To marry … ?

My *** burns in the feminist hall of shame because I want to be called someone’s girl.

Vanessa Hidary, The Hebrew Mamita

On my Twitter timeline this morning, iCon asked a simple but profound question. I’m sure I took it completely out of context, since I’m known for overthinking things, and I can psychoanalyze a loaf of  bread. But it shook me badly, because my response was automatic.

If I knew I would not fail, and I was guaranteed that he would say yes, I would find the man of my dreams and ask him to marry me.

I realize that’s completely lame because I don’t really believe in God or marriage. I don’t know happy couples, and every time I say, ‘What about so-and-so?’ they go and change their relationship status.

I know a lot of functional marriages, where people make things work and thrive without divorce or murder. They respect each other, raise honest kids, survive the empty nest, and manage to be friends. Some even learn to love each other and to keep that love alive. They make a commitment to each other and let things slide to keep it.

But I don’t want a functional marriage. I don’t want the kind of unions that I heard about on Maina Kageni’s show on Monday. I want a happy marriage, one that makes me smile every morning when I wake up next to him, and one that makes me want to hug him even as I yell and cry about the ish he did. I want to be with a man that loves me and lets me love him back. Emphasis on let because I’m terribly clingy.

But then again, I also want a man who doesn’t like strippers, lap dances, blow jobs, porn, or king sized cakes. Also, he has to accept my daughter, not have any children of his own, and not want to have any children. With me. Or anyone else. I refuse to be the evil sexy stepmother. In exchange for mutual sterilization, he will receive delighted conjugation at least five times a day. Morning glory is a guaranteed added bonus if he gets me up early enough. He will accept, despite his consternation, that while I may be good in bed, I rarely clean … and hardly ever cook.

He will never lie or cheat. Never ever ever ever ever ever! Unless I ask him if I look fat. He has to be nice. And sensitive. And straight.  He will refrain from flirting or straddling women in public [and also in private], because I’m super possessive, passive aggressive, jealous … and I like to break things.

Yes, I’m taking lessons in art, sculpture, animation, and alchemy so I can build him out of straw.

Speaking of Maina Kageni’s show, I need an iPod or something. Listening to Maina’s callers in morning traffic is some form of Chinese torture. You know that episode of Sheep In The Big City where he’s chained to a collar? If he tries to escape, his ears are attacked with easy listening music. That’s like really annoying pipe music, the kind they play in lifts.

If you made me Sheep and put Classic Breakfast on my collar, I would stay in that collar even if we had tsunamis, volcanoes, and atomic bombs combined. I keep wanting to smash my head on the window, jump out, and just walk the rest of the way. But clearly, I am alone. Otherwise, his show wouldn’t air in every single PSV. The term Matatu FM was aptly coined.

Back to the point. I’ve decided I’m not built to be a girlfriend. My conclusion is a defense mechanism. After all, the man I want doesn’t exist, I don’t want to settle for anything less, and I don’t want to get hurt again. So I decided I would pose as a married lesbian and refuse to believe in relationships.

I’ve been talking to my married friends, smiling politely and saying that I’m happy for them – and I am – then listing all the reasons why it wouldn’t work for me. Yet even as I list them, I daydream about cuddling my dream love on a couch, having him rub my feet, hanging out at the beach, talking about everything and nothing, doing the dishes together, or simply playing Strip Scrabble.

I envy women who know exactly what they don’t want, because they have solid opinions that will not be swayed. There is such immense joy in being a true rebel … you know, as opposed to just sounding like one and having purple hair. Me, I’m just afraid I’d suck at marriage, so I’m happy not to try. Besides, I was married once … well … sort of. Common-law-come-we-stay-what-what. It didn’t end well.

