An Open Letter to My Niece


Dear Aella,

When I first starting writing this, you were still marinating in your mama’s tummy, and would be for another 45 days or so. At this time of writing, I’ve met you, and I’ve held you, and I’ve fallen in love with you – you’ve got ten fingers, ten toes, your papa’s lips, and your mama’s nose, and you’re absolutely perfect. You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And I love you more than people think is possible to love anyone, ignoring the fact that you aren’t even mine. But it doesn’t matter – the one thing I’ve learned from your parents, particularly your mother, is that blood isn’t what makes a family. I love your mother as much as any sister, and by extension, you, too, are the love of my life. I may not be blood like your Aunt Thea or your Aunt Aubrey, but I hope you’ll always love me as Aunt Michelle. And as Aunt Michelle, I wanted to write you a little something so that you’d always understand that, if you ever forget.

I knew you were a girl from the very moment your mom told me she was pregnant – I’m pretty sure I drove her crazy with my assertion, but I’ve only been certain of two things in my entire life, and your being a girl was one of them.  (I’m not going to tell you here what the other thing is, I haven’t seen how it’s panned out yet, so you’ll have to ask me after you read this). You’re my very best friend’s first child and my first niece, and there’s so much of the world I want you to experience to the best of your abilities. Your mom and I represent two very different, but equally strong and capable types of women who have both dealt with a variety of unique experiences, and we’ve learned a few things. Your mom will raise you with what’s she’s learned, but as your aunt, all I can offer is supplementary. I’m less of a fairy princess than your mom is, though – she’s definitely the sugar to my lemonade. She’s probably going to read this and think I’m being a downer, but I wrote it because I want to remember what the world was like before you were born, and I want you to understand the world in which you live now. Life is full of gifts, but they are fleeting, precious, and not without their prices. I think more than anything, that’s what I want you to understand, because I want you to grow up to be the kind of woman who understands the value of her choices.

I get preachy and feministy a lot, just as a warning. But you’ve probably learned that from me by now, so none of this should come as a surprise.

Value your mind over your appearance – I can pretty much guarantee that you’re beautiful. Your mother has always been beautiful, your aunts on your father’s side are beautiful, your grandmothers are beautiful. You will be gorgeous and you probably won’t even have to really try. Beauty seems like it’s everything when you’re young, and while I hope you aren’t subjected to the same sort of pressure to be pretty as girls were when your mother and I were growing up, if you are, please remember that it’s not everything. Beauty is transient, and it’s subjective. The people that really matter are the ones who think you’re beautiful no matter what – beauty is not what is going to make your life worthwhile. It’s easy to think so when beautiful airheads marry rich men, but those women will grow old and die knowing the emptiness of their choices. Your beauty should be measured by the intelligence you’ve acquired, your ability to love and be loved in return, your kindness and compassion, and your ability to be strong and stand up for yourself and your beliefs.

Think for yourself. It’s a double-standard for me to be telling you that, but I always think it’s worth being said. It’s easy to be liked by others if you give in to their expectations without a fight, but you will never be respected that way. Respect is far more valuable than likability. It’s what separates real friends from the false ones, the worthy from the unworthy. A woman who thinks for herself is a woman who will never be controlled and will always have the power to live her life in the way that she wants. That being said, remember the value of choice – a woman who decides to be a stay-at-home mom is just as powerful, amazing, and respectable as a woman who is the CEO of a major company. The point is, you learned what you wanted, you decided on what you wanted, and you went for it without anyone telling you otherwise.

Always demand more. People are always so afraid to question things – they accept what is because it is easier to do so than to kick up a fuss. The one thing that I’ve always admired about your mother is she gets things done when I was always too anxious to argue back. She’s mellowed out over the years and I’ve toughened up in that respect, but the point is, we’ve learned how to accept nothing less than what we deserve, and that’s what I want you to have from the very beginning – everything that you deserve.

