Why do we still tell women that their lives begin when they get married? [Married Feminist]

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“Tomorrow my life begins.”

I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard this phrase uttered on the various wedding blogs, websites, and groups that I have been a part of ever since getting engaged earlier this year.

Although, as a society, we are getting married later and later, the notion that a woman’s life truly begins the day that she puts that ring on her finger remains. There are a lot of reasons for this that I don’t particularly want to get into at the moment (the patriarchy, obviously, being one of them) but let me say this: Tomorrow I am getting married. But despite tying the knot with the man that I unironically call “the love of my life” and being VERY excited about spending the rest of my days with him, I don’t think all that much is going to change. And I certainly do not think that my life will begin after we say “I do.”

Here’s why: I am currently 31 years old and just a few months shy of my 32nd year on this glorious planet. I am a pretty confident, independent woman who has failed a lot and succeeded a lot. But most of all, I learned a lot about myself throughout my lifetime. Although I have definitely learned plenty of things about myself since meeting my partner (and, sometimes, with his help and/or unwavering support), there was also a whole lot of growing and learning and being me that I did before we met.

Don’t get me wrong. I definitely am a very different person today than I was when I walked into the coffee shop where we had our first date, but I’m also not THAT different. I am still pretty loud. I still love to wear red lipstick. I still write for a living. And I am still attracted to women. (That’s right, being in a committed relationship with a man didn’t change my bisexuality.)

However, I am definitely calmer, practice more self-care, and can recognize when my anxiety is about to get the best of me — all things I learned thanks to Adam. Oh, and I eat a lot better, too.

So why is that I don’t think my life will begin on December 28, 2017, the day of our wedding?

Well, to be honest, it’s mainly because I have had a pretty good life up until this point. Despite some of my utter downs in the past (alcoholism, work failures, etc.), I am generally pretty satisfied with where I was when I met my soon-to-be husband and I am even more satisfied with where our life together has led since then. To say that my life begins on the day that I got married is to discount all of the hard work I have put into my life so far, including growing graduating from a great college, growing my career, developing great friendships, and taking care of my 11-year-old grumpy old man cat.

How can I just say all of that doesn’t count?

I can’t is the answer, honestly. And it would be the same for him, too. I don’t expect Adam to all of a sudden wake up tomorrow and tell me that his life has suddenly begun because we are now legally bound by a piece of paper that allows us to do things like buy a house together and get some tax breaks. But of course, society never says this phrase to the man.

Although I’ve had many male friends (both gay and straight) get married in the past several years, not a single one of them has ever said or implied that his life will begin when he is married. Why is that? Why do we consider that a man’s accomplishments before his marriage — his career, his friendships, his various successes and failures — don’t get a clean slate? Why do we still devalue what a woman has done before marriage — the same successes and failures in career and friendships and life in generall — and tell her that she isn’t complete and her life hasn’t truly begun until she is legally wed?

Well, I’m not here for that shit. So, in an ironic twist of fate, I have decided to start this blog on the day before my life supposedly “begins”. I want to do this because I want to showcase that a woman’s life isn’t worthy simply because she is married. However, I do believe that marriage can be a beautiful and important part of one’s life (hence why I am entering into the whole thing) so I won’t be discounting that either.

I will use this space to talk about these things: Marriage and feminism. Because I think they are important topics and important parts of our lives. At least my life, anyway.

Before meeting Adam, I was a fairly independent woman and I plan to remain that way. Of course, being married will also mean that I depend on another human being for some things (just as he will depend on me for other things). It might sometimes get a little bit complicated and it might sometimes go much smoother than I think. And other times, I will use this blog to talk about the overall experience of being a woman in today’s world.

If we’ve learned nothing else from #MeToo these last couple of months, it’s that sexism is alive and well. And I’ll want to talk about that too. Along with stuff happening in my life, stuff happening in my marriage, thoughts and wonderings on marriage/life/love in general, and a lot more. And if all goes well, maybe this will even be a podcast someday.

For now, though, I want to challenge the thinking that a woman’s life is only deemed worthy after someone else has put a ring on her finger. Although I am supremely excited for the next chapter of my life, it’s just that: Another chapter. Okay, so maybe it’s more like the start of a new Act — likely one that will alter the rest of the course of my life. But those other chapters and Acts happened, too, and they deserve to be recognized because they made me into the person I am today (and the person that Adam fell in love with).

So here’s to celebrating a new Act… while remembering and honoring the ones that came before. Happy wedding day to me.

