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too often men are still the conduit for women's legitimacy

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SEX & EMANCIPATION

relationships • 28.11.07

Related:

Radical Love ...thoughts on the need for better attachments.

Monogamy At All Costs ...the price paid for exclusive partnerships is too high.

Having It All ...it is patently not possible.

Adventures In Erotica ...further thoughts on sexuality.

Women are said to have a more casual attitude toward sex these days. If so it’s a welcome advancement but they still have some way to go to be freed from the shackles of history. As carnal beings they were long compromised by a suspect moralism, bound by partnership values, by issues of status and family life. For true emancipation there are many cultural constraints which still need addressing.

When intimacy is embraced outside monogamy it is scarcely the preferred choice for most women. It is usually interim until the real deal comes along - i.e. an exclusive commitment. When exclusivity is not the preference it is readily stigmatised or seen as pathological. Rarely is it valued as radical and transgressive.

With birth control and the prospect of independence, when women were encouraged to have a looser approach, quickly they found this type of freedom did not suit the time-worn agenda. Modern women will no doubt find this too and continue as they have for centuries to put partners and families at the core of their existence.

Historically, having a partner was essential. A woman without a man was like a man without a job. The man may not have liked his job but did it anyway as necessity. The woman may not have liked her man but stood by him. It wasn't him that was so crucial, it was what he represented. It was about what the status of having him entailed together with his position in the world. In a patriarchal society men are the conduit for women's legitimacy. Unfortunately, despite appearances to the contrary, it too often remains the case. It is a travesty which patronises women and keeps them in an unhealthy dependency. Like this they live as fragments of themselves.

So what should a modern woman do? I think she should seriously question the options being presented to her by convention. She might reject matrimony and procreation in favour of other lifestyles and with some thought to alternative values achieve greater fulfilment than her predecessors ever could. With a little effort and imagination she could make worthier contributions to the world, better than simply increasing the population, contributions based on truer forms of independence and freedom. It's a tall order but emancipation was never easy.