Never back down from what you know in your heart is right. If you see someone being mistreated, speak up. If you know someone is in the wrong, correct them. But on the flip side, be open-minded. The world is never constant, nor does it follow any rhyme or reason. There is no single right way to live a life, and yours certainly won’t be the first. It’s important to stick to your guns when you know you’re right, but don’t be so inflexible that you’re not open to learning new things, or seeing things from a new perspective. You will never be right a hundred percent of the time, and your perspective should not be permanent. Learning is the most important part of growth, and that means more than what you learn in school – I mean what you learn by sitting with the broken, walking with the healthy, and running with the strong. Don’t follow blindly – question everything you’re told, and the only way you can do that successfully is to look at the world through the eyes of others who live very different lives than yourself.

I’m venturing into the preachy territory, and you’ve probably gotten bored of this already. You probably won’t even ever read this, although the Internet does seem to make everything permanent (another important thing to remember!), but that won’t stop me from wanting you to be the most extraordinary girl/woman you can be. And I want you to know that your parents and family and I love you tremendously no matter what path you choose in life. You will always have my support, and my love.

And probably my extra room whenever you need to run away. And probably money, because that’s what aunts do.

Love always,

Your affectionate Aunt Michelle

PS. Your mom doesn’t want me to swear around you after you’re old enough to learn what the words mean, so I figured I’d start practicing now, although you probably won’t be reading this until you’re old enough to make those sorts of decisions for yourself. Just saying.

Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby – It’s About More Than Just Birth Control. It’s About Control


So the SCOTUS ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby today, vis-a-vis their religious right to deny access to birth control to their employees on religious grounds. The internet is, unsurprisingly, shitting a collective brick, and I’m just sitting here noticing that liberal media coverage of this sad day is not only shooting themselves in the foot, but they’re practically blowing the damned thing off. This is why we can’t have nice things!

I prefer not to associate myself with certain labels when it comes to my personal and political beliefs, and I wish people would do the same, because not only does it feel like we’re boxing ourselves into our labels, we start blindly following the leaders and the media who identify themselves the same way that we do. So while my personal beliefs are widely considered to be liberal, I don’t identify myself as one, and it’s allowed me to take a much more objective perspective. And that objective perspective has led me to realize that the liberal media is full of shit, and it’s no wonder this country is still so fucked up.

For those of you who have only read the titles of articles discussing the SCOTUS ruling in Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby, you may not actually know that the ruling allows Hobby Lobby to deny only four of the twenty available types of birth control that its insurance plan otherwise covers, namely emergency contraception that they believe is akin to abortion (whether or not that’s true is not the point). Employees are still free to seek out these four forms of birth control elsewhere, and honestly, they’re not particularly costly. So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing, if you look at it on the surface, but the issues run much deeper, and the liberal media is actively fucking that up.

Every liberal article I’ve read about the SCOTUS ruling states that Hobby Lobby is now able to deny contraception to its employees. Think about that. Contraception. Not some forms of contraception, but the whole goddamned spectrum. Now anyone who decides not to read the whole article is going to think that Hobby Lobby is denying all forms of birth control to their employees, and those who do read are going to go in with tainted judgment. Liberal media is doing what conservative media does all the time – cherry picking information and using buzzwords that convolute the underlying problems they’re covering so as to put their own agenda in the forefront, and thereby widening the gap between liberalism and conservatism. So the focus is now shifting back to not what the SCOTUS ruling means, but about the us versus them black and white mentality that has kept this country at a dysfunctional standstill.

So what does the ruling ACTUALLY mean? Well, let me take a crack at it.

October of last year, I was still working at Peet’s, and thereby had Kaiser as my health insurance, before the ACA went into full effect. I had, up to that point, been debating for some time about getting an IUD, because I’d had one too many scares using condoms, and the pill was becoming increasingly difficult for me to keep up with because I was working two jobs with inconsistent schedules. So I finally decided to do it, thinking I was going to have to put down around 500 bucks to have something that wasn’t any bigger than my thumbnail wedged up into my ladybits to lock down my uterus for five years, because if there’s such hubbub about birth control pills, how could this completely voluntary procedure be covered by my insurance? I mean, my birth control pills were partially covered, so why wouldn’t I have to pay full price for an IUD? Imagine my surprise when I found out my company-paid insurance policy actually covered the full cost of my IUD, so I paid nothing out of pocket beyond my 20 dollar office visit copay. I thought that wow, maybe we’re actually learning in this country that a woman’s rights to her reproductive health are important and worth the investment. But then SCOTUS ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and I realized that I was wrong.

