An Anti-Marriage Feminist Gets (Happily) Married

A young woman realizes the sexual revolution was not about destroying institutions. It was about earning people the right to choose a path.

By the time my two cousins, both girls, both close to me in age, had turned ten, they both had their weddings all planned out. They knew all of the details, big and small, from what their dress would look like, to how many diamonds would be on their ring, to which song they would choose for their “daddy dance.”

By the time I was ten, my life plan was to become a famous actor/writer/veterinarian, three demanding careers which I was pretty sure wouldn’t leave me any time for marriage. Besides, I knew that marriage led to sex, which, to my pre-pubescent self, sounded disgusting. Like, a man was supposed to put his what, where? No, thanks.

When I was thirteen, my father left quite suddenly, and, after a brief separation, he and my mother divorced. This only served to firm my resolve that I would never marry. While I had already abandoned the veterinary part of my future career (a field that would, I realized, involve science, my worst subject next to gym), and while my hormone-driven teenage mind was slowly starting to realize that this whole sex thing might not be such a bad idea, I could still think of plenty of good reasons to avoid marriage at any cost.

I felt like a hypocrite, though. After all, wasn’t I the person who had spent years railing against the institution of marriage? Wasn’t I the one who had made constantly rude, expletive-filled remarks about how much I hated weddings? I felt like a traitor to the cause, a defector who was leaving my friends behind in Singlesville for the land of the Smug Marrieds.

For example, what had my parents ever gained from their 17 year marriage?

I mean, other than the fact that my mother was left struggling to raise three kids on her own while my father ended up living in a lonely bachelor apartment an hour and a half away from us.

By the time I moved to Halifax to start university, I was sure that marriage and weddings weren’t just a bad idea for me, they were a bad idea for everyone. I rolled my eyes at the fact that people still bought into the idea that white wedding gowns represented purity and virginity. I mean, come on, really? How many people were still virgins by the time they made it to the altar? I was also grossed out by the symbolism of a father “giving away” his daughter, as if she was nothing more than a piece of property. And don’t even get my started on how I felt about the idea of a woman changing her last name – the patriarchal symbolism was just too much for me to handle.

And you know what? I was, really, really, really fucking tired of people referring to their wedding day as the happiest day of their lives.

Like, what the fuck? Say you got married at 25 – your life was supposed to just be downhill from there? I hated the idea of trying to pick just one specific day as being the best day of my life; I wanted to live with the idea that any and every day had the potential to be the best; there was no way that I was going to get on board with the thought that my happiness was going to reach its peak at some point, and then wane for the rest of my life.

What probably bothered me the most, though, was the idea that all of these things, the poofy white dress, the obscenely flashy diamond ring, and, above all, the man who would, in theory, love me forever but in reality would, according to statistics, leave me after a few years of marriage – these were things that I was desperately supposed to want. But I didn’t want them, and the fact that I didn’t made me feel like some kind of freak or weirdo.

♦◊♦

We live in a culture that teaches girls from a very young age that getting married is one of the most, if not the most, important thing that they can do. This type of thinking naturally leads young women to rush into getting married, often before they’re ready for that type of commitment. It also leads to the bridezilla phenomenon, which has been exploited and mocked by the media as further evidence of women’s craziness, but is perfectly understandable when looked at in the right way; I mean, let’s face it, freaking out over every teeny tiny detail and feeling the need to control every aspect of the situation is pretty much the natural consequence of telling girls that their wedding day is going to be the happiest, most special day of their lives.

Wouldn’t you go a little crazy if you had to prepare yourself for what you were certain was going to be the high point of your life?

I was born in the early 1980s, which means that I grew up at the tail end of the Free To Be…You And Me era. I was also fortunate enough to have parents who actively worked to raise kids who fought against racism, sexism, homophobia and economic injustice. My mother, who kept her maiden name, would often introduce my sisters and me as her three contributions to the women’s movement. My father wrote for a newspaper called The Socialist Worker and, on weekend visits, I would join him in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood, where we would stand on street corners and ask people to sign petitions to ban nuclear weapons.

