I’m still alive…

by Natalie P.

February 14, 2010 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Social idiocy, The Heartless Bitch Way | No Comments

I haven’t been posting much of late as I’ve been rather busy and had little time is left over for recreational activities like HBI.  My co-editors have been holding down the fort on the BitchBouncing front, and I’ve been coordinating some software updates to keep things running.

On the plus side, I did get some time this weekend to get our Heartless E-Cards back up and running – so you can now send heartless Anti-Valentines, or any other kind of postcard via the site.

And while we are on the subject of Anti-Valentine’s, I came across this article at the Globe and Mail… thanks to the bf, who thought it would be good fodder for HBI. (He’s SO thoughtful!).  In it Leah McLaren basically tells married women that they should suck it up, be happy they are in a relationship, and tells single women to hurry up and get that ring before all the good ones are taken.  She sees Valentine’s Day, for those in relationships, as a competition to gain maximum “moral high ground” by one-upping your partner, and takes pride in the fact that she has won this competition the last few years. I could rant about how deeply fucked-up that is, but I think its sickness speaks for itself.  She then goes on to quote Lori Gottlieb, the author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, as justification for her own disturbing acceptance of mediocrity in her life.

In all honesty, I’d have to say this comment from “nj1928” pretty much says it all for me when considering Gotlieb’s self-absorbed moaning: (do read the comments. Many of them are quite good)

It’s beyond insulting the way Gotlieb proposes to speak for all women based on her own particular feelings about being unmarried in her 40s. I’m sorry to hear that she regrets not having married & feels her life is now devalued because of it. I’m sorry to hear that she feels wasted & unhappy because she doesn’t have a husband. Here’s a big newsflash though: not every woman defines her worth according to marriage, and not every woman wants to be married. Many women (and men of course, but they aren’t the focus of Gotlieb’s offensive musings) enjoy meaningful relationships that don’t end in marriage. Many women are confident & comfortable dating as they get older. Some women even (*gasp*) ENJOY dating even when they’re 30+!

Frankly, to those who’ve read Gotlieb’s book it’s quite apparent that she’s suffering some sort of midlife crisis & is pushing her own narrow experience onto all women. She displays a disturbing narcissism in her assumption that what she experiences must be what all women experience, and any woman who disagrees is just wrong, obviously. It really is an unsettling read that leaves you wondering if she’ll ever get the help she needs to address her own unhappiness, or if she’ll just carry on assuming it’s all the fault of the world & other women that she wound up regretting her own choices.

Had the advice been “don’t get caught up in some narrow definition of a ‘soul mate’ or ‘the perfect partner'” eg, I’d be all for it. But that’s not really what Gotlieb’s on about. Her sinister message is “get married young ladies, settle for whoever will take you, or else you’ll find yourself a dried up worthless old hag (over 30!) that no man will ever want.” I expect that sort of message from Victorian literature, not so much today.

As if that isn’t enough, McLaren then goes on to quote Elizabeth Gilbert ( author of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage.) ,  stating

Perhaps the most interesting observation in the book is that, historically speaking, a successful marriage has nothing to do with love. In the course of her research, Gilbert notices that, across cultures and history, the divorce rate spikes as soon as people start choosing their spouses for themselves.

Ok, this is a classic case/fallacy of assuming that correlation implies causation.  I suppose it didn’t occur to Gilbert that in nearly every culture where arranged marriages have been the norm, women are economically dependent on the men, divorce is often verboten, or at least highly discouraged, and where divorce does occur, the result is often the women being left without their children and any form of economic survival.  So arranged marriages last longer, probably due to economic dependence and cultural boundaries – not because it creates a more compatible union between two people … is duration of a marriage the sole definition of “successful”?

Ultimately, I think that McLaren’s message, which may have been better expressed as, “see your partner as a real person, and recognize that marriages take work, rather than expecting them to be some idealized representation of the perfect spouse”, was completely undermined by the garbage she used to prop up her claim.

My message this V-Day is this:  Screw worrying about whether or not you are “in a relationship” or whether your spouse/partner showers you with presents because of some Hallmark holiday. Focus on the fact that there are MANY kinds of relationships with friends and family and they ALL take work.  Enrich your life by cultivating good friends and good friendships;  make sure you put as much into your relationships as you are expecting to get out of them;  and you’ll never be lonely or bored.  More than half my friends are single (both men and women). We all hang out together. We go on vacations, and cottaging and to dinners and to movies together. We have our shared and individual interests. We have our misunderstandings and our resolutions.  We host birthday parties for each other, we care about each other.   Tonight, on Valentine’s Day, one of these dear friends (who is single)  is hosting an amazing Ukranian dinner for 28 people – single, married, and some with kids, where we will eat, and drink, socialize, share stories, and play PIT until the wee hours… and we will have a blast.  Now THAT’S the best way to spend an evening, regardless of whether or not it’s Valentine’s day.

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