I did, and then I didn’t: Being a divorced twenty-something at Positive and Promise

Cross-posted from: Positive & Promise
Originally published: 25.01.14

I have decided that my goal will be to update Positive and Promise by Monday, at least every other week. Originally, I thought Sunday night might make a nice, tidy deadline, but, let’s face it, I am watching “Downton Abbey” on Sunday nights. And, if I can catch up soon enough, I will be watching “Sherlock” as well. One has to manage one’s priorities responsibly.

Generally, I also will do my best to alternate more somber posts, like the one from last week, with pieces that are more light-hearted. But everything that follows has been on my mind for some time now, and I would like to put it into words.

Writing this piece will be simplest if I begin with the absolute basics:

When I was twenty-three years old, I got engaged to my college boyfriend. When I was twenty-five years old, I married him. Ten months later, we legally separated. A little over a year after we married, our divorce became official.

Anyone who has been in my shoes knows that a whirlwind marriage is anything but uncomplicated, even if it is only a brief foray into the world of matrimony. For one thing, like most people who decide to marry, I entered into marriage with the full intention of remaining married. But before long, I realized that I had been ill-equipped to make the promises that accompany marriage – even though I was positively chomping at the bit to make them.


Read more I did, and then I didn’t: Being a divorced twenty-something at Positive and Promise

DON’T FORGET WHAT A WEDDING IS ABOUT by @thewritinghalf

Cross-posted from: The Writing Half
Originally published: 20.04.16

“When’s your Mum arriving?” is a question I’ve been asked so often in the last couple of months that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard it.

It’s a question that gets me on edge as soon as it’s out, because – without fail – the next bit of the conversation is identical, every single time.

“We’re just having a very small wedding, us and two witnesses”

“Oh” they then say, looking aghast, with no attempt to conceal their horror, just like every other person who’s asked the same question. “Is she really upset?”

One thing I never anticipated when it came to our wedding was the backlash on behalf of my family, from people who have never even met my relations. The thing is, Liam and I obviously both asked our parents how they felt about us eloping before we organised anything. We wouldn’t have done it if they really weren’t happy about it. And beyond that, I never considered it to be anyone else’s business.
Read more DON’T FORGET WHAT A WEDDING IS ABOUT by @thewritinghalf

Charlotte Wood ‘The Natural Way of Things’ at Mairi Voice

Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 13.03.16

natural way of thingsI have just finished reading this harrowing and powerful novel.

Set in the near future it is about a group of young women who are abducted and imprisoned in an outback facility somewhere in Australia. They are abducted by a corporation – to be punished, to be silenced because they have dared to expose their sexual exploitation at the hands of powerful men.

They include a victim of a football-buddy pack rape; another is a “lover” of a high-profile politician; a woman assaulted whilst partying on a cruise ship, and a woman, a contestant on a TV reality show who is singled out for sex by the producer of the show.


Read more Charlotte Wood ‘The Natural Way of Things’ at Mairi Voice

The Nagging Wife by @boudledidge

Cross-posted from: We Mixed our Drinks
Originally published: 15.01.15
The ‘nagging wife’ is a centuries-old stereotype that refuses to die. She’s the subject of eye-rolling banter between men, the warning from the pulpit and the marriage guidance book, the defence of countless men who have committed murder. In recent weeks, she has resurfaced as a truly 21st century reminder to women that there’s something else they’re probably not doing well enough at – in the form of a piece entitled ‘I wasn’t treating my husband fairly, and it wasn’t fair‘.
The post, which appears to have gone viral in the grand tradition of ‘pseudo-meaningful revelations about my relationship that easily translate into clickbait’ (247,000 shares on Facebook), details a wife’s realisation that her controlling and obsessive attitude to household matters was belittling her husband and buying into another hard-to-stamp-out stereotype – that of the ‘useless’ husband who can’t be trusted to do a thing around the house.
Thousands upon thousands of women have apparently recognised themselves in this tale and I don’t think she’s entirely wrong. I’ve heard her tale in conversations in the office or on nights out with friends. ‘Wife always knows best’ – ‘happy wife, happy life’ – I’ve heard people say it and I’ve most definitely seen them post it on Facebook (there is a theme here. Facebook has a lot to answer for). And I don’t buy into it because, really, what does it say when the only words that come out of your mouth regarding your partner, your husband, the father of your children – are about how ‘useless’ he is and how you won’t ‘let’ him do things?