The problem that I have with the SCOTUS ruling is the same problem that everyone else has with it – that once again, the rights to a woman’s body and her reproductive health were put in the hands of men who have precisely zero right to interfere with them. The base argument is, of course the usual “Pay for your birth control yourself then! Don’t have sex if you don’t want to have babies! How would you feel if we made you pay for something you didn’t believe in?” et al.  And to a certain extent, I agree with it.  A woman should have control over her sexual health, and it’s not anyone else’s responsibility. If you want to have sex and not make babies, the burden of responsibility is on YOU AND YOUR PARTNER, not me. The problem with this ruling, however, is two-fold. One, it grossly interferes with a woman’s ability to access birth control,  and second, the problem isn’t what this ruling is on the surface, but everything that it REPRESENTS.

The dichotomy between men and women is pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain, but along with the societal implications, we also have to consider the biological ones. Men do not carry babies. They can make them, but if they decide to cut and run, what on earth is a woman going to do about it? That’s why I emphasized earlier that sexual responsibility is the duty of the two consenting partners, not anyone else. But once a woman becomes pregnant, her decisions are shackled to that pregnancy because she is the one carrying the fetus – the man can choose to stay, or he can choose to leave, because he’s not physically connected to his offspring at any time. Sound unfair? Well, it is, but it’s biology. There’s not a whole lot to be done about it. So while a man’s burden of responsibility doesn’t necessarily end at conception, he is now presented with the choice of whether or not he wants to take it. A woman’s sexual responsibility begins the minute she becomes sexually active and remains whether she is pregnant or not – she doesn’t have a choice, nor is she ever presented with one. It’s easy to say that a woman should just not have sex if she doesn’t want to get pregnant, but no one tells that to men, now do they? That’s because, once again, a man can make the decision to forgo responsibility for the child he sired, and women shouldn’t be denied the same joy that is sex and intimacy just because they never are presented with a choice. It’s an argument that reduces women to second class citizens because it revokes a second right on top of the one they already lost simply by being born with a vagina. Removing or inhibiting rights to birth control is just a reinforcement of the idea that women should not be allowed to experience sex or pleasure because they are not equal to men, but in fact are meant to be baby factories with no choice or say in the matter. So it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for women to be sexually responsible when you start taking all of her ability to be sexually responsible away.

So what does this have to do with Hobby Lobby winning the right to deny emergency contraception? The problem is that it’s going to be the groundwork laid down for more conservative men to continue the sad trend they’ve been on for the past few centuries – legalized sexism. The legitimate right to reduce women to second-class citizen status under the umbrella term “religious rights.” It’s opening the door to all kinds of religious whackadoodles who run corporations to deny their employees equal protection. One corporation could deny all forms of birth control because it’s against their religious beliefs. Another can refuse to extend insurance to the same sex partners of their homosexual employees because their religion condemns homosexuality. It’s taking the small amount of progress we’ve managed to make in terms of equal rights and representation and undoing it with interest. It’s giving another legal platform to those who want to set fire to the constitution and continue to put this country under the jurisdiction of heterosexual(ish) Christian men. So Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby isn’t just about giving a corporation a right to practice its religion, which is completely wrong on its own. It’s about white male Christian America trying to take back control.

I’m Going to Stick My Boobs in Your Husband’s Face for Spite


Have I mentioned how goddamned sick I am lately of marriages?

I have nothing against the celebration of love and the idea of an equal and supportive partnership between two consenting adults. It sounds great in theory, and believe it or not, I do know my fair share of people who have that. It’s fantastic. What I’m sick of, more specifically, are the people who don’t, and how much bullshit they feel the need to broadcast to other people about how lousy their marriages are.

So I read this absolutely fucking RIDICULOUS blog post written by a woman who either needs a therapist, or a good dicking (or both), and apart from the fact that she represents everything about the female end of the gender discord spectrum, she also raises one of my biggest issues with marriage.

If there are problems in your marriage, deal with them. Don’t hang your dirty laundry out, and expect someone else to wash it.

