Marriage and feminism

I suppose you could call it one of my guilty pleasures, but I actually enjoy reading Salon’s advice column. In a recent letter, a woman writes about getting flak from her feminist peers for wanting to marry at her young age of 21. It’s the sort of ironic inverse of the problem I usually hear about from friends, of getting pressure to marry as they get older. With age of first marriage trending steadily upward, the parents’ and grandparents’ generations are bound to have different sensibilities, and we in the educated class are particularly prone to delay or omit marriage.

Whether or not he meant it to be, I think Cary Tennis’ response to the letter is an interesting volley in the post-feminist debate discussed previously. It’s not a new argument, per se, but it’s well articulated: essentially, that the highest aim of the feminism movement is for women to have freedom of personal choice, and so it is contradictory for this woman’s feminist friends to try to criticize her free choice to get married and have children young.

I think I tend to agree in this case, because her background and environment make it clear that she is making a personal choice for happiness from a position of freedom. But it’s not as clear for women in similar positions who also feel pressured by old-fashioned norms or economic circumstance. Would getting married young and having kids be taking the easy way out in that case?

  1. #1 written by allison June 8th, 2006 at 20:10

    “Young suburban men who wear mohawks are like docents in a museum, kindly reminding us of our heritage.” Brilliant!

    Anyway, I agree with you and with Cary in this case. Just sad that the advice seeker has to bear so many hurtful comments. I find that answering the question: “When are you getting married?” with: “When you get some manners,” shuts ‘em up right quick.

    RE Q
  2. #2 written by joshuah June 8th, 2006 at 23:19

    I love that quote too. I almost tried to fit it into the post.

    RE Q

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