Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Harem Pants for Me! Unmarriage Defended.

In truth, I would do pretty much anything
for this outfit. Really. It's beautiful.
Talk about the Lonely Crowd of lonely Americans. Apparently it's now a crowd of golden and single women, golden and single and, according to Kate Bolick's too easily named, “All the Single Ladies,” really very lonely in lonely rooms in lonely beds in which self-actualization has its many meanings. (Thanks to poet Elisa Gabbert and her blog to alerting me to this Atlantic article, link below.)

Because no matter how Bolick phrased the lament, no matter how many sociologists and culture analysts she visited (note the consistent style of the article—short bio of the sociologist type, then Kate's visit), the choice to be alone, or the circumstances of aloneness—for a woman—suck, according to her. Only women are unhappy, I gather. All men are trippin' with their, er, female friends.

It is Bolick's mother's fault. You know the saying, If it's not one thing it's your mother. Mom was feminist. Influenced daughter. That arc is one I've read over and over though I never knew of a writer so influenced by the slogan, “A Woman Without a Man Is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle.” I don't mean to go ninja intellectual on Bollick, but I was more influenced by Ai. Or George Eliot. Or Audre Lourde. Or the Brontes. Or Rita Dove. Or Virginia Woolf. Or Mary Shelley (or her mom). Or Loorie Moore. Or Elizabeth Bishop. Or Zora Neale Hurston. Or Adrienne Rich.

Women have been struggling with being women forever. And men have had their correlative struggles. As with perfectly straight, long blonde hair, marriage (hetero or homosexual) does not have to be top of the social chain. It is because we agree it is ("we" being loosely and inexactly defined). But no one should second guess their choices, as Bolick does her choice to go solo. What's that Zen koan, maybe in an Alan Watts' book, where the farmer says his son broke his leg, which is bad, but then he doesn't have to join the army, so that's good, but then the crows ate the corn, which is bad, but then they don't have the bother of harvesting, which is good (huge paraphrase).

Who the heck knows what the right choice is or should have been. We are defined more by our reactions and reshapings of events than the initial impulse. I have a friend who was caught passing a joint in a high school classroom and from that one stupid incident, which spiraled, was no longer invited to attend Julliard. Pretty awful. But she is such an amazing person and used her talents and energies to help many (I can't get too specific). Maybe at Julliard she would have been run over by a bus her first time off campus. You just don't know.

If Bolick's mom could have given her a Stand by Your Man t-shirt, Bolic might have heeded the sage advice and ended in a shelter with her kids hiding from a brutal, incesting husband. I've seen that one happen, too. I've seen more happen than I lived, and that's fine with me. There is something perversely conservative about the article, subtly reactionary, as if someone from the old moral majority wrote it and gave it to Bolick, as if the Koch Brothers arranged for it to be published. Satisfaction generates from how we navigate circumstances. Not the circumstances. And marriage is neither bad nor good, though I am not neutral on community, which is good, warm, complicated, how we get through. The Atlantic article.

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