I think this struck a particularly hard chord with me because I and a bunch of my friends are stuck in a broiling shitstorm that is a couple of former friends’ marriage. I won’t get into the details of why their marriage is failing so fucking hard that’s it’s almost embarrassing, but what pisses me off is that instead of working on their issues, they’re too busy policing everyone else who knows about them – dictating who out of who else was involved that we can be friends with, what we’re allowed to talk about pertaining to it, etc. In other words, they’re doing everything they can to avoid actually fixing their marriage, and are effectively alienating their friends, whom they’re using as scapegoats.  The fact of the matter is, when you push your marital woes on others, like my former friends and the dumbass behind that idiot blog post, you’re blatantly disrespecting your friends, your peers, your spouse, and yourself, and this is why no one wants to be friends with you anymore.

So in other words, some people just don’t deserve to be married. There, I said it.

Fact of the matter is, marriage is between two consenting adults, and no one else. I’m not married to you, and neither are any of your friends. You’re married to your spouse and vice versa. It is, of course, not uncommon to gripe about your spouse to your friends when he leaves his underwear on the bathroom floor, or she maxed out your credit card on shoes, but when you have major difficulties, you do not, repeat, DO NOT drag your friends into it. You can go to them for emotional support, but you do not get to involve them in your marital issues, because what you’re doing is creating other smaller problems that you get to deal with so you don’t have to deal with the major problems in your marriage. It’s scapegoating, and it’s disrespectful. I mean, how goddamned idiotic is it that the sad little girl trapped in a 40-something-year old woman’s body is crying about how pretty young girls make her feel bad about herself, so can we all stop being younger and prettier so her husband doesn’t leave her? Whether it’s insecurity issues like this, or major issues like my former friends have, the moment you start dragging others into it, you’re reinforcing the fact that you’re not mature enough for marriage. And the next time you try to police what I say, or what I do, or how I look, because you have marital issues, I’m gonna stick my boobs in your husband’s face for spite.

The Double-Edged Sword


I have a rather depressing confession to make. I don’t really consider myself a feminist.

Now, before you start, I have a very good reason, and it’s as follows:

I’m not REALLY a feminist because I don’t like the term “feminism.” I prefer the term “equalist.” “Feminism,” to me at least, and please feel free to disagree with me, just evokes the image that we as women are trying to raise our station above men. I’m not downplaying the incredible injustice and imbalance in the status of women versus men, but that’s also exactly my point. The problem with gender dichotomy isn’t JUST that we paint women and men as deserving dependent on their sex, but ALSO because we, as a society, love to pit men and women against each other. Historically, not awesome. So, in other news, I like the idea of feminism, I just don’t care much for the label. I worry that we get so caught up in making our own voices heard that we may forget that men, too, are victims of misogyny and violence, both by other men and by women as well. And if we forget that fact, we as a society will never achieve equality.

But anyway, getting to the point of all of this. I know everyone is aware of the horrific tragedy at UCSB two weeks ago, so I’ll spare you the details. The act itself was a terrible atrocity, but the reaction I’ve seen since then has been almost as bad – namely the sheer amount of misogynistic douchebaggery of the internet proclaiming that if some gutterslut had just done her job and slept with poor, deserving, permavirgin Elliot Rodgers, then those six people would still be alive. If that doesn’t highlight exactly what’s wrong with society, then I quit the internet.

Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club” had it right when it came to women and sex:

“It’s a double-edged sword. If you haven’t, you’re a prude. But if you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.”

It’s unfortunately a mantra that has withstood the test of time, from the days when cavemen dragged their wives by the hair to copulate, to the fifties, when a woman would be fined for having a bathing suit cut too high above the knee, to now, when women who don’t give up sex to anything with a third leg are hateful prudes who are just out to ruin lives of poor, deserving gentlemen like Elliot Rodgers and the MRA movement. It’s a reminder that sex does not belong to women, but to men, and no matter what we do, women will be scorned for ever having anything to do or not to do with it. Sounds illogical? Well, you’re right. Because it’s a trap. Either way, we can’t win.