I pretend to be a feminist – when it suits me. Mostly, it’s because people assume that I’m one and I don’t feel the need to argue. I’ve had guys tell me I’m an ummarriable, and one suggested that I need a wife, so to them, the shoe fits. Besides, how do I explain that while I pay my own bills and ask guys out when I want to, I would still like a man to take care of me? It’s not that he has to, or needs to, or even that I expect him to. It’s that I want him to want to. I want him to protect me and shield my heart, because that’s what a real man does. I want him to stand next to me as I live my dream, ask for my help when he needs it, and hold me to keep all the bad things out. And I want him to do that while accepting that I will never have his children.

See why it’s easier to just denounce marriage?

Sometimes I have myself convinced that I don’t want anybody. After all, I love my life, I have no pangs about Valentines Day, and I’ve become quite efficient in the art. Sometimes, I’m even more efficient without … um … phallic guidance. I like my space and freedom, I’m scared of in-laws, and I don’t want to be told how to spend ‘our money’. My baby’s almost ten, so I have no bio-clock issues, and the folks aren’t complaining, so it’s not like I’m missing anything. I’m not against marriage. It’s perfectly fine – for other people. I’m happy with my life, and with being single. Sure, I could use a lot more money, but I really wouldn’t mind being a hot old maid.

Yet when I’m asked about the one thing I would do if I was guaranteed I’d win, I think of being a bride and living happily ever after. I know there are fights and disagreements, and that sometimes people want to sleep on the couch or be somewhere else, but I just want to be the girl he’s mostly happy to come home to. I’m sure I’d make a lousy wife, but in my deepest parts, I still want to see him grinning at me as I walk down the aisle in my little red dress, bopping my head to Canon Rock. Since the thought came so automatically, it must be really important to me, and I think that’s really sad. I blame it entirely on Walt Disney.

One of the boys …

The older I get, the more I question friendship. I understand the basics of it. Guys mostly make friends around activities – a team they like, a hobby they share, proximity through work, school, or neighbourliness. Female friendships seem more … personal? They may start out situational but are maintained by character alignment.

That’s not strictly true though. Us feminists like to say the patriarchy invented that whole ‘women don’t get along’ trope. But we all know a few women we can’t stand. And while we may sometimes be openly mean and judgey to these women, we just as easily call them our ‘friends’ and smile at them while stabbing their backs in any way we can. It’s a strange thing.

Cat Try Me GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

To be fair, guys do it too. I moved houses a year ago, and I get way more gossip from my new male neighbours than my female ones. So I know that fact isn’t gendered, at least not in my hood. So why is it that we still think women have harsher tongues than guys? And that doesn’t even get into non-binary and trans-folk who completely warp the system. They may be raised as one gender but identify as another so their socialisation is a whole new space.

Where is all this coming from? Well, I’m one of those girls that has more male friends than female ones. The Adult turned out the same way, except being a zoomer, she has some enbies in the mix as well. I learn a lot from watching how they live their lives – it’s warm and open and fascinating and beautiful and I can’t wait to see how this generation turns out. But that’s not my focus here. My battleground is male vs female relationships, particularly platonics.

I saw a TikTok by this girl explaining why she has a hard time making friends with girls. And I saw a tweet that responded, “You can’t be friends with someone that sees you as an object.” I’ve seen similar sentiments from fellow feminists. They say having more guy friends or exclusively male friends is a form of internalised misogyny, the epitome of, “I’m not like other girls.”

I always wonder about that one, because it’s something I say a lot. That and fatphobia, because my weight yoyos and I prefer my body when it’s thin(ner). I can see how saying that would make my fat friends feel shamed and rejected. Because what I’m saying is, “I don’t like my body when it’s big,” but what you’re hearing is, “She doesn’t like big bodies. And my body is big. So she’s obviously hating on me.” It can be hard to get past that point in a conversation.

Fat Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Digression: I also wonder, does it make a difference to say these things out loud? Would the world prefer you think those thoughts in silence? Or does the world feel they can change a person’s thinking? How would you know what they were thinking or whether they changed their minds unless they shared their opinion? Case in point, cat calling degrades a woman, yes. But the real fear is a woman can’t tell if her cat caller is just showing off for the boys or whether he has an active intention of following through and hurting her.

