happily divorced from an abusive spouse – after reading Mary Daly for several months, everything I learned in my Women and the Law class came tumbling forward in my dark and dreary mind. The light began to shine. And calling patriarchy out again after ten years in a fog was a blissful change. Love this site and Twisty, I know you’ve been told before, but you are brilliant.

  327. Jonathan

    Right. $30,000 for a one-day wedding isn’t big anymore, and people still expect the bride’s family to foot the entire bill! That way we can impose an economic penalty on the families who value their daughters. You don’t even need to be a married woman to be oppressed by marriage. All you have to be is a mother or father who cares about your daughter, and the marriage industry will be sure to take a chunk out of you.

  328. nasha

    this is probably the most alleviating thing i have read in a long time. i have been arguing against marriage because it is, as you say, the basic unit of patriarchy, ever since i started really reading about feminism- though not as eloquently as you. growing up in an indian family, with a lot of other indian families for a community, made me realize very early on that marriage was a poor deal for women and i’ve said since i was little that i don’t want to be married. EVERYONE has told me that i will “grow up and change my mind”. i’m open to spending my life with someone that i love, if we can have that kind of hippy love you mention, but… ugh. thank you thank you thank you for posting this- it’s so good to know that there are others who feel the same way i do, that i’m not crazy and fighting a losing a battle. thank you!

  329. Kookaburra

    Wow, I just found this post, and I feel like I’ve just come across an oasis after a trek through the Sahara. I’m 25, and I’ve never had a long term relationship for many of the reasons your readers shared. With every date, every phone call, every email, I felt a bit of my independence slipping away. I stopped dating, and never felt deprived. I never thought much about marriage, and there’s no pressure since I am currently in school, and everyone says, “Oh, well of course you don’t have time now…” But I know there will be when I “grow up”. Reading these responses has hardened my resolve to never shackle myself legally to another human: man, woman, or child.

  330. Jess

    As a happily engaged female, I consider my relationship to be complete already. When my fiance and I are married, it will be nothing more than the legal recognition of what we already have together. We already live together, eat together, sleep together, spend time with each other’s friends…I don’t anticipate anything changing. We have neither the ability nor the desire for children, although we would like some kittens. I work full time; he has a part time job and does most of the household chores.

    I suppose we are probably that oddball intellectual couple you mentioned. But I nonetheless wanted to express my content with my personal heteronormative paradigm.

  331. Jill

    “But I nonetheless wanted to express my content with my personal heteronormative paradigm.”

    Thank god! Because there just aren’t enough heterosexuals expressing content with their personal choice to go with the flow of the status quo!

  332. awhirlinlondon

    Dawn Coyote wrote: “I wish I hadn’t self-destructed rather than destroy the illusion to which I clung.” This is the thing and so beautifully put. Less elegantly put: living in TP can make you think you’re crazy; marriage can make you think you’re insane and inadequate. Wrong. Bad. Worth very little indeed. Likely result – as DC wrote: self-destruction.

  1. Multiplicitous Sex « Editorializing the Editors

    […] Not so tangentially related:  Edited to add a link to Twisty’s “The Post on Marriage.“  She sums up my problem with “Sex, or he’s your ex,” as well as my problems with marriage in general, much more clearly than I have thus far. […]

  2. “I promise to take thee to wife…” « Bubbas’ Nightmare

    […] Postscript: I no sooner got this written and posted when this showed up on the radar screen. […]

  3. Dear Twisty Faster and Wayne LaPierre » Sly Civilian

    […] I am writing to inform you that you have both made public remarks including the descriptor: “mental defective” in the past week. […]

  4. The post on the post on marriage at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] Also, blamers really don’t like doing housework. Amen to that, sister. Unsurprisingly, housework is only an issue when cohabitation is the domestic arrangement; people who live alone either do it or they don’t, but we are unlikely to consider it a feminist issue unless a more privileged entity stands to reap the benefits. Some women seem to consider that they have made a tolerable marriage because their Nigels do some or all of the housework. But, as blamer legallyblondeez counters, “doing the housework doesn’t magically erase his male privilege.” Housework, in other words, is a bit of a pink herring in the battle of the sexes, in that the fundamental power differential between oppressor and oppressed remains firmly in place regardless of who mops the floor. […]

  5. “I will…NOT” at Hoyden About Town

    […] Marriage, or the lack thereof, is in the air at blogdom. At least at Feministe and I Blame the Patriarchy. […]

  6. The Hackenblog » This weekend

    […] And so, for reasons even I don’t fully understand, I saw “Pirate of the Caribbean 3,” “Fantastic Four 2,” and “Ocean’s 13.” Of the three “Ocean’s 13,” flawed though it was, was best because there wasn’t a fucking wedding in it. Twisty’s right, it’s got to go. […]

  7. …is there something i’m missing? « Sara Speaking

    […] …is there something i’m missing? Published June 17th, 2007 thinking out loud , blogging I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes … marriage is all around us, and so the feeling grows … it’s written on the wind, it’s everywhere I go … […]

  8. Are you compromising your feminism? « blue milk

    […] Here is one on marriage – can you be a feminist and happily married? […]

  9. Shae’s Place » Blog Archive » Blaming the Patriarchy

    […] In recent posts (here and here), Twisty suggests that marital housework disputes indicate an inherent uneven power dynamic in male/female relationships. I’ll buy that. […]

  10. I’m a pop tart feminist! « bianca bean

    […] I’m learning a ton and getting great book recos here. Of course, I do have my criticisms, but I will keep them to myself. I am enjoying the discussion too much as-is. Maybe this is what women’s studies classes would have been like! […]

  11. The Hackenblog » Amen to that, sister

    […] “And it’s gotta go, I tell you.” The Post on Marriage, Twisty, June 13, 2007 […]

  12. Des Voitures. Sobre los hombres y el feminismo. « Professor Zero

    […] 4. El post anti-matrimonio de Twisty es básico, pero bueno. Léanlo, que les hará bien. […]

  13. The Post On (My) Marriage | Elaine Vigneault’s Diary

    […] Lately, with “The Post On Marriage” and other criticisms about weddings and marriage I’ve been thinking a lot about my own marriage and why I feel I made the right decision. Here are my reasons: […]

  14. liberals against gay marriage « resistance is fertile

    […] Links: unmarried.org — great site and group! Great post on marriage from a great blog […]

  15. Bacon, I bid you farewell at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] the record, I myself do not “support” gay marriage, or any other kind of marriage. See this post for […]

  16. Orson Scott Card is Crazy | Stump Lane

    […] from acknowledging marriage is “the primary unit of patriarchal currency” there are particular (human rights) benefits to state recognized marriage that, as long as […]

  17. Human Hating Feminists want to End “Oppressive” Human Reproduction « True Discernment

    […] understanding of reproduction is that it is the basis of the institutions of marriage and family, and those two provide the moorings to the structure of gender and sexual […]

  18. Evolutionary Dead-Ends « Samuel J. Scott

    […] hath wrought: My understanding of reproduction is that it is the basis of the institutions of marriage and family, and those two provide the moorings to the structure of gender and sexual oppression. […]

  19. Resist! Resist! Resist! « rehearsalsdepartures

    […] relationship. I consider marriage to be an institution of the patriarchy, built to oppress women. In addition to Twisty’s scathing critique of marriage, I would add that I believe that The State (tm & co) uses marriage to confer privilege upon […]

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