I’m of the personal belief that women should guard their own sexuality more carefully because sex is a dangerous game to play – STDS, unwanted pregnancies, all sorts of things that are badges of honor for men, but stigmata for women. But that’s just me. I don’t give it up to just anyone, but that is my choice. I’m not going to demonize or put down the woman who decides she does, in fact, want to go out and get anonymously laid, any more than I will eschew a woman in a figurative chastity belt. I believe in sex before marriage, but I respect those who don’t agree with me. I often pay them very little mind because their religious rhetoric about sex often bores me to tears, but people, men and women, have the right to their own personal sexuality.

But what about men and sexuality? It’s true that it’s a terrible shame that we’re equating women who do or don’t have sex with some kind of negative connotation, but we’re also doing it with men in a way that is really the biggest underlying issue to the whole thing, when you think about it. We teach boys that if they’re not having sex, then they’re failures. We’re equating sex with machismo, virility with male worth, and success with whether or not a man can manage to get sex. Just as it’s a horrible shame that we only associate women’s accomplishments with whether or not they’ve successfully landed a man, we only associate a man’s value, or at least within the male strata they do, with a guy’s ability to get laid. Is it any small wonder then, that groups like the MRA exist? We’re teaching boys that sex is what makes them men, and not getting it makes them less so. We’re telling them that it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the ultimate goal in life to accomplish – not love, not respect, not personal success, but sex. Sex equals happiness, and if you’re not getting laid, then obviously, you won’t be getting any happiness.

So in a way, and please feel free to flame me, but think about it for a second, I do feel a certain degree of pity for Elliot Rodgers. Not because he wasn’t getting laid, but because he was so indoctrinated into this notion that he was only going to be happy if he was having sex, and that women owed him sex so that he was somehow a failure for not getting it, that it drove him to mass murder. I’m not saying he was in any way justified, and what he did remains, regardless of motive, a horrible, senseless act. I’m just saying look at the monster we’ve created.  Sexuality is a double-edged sword, not just for women, but for men as well, and Elliot Rodgers is the poster child of that idea.

This is part of the reason I prefer the term “equalist” to “feminist.” The detriment of misogyny and the skewed perspective of sexuality may be significantly more applicable to women, but we also need to stop and think of what it’s doing to our men. It’s creating a legion of men who rape because they feel entitled to sex, and a legion of men who have to be feared by women because of the actions of their rapist peers. We teach men that being emotionally open is feminine, and therefore weak, and in one fell swoop, we equate women with weakness and create men who are emotionally repressed – and then wonder why they are more prone to emotional outbursts, or seem to lack any sort of empathy. We teach men that if they’re physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused by women or other men that they need to “man up” and deal with it or ignore it, even though it creates even MORE double standards.

So can we stop splitting ourselves into two camps based solely on what our genitals look like? All it does is create a society of double-standards that end up creating boys like Elliot Rodgers and the assholes that support him. There should be unity, not disparagement. Gender roles, sexuality, and misogyny -it’s all a double-edged sword.

An Open Letter to Self Magazine


 Dear Self Magazine,

I’m not entirely sure if you’re aware of this, but there’s a really rather unfortunate stereotype surrounding women, one which has been ingrained in our society for far too long. It’s a heavy-duty contributor to why it’s still a struggle for women to be seriously accepted as capable equals in the greater part of the real world, and since your magazine was founded and is currently run by women, you’d think that you of all people would understand how significant that struggle is. That stereotype is that women are petty, shallow, and that we are only capable of gleaning self-respect or self-worth by the mockery and putting-down of other women.

 You know, of course, that what I’m getting at has something to do with your blatant mockery of Monika Allen in the March issue of your magazine, but what really set me off was not just the story, nor your half-assed apology, but rather, your magazine’s determination to make other women feel bad on the merit of what they wear, how they look, and the choices they make. Your BS Meter section, the inclusion of Monika Allen in that section, and your ridiculous “apology” all work together in a perfect storm of sheer ineptitude and degradation to show that you’re devolving into another crass, shallow excuse for a magazine, and that you feel you can only bring yourself readership and credibility by the mockery and putting down of others. Does this sound conducive to a pro-woman atmosphere? Do you think this is doing womankind any favors as far as earning credibility and respect? Because news flash, it’s not.