Read more The Nagging Wife by @boudledidge

A Day at the Dentist

Cross-posted from: Dazzled Mag
Originally published: 12.12.14
Why I could spend all of my days there.
The thing is, we’re tied to our bodies, 24/7. This heavy sack of skin and blood and water that we have to carry with us everywhere. While it’s true that you get used to the weight of your body, those rare times that you are momentarily released, you notice. The few times I’ve experienced this have been at the dentist.Obviously, it’s an effect of the laughing gas, but less obvious is what exactly it makes me feel. I feel happy, or rather, like laughing, I feel like I’m floating, I feel sleepy (a very different sentiment than tired), but, most of all, I feel affectionate.

Admittedly, I seem to be a dilettante at love; dabbling with intense feelings for many, though calling it dabbling seems like a brutal understatement, but I question whether I can successfully convince you that my love for my dentist is real in a way that doesn’t sound an offense to the word.

My relationship with her seems normal, and it probably is to her, I know that.


Read more A Day at the Dentist

5 Reasons Why Being Single is Better For Women, by @GappyTales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is going to be a cutesy piece about onesies and starfishing; about farting at will, freely and loudly, and never ever being compelled to relinquish the remote control.

But you’d be wrong. Not that those things are without their charm, but still, you’d be wrong. Because in actual fact this is a post about freedom; about the freedom to live in accordance with ones values, and about the very real and ongoing pursuit of fulfillment and happiness.

In the 1980′s, Pat Robertson, a US republican presidential candidate, once famously wrote that feminism was a movement which encouraged women to “leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Funny words from a frightened man. But it is true, I think, that the legal right and practical opportunities to leave unsatisfactory marriages is one of the greatest things feminism has given Western women. No longer fated to spend our lives trapped and dependant in an often stifling and sometimes abusive and coercive institution, we are freer than we have ever been. Nevertheless there is still a way to go.

As a heterosexual woman of thirty eight years old, I have lived without a male partner for five full years now and I can honestly say with no reservations whatsoever, that my quality of life has improved as a result. Some reasons for which I give here, in a list, because everyone likes a list:

1. I am not ever forced to set aside, disregard, or in any way compromise my own values for the sake of… well, a man.

The other day I read this article on a prominent parenting website. An anonymous female blogger had discovered that her husband was secretly using pornography and chatting to sex workers online, despite him knowing this would upset her greatly. After time spent talking things through, she had made the decision to forgive him and continue in her marriage.

And yet, she was not comfortable. Unable to shake the feelings of anger and betrayal, she posted to ask readers their thoughts. Had she done the right thing? The majority of responses were predictable and depressing enough, with urges to try to “understand” him mixed in with the insistence that allmen used pornography, and that there was nothing women could do other than to accept it or be manless.

Which is rubbish. Not all men use pornography (there are many with more humanity) but as a single woman it’s very easy for me to choose manless over porn addled wankers. I am only too grateful to not have to be in the position of needing to decide between leaving someone with whom I have built a life and family, or staying in the newfound knowledge that that someone secretly prizes a few seconds of sexual release over and above the dignity, respect, and safety of women, and therefore by extension, me.

2. I do not have to negotiate the division of labour with someone who has been socially conditioned all their lives to believe that certain jobs are my responsibility really.

I think it might have been Julie Bindel who once said the practical application of feminist principles were a nightmare for heterosexual women. She was right. We are attracted to men, we form relationships with them, and before we know it, we are in conflict. We may well be in love with fundamentally decent men, who support and share our views on equality, who know intellectuallythat simply having a vagina does not make us more inherently suited to pushing a hoover around, working part time, or remembering everyones birthdays. But an entire lifetimes worth of social conditioning and unchallenged privilege is not easily undone, and negotiations, in my experience, often become protracted.

And do you know what? I just can’t be arsed. I don’t want to have to spend time and emotional energy persuading someone who is supposed to love and respect me to recognise the equal validity of my needs and time and ambitions. I’d just… rather be doing something else. Like practicing witchcraft. Not really.

3. My free time is my own. I get to spend it how I like.

An observation: many women in relationships seem to spend an awful lot of time doing things they don’t much like in order to please their partner. As a single woman I get to say sod that. Call me selfish, but I like to spend my time pursuing my own interests and hobbies.

4. My money is my own. I get to spend it how I like.

Enough said. If I want to spend it all on Marlborough Lights and smoke myself to death, I can.

5. Plus I really do get to starfish in bed, fart at will, and keep the remote control to myself.

Which is not to be sniffed at.

 

 

Jeni Harvey: Writer, feminist, mother. Likes cake, hates Jeremy Clarkson. These are my principles – if you don’t like them, I have others. @GappyTales or Huff Post