Thursday, February 18, 2010

Under Pressure

Earlier today I commented on weddings, and how I don't want to have one. Following this I saw a friend's mom publicly lay on the baby pressure. This happens to me all the time. Not quite as publicly from my mom (her approach is the more subtle "should I save these baby clothes?" type) but quite publicly from my mother in law and sister in law.  Those two are on me like white on rice. They are ready. I can usually laugh it off, but sometimes not so much. Depends on my mood.

Baby pressure is terrible. I have about 50 different answers I give as to why I'm not yet a mother or at very  least trying to become one. People are so quick to judge. 22 is too young, but 28 is too old?

Truth is, it's no ones fucking BUSINESS why I don't want babies (yet?). But everyone and their dog assumes it is their right to ask. Hey loser, did you ever consider that I might not be ABLE to have babies? Perhaps you are touching on a sensive, personal issue? But no. This doesn't cross anyone's mind.

Amazingly, people somehow think it is socially acceptable to ask you about your child-bearing plans, but those same people wouldn't dare ask you if you actually are pregnant for fear that you are just fatter than they recall and it being embarassing for them. Funny that. They are worried about embarassing themselves more than they are about embarassing you into talking about the future plans for your uterus.

Alas, if it isn't baby pressure (which mounts and mounts until it seems it will only improve as a result of a violent verbal outburst that includes the words: VAGINA, FUCK, MINE and YOU!) it is wedding pressure.

Ah, wedding pressure. The best part about wedding pressure, is that people have even less shame about commenting on that then they do about your ability to procreate. After all, all women love weddings, right? All women spend their whole lives waiting for the white dress and princess tiara and big fucking cake, right? All women want their perfect stupid rom-com man-in-white-suit top-of-a-mountain marraige proposal and a three carat diamond....right? RIGHT?

Right after my post today. I was asked. Again. "So, when is your boyfriend going to propose?"

I can't believe how often I get asked about it. Granted, I've been in (what appears to outsiders as, but is not accurately described as) a very long-term monogamous relationship. True, I am common-law married. Thanks government, for making that decision for me. But why is it automatically assumed that I want to get married? Are there really so few of us that don't want to, that we are some rare breed?

At work it is the worst.

It seems when you get to be in your mid to late twenties (or early thirties) and you aren't married to your significant other, people assume a few different scenarios.

In scenario One, you are patiently waitin' for the big question to be popped. You don't want to spoil the surprise, so you've actually never had a conversation about marraige with your partner. Thusly, you obediently wait. There is no regard paid to the fact that you might live together or have been dating for years. You haven't discussed it. You are waitin'.

In scenario Two, you are not so patiently waiting. In this scenario, you have made it known that you are waitin' on the diamond, with intense implied desperation. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner knows this, but for some reason has cold feet/is a commitment phobe/treats you poorly. You are a poor, poor victim. You want it but you just aren't getting it. It must be torturing you.

In scenario Three, your partner and/or you are too poor to afford a wedding and/or ring.

I could probably imagine other scenarios that people assume. But why bother? From the things people say to me, these are the three most popular. It is simply not possible that you don't want a wedding. That is somehow inconceivable.

I mentioned earlier that it is the worst at work. My boss isn't the youngest man. He's full of random vague racism and sexism and all the other shit that comes with being white, rich and old. All that said he's a super boss and a pretty cool newfie with three daughters. I say this because he is rad in a lot of ways, and does give me a fair amount of respect in the workplace. At least more than I've ever had from an old, white, rich boss. He's just not that good with...boundaries. After every holiday, and I mean EVERY holiday, including Valentine's, Xmas, New Years, vacations, fuck, FAMILY DAY, he asks me if my partner has given me a "big diamond yet". He assumes either scenario one, or two. I think he means it as a compliment, like, why wouldn't I have one yet, since I'm such a catch? He's not the only one. The head of customer service makes a point of coming to my desk after each christmas break and/or vacation to "see the stunner!"...that I never get. She hides her disappointment poorly.

Look, it's nice and all that people think I'm such a catch that my partner is an idiot for not proposing yet. And I'm sure since I work on weddings from time to time that people think I must really be into it and have something huge and inspiring planned for myself. But it doesn't just happen to me. A coworker of mine gets it too. Over thankgiving she broke up with her boyfriend of 4 years. First day back from xmas, people start asking her where the ring is. She says to me, "I don't even have a fucking boyfriend right now. How do these people think they know me well enough to ask that when they don't even know if I have a boyfriend?" Amen sister.

But, you deal with it, right? You deal. And over time you get up the balls to tell people flat out that you don't plan to get married. You always get the same response: "EVER?" As if your life will not be complete.  Look, I'm not saying I'll never get drunk and elope in Las Vegas. I'm not even saying that it could never ever ever ever happen. Part of me thinks for some reason if I do decide to have a baby, that maybe I would then. But even that is a big maybe, and it definitely won't involve a big wedding deal. I don't have some big moral thing about it. I don't have a feminist arguement against it. It is just not for me. This seems impossible to believe and people look at you with those "oh, you're just saying that cause you are secretly waiting for the proposal" faces they make. I find it insulting in a lot of ways. The reality is, if I wanted a diamond and a wedding I would have it by now. Do I seem like a pushover? Do I seem like the kind of person that does not get what she wants? Why is it assumed that I am some weak female waiting for the marraige Godot? If I wanted it, I would ask for it, and I would get it. That's just it. I don't want it.

I thought I had my rant on this finished for today but for some reason it keeps coming up.  This afternoon I read this great comment by Sarah Silverman about marraige, and human rights. Indeed, it is an interesting time for marraige:
"In the interview, Silverman also said she finds it hypocritical for people to get married today, since gay people can't legally wed in most states. To do so, she said, is comparable to joining a country club in the 1960s that would bar Jewish and black people.
      "Not only would I not get married until everyone else can, I kind of am starting to get appalled by anybody who would get married in this day and age," she said.
"Anyone who considers themselves for equal rights -- to get married right now, seems very odd to me."

Well I'm Canadian so I can't use that excuse. But she makes an excellent point.

I think the weddings I find most annoying are these feminist commitment ceremonies. They really seem well intentioned and all but in reality, how are you thwarting the patriarchy by doing exactly what patriarchal society tells you to? Sure sure you didn't use chair covers and your dress was vintage and you have it at city hall...but doesn't make it any less a wedding and any less a social construct designed to tie you to someone (and maybe god and the government) legally. Forever. Or until you pay a lawyer to fix it.

Yeah sure third wave feminism is all about doing things your own way and being able to express your individualism. Sure, this feminist wedding thing is an improvement on the white dress property-of-your-husband thing, but it is still a socially relevant rite-of-passage that helps you fit into the demographic profile society has created for you. Way to go on the individualism there.

Anyhow, if it is for you, great. Enjoy it. Do it for the right reasons for pete's sake. Love it up. Good on you. But it isn't for everyone, and please world, stop trying to make it right for everyone. It isn't.

I'm really really tired of being made to feel that I am lying about my true feelings on both babies and weddings. Many of us are. Stop asking us, please.