The Marriage Box: Life in Post-Feminist Culture

by R.J. Forman

Not so long ago I found myself curled up in the fetal position in a hotel room on the top floor of a crappy casino outside of Las Vegas listening to Radiohead’s "Nude," praying that the building wouldn’t collapse.

This bizarre death obsession comes from my feeling of suffocating from being shoved into a societal box: The Marriage Box.

I am at that age now at which everyone starts looking at anyone I date as a potential spouse.

This is normal.

This is accepted.

This is expected.

I mean, even Sex and the City’s perennial single Carrie Bradshaw got married this year…a plot line that was never penned in the crappy book on which that TV series was based.


And this makes me want to die.

Movies like 27 Dresses and Bride Wars (due out later this week) are beating down single girls’ doors reminding them of their role in this life.

I was in Vegas for — guess what?! — a wedding. During a barrage of drunken badgering it was revealed that I have no desire to be married. Later it would be revealed that (brace yourself) I don’t want to have children either.

Everyone was appalled. Stunned. Prayers for my saving were mumbled. It’s not that I think marriage is wrong or that having children is wrong. It’s that it’s wrong for me.

This is how the conversations normally go:

“You don’t want to get married?”


“Wait, you don’t want to be married?”

“No I don’t. It’s just never been a dream of mine. Never been in the future I pictured.”

“Seriously? You don’t want to get married?”

“No. I don’t.”

“Don’t you want kids?”

“GOD no.”

(Then the person looks at me as if I’ve just said “kill all the puppies and let’s bring back leprosy!”)

The non-marriage conversation in Vegas ended with a “Do you even believe in god?!” and me bee lining it to the bar.

The problem is we’re still living life in the 1950’s model of behavior but pretending that we’ve advanced. Women, although they’re allowed to have jobs and vote now, are still expected to get married and have kids. I mean, that’s what our bodies were designed for, right?

We won’t let gays who want to be married and have children do it, but women — whether they want marriage and kids — are expected to become June Cleaver.

In David Deida’s bullshit book for women Dear Lover, Deida says the following vomit and panic attack-inducing nonsense:

“As a young woman, you may have dreamt of masculine saviors: horses, pop stars, white knights….Deep in your heart, you felt that someday a man would see your true beauty, your true light, your boundless ocean of love, and take you to the place you always wanted to be….”

No, David. As a young woman I dreamt of stardom, power and glory. I dreamt of me seeing the light and beauty in me. Nobody else.

I dreamt of being Axl Rose or the first woman to play in the major leagues.

The only reason I’d want kids is because you get to name them. But you can name pets (MoFo=cat) and furniture (TV=Zeus, couch=Hercules) and cars (Alice the Honda.)

When I was a kid I played “college” instead of “house.” I hated house. I insisted on playing the dog every time I was forced into it.

Upon college graduation my parents wanted me to do the whole ceremony thing and I jokingly told them that they could pick one aisle for me to walk down. Either walk to get a diploma or walk down the aisle at my wedding. They wisely picked diploma.

This not wanting to get married and not wanting to have children makes me a social pariah, a leper, a (god forbid) lesbian, a deviant.

Truth is I’m just a girl trying to make it to tomorrow...on my own.

(The graphic was created with the Despair, Inc. parody generator.)

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Jeff Siegel said...

This is one of the best howls for help I've heard about this subject, which I thought we had solved years ago. But, as you point out, post-feminism is quite a bit different from feminism. I'm not sure how it happened, but women do seem to feel they have to follow the party line in a way they didn't 20 and 30 years ago. Fortunately, it's not quite as bad as it was in the 1040s and 1050s, but it's bad enough.

My advice? Have another stiff drink and tell people who talk to you that way to mind their own business.

Fiery Nuggets said...

I've been thinking about this very issue a lot lately and so glad that you are starting a conversation about it. It's like the first wave of feminism allowed us to have choices that we didn't have before. BUT, the second wave defined our choices as "having it all," assuming that we all wanted to have it all. Which we don't. And why does that seem so unacceptable to people. Personal fulfillment is so elusive in the context of societal pressure. WTF? It is ok to have different wishes. That's the whole point. You make your own choices. F those people that thing you are Godless because you don't want to get married and have children. And what is so Godlike about doing it anyway? If anything, it's closer to hell than heaven!

Anonymous said...

I feel like everyone around me is getting married. I'm 22 and have 3 friends that have gotten married in the past 3 months. What the hell? I want to get married, someday, but why the rush? Someday should be at like 30 or something, right? I will not be a bridesmaid again, either! I refuse!

Turk said...

Hoping that this doesn't come off as "anti-feminist" here, but let's not get trapped into taking this to the other extreme, chastising those who are married and happy to be married.

Two of my best friends are getting married this year. They are 23 and 24, and neither could be happier.

I agree that marriage isn't for everyone, and just like those folks shouldn't bug you about being married, likewise you shouldn't speak out against their way of life.

Robin, Daughter of the Desert and American Bad Ass said...

For Turk:
I said "It’s not that I think marriage is wrong or that having children is wrong. It’s that it’s wrong for me." And I believe exactly what you just said. I'm not against marriage and children (that would be dumb) I'm against marriage and children for me. And if you met me you would be too. (that was a little self deprecating humor)

I'm so glad that I'm hearing from others who feel the same. That's the point of this article. It's to let you know that we're out here. That it's ok to be different and not want the same things. Didn't we learn that in any of the animated children's movies we were raised on? I mean look at that mermaid chick, she wanted to get married and she wanted to marry a human! It was unheard of. She was just a fish trying to find her way. I totally get that. Hope you do too.

Emily said...

I wanted to be a rockstar, too! I wanted to be the first woman in the Major Leagues, TOO! And I also do not have any desire whatsoever to procreate. Marriage is a big maybe. If I meet another man I want to spend my life with-- which is doubtful, considering my first marriage-esque relationship just disintegrated-- then I'll consider it.

But to treat us like freaks because we're more interested in making the most of our own lives is really the failing of the people around us.

I am proud to be, according to Elizabeth Wurtzel's definition, a bitch:

"I intend to scream, shout, race the engine, call when I feel like it, throw tantrums in Bloomingdale's if I feel like it and confess intimate details about my life to complete strangers. I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I want to be and answer only to myself: that is, quite simply, the bitch philosophy."

Rock on, sister.

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