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



relationships • 28.11.07


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.

Unhitched ...Judith Stacey argues that monogamy is not natural.

Women are said to be more sexually liberated these days. If so it’s a welcome advance 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 hangovers and cultural constraints still to be addressed.

Take intimacy. For most women it is rarely embraced outside of monogamy as a preferred choice. If at all it is usually interim until the real deal comes along in the form of an exclusive commitment. When exclusivity is not the preference it is readily stigmatised or seen as pathological. Almost never is it allowed to be radical and transgressive in an authentic way.

With birth control and the prospect of independence, when women were encouraged to have a looser approach to sex, quickly they found this type of freedom did not suit the time-worn agenda. Although we are told otherwise, I suspect that most modern women will 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 of 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's a travesty which patronises women leading to unhealthy co-dependencies. Like this they live as fragments of themselves.

So what should a modern woman do? She could seriously question what's being presented to her by convention. She might reject matrimony and procreation in favour of other lifestyles and by adopting alternative values achieve greater fulfilment than her predecessors. 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. She could help build a like-minded sisterhood. It's a tall order no doubt but emancipation was never easy.