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To the "23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged" blogger, and to many of the married bloggers who responded to her:

I think you are all looking at this the wrong way.

I'm gonna guess, by the tone of the original blogger's post, that she's kind of bitter about being single: she writes, "[when seeing Facebook updates about getting married] instantly, these waves of anxiety start to flow over me. Should I be thinking about marriage? I've never even had a serious boy friend? Is there something wrong with me? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME AND WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT IT FOR ALL THESE YEARS!?" So it looks like she's seen a lot of her friends get married and she's a little jealous. Girl, I feel that so hard. So in an attempt to cheer herself up, she wrote this list - with a fair amount of vitriol thrown in. If we give her the benefit of the doubt, she's really just trying to make herself feel better with the mean "at least I'm not fat and pregnant" comments. Because she does want to get married – she makes that clear herself. But a lot of people took what she wrote at face value (as you do – it's the internet, she's a stranger, we assume she meant exactly what she wrote) and got really, really angry. And wrote equally judgmental posts back about how wonderful it is to get married and how they're NOT BORING and they are doing stuff with their best friend. They sound pretty defensive too. The accusation they feel is being leveled at them is that their interesting single life is now over – they're missing out.

Ai yi yi. Do you not see how this whole argument exists because of internalized sexism? The original blogger, with her bitterness about getting married, for starters. My god, this was me just over a year ago. I wanted a wedding. I wanted happily ever after. I wanted it, in part, because I felt that as a woman I was not a complete person without male approval. I pursued happily ever after in one relationship after another, and every time I was disappointed. Marriage was the ultimate proof of male approval – it was proof against abandonment, in my mind. Women are taught this all the time, in everything from Disney movies to their mothers' comments to the societal stigma against single older women. Women who don't attain a man's approval, the highest form of which is marriage, are failures. This is so prevalent we don't even notice or question it. So when a girl like this blogger feels a little bitter, a little bit like a failure for not finding someone to love her, she maybe comforts herself by writing a meanspirited little blog on why she's actually better than those women who got what she actually wanted, because she's had more experiences than them anyway. It's like the little kid who didn't get the cookie he wanted throwing a temper tantrum and then eventually sulkily announcing, "I didn't want that cookie anyway!" But we all know he did.


And on the other side of the coin, we have the defensive young wives announcing angrily that NO THEIR LIVES ARE NOT BORING. The fact that they feel they have to defend themselves against that accusation, to me, again reflects internalized sexism. We teach our women, consciously or otherwise, that when you get married you give up all opportunities for fun. Women have to clean and cook, after all – they have to put their husbands' needs first. No traveling anymore – it's all adult responsibility. And before you tell me that's a dated gender stereotype and that's not really an expectation, look at the statistics: women still do the majority of household duties, even while they're often working full-time. Women are taught that when they get married, their lives are no longer about themselves. They're about serving others: husbands, children. Whether or not married women themselves believe this, I think the culture at large does, leading to the stereotype that married women's lives are boring.

Look at this statement clearly, in the light of day. This is what we are all arguing about. Women are not innately valuable without male approval. The ultimate goal for a woman is to get married, attaining male approval but sacrificing any individual dreams for the sake of their families.

What the FUCK? That's not even a true statement!

Women are innately valuable WITH OR WITHOUT male approval. Or ANYONE'S approval. The ultimate goal for a woman is WHATEVER SHE WANTS TO DO.


Single women AND married women are valuable. They can both lead interesting lives. There is not a "right" time to get married for all women – it's going to be different for different people.

I am 24. I just got engaged. I've been to Thailand and Britain, and those were exciting. I also taught myself how to can and garden, and that was exciting. I've traveled alone and I've traveled with my fiancé, and I've traveled with my mom and with friends, and all of the traveling I've done was exciting. I had to learn to let go of my desperate need for a man to love me, though. Because it was making me miserable, and because that was a waste of my life! And then, after I let go of that need, I ended up finding someone who did love me, and that was wonderful! But I didn't need it. I had plans before I met him to lead an interesting life, and I have different plans now that we are together, but they are BOTH interesting.


I have a friend who's 21, and she's got two kids and one on the way. Her boyfriend is a great dad and has stuck around through all of it, and they're going to get married someday but they haven't yet. She's not less valuable for the lack of a ceremony and a ring. And her life isn't boring, even though she's got a family. She gets to watch her children learn to walk and talk, and she gets to experience life through their excitement over the newness of the world.

I have a friend who's 24, and she's been married for two years. They don't have any kids. Before they were married they traveled a lot, individually and separately. She's not "fat and pregnant." They've had a lot of adventures.


I have a friend who's 29, and her fiancé, who she was with for 5 years, cheated on her last year. She's spent this year realizing that she's valuable without his approval. She's going back to school for something she's passionate about. She's traveled around the country seeing all her friends. She's had an exciting but difficult year.

I have a friend who's 26, and she's been single for 5 or 6 years. She's embraced that and gone for her dreams with a will. She went to grad school, she met a lot of friends, she traveled with them every weekend. She presented at a conference. She is now applying to Teach for America.


You do not need male approval to be worth something. But if you have found someone to love – male OR female – that's awesome. You do not need to live a boring life whether you are single or married. Anyone can lead an exciting life. It's more about attitude than circumstances.

Reject the lies. Reject internalized sexism. And for heaven's sake, stop fighting with other women about the "right" way to live your life! The strongest defense we have against sexism is EACH OTHER. But we need to be each other's allies for that to work.

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