Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Married with children in house rant

Many of the folks around here seem to get married very young, and then they have children, and then they get divorced--so many twenty-some single mothers who've not yet finished college. Is this suburban or Southern Californian or neither or both?

Especially if you're a woman, marriage is directly connected to being at the mercy of an economic hierarchy, in this case, a Capitalist one. Or at least it's a function of the totalizing tendencies of Capitalism. Wuthering Heights. Jean Ryhs' later novels and short stories. Suburbs. If one doesn't fit into an acceptable economic framework--full-time job, husband, family--then one can't afford one's meds, food, a place to live etc.

The middle-aged women with whom I have encounters are often husbandless and without families, and they certainly don't have a decent income even if they're able to work. They're often suffering from substantial mental illnesses and living in shelters or homeless. I can't believe I failed to mention this in my posts a few days back. Mark and I lived across the street from a woman's shelter in DC, so many of my run-ins were from the women staying there.

If you're a woman who hates men but is still heterosexual, then the options for you aren't that great. And by hating men I don't mean being feminist. I'm certainly not suggesting that falling in love with or wanting to sleep with women makes a woman's life easier at all (!) but it does mean you have access to a series of social and emotional networks that heterosexual women who hate men don't quite have.

I'm collapsing several issues together, I know.

So it's shocking how forcibly dependent upon men we still are. Maybe this is what might make a 2nd wave feminist disdainful of us 3rd wavers. In the intro to Iovis, Anne Waldman says: "I exist in a community of my own choosing & making which is attentive to language & poetry before language." I don't feel like I exist in a community of my own choosing and it is tiresome, but Waldman might call my grumbling tiresome, I don't know.


And as for the married with children in large house thing.


I resent marriage because it is overly determined by economics. My rant is pretty familiar: women shouldn't have to marry to have financial security and benefits. No one should. Unmarried, we can 1) attach ourselves to people who have money or 2) make money on our own--many women do this, but I'm shocked at the lack of interesting jobs here in SoCal as opposed to, say, DC. Many of the full-time administrative jobs are hourly with no benefits.

It's not the love and respect and commitment part of marriage that are respected--if that were the case, then marriage itself would be less of an issue. People have trouble even acknowledging these qualities in relationships that exist outside of marriage. Mark and I used to correct people when they said "your wife" or "your husband" but now we just let it slide.


Children are wonderful. They are people. I'd never bring people who are totally dependent upon me into my life unless I had the finances to take care of them. I never bought pets as an adult and then dumped them off on my parents. I'm not interested in making children a goal in my life. I have wonderful little sisters, one day I'll have nephews and nieces. If I turn 40 and suddenly wish to have children and have the ability to take care of them without throwing art out the window, then I will have children. Or I will adopt children.


Yes, I want a big house. I want it. I want a building in an international urban area and I want to make the downstairs part of it an art space and then live upstairs and then invite people to stay and throw lots of parties. I'm romantic. So I'm saving for a house. If I can't afford one until I am middle-aged and crazy, that's fine. I will have made some good poems and written some good stories, and I'll have lots of friends and family to invite to stay.


Jessica Smith said...

on the house (i can't handle much more at the moment): it's so lovely! i'm going to come live there too. it says it can fit three families. what a fabulous outdoor bar! and beautiful open kitchen!

i guess our current kids can't play together (lester, basil, and hilda) but maybe when ray & i adopt a slew of internationally diverse babies they can all splash in the pool together.

did you read my earlier post on collaborative motherhood? maybe i didn't post it. i'll email you.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

If you did, I missed it--send it. Collaborative motherhood is good--I have a lot to offer, I hope, my little sisters, my future nephews/nieces, and the children of my friends.

Yes--the house is big enough for a lot of people!