I grew up believing that I could be anything, as long as I worked hard enough for it. My parents taught me not to let my gender or economic background stand in the way of achieving my dreams. This meant that I wound up naively thinking that now that women were free to enter just about any career, they would all be rushing to do so. Imagine my dismay when, in university, I witnessed female classmates dropping out of school at an alarming rate with the express purpose of getting married and starting a family.

Is this what my parents and their peers fought for, I wondered? The right to keep on playing into traditional gender roles? The right to sacrifice an education for marriage?

I became an aggressively outspoken critic of marriage. The social circles I moved in mostly felt as I did, and, at parties, we would loudly, drunkenly disparage the fact that so many of our friends and acquaintances were suddenly walking down the aisle. In expletive-laden speeches, we would toast each other, claim solidarity, and swear to never, ever, ever get married.

◊♦◊

Then, when I was 22, I started dating and quickly fell in love with a guy named Matt. He was kind and gentle, unbelievably so—I mean, literally, I sometimes had a hard time believing that an actual person could seriously be this good. Unlike past boyfriends, he made an effort to actively participate in things that interested me, and tried to learn to like them, too. He treated me like I was a person who deserved to be treated well. He was just so darn nice—so incredibly, shockingly nice. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And then it sort of did

Not long after we started dating, I realized that what Matt really wanted was a permanent, stable, long-term relationship. One that would, hopefully, end in marriage.

“I’m not getting married,” I told him.

“I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do,” he would reply.

(Seriously, where did I even find this dude?)

After being together for nearly a year, we moved in together.

“Don’t take this as a sign that I’m going to marry you, because I’m not,” I said.

“I’m taking this as a sign that you want to live with me. Nothing more, nothing less.”

I looked at him suspiciously, searching his words for hidden meaning, but I couldn’t find any.

“Fine. Good. Keep thinking that way,” was all I had to say.

Living with Matt made me realize that I kinda sorta probably wanted to be with him in a forever-type-way. Like, I wanted to grow old with him. And have kids with him. And be with him through thick and thin. My thoughts turned into a Hallmark card of mushy lovey-dovey feelings, something that was totally new for me. We started making long-term plans, and the fact that that didn’t feel weird to me was weird in and of itself.

Then, in late 2006, Matt was offered a job in Toronto, some 1,100 miles away. He decided to take it. I decided to move with him.

♦◊♦

The plan was that he would move to Ontario at the end of January, and I would stay in Halifax to tie up loose ends, then join him in March. We spent the last week of January packing up our place, having lots of sex and explaining how much we would miss each other over the six weeks we’d spend apart. On Matt’s last night in town, we had dinner at our favourite restaurant, a sushi place down by the water. I noticed that Matt was acting kind of weird, but I figured that he was just nervous about his upcoming 20-hour drive.

After dinner, Matt suggested that we go for a walk. Strange: it was winter, and the wind off the water was really fucking cold. He led me to a bench down by the harbour, then got down on one knee.

Oh shit, I thought. He’s fucking well going to propose, isn’t he?

Yes. Yes he was.

Out of his pocket he pulled a box that contained a gorgeous antique ring, the band of which had been cut to resemble vines and flowers. Although it was set with a tiny diamond and two sapphires, the ring looked nothing like a traditional engagement ring. I was instantly smitten.

As Matt began his carefully-prepared speech, I started to laugh. He looked hurt, and accused me of ruining his proposal. I just shook my head and explained that I was laughing because I was happy, and also because I was surprised at just how happy I was. He slid the ring onto my finger, and just like that we were engaged.

It was that easy.

◊♦◊

Except it wan’t easy.

On our way back to our apartment, the excitement of the moment started to fade. I began to worry that I’d made a mistake, and asked Matt to promise to let me call off the engagement if I decided that this wasn’t the right choice for me. Without even missing a beat, he swore that if I changed my mind, we would just go back to being boyfriend and girlfriend, no questions asked and no hurt feelings.

