Slutty Book Reports: Radical Womanhood (5/7)

As a child, I always related more to the  villains of pop culture than the heroes or heroines. Disney’s Maleficent, Jafar, Hades and Scar were assertive, cunning, ambitious and just plain didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought of them. Their “good” counterparts (especially the heroines) were often boring doormats who by some miraculous circumstance ended up winning in the end. You can imagine the confusion of my classmates when we were playing Power Rangers and I wanted to be Rita rather than Kimberly.
Fast forward 20 years and Im reading what Carolyn has to say about slutty women in Radical Feminism, her book which I am reviewing for you fine folks. Not only am I loving the reasons she vilifies these women, but I am relating to them. Much to my delight, there is a Bible quote about sluts which I feel is actually kind of empowering without intending to be so: Proverbs 7: 10-12

10. And behold, the woman meets him dressed as a prostitute. She dresseds as a harlot and is cunning of heart. 11 She is boisterous and rebellious, her feet do not remain at home ; 12 She is now in the streets, now in the squares, and lurks by every corner.

This is so fascinating to me, because its meant to be a conviction of character, but to me it just seems like some woman who wears tight or skimpy clothes and is beguilingly clever. She refuses to conform to the confining rules and standards set before her, and travels alot. Skip forward a few chapters to the Proverbs 31 woman, who is a stark contrast to the slutty woman. Or, that’s how I interpret it anyways. It all ties in to my fascination with how different people and cultures define “loose” females. Some folks see it as the quantity of sexual partners you’ve had, while others believe they can tell one just by seeing them.

In the next couple of chapters, Carolyn embraces the topics of marriage and divorce. Right off the bat, she mentions that she is not married and so her main source of information comes from the Bible and the testimonies of friends who are. In this regard, Carolyn and I are in the same boat. I am not married, never have been and am not looking to be any time in the near future.

Unexpectedly, I agreed with a great deal of what she had to say about commitment in marriage, minus the Scripture she backed it up with. When so much of the book has given me mental hives during my perusal of the pages, it was a pleasant relief to read something and be like “oh, yeah….well….I concur! Holy crap!”

For example, she gives an inspiring example of a friend whose husband was caught in a large embezzlement scandal. When the news broke, the wife was very distraught, but she stuck by her husband’s side and gave him guidance and a shoulder to lean on rather than divorcing him and letting him drown in the shame of what he’d done.

Again, I’m not married, but I imagine I’d do the same thing. Honestly, divorce wouldn’t even cross my mind. The wife in the story was devastated by the “sin” of what her husband had done and trying to reconcile it with the character of the man she’d been married to for 2 decades, but I think I’d be more pissed he didn’t share what he was doing with me from the beginning. Sure, I’d be disappointed in his shoddy ethics, but I’d be dismayed by the withholding of information.
For me, what the Bible says has nothing to do with my view on divorce. I’ve known wonderful people who are divorced, and it’s not my place to say I would’ve done differently in their stead. But my (admittedly devoid of personal experience) opinion is when I commit to someone for life, I’ve set sail for uncharted waters with full cognizance of what I’m doing. Jumping ship is not an option. Whether that ship turns out to be Old Ironsides or the Titanic is not the point. When I say “I do”, I’ve decided that person is worth the risk. Of course, I’m sure there are some exceptions to the rule such as domestic abuse, but that’s not the point I’m making here.

Carolyn says the deep friendship between two partners in marriage is what anchors the bond. She says a lot of other stuff about God having to do with it, but oh well. I agree with the main premise. I’m stubborn, vain, outlandishly independent, outspoken and selfish. To find a man or woman who could love me in spite of me would be the greatest gift of all.

I’d be interested to hear what my readers who are married, or were married think about divorce. Carolyn is against it in all measures, and considers it a failure of character to jump ship. I’ve never been married, and so my agreement with her words on commitment stem from my ideals rather than experience. What are the “secular” ethics on marriage and divorce?

