..but smiling is just what you do, if you’re a woman, and a feminist, and you have to field questions like these. You don’t challenge the premises. You don’t tell them to fuck off. You let them test you to see if you’re an angry feminist, and you pass the test by letting them insult you to your face and not getting angry. Because after everything you’ve done, everything you’ve fought for, that’s still what most men want to know. They want to know they can insult you and get away with it. They won’t work with you if they can’t.
From Sady Doyle’s “Progressive“.
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A theme of this book is accommodation of self to a relationship and the fear of losing too much of yourself in it, even while you recognise the gains. ‘Your gut says you can trust this man, you’re in the right place, you can make a new life here, but you are no longer sure where you begin or end.’
I hope I’m not alone in this – that when you enter into a new relationship, you kind of lose something of yourself. And perhaps that’s something that happens as you get older more, because you are more yourself. I think you approach a second relationship, at least I did, completely differently. You’re far more pragmatic. As I said at the outset, I really wish I could sum myself up as neatly as that sentence that Jim sent me. But somehow he seems to know himself much better in this relationship than I do.
One of the things I think you write beautifully about is making yourself vulnerable in a relationship and how hard that is, and the aftermath of grief and how that affects you. You say ‘You often hear that grief makes you stronger. I don’t agree, or not for me. I’m weaker, more aware of my fragility, more guarded about life.’ It’s another example of where you turn a truism on its head and take us inside your experience.
It’s at the heart of the book – that sense of exposing yourself. And that moment in the book where I realise – obviously, I’m constructing this for a reading audience – that I haven’t really dealt with things. What has happened in the past is affecting my present. I guess that realisation that we’re not as whole sometimes as we allow ourselves to think we are, it made me feel a lot more vulnerable. Can I do this? Can I keep doing this?
Some of the best things ever said about re-partnering from Maggie Mackellar and Jo Case in The Wheeler Centre. (Two great writers who are also now friends of mine).
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He reminds me he’s willing to help in any way that he can.
This is supposed to be comforting but actually it feels like a reminder. Memo to me: don’t lose your car again, don’t be a single mother, don’t work so far away in the city. To Do List: remember to thank people for their help, feel less trapped, regain independence.
He groans in irritation.
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File it under men who think it is no big deal that you did their washing for them. When actually, you want to say. You don’t live with a man and haven’t for a couple of years now and you work, parent, run a house by yourself and so, doing someone’s washing is a very big deal.
File it under men who cook for you. Under men who learn vegetarian recipes. Under men who have never dated vegetarians before. Under men who have exclusively dated vegetarians.
File it under men who love to eat pussy and think they’re the only one.
File it under men who sulk when you’re the one turning yourself inside out to see them.
File it under men who text you to tell you they’re calling you – they don’t ask, they tell you – even though you left them ages ago. Under other men who motion you over to your own fence by saying “come here, you’re not in trouble”.
(Note: not written about current events in my life).
Posted in feminism, re-partnering, separation, sex of the icky parental kind, single parenthood, Uncategorized, vegetarians are not fun | 1 Comment »