December 11, 2008

Are there actually women like this?

Here is an article I found on CNN today.

(The Frisky) -- Maybe it's because we're forced to deal with our families more than usual during the holidays, but these can be trying times for women without rings on their wedding fingers.

If you need to demand a proposal from a guy, he's probably going to walk quickly in the opposite direction.

Aunt Esther's annual grab at your left hand and subsequent clucking over your naked ring finger is annoying, but you write it off because she's senile and will die soon. When your cousin Myrna gasses on about her impending nuptials over eggnog, you actually feel a little sorry for her because you see the way her betrothed keeps eyeing her sister.

But when your baby sister flashes the rock that her professor-turned-paramour put under the tree, you succumb to a little condition called "The Ring Tizzy.""The Ring Tizzy" is what happens when you just can't take another snide comment, pitying look, or "helpful" suggestion. You're single, after all -- not recently diagnosed with some fatal, flesh-eating disease.
But that's how it can feel sometimes, and instead of cracking-wise in reply, you give in and decide that you are going to shut all of them up once and for all because you, too, are getting married. Whether he likes it or not. After all, you guys have been dating for a couple years, months, weeks, or days -- how long does he think he's going to keep milking that cow for free?

Here's exactly the wrong way to go about extracting a proposal from your man.

1. The cutesy ooopsy method: You leave magazines scattered around. Oddly enough, each one open to giant, full-page ads for diamond rings. You hum "Every kiss belongs to Kay" and every other jewelry store jingle you can think of.
1. While out walking with your guy, you always seem to need to stop and tie your shoes or adjust your scarf just as you pass a jewelry store. You work jewel-related metaphors into every possible conversation: "She's as dull as a half-price CZ," or "I wish my hair were PLATINUM." You aren't convincing him to marry you --you're showing him that you think he's a moron.

2. The business agreement: "Look, neither of us are getting any younger, let's just get married," you briskly inform him while whipping out a sensible spreadsheet that proves exactly how marriage will be beneficial to both parties. This approach is about as romantic as a hairball, and if he thought he was worried about being celibate once he walked down the aisle, this is just the tool to convince him of that.

3. The angry passive-aggressive "hint": "What do you want for Hanukkah," he asks sweetly. "I want to die alone, in my parents' basement, covered in cat hair," you hiss in reply, as your head spins like a top and pea soup spews from your mouth. You charmer -- who wouldn't wanna marry you?

4. The angry aggressive-aggressive approach: When most guys consider marriage, they aren't envisioning a romantic ceremony and a reception filled with their nearest and dearest. They're thinking that you're the last person they're ever going to hook up with, and if their friends' marriages are any indicator, he's not even going to be getting much of that.

If you need to shriek and demand a proposal from a guy, he's probably going to walk quickly in the opposite direction. Even if he gives in, you might have a fun wedding, but you're not going to have much of a marriage. Sure, he might have sprung for the ring, but he's never going to forget that he was hectored into doing something he wasn't ready to do.

Much better to show Aunt Sophie your other finger, congratulate Cousin Myrna on landing such a stylish groom, give your sister a congratulatory hug, and count yourself lucky that you're not going to see your family for another year.

Alright, so that last part about showing Aunt Sophie "your other finger" was kind of funny, but is this for real? I don't know any women who behave like this. I know plenty of men and women who really do want to get married, but no one is resorting to any shrieky antics. I just really hate that these stereotypes about women keep being perpetuated in the media- that we're all just clamoring to get married, that all we care about is getting "the rock" or "the wedding". This simply isn't true. And I'm surprised that as feminists, we still need to address articles like the one above. Also, why do I never see an article in the mainstream media about men who are pressuring their girlfriends' to get married. The truth is, I've noticed far more women wanting to wait, and have longer engagements (sans "rock") before they get married. It is true that, up until the 1960s women may have been extremely concerned with getting married, the mainstream portrayal of this concern is reflected in the article. That is, women wanted to get married only because they wanted "the rock", the "wedding" and the fancy house. The fact that women had to get married is often ignored. It was so incredibly important for a woman to find a man, and get him to marry her, because she could not go out and get an education, she could not get a job, she could not live alone, and if she genuinely wanted to have children and be a mother, she would have to be married to do so. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth chastises her mother for always thinking about how she was going to get her daughters married off to wealthy suitors. Elizabeth says to her mother "Is marriage really all you think about? and Mrs. Bennet replies "When you have five daughters, Lizzie, tell me what else will occupy your thoughts, and then perhaps you will understand." This excerpt expresses perfectly the importance of marriage for women at that time- simply put, it was their livelihood.
Even though the feelings of shame stemming from this article should belong to the author alone, I'm embarrassed for my sex when I read an article like this, an article that I simply do not think is reflective of the times, and of women.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favourite post so far. Articles about "marriage hungry" women are pretty much the bane of my existence. It infantilizes women and makes them seem shallow; it devalues the very real reasons why many people do want to get married, and it's just simply not true. And what about phrasing like "milking that cow". Are you kidding? I think people only use metaphors like that ironically, to highlight how insulting and ridiculous they are. I also don't appreciate the perpetuation of harmful and reductionist stereotypes in this article: the shrew; the manipulative woman, the "emotional" woman. Because all women fit into one of these categories, right? Disgusting.