I started wearing the ring regularly, even though I still felt weird about it.

After Matt left the next morning for his cross-country trek, I was left with time to examine my motives. I knew that I wanted to have kids with him, and while our parents (barely) tolerated us living together, I knew that the idea of children born out of wedlock probably wouldn’t fly with either of our mothers. I also realized that it would be economically and legally advantageous to be married; I’d heard too many stories of gay people not being able to be with their dying partners because they weren’t considered family, or else being denied an inheritance because they weren’t able to be recognized as next of kin. Above all, though, I realized that I’d agreed to marry Matt because I wanted to.

I felt like a hypocrite, though. After all, wasn’t I the person who had spent years railing against the institution of marriage? Wasn’t I the one who had made constantly rude, expletive-filled remarks about how much I hated weddings? I felt like a traitor to the cause, a defector who was leaving my friends behind in Singlesville for the land of the Smug Marrieds. I felt so badly, in fact, that I sent my friends a hilarious, guilt-ridden email, the entirety of which I will reproduce here:

Hey dudes,

So, I have some news for you. Before he left forOntario, Matt asked me to marry him, and I thought
 about it for a while, and then I said yes. I’ll giveyou some time now to start pacing around the room and
 yelling about how shitty marriage is and why the hell
 do all your friends get married and then maybe you
 need to call each other and yell some more. And then
 maybe throw some things.

I’m actually really scared you guys will think I’mincredibly stupid for doing this. And I know thatmarriage is lame and old-fashioned, but the thing is, I’m pretty lame and old-fashioned, too. And I’ve
 realized that I don’t want to be with anyone else butMatt, and I want to have a party with my friends and
 family to celebrate that. I know I don’t get mushy or
 talk about love much, but I really love him a lot, and
 I want to spend the rest of my life with him. He’s one
 of the few people that I know who can deal with my
 awful moods and he puts up with all of my shit without complaining, and he treats me really, really well, and
 also (again) I love him a lot. It’s kind of hard toput this down in writing and have it sound real and
 not ridiculous, but there you have it.

K, maybe you remember this and maybe you don’t, but
 you said once that that if you ever wanted to have anabortion, you knew that I’d be right there beside you, supporting you, even though it’s not a choice I’d
 make for myself. So, I guess it’s kind of shitty to
 compare my wedding to an abortion, but I hope that you
 can stand by me and not think less of me, even though it’s not a choice you might make for myself.

I hope that both of you (once you’re done yelling and
 smoking and stuff) will be happy for me, because for once, I’m happy for myself (and that doesn’t happen
 often).

Love,
 Anne

Yeah. I am a person who compared their wedding to having an abortion. I guess that’s how you know that I’m a real feminist.

I did wear a white dress (albeit not a poofy one). And my dad did walk me down the aisle, because it seemed like something that meant a lot to him (although I didn’t change my name – take THAT patriarchy).

And you know what? The wedding was really fucking fun. It was like a giant party for all of my friends and family, and we all got drunk and danced to classic 80s and 90s music all night. If you’ve never shouted along to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing at one in the morning while wearing a a somewhat tanished wedding dress, you should probably try it sometime.

If you’re wondering: no, my wedding day was not the happiest of my life.

♦◊♦

I learned  that I was wrong when I thought that the ability to choose traditional gender roles, or to get married, or any of that stuff, wasn’t what my parents had fought for. I know now that what they fought for, and what I now fight for, is choice. The choice to get married or not. The choice to stay home with your kids or go to work. The choice to wear a dress or a pantsuit or a pair of super-revealing short-shorts. There isn’t one right way to be a feminist, or express your feminism; the most important thing is to offer men and women the right to choose their own life path. The most important thing is for men and women to feel like their choices aren’t restricted by their gender.

