This morning I read a column by a self-proclaimed comedian over at FoxNews regarding the top five reasons for a man to grow up and get married: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/26/man-top-5-reasons-to-grow-up-and-get-married/. It offended many people, and he’s ok with that. So I feel no qualms whatsoever voicing one woman’s perspective on why the aforementioned reasons are unacceptable to me and why I would rather remain unmarried than comply with them.
Here’s why; I’m pro-marriage. I have always been, always will be, and I’ll make no apologies for it. As a matter of fact, you, Stephen Crowder, should be apologizing to the astonishingly vast population of readers, male and female, who define marriage in different terms. (For even more fun on this subject, please click his link to the waiting until marriage article, which illegitimates any marriage which does not confine itself within his narrow range of approval).Whether you’re a woman who desires something more out of life than to be a legalized sex slave or a sandwich architect or merely a decent man (They do exist, I promise) who finds these terms archaic and offensive… you’ll be asking the world for a little explanation too.
Sadly, marriage has been appropriated by the patriarchy. From referring to those who chose to engage in sex before marriage as “floozies and harlots” to nearly every poorly written chauvinistic opinion piece masquerading as comedy (and therefore above reproach) to affirmative comments from otherwise decent people, the message this article is sending to today’s generation is clear…marriage = fun for Christian men who know how to do it “right.”
Men on the internet constantly joke about how wives belong in the kitchen, powerless against demands and inhabiting vacuums. By that same token, women are ridiculed for taking these “jokes” too seriously, for lacking a sense of humor because they refuse to laugh at the invalidation of their own ideals.
Let’s not generalize. I know plenty of people my age who want to marry and to stay at home to raise a family. I know plenty of people my age who are both getting married AND planning careers. I know plenty of people waiting or refusing to marry for many reasons, one of which being that they are genuinely terrified of these common and false conceptions, of the idea that marriage could never be more than an unironic 1950’s scenario.
As someone who comes from a family that has always valued a different idea of marriage, one based on mutual respect and compromise rather than rigid convention, I just want to say, flat out…
…Marriage can be more than a financial statement, a socially acceptable form of procreation, a means to sex, a reason to get your lazy ass out of bed, or a life insurance policy.
Let’s assume for a second that humans are inherently valuable, equal beings. No I’m not crazy, have a little imagination here!
Some of you are thinking, “Love! Who needs love?!” I’m right there with you after perusing this article, but guess what? I couldn’t find a single trace of it in that portrayal of marriage, so never fear. What is described is not love, and to me, love is the highest plane of morality.
Here are a few purely subjective reasons as to why marriage (if this is indeed the only correct way to build one) is not something I am interested in. Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentleman.
1) Marriage Based on Monetary Gain Should Not Be a Thing: Most of us have college degrees these days. Even us “lonely, single folk” have talents and abilities to offer the world, and enough know-how to support ourselves and to build careers. Correct my facts, but I also think discriminatory inheritance laws and career paths are only modernly present in Downton Abbey- so even if *gasp* we fail our calling to marry, there’s a statistically good chance we won’t end up completely destitute. Keep in mind that being richer was the top reason to get married given. I don’t know about you, but if the proposal involved “Look, honey, at all these excellent health benefits we’re now eligible for,” chances are my automatic response wouldn’t be “THAT IS THE BEST REASON I’VE EVER HEARD TO SPEND MY LIFE WITH YOU. Done.”
2) WHAT, CHILDREN? I Didn’t Realize That Procreation and Marriage Were Synonymous: In my mind, the decision to marry and the decision to have children are two very different conversations, which may relate to each other but aren’t mutually inclusive. Call me a terrible person, but I actually laughed out loud when I reached the plea to “think of the children!” The statistics given about the poverty and success of children from unmarried households assume that children already exist on the outset of marriage, so let’s narrow our examination to that scenario. If you want to think of the children, imagine what occurs when that child is the reason for a marriage between two people who would have happily parted ways long ago were it not for his/her existence. Resentment and regret rather than love as a foundation doesn’t seem like an ideal arrangement.
3) Sex Without Fear of Social Ostracism: Deep breath. As a 21st century college-aged woman with a Christian background, sex is the ultimate paradoxical question, and one that I never thought I’d discuss on my blog. Society is a pendulum constantly swinging between liberation, empowerment through personal decision, and slut shaming double standards. Juxtapose that conundrum with the abstinence or hypocrisy creed of Southern Christian religion, and what you have is a very conflicted, deeply confused adolescent. But dare I say it, sex is more than a social commentary, more than a hushed, forbidden word, more than a domination, and yes, even more than a marital duty. Marriage is not a guarantee for unlimited sex, nor a suspension of consent. And who wants the reason for getting married to be a respite from conflict, so we can just have sex already and not feel guilty, ashamed, or be labeled a harlot? Sex can be beautiful in and of itself. It is not selfish to want it without children and it does not make you a floozie to engage in it outside of the context of marriage. BONUS POINTS IF IT WAS WITH SOMEONE WHO WAS LESS OF A CHAUVINIST ASSHOLE THAN THIS MAN.
4) Free Babysitting Services…for Yourself: First, sloths aren’t pathetic. They are amazing. Secondarily, I have no intention of whipping anyone into shape. If I had to pick one quality in a person that attracts me, I’d say visible passion about something with or without my presence. This is not to say that loving another person cannot motivate and challenge you to be a better person. Simply that, on a scale from 1 to 10 on good reasons to convert a relationship into a marriage, this is about a -5. If you want a marriage to work, you should already know who you want to be. You shouldn’t need me to remind you constantly or to poke you every morning. I think this is called being an adult, but I’m not quite sure.
5) Marriage Is the New Elixir of Life (or Voldemort Should Really Have Been Searching for A Wife): This would seem to be ludicrous. And sadly, it is. Being young and single is really fun, as is being young and in a good relationship. Whatever floats your boat! There are too many problems with this section to go into. What I’m getting from these statistics is you have a better chance of surviving cancer if you get married. Also instead of cohabitating with a self-absorbed, abusive jackass, marry him before you can realize your mistake! Which together bring us to a grand total of zero sense. Marriage is not the key to immortality or a healthy life style, even if it may be a byproduct in certain cases. There should be a Mirror of Egairram, so that only people who want to find it, but not use it would be able to marry.
All of this to say that marriage should not be a tool to gain more money, sex, or white blood cells. Americans need to stop feeding and buying into the lie that the love that lasts is about listing reasons why YOU will be better off. Americans also need to stop feeding people sandwiches, because they seem to be turning into a symbolically problematic food (just kidding). Whether you’re young, old, male, female, marriage does not have to be about someone else’s definition of correctness. If these thoughts (I’ll do your intelligence a favor by not calling opinion fact), are not enough, here is the only image that will ever conduce me to marry:
The person you grow old with will not be the same person you married. Because time passes, life happens, people change. He/she will not always be your biggest fan, because you are imperfect, sometimes you are in the wrong, sometimes you will need a reality check. Most of the time you will not want to listen, but you will because changing together instead of growing apart cannot occur by turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to flaws. Faulkner once wrote that you don’t love someone for the virtues, but despite the flaws. You shouldn’t marry for benefits, but for the dubious joy of sharing the benefits and the detractions, the joys and the frustrations.
Add a knowledge of the complication that defies perfection and convenience.
Marriage is not for everyone. And that is perfectly fine.
*This article was purposefully formatted in parallel with the one cited. I claim no credit for sentence structure…it seemed the best way to directly address the gap left by his one-sided comments.