Living Like Pat

Let us be elegant or die! – Little Women

It’s Pat is a film based on an SNL character.  Throughout the film, we never know if Pat is male or female.

Ever felt like that?

I don’t mean gender identification.  Even though this blog is only opinion (sometimes, very strong opinion), I don’t have enough knowledge to talk about gender identification.  If that’s something you’re struggling with, or looking for information, here’s somewhere you can start.

The damsel in distress.  The knight-errant.  From early on, literature portrayed women as those who needed to be rescued, and men can cut their teeth on bravery by saving them, and usually rewarded by that woman’s hand in marriage.  In just about every romance novel that formula remains the same.  Geez, even in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy (which I find many things wrong with), our “heroine” needs to be saved by the dashing “hero”, and that strengthens their “relationship”.

That’s what we’re taught.  How many women read those and swoon inwardly, then go to their happy day-dreaming place and imagine themselves in peril only to be rescued at the eleventh hour by whoever tops their fantasy?  I don’t think there’s any one of us who hasn’t had that daydream.

But why is that?  I can’t tell you how many times the “damsel in distress”, whatever distress it is, gets the attention of all who are around.  Women are taught they should appear weak and needy in order for men to know they are required and desired.

That’s pretty crappy for both parties.  It’s telling women they need to be rescued, and it’s telling men they need to be the rescuers.

That doesn’t work for me.  It never has.  In my earlier, less confident years, when all around me I was being bombarded with reasons I should be in a relationship, people asking me why I wasn’t, how lonely it must be, and – my favourite – stories of women in their 40’s and 50’s who were getting married for the first time, so there’s still a chance for me.  Congrats and all, but really?

So, all around me, twitterpation was in progress.  Because of how my mind worked, I tried to find (what I thought was) logical reasons to my pervasive singleness (impending spinster-hood?).  So  I looked to my friends.  It seemed to me that they were closer to the archetype of femininity than I was.  There weren’t birds braiding their hair or anything, but there were clear indicators, such as the meal cooker.  With the small exceptions, at that time in my life, it was the ladies who cooked for their partners.  While I *can* cook, I don’t.  In fact, I’m very proud of the fact I’m planning to pre-cook my lunch for the upcoming week, because for as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred going the easy way.  Back when I could eat salad, that’s pretty much what I lived on: chicken caesar salad, or if I was feeling very ambitious, taco salad.  Only on special occasions did I make lasagna.  5-7 years later, I can’t eat salad (I know!).  When I was doing the lifestyle challenge, I tried very hard to pre-cook, pre-plan and eat properly, but I’m sad to say, I’m back to my old habits.  Back when I was desperately trying to understand why I wasn’t in the same boat as my friends – paired up – I thought no small part of it was because I just wasn’t feminine enough.   I’d failed in my gender duty.  I also hate doing laundry, cleaning, dishes, everything that was taught to me by my mother on running a household.  I won’t even get into the species of weird that grows in my fridge on a regular basis (did you know cucumbers melt?  I didn’t know that.  I also didn’t know I even HAD cucumbers in the fridge.  That’s how infrequently I even go to the fridge).  Was/is there something wrong with me?

That’s the problem with comparisons.  Who decides the base model is the correct one?

But wait, there’s more.

I’m a fairly independent person.  If I want to do something, chances are I’m going to have to do it myself.  And you know?  It means I do a lot of things other people don’t, because they don’t want to do it themselves.  Independence is liberating.  It also makes me wonder if I’m painting myself in a corner.  Ever thought that?

I don’t need to be rescued.  I rarely find myself in the middle of the road with a car barreling toward me with no hope of escape.  I can’t think of the last time I was held hostage with the bad guys using me as a mouthpiece to the (probably single) negotiator.  I could use a glass of water though, if anyone’s offering.  Naw, it’s okay; I’ll get up and get it myself.

Men, you don’t need to rescue me.  You don’t have to prove yourself as masculine as I am feminine.

So is independence off-putting? Is strength a turn-off?  I mean, yesterday I carried a 25lb box of cat litter with my weak hand through the store, and I thought I looked boss.  Couldn’t have done that without breaking a sweat a few months ago.  Is that impressive, or unfeminine?

Are these labels: feminine and masculine the problem?  Why should I ooze femininity out of my pores just so masculinity will catch a whiff?

We all have other things going for us.  Will I discount a relationship because the dude screams at spiders and we’re both burning the house down?  That actually sounds like a decent match to me.  Why should I think I’m defective because I’d rather buy a new set of dishes than wash the dirty ones?

It’s Pat?  No, it’s Kim, who likes getting her nails done, but wandered around a barn in flipflops without missing a beat.  Who hates shopping, but tries to find her perfect angle while capturing that selfie.  Who watches The Walking Dead, but voms when she sees someone spitting.  Who turned to the internet for assistance when she couldn’t figure out the vacuum, but calls her dad when the car makes a funny noise (who in turn tells her to read the manual…psh).  Kim, who doesn’t need to be rescued, just hanging around, who will maybe find someone who doesn’t need to be the rescuer, but if not, it’s cool too, because life is pretty rad as it is.