That’s an extreme example – sexual violence. But what about seemingly ‘subtle’ forms of misogyny, homophobia, transphobia? Maybe that’s why a lot of people on the LGBTQIAP spectrum assume the hets hate them. It’s safer to blanket everyone than to trust some and risk safety. Hence #AllMenAre…

Me Gusta Trash Can GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Enewei, we’re talking about girls who are mostly friends with boys. Other women are understandably suspicious of us. Best case scenario, the women are uneasy about their boyfriends and husbands spending all this time with a ‘platonic female’ and refuse to believe hakuna shenanigans. Median level, a girl that’s one of the guys is seen me as a pick-me. And at worst, feminists point out that a guys-girl perpetuates misogyny because they treat her well but treat other women badly and she’s  a foil or token for his bad behaviour.

“He treats me well, I can’t believe he would hurt any woman.”

“I have close female friends, I’m a good guy.”

“He treats you well as an excuse to harm other women.”

Baby Mother GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why am I more comfortable with male friends than female ones? Personally, I’m physically afraid of men but psychologically afraid of women. Because I have sexual trauma, daddy issues, and mummy issues. So I make friends with men because if they like me and aren’t banging me (yet?), they’re less likely to be physically or sexually violent towards me. It’s a subconscious safety factor.

And I fear making friends with women because the ones that raised me were emotionally remote, disruptively manipulative, and psychologically abusive. It’s made me terrified of women and I have a hard time trusting or being friends with women. It even affects the way I see myself as a woman, and how I express and perform my own femininity. It’s a trip, and I’m working on it.

Cat Makeup GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I was watching a Red Table Talk episode on why women are mean to each other – that’s what chokonoa-d all this mess. But I also saw a tweet about how transphobia and homophobia are gendered. In the sense we all treat men and women differently, which is why we insist on knowing which one you are. According to that narrative, the thinking goes something like this:

“I need to know if you’re male or female so I know whether I should respect you or dismiss you, flirt with you or crush you. I need to know if you’re gay or straight so I can decide if I should be nice to you. It gauges your humanity.”

I guess my take is different. For me, men are a physical and sexual threat while women are an emotional and psychological one. And I’m a feeler and an overthinker, so mental wounds are just as bad as bodily ones for me. Worse even. So I guess I get … curious … about a person’s gender and sexuality as a form of self-preservation. I can use that basic data to protect myself.

Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Something in that thread made sense though – that being non-binary and transgender forces the world to see you as a human being, not as a man or a woman, a girl or a boy. And people don’t want to do that. I don’t see myself as transphobic or homophobic (though it’s not my place to say, just like I can’t declare myself an ally – such validation can only come from someone who feels I support them in a meaningful way), but I do like labels and neat boxes that help me fit new facts into my world view. For me, labels are useful as I navigate humanity, but for a lot of people, labels are restrictive and flattening.

I think about random things a lot. Like, I recently read an article about how men in the US are giving up on college and there are now more women pursuing higher education. The guys interviewed had different reasons. Some said they felt more ‘manly’ earning money at a minimum wage job than they did gaining student debt in a classroom. Others said scholarships don’t cover books and board. They drop out within weeks because they can’t afford it.

Cats Begs GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I saw a documentary years ago about bride kidnapping in China. The one-child policy meant many families aborted or abandonded female foetuses and baby girls in favour of boys. Decades later, there are more men than women and nobody for men to marry. The families that did keep their daughters gave them the best in life, so many of these women have careers and an education and are in no rush to be wifed. The result? People paying traffickers to kidnap women and force them into ‘marriage’. These women end up being chattel.

I see a potentially similar result with this whole ‘men quitting college’ thing. 50 years from now, they may have a population where most of the men are doing menial tasks while the college-educated women hold the corporate and executive jobs. That could cause a dramatic shift in capitalism, now that there’ll be more women in charge. Or it might not, because a lot of women get to the top of male-dominated industries by out-manning the guys.

