1.26.2007

i am having a lengthy discussion in a yahoo crunchy mama book group about relationships. it has been illuminating and useful to me to examine what it is we do in my relationship with my husband, how we operate, the ways in which we negotiate our life and our responsibilities. i don't often speak of it here. i'm not sure that i ever really have. we are dedicated to ending oppression globally. we seek with our choices and our actions to do so. we want to fight it, we want to educate and discuss and discover. in so doing, we must first always examine ourselves and our relationship. we are in a very traditional arrangement. we married one another with all the hidden-meaning accroutements of western weddings: the white dress, the bouquet, my father walking me down the aisle (though not giving me away), feeding one another cake - all that crap. i'll never know what possessed me, what compelled me to do it. actually, i suppose i do know. it was this world, it was its magazines and its television shows, its martha fucking stewart. i was compelled by being raised here, by bearing witness and by internalizing all those messages to which i was exposed from birth. my mother had a white wedding and i'll never know what compelled her to do it to be certain (unless of course i ask). it makes no sense to me that she would make that choice when so many of her peers did not. she was radicalized in so many ways, and yet they made this entirely traditional choice. she and my step-father were likely pressured by their parents and he probably wanted to, though knowing him i doubt he considered exactly why. and here we find ourselves, years after that initial decision to stay in line with our culture, yet again in total keeping with the arrangements of the patriarchy. i know what compelled these decisions and they are decidedly not in keeping with the patriarchy. i stayed home with my children firstly because i couldn't afford not to (okay, so that's not very radical at all), but secondly because i made choices to do things that had been stripped from women by the patriarchy - the ability to nourish children with my body, the ability to give birth free of chains, the ability to make decisions for my children free of the demands of patriarchy-appointed experts, to teach my children free of patriarchy-established institutions, to self-govern, to have autonomy, to be a (gasp!) self-possessed woman and to pass self-possession on to my children. so how we got here was not what it looks like, exactly. we are trying, hard as we might, to follow our dreams and to support one another in so doing. i have been helping my husband to become a professor of history since first we met eight-and-a-half years ago. in turn, he has been helping me to figure out what it is i want to do with myself, which of course always comes back to this, to writing. in that time, i did many things i didn't necessarily want to do, but would have had to do whether he was in school or not. perhaps he doesn't always acknowledge that. perhaps his ignoring this feature has to do with his indoctrination by the patriarchy, or maybe it's just a feature of being decidedly human, of being caught up in what he is doing. maybe it's both. maybe we could do better to insure that our attitudes towards one another were free from the indoctrinations we received from society since birth. maybe instead of me sitting here, typing furiously as our children destroy things around me, considering this fact of life, this matter of our attitudes towards one another being in keeping with our feminist and leftist philosophies or not, perhaps it should be he thinking these thoughts, wondering and considering and trying to figure what better approaches we might take. and i go over it and over it in my head - when i come home at night from one of my meetings when he has been caring for our children who are decidedly insane and capable of such stunning destruction as to inspire us to change our leftist thoughts on matters like the death penalty, is his grumpiness towards me justified because he is human and the children are so difficult or is it not because he has been inculcated by a lifetime of sexist bigotry and is not at this time acknowledging and confronting it as perhaps i think he should, especially when one considers his profession, how he spends his time ruminating on historical matters from that leftist pedestal, giving weight to the people that formed societies and economies on their backs against those whose biographies are instead credited for shaping that history, those societies, those economies, those "great men" who we consider in those patriarchy-appointed classrooms that i keep our children from so determinedly? is he right or is he wrong? what more could he be doing to fight the dogma with which he was raised? what more could i be doing to encourage re-thinking it all? we are generally very open with one another, certainly me more so than he given my tendency toward talking rapidly and excessively, much like my typing, though he is open and honest. i am sure all it would take is a conversation about the matter in a kind, non-confrontational manner. but then, with children who destroy and all the things that we constantly have to do and deal with - the doctors appointments (four this week alone), the meetings (four this week as well), the work, the dissertation, the boy reunion, the environmental history conference, the co-op newsletter, the blizzard, the twice-daily yoga, aleks' rash, bastian's cold, selling books on amazon, as well as the typical and ongoing cleaning, cooking, laundry, grocerying, diapering, bathing, dressing, wiping, scrubbing insanity - when do we have time for a conversation about whether or not our attitudes are a result of dogmatic upbringing in a bigoted society? it would need to be such a lengthy conversation too in order to give it the proper time and to allow jon the space to contemplate the possibilities. it could go on for months. it could likely go on forever and it would be one of those things, like yoga, where we constantly evaluate and self-correct. it would be a practice, one which we are already involved in, of course, but which requires occasional emotional revelation (the result of constant self-reflection) and dedication to perpetual exploration and archeology of meanings and ritualized compulsions. at this moment, with my living room covered behind me in all the contents of the giant drawers beside me (envelopes, diapers, a keyboard, printer paper, a box of tissues torn asunder, dvds, stationary, a blank book, varied four-year-old scrawlings), the energy required to explore feminist theory with my husband feels a bit overwhelming.

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