Friday, August 19, 2011

Overheard at a Denny's - V

“Isn’t it nice just to have a couple of hours to yourself, Denise? No kids, no husband, no boss ….”

“Every once in a while. Though Derek isn’t tough to manage. He’s pretty neat, though he’s not Adrian Monk obsessive about it. Just every once in a while, he misses the dirty clothes hamper.” Chuckle. “In fact, sometimes he irritates me. You know, Damian’s at that stage where if he’s not careful, he’ll get food in his mouth instead of on the floor. But I’ll bet you that when I walk in the door tonight, the kitchen will look like we’ve never had a kid inside the house, Damian will be asleep in his crib and Derek will be reading a book on the couch like a monument to Patience. When he comes home after a night out with Dan or Mark, the kitchen still looks like an explosion in the Gerber factory.”

Laugh. “Oh, my God! How does he do it?”

“He just shrugs and says, ‘Clean as you go.’ That gets me even worse.”

“Was he always like that?”

“I have to assume so. We never talked about house chores before we got married, and there was no period of him getting used to cleaning ….”

“Well, wait. Didn’t you live together before you got married?”

“Oh, Lord no! Why would any woman want to do that to herself?”

“Well … to see if it’ll work out.”

“And sometimes it does. Very often, though, it may not work out becomes it’s not working out when the couple hits a rough patch, and you’re ditching out when just a little time and effort can turn everything around. Besides, who really gets the advantage of living together?”

“Many women do!”

“No. Only men. Men get a sexual playmate for an indeterminate length of time, during which they don’t have to make any promises they have to keep or make any changes to their behavior. Men don’t get pregnant, so they can dump everything on you when you get pregnant. Oh, if you’re lucky, you’ve got someone with just enough sense of complicity in bringing that little bundle of joy to life that he’ll stick around, play daddy and maybe grow into a responsible adult. Just as often, though, you find out that this wonderful fellow’s sense of responsibility will only stretch so far as to pay for the abortion you had by God better get. You want freedom of choice; well, here it is in spades, ‘cause it’s all on you, not him.”

“Wow, you say that so calmly. Did some guy do that to you?”

“Marie, where have you been? This kind of thing happens all the time, to women we’ve known, even more to women who aren’t from solid middle-class families like you and I. Even when Derek and I were dating, it seems like every time I started thinking about losing my virginity with him, some girl I worked with or went to college with would turn up pregnant with some jerk’s kid and be stuck with horrible choices, and I’d say, ‘No way I’m putting myself into that position!’”

“Well, that’s what the Pill is for!”

“No offense, Marie, but we women got sold a line of bullshit on that. It doesn’t make sex safe; it reduces the risk of pregnancy by a lot but doesn’t get rid of the risk completely, nor does it do anything about STDs. And besides the increased risks of heart disease, it also has a higher risk of breast cancer. But more than not being safe, it denies us the full value of our womanhood.”

“You can’t be serious! You mean we can only be full women if we’re mothers?”

“No. What I mean is that women aren’t men with breasts. Being mothers is not the only thing we’re good for; but we’re biologically different from men in many subtle ways because we can and do bear children. Mothering is not the only thing we can do, but it is a good thing. But two or three generations of feminists have devalued it; they’ve told us that we can be equal to men only if we become like men, if we succeed at male tasks and adopt male attitudes, instead of making men respect women as women: different but equal. And in the process, they stripped marriage and motherhood of value, and taught us not only to embrace being sex objects but to treat men as sex objects as well.”

“But what’s wrong with sex? I love having sex!”

“It’s not what’s wrong with sex. It’s what’s wrong with the attitude behind the whole hook-up culture. Remember Goethe: ‘Occasionally, a woman is a serviceable substitute for masturbation’? It’s just that attitude that lies behind ‘friends with benefits’, orgies, living together and all that. I’ll tell you, one time on a morning radio show, the DJs had this thing going where women would call in and tell everyone in the world what male celebrities they’d ‘do’, saying ‘I’d take it in the face for blah-blah-blah.’ And I just could not believe it!”

“OmiGAWD! That’s just sick!”

“It’s not just sick; it’s contemptuous of women. And here’s all these young women announcing to the world that they’d gladly be used like paper towels by some celebrity! Is this women’s liberation? Sounds more to me like they’re volunteering for sexual slavery!”

“No kidding!”

“If that isn’t bad enough, I read somewhere that Gloria Steinem is now starting to push for, quote unquote, legalized polyamory. Tell me, when a man can have two, three or four wives, can the women really be considered the man’s equal? That’s not a 1:1 equivalence, is it?”

“I agree. Y’know, I can see how you put up with Derek when he gets into one of his lecture modes. The two of you think a lot alike.”

“Yes, we do. That’s why he doesn’t try to lecture me. Besides, the couch isn’t that comfortable to sleep on.”