 Other people have said it, I’m just repeating it, but what if Monika DIDN’T have cancer? What if she was, in fact, just a woman running a marathon in a tutu? What right do you have to make fun of her? What could you possibly hope to accomplish by actively putting down a woman who chooses to run in a tutu for ANY reason? You’re not sorry that you made fun of her, you’re sorry that you got called out on your crap, because you just so happened to mock a woman with brain cancer. But what you’re missing is the most important point. Monika Allen, whom I’m almost entirely sure would agree with me, is not defined by her brain cancer. She’s defined by the choices she makes, just like the rest of us are. If you make the choice to put her down because of your own preconceived notions of what is “lame” and what isn’t, then you are defined as exactly the type of entity that contributes to the detriment of progressive women and equal respect.

I will never read your magazine and I will actively encourage others to likewise abstain, not just because you published that piece, but because you clearly don’t have the common sense to understand how degrading it was, and not just because Monika has cancer. When you’re perpetuating a damaging culture of women, one that paints us as petty, shallow, and abusive to our own gender, it would be counterproductive for me or anyone to take part in that. And when I run my next 5k, I will be wearing a tutu. Call me lame, if you dare.




Michelle, and her middle fingers

Friendzoning versus Girlfriendzoning – An Objective Analysis


So I recently read an article explicating the sexist social plague otherwise known as friendzoning – you’ve all seen the memes, I really shouldn’t have to explain the concept – and how someone on reddit finally flipped the idiocy on its head by pointing out that a guy who was nice to a girl just to get her to go out with him was essentially guilty of having ulterior motives that effectively negated his so-called good intentions. This idea of being nice to a girl solely for a shot to get into her panties has been coined “girlfriendzoning,” a really rather apt label to counteract the increasingly popular notion that a girl is only worth being nice to if she’ll sleep with you.
Now, I am often considered a feminist, and I consider many of my beliefs to be pro – feminism, but that shouldn’t mean that I don’t have a certain amount of understanding of the male side of the equation. In a society in which we eschew rape culture and a woman’s right to dress and behave in any way she chooses without fear of judgment or attack, the idea of checking one’s behavior and the effect that it can have on others is a topic that is still considered a little too sensitive for most people to discuss. However, I am not most people and I’m certainly not sensitive, so here we go.
I need to preface this first by stating that the following arguments are meant to be as gender – neutral as possible, but because the concept of friendzoning is predominantly “done” by women more against men, I’ll be using that setup more often. I’m not trying to single out either side of the equation, because frankly, I think that they’re both full of shit. The whole idea of friendzoning and girlfriendzoning is getting to be a lot of gender generalization and he said/she said nonsense. So instead of trying to place blame for the existence of either notion in the first place, why don’t we stop and think about why either one happens at all.
One of the most unavoidable facts of life is that human choices are driven by two basic necessities: the need for food, and the need for sex. The key ingredients necessary for our survival as a species are nutrition and propagation. It’s just a fact. I didn’t

Holy Gender Roles, Batman!


Hey, sometimes I feel the need to rant about my personal views on life. M’kay.

So, for those of you who don’t know me (HA!), I was raised to be extremely self-sufficient. My grandmother sometimes tells me she’s worried she’s too hard on me because she’s determined to make sure that I’m smart enough to make my own way in the world. My mother raised me pretty much single-handedly and she only had a high-school education, but she’s certainly not stupid and worked her ass off. So, suffice it to say, there will never be in a time in my life where I will ever need anyone else to support me, and that’s how I think it should be. But I was in the car with a dear friend of mine the other day, and we got onto the topic of her sister-in-law, who is a dear, sweet girl, but ran into a marriage at the first conceivable opportunity, and has never in her entire life supported herself in any way, shape, or form. To preface the remaining bit of this rant, let me just state that I know her life is her own to lead, and her choices are her own cross to bear, and I have no right to pass any judgment on how she lives her life. But women like that just baffle me, and the entire conversation got me thinking about the dichotomy between men and women when it comes to self-sufficiency.