After nearly three and a half years of marriage, I am still very much in love with my husband. I’m glad that I made the choice to marry him.

Oh and that whole father-daughter wedding dance thing? We chose to dance to Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel, a song that I’d loved when I was a little kid, mostly because it ends with the lyrics, Anne and her father, out in a boat. My father had often played it for me when we were in the car together and consequently we both felt a little sentimental about that song. As an adult, I learned that it was about feminist poet Anne Sexton, one of my all-time favourite writers. It was the perfect fit.

Photo by JFrancis

 

 

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About Anne Theriault

Anne Theriault lives in Toronto with her husband and young son. She spends her days teaching yoga, reading in cafés, and trying to figure out how to negotiate in toddler-ese.

Comments

  1. Brava! Great piece.

  2. I very much enjoyed this article. My story is similar to the author’s. I did not grow up planning my wedding. I thought that only “losers”, i.e., those women who did not have real plans for their life such as education and careers, got married. Then, when I was a junior in college, I began dating a new guy. On our first date I felt a connection (yes, I know it’s a hackneyed expression) that I had not experienced before. I had told him early in our relationship that I had no intention to marry. After dating for a few months, I began to understand why many people believed in marriage, and after dating for a year, I told him I wanted to marry him. We married six months later, and have been married for 34 years.

    • Anne Thériault says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you relate!

      I’m starting to think a lot of us grew up thinking of marriage as a prison or trap at worst, or as something that will only lead to disappointment at best. I look at the culture of Quebec, which has very nearly done away with marriage, and I wonder if that’s the way to go. But I’m glad I got married. So I’m not sure what the answer is!

  3. @Anne … I have to ask this. This is the second time you have referred to yourself as being a “feminist.” May I ask what it is about you that you believe yourself to be a feminist and not simply a women who has grown and developed in her own unique way? Simply a forward thinking women?

    • Anne Thériault says:

      When I was younger, I used to think it an unnecessary label, pigeonholing an entire ethical system, but I disagree with that idea now. I think that by refusing to acknowledge the need for the movement – yes, a movement with a name and a mission, not just a vague “can’t we all get along” agenda – no real social change can occur, especially not in a spoiled, first-world, 21st century climate where the average person’s perfectly comfortable with their complacency.

      It’s MORE important to be aware of how we enable everyday sexism and casual misogyny in this day and age, not less. We’re all guilty of it at times, self-described feminists included, so being defensive about the terminology and the concept shows a profound misunderstanding of it. Feminism is not a dogma, it’s a lifelong process of trying to make the world a better, fairer, more informed place. At least, it is to me.

      I’m a feminist because I’m pro-choice, and I see my government trying to take choices away from women. I’m a feminist because there are so many websites and magazines dedicated to picking women’s appearance apart, making fun of them because they’re too fat, too skinny, wearing too much makeup or not enough. I’m a feminist because on television and in the movies I see men of all sizes and all levels of attractiveness, but I mostly (I know that there are exceptions) only see skinny, conventionally attractive women. For once I’d like to see someone who looks like me, someone with bad skin and a hooked nose.

      I’m feminist because I like being part of a movement, because it’s easier to fight injustice as part of a group than by yourself. I’m feminist because I’m proud of many of feminism’s achievements, although I recognize that there have been times when the movement has faltered or even failed. I’m feminist because I want to try to make the feminist movement more inclusive, more diverse, and more tolerant.

      Does that make sense? :)

      • The reason he asks this question is that feminism, while a valid movement, only addresses half of the problems related to gender and gender issues. Namely women.

        Even when they allow room for men’s issues, there’s a tendency to frame it as a woman’s issue or an example of misogyny against women. When it comes to the issues of men, only the egalitarian feminists actually support equal rights for both sexes while others only focus on women. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining the focus of women’s issues. But the problem is that some can’t help but lure men in with the promise that “Feminism is for equal rights for both sexes” then scream how it’s unfair that men are hijacking the movement or taking the focus away from women.