Cat Swagger GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

(Just think of any female makanga, cop, or kanjo worker you ever met – they’re often rougher and scarier than the men. They feel they have to be in order to survive and thrive at work, and they end up being misogynistic.)

So a world of all-female CEOs may not be the valhalla we expect. Plus, if these female hotshots want to marry, they may end up marrying men with blue-collar jobs since there’ll be a shortage of executive-level men in their workspaces. That could be a big shift in the class wars, because it means the husband would have to be secure enough to marry a boss lady, or maybe become a stay-at-home-dad. This could go both ways – some men will be praised for their daddy-day-care as their wives get attacked for working.

Or the dads may resent their wives, get ribbed by their pals, then domestic violence could rise, like a LOT. Or maybe the classed executive women will hire unclassed women to look after their kids … which brings a whole different dynamic with the low-wage-dads. But then again, many of our zoomers are queer and anti-nuptials so maybe that’s how the marriage industry collapses.

Cat Wedding GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

For me, all this is tied into my nosiness about a person’s gender, sexuality, and presentation. But I understand that while knowing these things makes life easier for me, it doesn’t give me the right to impose on another person’s … person. Yes, my life would be easier if I knew which way you swing or what gonads you possess, but that is still your life, your body, your privacy, and I have no right to it. The LGBTQIPA doesn’t owe cis-hets anything.

I feel a twinge typing that, because yes, it’s a fact, and yes, it exposes my bias and rubs against my privilege. But here’s the thing about entitlement – it’s a false dichotomy. Just because I want to information about you or attention from you does NOT mean you owe it to me or that I have a right to it.

Cat Wiggle GIF by sheepfilms - Find & Share on GIPHY

So when it comes to sidelining spectrum members, I recognise that as a cis-het female, it’s my job to sit with this discomfort. Their lives do not exist to sate my curiosity or ensure my comfort. Trans folk, enbies, and other spectra have as much right to life, love, freedom, safety, self-expression and privacy.

♫ Help Me ♫ Nick Carter ♫

It’s funny … when it’s not you














I bumped into a blog post that tickled me. It was about a restaurant making fun of vegans, and the backlash that followed. Basically, the White Moose Cafe made some sarcastic comments on its Facebook Page, the comments were re-posted by different vegans groups, and then everything went to hell.

I read the entire exchange with a smile on my face. Probably because I’m not vegan, so I could see the funny side. Except … what if I was vegan? Would I still find it funny? What if that Facebook post talked about women, or black people, or fat people? Would I still be laughing? Would anyone?

It’s an unwritten rule that it’s okay to bash *minorities by volume* but never the other way round. Hence, we have fat jokes, and black jokes, and feminist jokes, and even Irish jokes. But when the bashed hit back, it’s not taken with the same vein. No one takes meninists seriously. Reverse racism isn’t considered an actual thing.

I once made a comment about how white people can’t jump – or dance. Then I wondered how different that was from saying Africans have intrinsic rhythm. Or that black people are naturally good at sports. Or that women are softer than men. How is one set of statements bad and the other is not?

It was explained to me that ‘the privileged cannot cry foul when the minorities attack them.’ That a man – or a white person, a thin person – can’t claim discrimination because the world already favours them, so it doesn’t count. The damage, apparently, is in the power dynamic, and the power dynamic is decided by society and context. That’s why, for example, a video about a little girl forcing a little boy to marry her is hilarious. But … a video about a little boy forcing a little girl to kiss him … is not.

Is that all there is to it though? Is it really about context and the shape of society? Or is humanity just so basic that anything goes if it’s happening to someone else? In an ideal world, we could all feel each other’s pain. Then maybe we wouldn’t hurt each other as much. Unfortunately, this world is far from ideal, and we can only try to see the other person’s point of view. Then maybe this world would be far less fucked up.

♫ Same love ♫ Macklemore ft Mary Lambert ♫