I’d like to think it has to do with consciously choosing to stand by someone’s side and be successful partners through close friendship and constant communication. Good partnerships don’t need “divine grace” to work, they just need determination, openness forgiveness and acceptance. That’s what has worked for me in relationships and platonic friendships, and I’d like to believe it makes the translation to marriage.

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3 responses to “Slutty Book Reports: Radical Womanhood (5/7)

  1. I have quite some experience with divorce. I’m the child of a divorced family and I am divorced myself. My parents divorced when I was 2 because my Dad was cheating on my Mom. My mother stuck it out for several years to try and make it work, but there was nothing that she could do the change my Dad’s shitty behavior and so they split. That was absolutely the right thing to do. They were married very young (my Mom was 20 I believe) and divorced after 4 years.

    My divorce came after 1.5 years of marriage, an admittedly short time. There are many reasons why the marriage ended but none of them have to do with infidelity or abuse (well, some verbal abuse towards me at the end but that’s not a big deal). We were both married very young and I changed a lot over the course of the marriage. I went from being very religious to an avowed atheist and I had changed many of my career and personal goals as well. The person I was at the end of my marriage was completely different from the person at the beginning.

    What I saw as personal growth, she saw as the opposite. As such, there was very little agreement on anything. I wasn’t willing to go back because that would be the opposite of growing and she wouldn’t grow (or at least what I would call grow) because she saw it as declining. It was like two colorblind people arguing over the color of something.

    One thing that is difficult to deal with at times is the promise I made on my wedding day. Till death do us part. For better or worse. And I broke that. I fully admit it. But one thing is for sure, I am a hell of a lot happier not being married than I was being married, primarily towards the end of the marriage. We rushed into marriage because, from a religious point of view, that was the thing to do. We wanted to have sex and couldn’t. We wanted to live together and couldn’t. We wanted to do a lot of things to grow and explore and religion prevented us. I blame a lot of what happend on myself, first, for being immature as a man when I got married and, second, on religion for poisoning our worldview of how our relationship should proceed. I overcame both of these things during the marriage and realized that we would both be happier (eventually) if we were to part ways. The evidence was clear that the chasm that was created (admittedly mostly by me) would not and could not be crossed in an amount of time that was worth it. And so I made the decision that the pain of breaking my promise was better than the pain of sticking it out and being miserable for who knows how long. And I was right.

    I think most people need to realize that people change over time. Perhaps 40 years of marriage for some couple is enough and they realize that they could be happier on their own and so they decide to get divorced. Far better to separate and be happier and more fulfilled than to stick with something just because you always have. Part of me doesn’t want to cheapen the beauty of a wedding and the promise of love for ever and ever and nothing will ever change that, but it really is a bit naive. Who can say where we’ll be in 5, 10, 20 years? People change and circumstances change. That’s not to say that one should give up right as their partner changes, but you do have to reassess and reevaluate the relationship. If, after the change, you still find that value and love and connection, then definitely hold fast the marriage. But if the value is lost perhaps it is better for two people to split up. It’s definitely not a decision that can be taken lightly however. I could probably go on and on about this, but my main point is that each couple is different, divorces should never be judged (particularly when you don’t know the circumstances), and people do change. It’s ok to change.

  2. Coming from someone married only three years, I may seem naive in my opinion. However, I feel that if you enter into a marriage, or any commitment for life, it would be unrealistic to think that person will never make a mistake. Cheating, deceit, fights, and the lot can be hurtful, but forgiven if you are willing to put in the effort. I have (thankfully) not had to deal with being cheated on by my husband. But, I feel like if it ever happened, it would be ridiculous for me to give up all of the wonderful things Bruce and I have gone through due to one mistake. I’m with you on this one. A promise to stick by someone’s side for life means being there during the bad, too.

    • Thank you so much for you comment, Tiffany! Loyalty (in marriage, friendships, etc) is a trait that is to be admired. Your relationship with your husband sounds like a solid friendship based on mutual love and trust, and as such it should be admired as a model to strive for. The test of time will only be a joy!

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