When I facilitated at a school self defence program recently, and delivered the monstrous facts that an Australian woman was more likely to be killed at the hands of her violent (male) partner than by terrorism, a 14 year old girl quipped, “So are you saying we shouldn’t get married?” Queue the crickets chirping here….
Prior to this loaded question I had remonstrated about Walt Disney Princesses. Think about it ladies, all Princess pre-1990 were rescued by a Prince…. Who woke her from a poison induced coma in acts that would be described under the Criminal Code as ‘sexual assault’ or ‘indecent acts’ because consent could clearly not be given.
Insert caveat here: I have been out with “the Beast” and tried to be Belle (but not as pretty) and could not change him with love. I have a small foot, but Prince Charming never came…. and what does message does that send to my sistas from other mistas with a larger foot?
But now I do have a partner of 16 years…. Not a fairy tale, but a meeting of two minds and hearts. And two separate bank accounts…. Because, golly gingo, wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I espoused to young girls how to be independent, and give beaten women skills for leaving domestic violence if I couldn’t access money for a bus for me and my children if things got bad.
Luckily I don’t worry these days about fleeing with my bus money, because after numerous failed attempts I chose a man that respects women… and even if he gets sick of me and goes for a younger, less opinionated version, I will never live in fear that he would hurt me or my children. That to me is the entire fairy tale rewritten with a real happy ending. I will never die at the hands of my life partner and nor will my children.
And it is with this that I try to stop myself from going down that emotional ‘rabbit hole’ as I know the truth that one woman every week will take her last breath struggling against the man that is there ‘for better or worse… in good times and bad’. The perpetrators most common modus operandi is to strangle his partner so she will "just shut up".
In fact my most important message in self defence is how to protect your airway.....
Am I about to shut up? Hell no.
Am I against marriage? Hell no! I LOOVVVEEE a good wedding, they are good for the soul, for celebration and for affirming spirituality (in those that dream more of spiritual freedom than the perfect dress and cake). I have been a bridesmaid five times - and counting.
Love to me is spiritual freedom, not crying, and distrust, panic and anxiety… and social media posts convincing the world (and the woman) that everything is honky dory over at this cosy insta-groomed little love nest.
But these are the facts about marriage. The ancient world had no word for marriage. Ancient Egypt only had a word for “de-facto” or “life-partner”. It was not until we ditched our nomadic ways (here we go Cross Fitters… here is my point…..) and started eating all those farmed grains and herding stock that women were used as collateral… Yes…. That’s right. Like a property package. ‘You take her, I give you this land.’ Grunt. Grunt. Agreed. Pack your things Snow White and lay back while me spread my omnipotent seed.
Marriage had NOTHING to do with romantic love, and everything to do with control, power and the domination of religion, class and race.
It is really only in the last century that the concept of 'romance' and 'love' been coupled with the concept of marriage (thank you Hollywood).
Marriage is, statistically, the greatest institutional failure in social and economic history. Half of all marriages fail, and with every subsequent marriage the chances of success diminish proportionately. Compare that to Australian small business statistics - one third of businesses fail before three years. It costs about $20 000 for a small start up. It costs over $30 000 for a wedding in an Australian Capital city. If you were a rational thinker you would unequivocally start a small business over marriage.
I once have a friend quip to me: "Getting divorced is like going bankrupt, it takes about five years to recover."
Here are some of what the great minds, celebrities and spiritual leaders think about marriage:
By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. Socrates
Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory. Abraham Lincoln
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. Jane Austen
Love is moral even without legal marriage, but marriage is immoral without love. Ellen Key
Marriage is a great institution. Elizabeth Taylor
Marriage is good for those who are afraid to sleep alone at night. St. Jerome
Marriage has been linked by physiologists as a hot bed of symbiotic mental dysfunction with societal sanctioning of narcism (think weddings) and co-dependancies (think joint bank accounts and the woman relinquishing their surname).
Marriage is the message that you are not complete until you enter into the institution. It is a sign post to our children that to be whole you must be married. It compounds the stigma of single parents and single adults... that they are unsuccessful, unfulfilled and subject to pity and discrimination.
Am I a feminist. Yes. Do I hate men? Um, no. I’ve worked with more men than most women have had pairs of shoes (in ten lifetimes). AND LOOOVVVEDDD IT. And no, haters, I didn’t sleep with them. Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough, but that was never an issue for me. One of my less then fabulous boyfriends did give me the best advice I had ever been given, “Never look down when you walk into a room of men, look them in the eye.” And one of my most respected Sergeants also gave me the same advice. Every business meeting I have ever walked into I think of them and those words.
So. Now I’m calling copy-write on the term “Paleo Bride”. It’s mine. I vow to be true to myself first, to honour and obey only myself. Because love is kind, it is not cruel or conceited. And if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with (i.e.: YOU…. Not that random homeless person sitting on the park bench reading over your shoulder while you read this).
And, for practicality, while all my degrees and qualifications and businesses and companies are in the name I was born with, I reserve the right to keep a little bit of myself all to me. My partner and my kids get the rest. It’s unconditional. No daily Instagram’s, Facebook posts, or Tweets will ever replace me walking into the room and giving them my time. Sans selfies.
In the mean time I will continue to suggest to 14 year old school girls that it’s not marriage that they should be questioning, it is their perception of themselves. The “I am” - independent of the clothes, money, social media and opinion of others. Independent of the boyfriend, girlfriends and their approval (or disapproval).
Because in every life threatening situation the first three seconds will determine whether you will live or die. And us old ladies know that Prince Charming does not have the skill to teleport, so there is only one person who is going to save you - you. And the sooner we teach our youth this fundamental truth, the sooner we can address Australia's unforgivable track record of domestic and alcohol fuelled violence.
Rant over…. Go, be strong, live long and prosper without the need for others approval and with only love in your heart. Because if we all lived like this I would not need to teach young girls how to keep themselves alive, and young men to restrain the hands that kill.
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