My mother, or both parents actually, have taken it upon themselves to remind me at every turn how I need to find a man. This concerns me on a number of levels. First, I refuse to give in to the idea that my life is somehow incomplete, less valuable, without a partner. I am focused on being unapologetically independent and ambitious at this point in my life. I’m not saying I don’t care to find someone but if he can’t get on board with that (the case more often than not in my experience) then No thank you.
Second, if I was going to pick a spokesperson for myself, it would not be my mother. Below is a typical exchange between my mom and the men she hopes have connections to other men. (Yes, this actually happened recently.)
She describes me as best she can and then throws in “She’s a feminist.” Its as if she’s saying, “Caution! I want your friends to know what they would be getting themselves into!”
Man: Oh so she’s opinionated (If you mean, I have strong views, then yes, yes I am.)
Mom: Yeah, she likes to debate.
Did you hear my giant sigh come through the screen, cause you should have. Let’s be clear – I do not like to debate. I will if you say something racist, sexist, chauvenistitic, or <insert institutionalized oppression term here>. And if I happen to be dating a person and wanted to talk about the pay gap between women (yes, it’s real and factual. I have no time for anyone who says otherwise). And he turns and wants to debate the subject. I will just as easily and happily show you the door after I remind you of the factual nature of the pay gap.
Contrary to my family’s beliefs on who I am, I know who I am and what I stand for and I will not find myself in a relationship of any kind (platonic or romantic), where I feel the constant need to “debate” my views. I am not naïve. I know I won’t agree with everyone in my life, 100 percent of the time. But if you are willing to engage in healthy dialogue and be open to my world view, then maybe we can talk.
This is how I’d like this to go:
Me: I can’t believe it’s 2015 and we are still having to struggle with a pay gap between men and women / police brutality / racism.
Partner: Yeah. It’s just not okay.
…and a lively conversation about the topic ensues …
Because, let me be clear. I will not apologize for who I am or what I believe and I will not sacrifice those beliefs to have what others consider “true happiness” (read: a man). I don’t need a partner to be happy and I’d rather be single than have what my mother deems a nightly “debate” (her real thought: argument) about whatever social justice issue, my patner pissed me off about that day.
A small caveat: I know my parents love me and are doing what they believe is best for me. We just fundamentally disagree on what that means