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Things I Wish I Knew

“I don’t like to be labeled as lonely just because I am alone.” – Delta Burke

There are a lot of magazine and internet articles that like to discuss the “Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married.”  People in my age bracket seem to eat it up.  They either read it prior to them taking “the next big step” and take notes, so that they too will have a great marriage; or read it after the wedding and smugly think, “I know that and I do it well.” This isn’t going to be one of those blog posts from a single person telling everyone how they should live their married lives.  Although, because the Snark lives in me, I would like to point out there should be a moratorium on people giving marriage advice until they’ve been married at least 5 years.  This is, instead a post about The Things I Wish I Knew Before I Felt Like a Complete Loser for Being Single.

Singleness is not a crime.

The Hammurabic code, the 10 Commandments, even Draco say nothing about the lawlessness of singleness.  No matter what society throws your way, it is okay.  I grew up in the church.  “Be fruitful and multiply” is a big deal.  I was once told I could not be a part of a small group because I was single.  I was put with the college kids. This was 5 years ago, years after my college days.  They effectively placed me at the kid’s table.  ‘Sure’, you say, ‘that’s Church.  They’re weird about people being paired off.’  While it’s true, not a lot of Church Society knows how to handle single people over the age of 25, regular society is no better.  Even most of the girls in Sex and the City ended up in a marriage.  Robin Scherbatsky and Barney Stinson the I-don’t-want-to-get-married-queen and –king are getting married.  Generally, single people are portrayed as wanderers who don’t know what they want to do in life, and while they say they’re happy, we know they are not until that handsome man sweeps them off their feet.

Marriage does not always “complete you.”

Blame Jerry Maguire. I know I do.  You do not need another person to “complete you”.  It is reminiscent of the Greek mythology of soulmates.  To sum up: everyone had a partner they were attached to, but a bad dude separated them and they are forever searching for the person to make them complete.  To quote Shirley Bennett, “that’s nice”.  I have a lot of things in my life which “complete” me.  And while I’m getting on the tangent, if a person “completes” you, once you find said person, you’re done?  Like, you can just sit around with your hands down your pants and not work toward anything because you found that special person?  Shut up, Jerry Maguire.

You can have kids without getting married.

I don’t want kids.  And I’m going to stop you before you say, “you might change your mind; I did.” That’s insulting.  That means you don’t think I am wise enough to know what my options are.  I know I can change my mind.  I know kids can be a miracle.  I know I’ll probably forget the pain of my hoo-hah being ripped apart.  I don’t care.  I. Don’t. Want. Kids.  But for those of you who desperately want children, but fear your time is running out because you are still single, who cares?  There are people in my life that didn’t let the fact they hadn’t a husband stop them from reaching their dream of having children.  My aunt adopted babies from China.  Other people foster.  In fact, if I’m rich enough when I’m a wee bit older, I would not be opposed to a Neon Rider type deal.  How awesome would that be?  I don’t to trivialize people’s dreams, but if having a child is that important to you, there are ways around not having a man.  Perhaps you are worried you won’t leave a legacy.  There are ways to leave a legacy that isn’t children.  For me, it’s my writing.  Find out what it could be for you.

Saying these things doesn’t make you anti-marriage, bitter, and “just upset because you don’t have anyone right now, and you’ll change your mind once you meet the right man.”

This one took me a loooong time to learn.  I’m not anti-marriage.  Some of my best friends are married.  I kid.  Marriage is great.  You have someone to take care of you when you’re sick, someone to talk to about your day, someone to say your cooking is awesome.  Guess what?  I have friends who take care of me when I’m sick.  I have friends to talk to about my day.  I tell myself my cooking is awesome and my friends ask about recipes.  All those things I just mentioned are not exclusive to marriage.  I’m sorry if you are single, and don’t have a good friend group.  Send me a message, we’ll be friends. (For serious).  I’m not upset I don’t have anyone right now.  If I change my mind once I meet the right man, I’m not meeting the right man.  I have no intention of changing how I feel just so I can get married.  How many women have said, “I do” to the wrong person because they wanted to get married?  I can’t do that to myself, and if my friends are as awesome as I know they are, they wouldn’t let me do it either.

If you are single, embrace it.  This may sound cliché and tripe, but I know what is being thrown at you in literature, film, television, marketing campaigns, you name it.  Don’t let anyone let you feel ashamed for who you are.

If you are one who is single now, but wants to be married, I wish you luck.  I hope you find the man/woman who does not complete you, but shares your journey with you.

If you are one who is single now and forever more, stay strong.  Have kids if you want to, but be proud.

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