(Yes, that's ALL women)
When a friend recently shared a link to this article, called '20 Things All Women Should Do Before Getting Married'
it was with sadness as well as the habitual rage that I shook my fists at the screen and yelled ‘Seriously? Come ON!' (clue: one of the options isn't: tell Marissa Brown to fuck the fuck off)
In this insightful piece, writer Maressa Brown treats us lucky ladies to her ‘bucket list’ (really) of stuff to do before heading down the aisle, because, well, why exactly?
You might wonder what changes occur after a woman pops down the local registry office, signs a bit of paper (but only after her husband does first) and then proceeds to neck a couple of gallons of proseccs with her nearest and dearest. The answer, of course, is practically nothing, unless you're Maressa Brown, in which case the answer is: EVERYTHING.
There are so very many vom-inducing things in Maressa’s list, but here's my main beef`:
The patronising dating advice
You don’t need to pick a fight with your partner / sleep around / get your heart broken in order to truly understand true love. Nor do you need to know what it feels like to dump someone, as Maressa suggests, or shag someone just to ensure that they don't end up being 'the one that got away'. This is not a formulaic Hollywood slush-fest, it's real life. Buy a Fiona Apple album and have done with it for Chrissakes.
The painfully obvious advice
‘Why not try getting an education or starting a career before you get married’? Even P-Middy is rolling her eyes at those little gems.
The tokenistic advice
“Face your fears”. Fuck off. Maybe I don't want to 'face my fears'. What does that even mean? You might as well have put ‘watch Breaking Bad’ or ‘get an enema’ in there.
The use of the word ‘splurge’
Only comparable in heinousness to the phrase ‘pamper yourself’.
The assumption that marriage might be an inevitable or desirable goal for every young lady
This view is dated to the point that my 98 year old Grandma would laugh, pat you on the knee sympathetically and tell you to ignore the fuckers, go out and buy yourself a pair of slacks and get on with changing the world.
The implication that some women out there might be so distracted counting the days until their weddings that they somehow forget to live independent lives actually made me feel really sad. It's though 'the ladies' don't have enough initiative to get out in the big bad outside and start transforming shit, instead needing a condescending crap of an article written by an asshat to give them permission to go travelling.
We have the power to choose how we define our relationships, why are we still being hit with all this marriage-as-a-milestone guff? And why does it so often come from the mouths of our fellow wimmin? Is marriage really that big a deal in 2013?
'20 things' feels like the friend who always makes a point of asking you if you’re seeing anyone when they know you’re not, then telling you you’ll meet someone soon, when you don’t care if you do.
It may be well-meaning on some level, but this little exchange can achieve the triple effect of validating said friend’s couply security, reinforcing the idea that this is something you should be working on now, and prompting you to explain or justify why you’re still single, when you don’t need to.
Incidentally, has a man ever asked me this, save for the purposes of screening me as a potential sex associate?
What it comes down to is often a kind of indirect peer pressure. If everyone in your social circle starts getting married, it’s easy to get drawn in and project certain values even if you never gave a toss before. Suddenly, much like a high school hickey, marriage has become a badge of achievement, rather than a genuine desire.
And so, we end up turning back the clock and writing advice for ‘when’ and ‘how’ women should get married rather than 'if women WANT to get married' or 'what to do if you feel pressured to get married' or 'it's OK to think, 'sod this, I’m going to watch Newsnight instead’' (FYI, I would read all of those articles.)
Which is why it is our job, as we continue to push for fairer deals at work, in relationships and for our families, to be supportive and not to make assumptions about what other ladyfolk choose to do with their vaginas, and that includes the decision to sign it over to one bloke for the rest of your life.
If you want to get married, ace, if you don’t, equal aces.
I know that's not as easily sharable as a list that gives you permission to go shopping, but let’s make a point to zip it on the marital platitudes and stick to advice about fixing punctures and how to cover up the aforementioned love bites without having to resort to a massively obvious scarf. Take it away, Pips.