Want advice about marriage, relationships, love and life? TALK TO YOUR GRANDPARENTS. They've seen some shit in this life. They don't sit around reading or trying to reinvent the things that make marriage possible. Why? BECAUSE THEY ALREADY KNOW. THEY'VE LIVED IT.
I'll comment as I see fit.
EMandLO.com contributor Abby Spector, who is majoring in Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, has a confession to make:
My armpits are hairy. I study gender and sexuality. The Birkenstocks in my closet are held together by duct tape. If it were the sixties, my bra would probably be burning in the town square (if women had actually done this, which they didn't). All roads lead to feminist (if not die-hard lesbian). But I have a secret that would shock my combat-boot clad, non-conformist sisters: I dream of becoming a housewife.
[So do your sisters. You are not one of a kind. You are a girl with girl parts and girl hormones. Your sandals and viewpoints may be a bit different, but they don't make you a monkey among gorillas, just a gorilla with a little more rebellion. Your sisters, like you, don't admit wanting to be a housewife, but by the age of 31, they will be weeping to become one. Why? Find out what a hormone is honey and then come talk to the adults.]
This is not because I love taking out the trash or organizing placemats around a seasonal wreath. Trust me, I have no desire to become the next Martha Stewart. I just want to fall in love with someone for the rest of my life, have kids with him, and watch those kids grow up. I want to be there for Clementine’s first step, Milo’s first taste of solid food and Delilah’s first look of confusion when she sees a woman shaving her legs.
[Yes, you're a woman. Thanks for just showing up. Because you didn't play with the extra-girlie barbie as a kid you thought you were never going to want kids or play with them? Sorry, but only if someone ripped out your x chromosomes at birth, dumbass. You want to nurture and be close to another human being. You feel this so badly you are literally fantasizing about it already - you have chosen the children's gender and names and you don't even have a boyfriend yet. By the way, YOUR HUSBAND, if he's not a mangina, will probably have some kid's names of his own in mind and #2, you don't get to pick the gender of your children. They just come out as whatever they'll be.]
I don’t think this fantasy is rooted in traditional sexism. Growing up, my mom worked a 9-5 while my dad stayed home. She made more of the money; he made more of the food. It wasn't until we got cable that I realized our family dynamic was different. But even then, our strange set-up didn't faze me; I had other fish of the familial variety to fry (my sister and I were constantly fighting, my cousin had just moved in and three of my grandparents had died within a two-year span). And I really didn’t give a flying f--- who washed my socks. All I cared about was having clean socks.
The point is, my upbringing was the opposite of sexist. So my dreams for my future are not just mimicking what I grew up with. In fact, at times, I think these semi-traditional dreams are rooted in rebellion against my non-traditional upbringing. Scholars would name this phenomenon “fourth wave feminism”, “post-modern modernism” or something else equally wordy and pretentious. To me, it’s life.
[Your mom probably resented your father for not being more of a breadwinner. She wanted to stay home with the kids, but picked a mangina because she was too scared of the alpha males. Either way you saw that she didn't get the time with the kids that your dad did and your father probably shrank down into himself from the shame of not being able to properly support his own family. Weak dad, strong, resentful mom - its a miracle you're not a lesbian. After all, you admit you see no purpose in dressing up with clothes, makeup, or other decorative pieces in order to attract a male - because men don't hold a lot of value for you; or at least they didn't until now and now? Now you want a man who will provide. Better not burn your bra. Providing men tend to be quite masculine and testosterone-filled - they like bra's. Sexy ones. And girls who stay powdered, and fresh and feminine. He tarzan, you Jane. And Jane didn't wear birkenstocks. Not even in the Jungle.]
I am not ashamed to admit I dream about my future wedding. And I’ll be the first to admit that these dreams are far more elaborate than the occasional online browsing of Vera Wang gowns. I have the whole thing planned. My fantasy even has a budget. There is a three-tier cake and a bouquet of sunflowers on every table. But I won't just follow the traditions blindly -- I'll put my own personal touches on them. My sister will do the vows, my guests will sleep in tents and my dress will NOT be white (the idea of me, a sex-writer and naked model, pretending to be a virgin is a hoot). And I will tattoo the ring onto my finger, a guarantee that it will never be lost.
[Fine, be different. That's not a crime. But this is not all about you. A wife makes sacrifices, a mother makes even more. Start talking and thinking about what you're prepared to do for your family. Listen to yourself. You want a man who will work his ass off all day to pay for an expensive house (I know you don't want to raise your 3 beautiful children in a tar-paper shack), food and clothing for 4 people, and at least one car. You won't be making a whole lot if you're home with the kiddies, so don't tell me how you're going to make his life so easy. The fact is, you and the kids are going to be a tremendous burden to him. He is choosing that burden because he loves you. Fine. But you have to give something back. Talk to a good WIFE and MOTHER who has the same arrangement you want. Ask them what they give and make sure you're sitting down when they answer. Going to college and reading about how women should really behave like men doesn't exactly prepare you to be a wife and mother. The book on that subject would be one line long. This is what it would say: Love is sacrifice. The end. Your husband? You've already thought this man into a life of sacrifice - years of hard work to race home and please you and help with the kids in exchange for too little sleep, a big mortgage, a college bill for 3 kids and a wife that's not getting any sexier with age. That's the bottom line. That's not a small request you're making, honey. Better start thinking about your end.]