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Image via Petr Ovralov/Unsplash

Dose & OMGFacts: December 2016

What I Learned Struggling To Get Sober

Guys, Don’t Talk To Women Working In Coffee Shops

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Dear coffee shop guy: No, it’s not okay to “talk to me” when I’m busy

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Let me describe my morning to you today:

I woke up with Adam, lazily got out of bed as usual, showered and got ready to go to my usual coffee shop to work on this Tuesday morning.

Once there, I picked up my Earl Grey hot tea, extra cup of ice water and today I chose a bagel for breakfast. I sat down in my usual spot, opened up my laptop and browsed through Spotify until I decided on what to play as I got started on a VERY busy morning of writing.

Everything was going really, really well until some guy, upon entering the establishment, decided to chat with me.

I smiled, slightly nodded to acknowledge his statement, and then went back to my writing to let him know very clearly that I was busy and not really in the mood to chat. Thankfully, he got the message and went away.

The situation turned out in the best way possible because, thankfully, the man in question went away as soon as I both casually acknowledged him and ignored him at the same time.

The problem with this scenario, however, is that this is by far not the only time this has ever happened. Not by a long shot.

You see, as a woman, I’ve gotten quite used to strange men approaching me in coffee shops. Sometimes they’re nice looking, but most often not. Sometimes they’re younger, though typically I would say they’re at least 20 years my senior. And most of all, they are always doing it when I have an invisible but very clearly labeled “DO NOT DISTURB” sign plastered on my forehead.

This morning, I was happily typing away on my laptop and listening to music on my headphones when the incident occurred. In fact, that’s often what I am doing when some guy approaches me to talk about something. I often smile, make casual chitchat and count down the minutes until he leaves me alone.

It’s typically fairly innocent… Except for the very obvious fact that there is some very clear subtle sexism going on here.

Let me explain.

This happens to me EVERY SINGLE DAY that I frequent my local Starbucks. Not once in a while, not occasionally, but actually every single day. Sometimes more than once a day. And it is absolutely always me being approached by some man who decided to talk to me for whatever reason.

Here’s the thing: I understand that some people are just chatty. I understand that some people don’t register headphones as a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign. And I understand that this can happen to anyone at any time, man or woman. But… Then why does it only occasionally happen to my male friends and why is it that I’ve never been approached by another woman?

I know that I can only speak for myself in this instance, but to me it feels like some really subtle misogyny at play. When a man – ANY man – approaches me out of the blue, I am a little suspicious. But it’s not just me being an overly alert feminist. It’s me being well aware from the last 30 years of experience that, very likely, this man wants something.

I’m not necessarily saying that this man wants the V or that his approaching me is sexual harassment in nature… But it IS sexism. Because by approaching a woman who is very obviously busy, he is saying to the world that he deems his time and desire to talk to me as more important than my time working and otherwise not wanting to be talked to.

He ignores the very obvious headphones in my ears and the fact that I am clearly focused and typing away on my laptop. He just does what he wants because HE wants to. Because he is a man. And I am a woman. And therefore he believes that he has this power to exert over me.

Of course, this is my interpretation of what is happening here. But if I was wrong about the subtle sexism going on here, then why is it only men who approach me out of the blue? Why is it never a friendly woman who wants to compliment my glasses or ask me what I’m working on?

Because we women have been trained into this.

We have been trained to be weary of men who approach us in public because it happens ALL OF THE DAMN TIME. If I am wearing my DO NOT DISTURB sign, the typical woman knows not to approach me because she is very familiar with all of the signals that I am giving off. It’s all of the very same signals that she’s used to giving off, too.

But a man doesn’t know how to read these signals apparently.

No matter how busy I look, he just goes ahead and talks to me anyway. Because, again, he believes that he has some God-given right to do so because there’s something dangling between his legs and not between mine.

This has been happening to me for as long as I can remember… As well as for the several weeks that I have been working two mornings a week in my local coffee shop, where I have observed this behavior in full-force. And while some people defend these men as being simply clueless and chatty… I wonder why they’re absolutely never chatting up the guy sitting a few seats from me who is also on his laptop? Why is the man approaching ME of all people? It’s because SEXISM, that’s why.

It may be really subtle. It may be really hard to see or understand. But misogyny comes in all forms, and talking to a lady when she very obviously doesn’t want to be talked to is at the top of my list.

Besides… It’s also just freaking RUDE too.

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