        Believe it or not, Men face issues in related to custody, family courts, domestic violence, sexual abuse (from BOTH genders), education, etc. But unlike women, they have very few options at best and next to nothing at worst. Society even tells them their hurt doesn’t compare to women (society includes this strand of feminism I speak of) and that they should just man up and take it.

        The domestic violence and sexual abuse is where feminism really failed. By allowing this biased strand to frame men as only aggressors and women as victims, it took decades of fighting and advocacy from male survivors for both issues to be recognized as a serious problem for men as well. Even then, there’s still a ton of ignorance on these subjects and the old “Men are aggressors, women are victims” meme continues long after the latest CDC reports show the fact that men are sexually and physically abused at significant levels.

        In terms of female perpetrators, there’s still a reluctance from society (this strand of feminism is guilty of this) to even recognize that women are capable of hurting, torturing and abusing men and boys.

        Now we’ve heard the “Feminism isn’t a monolith” argument before. But that’s precisely why feminism isn’t adequate to address the real needs of men. Because they allow this segment of feminists (the biased, women only focused, gynocentric strand that minimizes men’s issues due the ‘privilege’ argument or looking at statistics and thinking since women have it worse, they’re issues not worth worrying about) the same space. Which also makes the “That’s not feminism” also moot as well since, hey, if they’re allowed in the tent then it’s plainly obvious it’s feminism.

        That’s part of the context of his question as well. Though I hope I’m not putting words in his mouth.

        • @Eagle …I couldn’t have said it better …… In fact I know I couldn’t have said it better. Glad you weren’t moderated this time.

          I’m gonna add a couple of things that address feminism and what Anne believes to be true.

          Abortion … the supreme court made that decision in the USA and I resent feminists taking credit for it. What feminists did do is pushed the issue to the point where abortion in some cases is no more then birth control. Feminists pushed the issue to the point that men have absolutely no say as to their child being born. Feminists normalized the single parent (usually the mom) family thus minimizing the importance of fathers in children’s lives. Feminists have fought tooth and nail to limit abortion education so that procedures like 3D ultra imaging is restricted.

          I don’t see feminism making any positive impact on stay at home moms and have said for many years that feminism has actually hurt that segment of women. The potential for women to have that which you have is limited at best. The window of opportunity is closing and for women like you it’s become more difficult to fall into that setting. Feminism progressed to the “a women can do it all” kind of setting, thus eliminating the vision of a traditional family.

          Anne, through the years I’ve talked to a lot of women who think like you and have asked them if they see themselves as feminists and every single one of them said no and in a couple of cases, appeared insulted that I even ask.

          In so far as feminism having an impact on how society has changed the views of women’s appearances, what exactly have they done? Open a magazine, turn on your TV and you’ll see that fashion through the media still dictates what women should wear and how they should look. The fashion industry is as big as it’s ever been. It didn’t take feminism to teach me that a women is a women and they come in all shapes and sized. The porn industry that exploits women all the time is bigger then ever, so what exactly have they done?

          Fighting injustices is what a person can do without falling into one camp or another. Society likes to put labels on people and you yourself have fallen into the trap that as a feminist you are XYZ and have lost your individuality. By identifying yourself as a feminist, you have lost credibility with a large segment of society.

          • Anne Thériault says:

            Good lord, the US Supreme Court was the ONLY thing that could legalize abortion. It’s not like the feminist movement has some kind of law-making powers! However, there were many protests and political activities organized by feminists leading up to that decision. And abortion is birth control no matter how you look at it, and no matter how feminists “push” it. And with regards to men having “no say” over whether their child is born, how would you rearrange the law, exactly? Would it be better for a man to be able to coerce his unwilling partner to bear his child? What about when a woman decides to go ahead with a pregnancy when her male partner doesn’t want her to? Should she then be forced to abort?

            What do you mean by “abortion education”, by the way?

            Re: single-parent families – they existed before the feminist movement. The feminist movement has helped to de-stigmatize single mothers.

