Interesting set of revelations tonight... stuff that I’d known for a while suddenly came together just now in a 'conversation' with mi madre. Why feminists are right:
I look around, suddenly noticing that my mother has disappeared. 'Hmm', I think. 'She didn't even say anything.'
I look around the house. Finally, I go downstairs and find her in the room.
"Ah, there you are," I exclaim. "I wondered what happened to you."
"If I'm going to be alone, I might as well be alone by myself."
She says this in a very sob-laden voice, and I begin to roll my eyes, thinking that she's referring to me listening to music on my headphones while she sits around. But then, I realize that something much deeper is going on while she recounts all the times that my father has come home late from school, work, carshows, etc. without so much as considering her. Of course, through all this, there is a silent indictment of me and my own philosophy towards home life: stay away from home as much as possible so work can be accomplished.
"Whatever happened to me? My whole life I've simply been waiting for him. Waiting to come home for dinner, waiting, waiting. The whole world revolves around him."
I listen to this all, thinking that it is very plain that since my father is a political conservative and my mother has silently aqcuiessed to standard definitions of "femininity" her entire life, that she should expect this kind of treatment, but I don't say so, obviously.
"Men," she says, disparagingly. "The whole world revolves around them, I suppose."
I kind of laugh to myself, but only at the cliche, not the greivance. "Well?" Suddenly she's very agressive towards me. "What should I do? Continue begging?"
"I can't say a damn thing, mom. I live in a completely different social setting than you do."
(Ensuing complaint about how I'm never home deleted)
"No, that's not what I mean. I mean that I live in a world with completely different male-female relationships than the one you got married in."
I think, but somehow don't say this: "If I were to simply ignore the desires and ambitions of my girlfriend I wouldn't have a girlfriend."
I don't say it because I don't want my mother, still grappling with the ghosts of her dead parents and a dying society, having still further problems with herself after I tell her that most women today don't go along with that kind of bullshit. I don't want any lame-o psychological crap filtering through to her, like "if I were a strong woman I'd say no, but I'm weak" etc. etc. In short, she lives in a fantasy world; she's sleepwalking; and it's best not to wake a sleepwalker, you know what I mean? Let the dead bury the dead.
I understand her plight, and I'm glad most women don't allow themselves to get into this kind of a situation any longer. In fact, Torrey's mom divorced Torrey's father simply because she saw that he wanted her to wait on him her entire life. (Torrey is my girlfriend.) Obviously, the list of reasons is more complicated than that, but what it boils down to is that Gail (Torrey's mom) wouldn't have had a life of her own, much the same way that my mother has no life of her own. Three cheers for Gail, sober consideration and respect for my mother.
However, let me tell you why my father doesn't like to stay home.
In the 1950's, it was not okay to "do it" with a girl before you got married. He married a frigid woman, and didn't know it until the honeymoon. He must have had initial misgivings, but set them aside until too late.
My mother has never responded sexually to him, or anyone else, I imagine. I exist because she was willing to let my father do his thing in bed, but she was not that interested in the act.
As a result, my father became a very frustrated individual very quickly. I tend to feel that men find expression of their love more readily in sexuality (though I may easily be quite dead wrong) and when the woman my father loved didn't respond at all to his thrusting, he must have felt a little frustrated and unloved. Of course, I don't imagine he was able to voice these feelings in quite this way.
From this inauspicious beginning they created a family. It is 32 years later. Let's take census.
My father married a woman incapable of sexual love. As my father is a very sexual individual (this is quite true) he became more than annoyed at my mother's inability to share his joy. My mother becomes little more than an annoying woman who cooks dinner for him and listens to him. Since she comes from a Catholic family, she has been trained to shut her mouth and listen to men. Years later she will contribute, but she feels rather guilty about the whole thing.
(This last revelation came up in a conversation earlier today, in which I found that I, an atheist, know more about Catholic theology in greater detail than she, a Catholic, could possibly know. How is this? Never looked into her beliefs. I looked into them, found that they were perfectly self-consistent, but unfortunately, absurd.)
What kind of man wants to stay home with a nagging, yelling woman who doesn't know that "sex" isn't a dirty word anymore, and hasn't been for twenty-five years?
I don't mean to idolize my father and turn my mother into the stereotypical frump, but the patterns are definitely there, and there's no sense in denying them.
Again, the feminists are right. Women are entitled to their own lives. My mother is living proof that this ought to be an accepted truism.