Friday, June 8, 2012

Marriage: His and Hers

    I've recently come to the conclusion that if I get married, I'd probably file for divorce after 5 months. Mainly because a.) if my husband doesn't do his load of the chores and expects me to cater to his every whim just because he's the friggin' breadwinner, I will kill him and gouge his eyes out for breakfast*- and b.) I've always had this sneaking suspicion that the present institution of marriage is outdated, patriarchal, and forces even the most "perfect" couples into roles, responsibilities, and socially-induced crapulence that they didn't sign up for. Not to mention the inequality in the labor framework: child-rearing, housework, intimacy, in-laws, leisure time, etc. Both parties gain something in marriage but the costs are particularly greater on women.

  I personally find it amazing whenever I come across articles of husbands doing housework (and the proper way too) and being completely hands-on with children. Then I stop myself- why do I find it amazing? I should be amazed that wives and working mothers have been willingly been doing it for ages.

   Speaking of working mothers: why do we have that term "working mothers?" I mean, fathers have children to raise and significant others to take care of and I'm pretty sure men have the mental capacity to operate household appliances. I'm guessing that the term "working fathers" won't be in vogue and we'll probably never hear any stay-at-home dads vs working dads argument.

   Just because divorce isn't legal here in the Philippines doesn't mean that there are no couples who feel disillusioned, disenchanted- or better yet, trapped- by marriage. A wife be damned if she's behind in her chores or can't cook for shit (unless of course you're married to Jamie Oliver, then that's possibly a different arrangement) but if the husband has a preference for takeout and can't even be bothered to pair his own socks, he's well-tolerated. When a child screws up, the mother is more heavily criticized than the father instead of the other way around. Why? What does this imply about the role of our parents??

 Susan Mausheart writes: "To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, boys cannot become mothers; that's their tragedy. Girls can; that's their tragedy... The rejection of mother and all things female not only disables males as caregivers, it results in a compulsion to control women as a way of disguising a crippling emotional dependence on them."

   And fact is, men get more out of marriage than women do. In the issues regarding fidelity, here in the Philippines we consider ourselves family-oriented, yet many of our leaders, politicians, and businessmen aren't condemned for having mistresses or taking prostitutes or even other wives. But we greatly frown upon any woman who decides to express her sexuality with a man outside her marriage. I've heard enough talk from a lot of married couples and how they justify a man's infidelity as a natural thing. Am I the only one who thinks this is disturbing? I think all this justification of a man's nature is only front for women who think they should settle. It's a big fucking hatred of mine that women just shrug and justify their partner's actions to be something as natural as, I dunno,  every woman's "natural" inclination for housework as an "expression of love?"

  Yet men who cheat, regardless how fine their sex-on-a-stick is, are often reluctant to give up their married status. Writer Susan Mausheart sums up her observation:  "A woman is like a turtle. She carries her home on her back. She carries her children there too. The wife rarely loses her home when a marriage ends in the same way that her husband will. I don't simply mean that she is likely to be awarded ownership of the family house, but that she will remain the homemaker in every sense of that term. For a man, divorce is not simply the loss of a woman, his wife. It is the loss of home- family, hot meals, clean underwear, ironed shirts, a tidy house, routine, structure, a social identity, and a reason to go to work every morning."

   Reading Susan Mausheart's "Wifework: what marriage really means for women" gave me the additional clarity I needed regarding my thoughts about marriage. Mausheart has been married twice and from that experience she investigates the job description for being a wife, tracing it all in history when women were shunned from the workplace and even providing the theoretical and evolutionary reasons on why marriage is the way it is today. Her book also contains studies and statistics of married couples and how roles are perceived from a psychological and socio-economic perspective. You can say she's also used a feminist approach though her research strives to reconsider why marriages end in divorce (or at least why women settle for less-than-satisfying marriages) and why most of them are initiated by women. By investigating these causes, we can change the way we look at marriage collectively. Not only as a social contract to safeguard children or as some sort of decision to achieve "adult status"- but as an institution that can protect relationships.

"Marriage will not die, even if we try to kill it. But it can and it must adapt to the adaptations of its environment. And a new balance between the enduring vulnerabilities of both male and female participants will be found."
-S. Mausheart

Maybe then I'll consider marriage.


*As long as my partner did not come out of my uterus, I will not pick up after him. I will, however, tell him that if he does chores only when he feels like it, I am pretty much entitled to that approach too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Spam and hate comments will not be tolerated.