Monday, June 25, 2007

Neofeminist rant

Sitting in an airport you hear all kinds of interesting things. For example, I sat for a while beside a woman who was talking on her cell phone, and I inadvertently (or advertently, as it may be) overheard her half of the conversation.

She was explaining to someone (presumably a girlfriend) why she went on a shorter vacation with her significant other than she had originally wanted because he did not want to go on an overnight trip on which they would have to share quarters. It seems he objected to them sleeping together. She expressed exasperation with people “passing moral judgment” and thought the whole thing was stupid. She’s forty-five, she explained, and he’s forty-nine. Of course that moral stuff is fine for someone who’s 18 or 20 or something, but they’re too old for that stuff, and why can’t people just leave them alone when they’re that age [“grown up”?].

Part of me really hopes he (whoever he is) dumps her very quickly and doesn’t let her bully him out of the very courageous and admirable personal stand he has taken. Part of me wants to lecture her: Don’t you ever dare start a “kids these days” complaint if that’s the example you knowingly set. If sex is a recreational right, and “grown ups” can’t be bothered with “kiddie stuff” like morality, you lose any right to throw your hands up in bewilderment when teen pregnancy and STD rates go through the roof and cohabitation becomes more common than marriage. It is not our generation that has caused a crisis of family; it is yours that set the example and we who are reaping the consequences. Believe it or not, we watch you to see what you really think is important, and you can’t expect us to take you seriously if you tell us something is for our own good but it doesn’t apply to you. Grrrr.

And then part of me is really sad for her. She’s bought the same bag of goods being pushed at women and girls from every Cosmo mag, soap, and billboard (not to mention most chic flics): If he doesn’t want something from you, there’s either something wrong with him, or with you. Permanence is something to fear. Feminism means taking what you want when you want it, because that is the only way we will be equal with men. Take the relationship for what it’s worth now, because it will probably be gone tomorrow anyway. And my favorite: It’s not a real, serious, grown-up relationship unless you’re sleeping together.

Come on, girls. We can do better than that. And yes, that is a moral judgment. Someone’s got to make them. Our elders certainly aren’t.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying, but then I just want to point out that wanting to share sleeping quarters doesn't necessarily mean someone is eschewing "moral" stuff. (I'm not necessarily referring to this particular woman.)

I know people who have passed judgment on me because I have shared a hotel room with my boyfriend, and it irks me. We have shared a room - without having sex - for one big reason: hotel rooms are expensive. How can you take a trip together at $150/night for two people?

Heck, I've actually shared a bed with a man other than my boyfriend (with my boyfriend's knowledge) just because the particular situation of the evening (limited number of beds) meant some people were going to have to share a bed.

Also, I just want to say that I hope you don't consider yourself completely against feminism. I notice that you title this "Neofeminism rant," which I take as a sign that you don't. As a woman in law school, I presume you must be grateful to the women's movement, even if you believe it has taken some missteps along the way, because of the opportunities it has afforded you.

BTW, thanks for actually writing intelligent stuff (even when I disagree with you) instead of being like so many blogs that just spew partisan crap and make me want to stab myself in the eye with a hot poker.