We live in a day and age where a marriage is supposed to be an equal partnership, with no one person supporting the other more than vice versa. At least, that’s the theory, and I have a sneaking suspicion that that’s part of the reason why the divorce rate is so high. But I don’t see that as often as I’d like to. I’d like to think any marriage that I ever get myself into would involve equal support, equal contribution, and that if something should happen, I would never be in a position where I would be screwed out of comfort or the ability to take care of myself. I don’t ever want to need alimony or child support or to take half of his money because I didn’t earn it. Again, this all goes back to how I was raised – a woman makes the choice to marry, to bear the children, and to support herself. If I couldn’t do the latter two on my own, I would certainly not get myself involved with the former. I’ve heard too many stories of women who boast of their husband’s financial status, who live under the impression that he is going to take care of her for the rest of his life, and is absolutely baffled, not to mention royally screwed, when he hits the cliche midlife crisis and runs off with a twenty-year old. All the usual mistakes are made – the man assumes the younger woman loves him for his personality, not his money, the now ill-to-do wife is left with nothing but broken promises and nothing to fend for herself with. There have been women in my life who have never worked a day in their lives because they went straight from their parents’ house to the marriage bed, and when the marriage crumbles, they are left with nothing – no work experience, no ability to maintain their lifestyle, nothing. 

Now ask yourself a question – how often do you see that with men?

How often is the man the submissive partner in the relationship, who feeds off of his wife’s breadwinnings? How often does the wife dominate in the money-making end of the marriage, and then leave her husband for a younger man when she gets bored with him? Not particularly often. So really, people can talk about equal roles in a relationship, but as far as my observation goes, women are making a pretty poor name for themselves when they get themselves into situations like this knowingly, living under the fairy-tale illusion that marriage equals their permanent protection. That they have no need to protect or support themselves because there’s a man who will be there to do it.

The fuck is this? The fifties? I thought feminism was supposed to have progressed! But these stories are still common. Before, it was my grandmother telling me about an aunt of hers who was so certain of her place in the world because of her husband’s money. When he divorced her and left her with nothing, her certainty didn’t save her. She had no work experience, no savings, and nothing to save herself with. She ended up having to live with her daughter. And now, it’s my friend telling me about her sister in law, who’s over thirty, ran into marriage with a guy she knew for six months who makes a good amount of money that allows him to buy her a house to move from her parents’ place into, and has never worked more than 15 hours a week in her entire freaking life. The writing on the walls is all there. In the beginning of a marriage, all of the intentions are good. But the divorce rate didn’t reach 50% because people kept their promises. It is true that a man should be more faithful to his wife, and his promises, than his need to prove his virility, or whatever the hell the reason is for leaving her for another woman. But a woman has her own role to play in her protection. A woman should be able to work a forty hour a week job. She should be able to get health insurance for herself, and any children they may have. She should have a nest egg, and all the preparations she can get if, for whatever reason, she finds herself without her husband there to save her. All kinds of things happen, besides divorce. He loses all the money in a ponzi scheme, he loses his job and there’s still a mortgage to pay, or, heaven forbid, he dies and there’s no life insurance. What then? What on earth are you gonna do to help yourself? These are all the questions that have been drilled into my head since childhood, and as a result, I find the idea of being dependent on a man absolutely repugnant. It actually made me cringe when the sales clerk at the consignment store made three burly moving guys take my tiny, 20 pound tea table to the car. Something I’m sure they did for insurance reasons, but it doesn’t change the fact that I felt completely repulsed by the notion of someone else doing for me what I could easily do for myself, had I simply made the effort. So maybe, in many ways, I’m lucky that my grandmother was so hard on me. Maybe it did suck a bit of the romance of marriage out of my brain, because I have to look at everything logically and I always have to prepare for the worst, which is not conducive to a romantic outlook. I have difficulties with dating men because so many of them wanted to take care of me, which I don’t want. I want to take care of myself. The idea of being someone like my friend’s sister-in-law makes me physically ill. I’m not trying to hoist myself and my way of thinking onto any kind of pedestal – I know plenty of women married to good men who respect their independence, women who know how to take care of themselves if the worst should happen. Strong women. But it makes me sad that despite all of our advances into gender equality, this is still a one-sided scenario.