            The feminist movement, still being a fairly new movement, has had conflicting ideas regarding stay-at-home mothers. I would advise you to do some reading on third wave feminism, and the ways that it embraces the idea of choices for women. Choices to stay at home, or to work.

            It’s too bad that the term feminism has been dragged through the mud so badly that women who embrace feminist ideals are afraid to call themselves feminists. My experience is that women don’t like to use that term because men are afraid of it, and women don’t want to intimidate men. I find it interesting that women are happy to reap the benefits of feminism without taking on the label. A little sad, don’t you think?

            With regards to how the media portrays women, both in terms of television and movies and in terms of magazines, fashion or otherwise, if you don’t think that feminists are fighting against that, you’re sorely mistaken. And you know what? Changes have been made. Just this year a petition started by a 14 year old girl has caused Seventeen Magazine to take a no-photoshop pledge when it comes to its models. But this is a hard fight to fight, and change won’t happen overnight.

            I also find it interesting that you have gone from questioning why I’m a feminist, to telling me that I’m too level-headed and passionate about my family to be a feminist, to straight up trying to bully me into rejecting the label. I’ll be totally honest with you: the people that I would “lose credibility” with are not people that I am interested in aligning myself with. Those are the people whose ideas I want to change, not the people I want as allies.

            • Roe V Wade .. land mark case. And ya don’t hear much from the feminists about Roe reversing her view on abortion. Feminists could stand on their head and march and protest all they wanted, it wouldn’t affect the decision one way or another.

              You said “And abortion is birth control no matter how you look at it, and no matter how feminists “push” it.” This statement may get your feminist card taken away from you. I know many modern day feminists who would totally disagree with you on this.

              “Would it be better for a man to be able to coerce his unwilling partner to bear his child?” How about arranging for the mother to deliver and give up all her rights as is the case in reverse. Pay for all medical care and let the guy have the child. (Please don’t bring up the “health of the mother” issue because it takes it into a completely different setting.

              Abortion education …. In the USA, planned parenthood jumped through hoops so as to limit some education to the mother. 3-D imaging is one in which they fought against. Why? 3-D shows the unborn more clearly and would mean that the mother has the potential of seeing what she is actually aborting.

              Also … abortion clinics are not held to the same health care standards as other surgical facilities. “Right to privacy” prevails … accordingly, women have inferior unregulated care.

              Anne, sorry if you feel I’m bullying you. That was not my intent at all. Much of what you speak of is not exclusive to feminists way of thinking and personally, I would love for the feminist camp be taken down and people move in unity toward much of what you want to see change.

              What’s the saying? Guilt by association? Your label as a feminists is enough for a large segment of people, men and women, to not look any further. I’m sure some men in this group when reading the title of your articles were more interested in challenging your feminism then that which you were actually writing about. I’m sure some went so far as to not even read what you wrote simply because “feminist” was part of your title.

              I like what you’ve said and as I said before, and I believe it now, I don’t see you as much as a feminist as I do a forward thinking women. Which in my book is a compliment.

            • OP: “It’s too bad that the term feminism has been dragged through the mud so badly that women who embrace feminist ideals are afraid to call themselves feminists.”

              I find it a good thing because it serves as a wake up call. Feminism’s name has been drug through the mud. But it wasn’t the media or republicans that did it. The strand I mentioned earlier, THEY did it through their words and actions to go with it. They weren’t challenged except refered to as “not feminism” by the more liberal portions of the movement.

              OP: ” My experience is that women don’t like to use that term because men are afraid of it, and women don’t want to intimidate men.”

              There’s a good reason why women don’t use that term and why men aren’t afraid. It’s the mixed messages and the inability of certain strands to even acknowledge that men truly do have problems. Or when they do, they try to frame at as an example of mysogyny, The Partiarchy, or oppression against women.

              Again, it’s not an issue of strong women. It’s an issue of a movement that can’t make up its mind whether to be inclusive of men’s issues or not from a genuine perspective.