My family life will follow a similar form of unconventional convention. Entire walls will be covered in flags, bumper-stickers and postcards. All of my kids, no matter their gender, will be given trucks and dolls. I will teach them every Ani Difranco lyric and how to cut a T-Shirt into a halter-top. Diva cups will be in the bathroom instead of tampons. Best of all, I’ll give them sex talks that will blow their mind.
[You're marrying a fantasy here, not a man. Your fantasy doesn't get you pregnant. A man does. Stop acting like a fantasizing little girl and start thinking about what kind of house your husband might want and his ideas on raising the children. Or do you think he'll just hand you his check every month and be content to let you run your own little home economics experiment? Not if he has a pulse. He'll have an opinion and theories and his own childhood experiences that will affect his parenting style. By the way, giving the kids trucks and dolls is hysterical. Sometime in 1979 even the feminazis figured out all but the most masculine girl hates trucks and likewise good luck getting a boy to play with dolls. Waste your money on extra toys though, the kids won't stop you. Just don't be shocked when your daughter gives your son the trucks and your son gives your daughter his dolls and your theories are shattered by the reality of the immutable laws of nature.]
Some see my dream of being a stay-at-home mom as a waste of my education. But I love learning for the sake of learning. I feel as though raising my children will stimulate this desire for curiosity more then a wall of a cubicle would. Plus, a degree in Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies doesn’t exactly put me on the fast track to career success. In my white picket fence dream (yes, my dream home has a white picket fence…the kids draw on it with chalk in the summer), I will still be a writer. I have a desk overlooking the back-yard where I work for the “Dear Abby” section of the local paper. Or I am the occasional sex therapist. Or I teach erotic finger painting at a nearby nursing home. Whatever this “other” activity is, it won’t be how I define myself. First and foremost, I will be a mother.
[Good for you. Mother is very important. But since you won't be making much if any money, that INCREASES the burden on your husband. Have you seen the economy? People do more for less everyday. Meanwhile you're busy building a family of 5, a house for them to live in and all on the salary of a man you haven't met yet. I hope you like thongs, stilletto heels, pushup bras and anything else your husband finds desireable. Why? Because you have to give something for all that you are demanding and frankly I haven't heard you say one thing to balance the scales in the 'swap' of what what you want vs. what you can offer. What do men want? We want Kim Kardashian in a thong doing the dishes and not complaining. Yeah. You're a far cry from that.]
I know that marriage and the nuclear family is a screwed-up social construction. I’ve even written papers on the topic. But this argument is based on logic (and a desire to get an A). My happiness is not logical. My choices are not logical. What I’ve discovered is that you have to look past all forms of the ‘stereotypical’ woman. Some feminists shop at Victoria’s Secret. Some lesbians vote Republican. And some housewives wear combat boots. Being a feminist is about having the right to choose what you do with your life. My choice (as of today) is to be a stay-at-home mom. Therefore, I am a feminist. -- Abby Spector
[Um, no. Not really. Marriage and the nuclear family are not 'screwed up'. They just are. They're far from perfect. What to make it better? Then make a government that gives free child care and health care and ensures 100% employment. This life ain't got none of that and never will. Furthermore if you think the nuclear family is a screwed-up construction, be prepared for yours to disintegrate shortly after it comes together. If you want an 'alternative' life, that's fine. To each his/her own. But wait. This isn't your own. You see, once married, only PART of your life belongs to you anymore. The rest belongs to your husband and kids. Kids want to sleep in bed with mommy. Husbands want to have sex with their wives. You want to get some sleep and still keep everyone happy (if you want to stay married that is). How do you do all this? Sacrifice. Juggling. Teaching the kids to sleep alone and hoping your husband is a 10 minute man. You've written papers on the topic? That's cute. I've written papers about war - but I've never actually held my buddy after he's had his face shot off. See the difference? Wake up. You really don't know what you're getting into other than the fact that you have your perfect desires defined. Throw them out. Your husband will have desires too. You will both have to MARRY your desires and many of your desires won't make the cut. Sex, food, water, clothing and shelter make the cut. Everything else is basically a bonus. And you may very well struggle - both of you working and rushing home to take care of the kids - and that's fun for about 1% of the day when your kids hug you. The rest of the time its pain. Want a fantasy? Write some more of them down and put heart stickers on them. Want a husband and family? You're going to ask a man to walk into the kingdom of sacrifice with you - I would ask him in stilettos and sexy skirt with your hair done up nicely if I were you. All the men (not manginas) I know would laugh pretty hard in your face if you asked them for the rest of their life wearing birkenstocks and sweat pants. You want to be taken seriously? Then play ball. Idealism is for class only. It has nothing to do with life. No one needs me to tell them this. Just read a big pile of leftist feminazi male-hate literature - the kind that told you the nuclear family is 'screwed up' and then go tell what you learned to your GRANDPARENTS. The look on their face ought to tell you want you need to know.
And remember - no one is telling you and your yet-to-be husband how to live. Be different. Be alternative if that's what makes you happy, just remember dear - no matter who you marry, no matter how "in love" you are, he is a man and you are a woman. He will have different ideas of child rearing and you will have to learn to accept some things you may not agree with because your husband is your husband and if you don't respect and listen to him then there is no sense thinking you two will ever have a family that remains intact for very long.]