Inadequately Comforting a Distressed Young Woman
I had a rather delightful day on Saturday. I mentioned in a previous post that I was invited to a little grass roots English club. Out of this encounter, I’ve acquired some new mentees. It’s a mixed sex group. I’m quite pleased to have young women present, and I’ve likely mentioned in at least one past post that as a survival mechanism, I de-sex the male students so that I can bear to be around them. In other words, I go out with a group of young women and young students (males). Any outings I have with groups such as these are generally pleasant. If it were unbearable, I wouldn’t do it. I go places I may not have been before, I learn about local culture and history, try new food and new restaurants, and if I’m very lucky, I can give the young women a chance to talk about anything they want. It is my frequent impression that they are not really allowed to voice their deepest concerns or fears. I exist outside their cultural paradigm, and I think that makes me less threatening in a sense.
On Saturday, a group of five students (two females and three students) and I arranged to visit two culturally important venues in our city. It was actually a heap of fun and ended with a glorious meal at a restaurant with Dongbei cuisine. But at one point, the two young women began talking about marriage, which immediately put me on edge. I frequently have to deal with incredulous reactions to being unmarried and child-free. I am on the receiving end of concern, surprise, disapproval, and very, very, very occasionally jealousy. Mostly, it is annoying. I’ve spent my life being told how abnormal I am, that there is something ‘wrong’ with me, and there is always this valuation/appraisal of my human status no matter what culture I live in. Only women deal with this. Even if a man is questioned on his status, which he frequently isn’t, there is no value judgment made of him. Marital and parenthood status does not affect men. With women, you can be denied employment because you are assumed to be defective or lacking an important human quality that magically affects your ability to do work.
But I’m pretty much used to the disdain and questioning. I used to try to justify myself. I don’t do that anymore. Sometimes, I’m downright honest about the whole mess that is female slavery. By the time I’m sixty, I’ll be right salty!
One thing that makes me very sad in places like China is that women have no choice whatsoever about their slavery. Western women have much more choice when it comes to their fates. I get why and how Western women buy into the heterosexuality mandate and why they still cave under the social pressure (which is real, but seldom a life or death situation) to sell their vaginas, uteri, and physical, emotional and psychological energy to men who may not even be the highest bidders. But at the same time, it is bizarre to me and fucks me off to no end. The threat of punishment keeps the majority of women cowering and doing their duty. Those of us who have disobeyed have suffered and will suffer in old age for these important defiances.We help our enslaved sisters when they inevitably suffer at the hands of their Nigels, but we don’t get help in return when we are alone, old, injured or unable to support ourselves. Sigh.
But while I feel fortunate in some ways (economically poor, but somewhat psychologically free) for not being forcefully enslaved, despite my lower status among women and the recipient of punishment no matter where I live, most women in the world really have no choice at all. In China, I’ve never met a single woman who has managed to escape forced marriage and forced motherhood. But I have met a handful of girls who say they don’t want that life for themselves. And I get strong impressions from each of them that they are lesbians or completely sexually naive or asexual. These women, I have great sympathy for. Non-compliance is a much more serious issue here.
On Saturday, one of the young women told me repeatedly in amazement and with some envy that I was so independent. She couldn’t believe my father didn’t push me into anything (I permanently left my mother’s control when I was 20, and the pressure hadn’t started from her at that point in my life). The young woman quietly told me that she didn’t want to get married at all. Interestingly and with insight and sadness, she told me that she wished she did want it. This young woman knows what is in store for her. She knows how difficult something can be when you are forced into doing something you don’t want to do. I’m not sure if she articulates the concept of rape to herself, but she definitely has dreams of freedom, independence and choice. She said she hopes she will change her mind when she gets older. Right now, she is about 19.
It hurts me to hear young women talk about this and that girls of this young age are worrying deeply about this issue. The male students, on the other hand, have nothing to worry about. Marriage was built for them. Marriage benefits men in many ways and it doesn’t negatively affect any aspect of their lives. I’ve never heard a young male talk about marriage or children in anything but a flippant, carefree, positive way, in fact.
The males in our group tried to find out what the conversation was about. I summed it up for them. Marriage was designed by men for men. And it is not good for women. They seemed shocked. Like I said above, they don’t think about this stuff. Life is easy for them. They are the oppressors. One of them concluded that each person is entitled to their own opinion. Sure. Opinions. But I know more about women’s history than they do, so I am coming from a place of facts and reality, as well as my experience as a member of the oppressed, as the basis of my very informed opinion.
These conversations with women are difficult because I can’t do anything concrete to help them. I want for them to have freedom from males and the freedom to do whatever they want with their lives. I’d like to see a worldwide system change away from Patriarchy and female enslavement. I want to see the institution of family and marriage demolished. I wish women to be economically independent so that they don’t need men at all and they can concentrate on healthy, lifelong female relationships. But I know there is nothing at all I can do for them except listen to them, let them know they are heard, and that I care about their experiences and stories.
Posted on April 4, 2016, in Feminism, Human Rights, Male Privilege and tagged China, marriage, misogyny, patriarchy, radical feminism, women. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Inadequately Comforting a Distressed Young Woman.