              OP: “I find it interesting that women are happy to reap the benefits of feminism without taking on the label. A little sad, don’t you think?”

              Why do you find it sad that these women are independant individuals making it in life without the need to classify themselves as a label? There’s nothing sad about it. Unless you are of the opinion that anyone who believes in equal rights should be a feminist.

              I believe in equal rights. Yet, I’ve been told that my problems don’t matter by this strand of feminism I mentioned earlier. And this strand is still omnipresent in the tent. Now, why should I occupy the same space as those feminists who minimised my experiences by labeling me a “Privledged white male” who’s problems don’t compare to what women go through. So, I don’t call myself a feminist.

              Look, you’re a very capable woman yourself. But please don’t cast aspiritions on women or men who believe in equal rights but refuse to call themselves feminists. That comes close to a christian telling a non-christian he or she will burn in hell if they don’t accept the lord jesus christ or God into their lives.

        • Anne Thériault says:

          I’m going to agree with everything that Kari said below, and add that mostly I think this is how feminists are viewed by many of the commenters on this site:

          http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=341

      • I am very new here and it intrigues me that there are so many feminists on this site. It is a bit bewildering, but it is nice to know that some women might want to know what some men think – at least as part of the reason for posting. I know a very important part is to teach men how and what to think, based on the topics. But there might be some respect and interest as well, which is nice to see.

        The vast majority of men will always oppose feminism because of the ‘us vs. them’ way of looking at the world – the assumption that men are both the problem and the enemy, and that the world is run by a ‘patriarchy’ that oppresses the self-pitying masses. As long as that remains true, the battle will go on and the divisions will get much worse.

        And feminism does not even speak for all women – it only speaks only to women who fit perfectly into the appropriate categories and agree with the world-view.

        I spent time tonight looking through old photos and letters of my great-grandmother. She was a very strong, powerful woman, born in Ireland in the 1880s and died in the 1970s. She held many jobs, brought up a huge family and she had great presence and authority. I was close to her as a boy.

        I wonder now how she would respond to a feminist telling her that she was on a lower level then men and that all of the problems of the world are due to a mysterious group of all-powerful patriarchs, and that women are – in all cases – victims and oppressed. And that her Catholic faith was another form of evil patriarchal oppression.

        How would she respond to this sort of condescending lecture?

        I have a good idea of her response…….

        And I KNOW how she would respond if feminists started carrying on about Evil Men and insulting the men in her life.

        Everybody get out of the way – Grandma Fox has some things to say….

  4. Eagle35 –
    I don’t know as much about anti-violence work as I do about work/family issues, but you’ve mentioned in a few comments about the disparate treatment of male victims of violence and I wonder – how much of this is a symptom of scarcity? The fights turn into who is “more deserving” of scarce resources instead of trying to make resources more abundant and available to everyone.

    I totally agree that “feminism isn’t adequate to address the real needs of men.” Men will need advocates of their own (male and female) to address some of the issues you raise. But, as you point out, some feminists are just as eager to support improvements for men as they are for women, so it isn’t in men’s interest to discount *all* feminists whole-cloth.

    I think your use of specific language to describe *which* aspects of feminism are problematic is *exactly* the kind of approach that’s needed. The less generalities, the better the debate can be.

    I also wonder – how is any movement supposed to deal with the problematic elements that are “in the tent”? The Black Panthers don’t negate the importance and positive outcomes of the Civil Rights movement, do they? Gay republicans don’t tarnish the sincerity of the religious right, do they? Can we acknowledge the problem areas without shutting down the rest of the dialogue?

  5. Well you kept your name – so the evil patriarchy still GETS IT. Yeah!

  6. Oh, the boundless narcissism of young feminist women, spinning endless self justifying screeds about why they abandoned their feminist principles when faced with the inadequacy of those principles in the real world, but in virtuoso displays of cognitive dissonance, defending the failed principles just the same.

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