Monday, June 27, 2011

Hypergamy is a dumb idea

This rant was written, and scheduled to be posted, some months ago, but something went wrong with the blogger posting system.  There are more (and more coherent) reasons why believing in hypergamy is silly, but this only touches the surface.

As many of my friends know, I take great delight in reading a number of men's rights and pick up blogs, because I apparently like to be angry.  I've been told it's a trait common in those who went to law school, but it certainly isn't one JD shares.  I started reading men's right's blogs because of my interest in father's/custody rights, paternity leave, and social ramifications of being a stay at home dad, but I quickly discovered that the bulk of the MRM focus is on... hating women, especially feminists.  Which makes me sad, because I honestly would like to support men's rights in a number of areas, but the people I find as the most numerous and most visible members are all pretty horrible.  But!  End of digression!

One of the concepts the blogs like to talk about is hypergamy.  I had never heard of the concept of hypergamy before reading MRA blogs, most likely because it's an utterly ridiculous false concept.  I have no doubt that in some times, and in some cultures, hypergamy was evident, but to say it's how things work in modern US culture is simply ridiculous.  Hypergamy is the idea that women are always looking to marry "up"-- and in MRA blogs, it's extended to the idea that hypergamy is responsible for most divorce, and that most women will leave a marriage if they think they can get a wealthier partner.  It seems, in most of the areas I've found it, to concentrate exclusively on money and power.

I fell like the hypergamy concept comes at least partly from a certain sense of entitlement some men have towards women and women's bodies.  Not all men, of course, and not even most men-- most men seem to be like most women, decent enough.  But enough to be a small, loud group on the internet.  The idea that a woman would ever dare end a relationship seems evil to them, while at the same time many of them advocate avoiding relationships with women so they can keep dating younger and younger women.   I... see a bit of a disconnect there.  And an utter incompatibility of ideas.

At any rate, it makes sense for people to be upset when they get broken up with for stupid or unapparent reasons.  And, it makes sense for someone to decide that the reason couldn't possibly be their own personality, but that the breakuper found someone younger/smarter/hotter/richer/morefamous than them.  So, it makes total sense for guys who are jerks or negative to women to believe that it wasn't their OWN flaws that caused the breakup, but rather, that she found someone with more money.

Because clearly, money is the only thing we women-- who are all evil harpies-- care about.

Thing is, I don't think hypergamy exists.  At least, it certainly doesn't they way think it does.  Do some people "marry up"?  Sure.  And some of those people are women.  But plenty of other women also marry down.  In my own, admittedly anecdotal experience, women tend to go for men who are at similar levels of everything-- intelligence, religion, money, attractiveness, education level, social skills-- all of it.  Sure, some elements will be higher, some will be lower, but people tend to go for those who are most similar to them.  I'm sure hypergamy was more common when women were married off as bargaining chips to create economic alliances, but in a time when people get to pick their own marriages, most women who aren't Playboy Bunnies end up marrying people they're compatible with.  Especially since women these days can actually get jobs and support themselves, and in plenty of careers even support their whole family as well as a man can.  Househusbands aren't on the rise due to the recession alone, afterall.

Look, there are always going to be a few women who go after the richest or hottest man they can, and a few men who go after the hottest or richest woman they can.  But most people these days seem to be looking for a good partner, someone compatible, someone with like goals and like minds.  The rise in the divorce rate isn't something that thrills me, but it's not necessarily a bad thing-- people these days are able to leave marriages that don't work, rather than just get partners on the side.  No fault divorce means people are able to leave when they're abused without having to go through the mentally harrowing process of proving it in a court of law, and are able to get out earlier, with less risk of danger.

When it comes to relationships, your average person isn't as mercenary as the hypergamy theory suggests.  And if you want to make sure you're finding someone who isn't going the hypergamy route?  Try looking at feminists-- although, if you're a fan of the hypergamy idea, they may not want to look at you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weight loss and self image

I debated whether or not to write about this, because I try not to write too much about myself, personally.  But... this isn't really compromising the privacy for my friends or JD or even too much of my deep inner feelings.  I was also hesitant to write about it because I know a LOT of people have weird relationships with weight, and I don't want to upset anyone who reads this blog, (which is like three people on a consistent basis, but whatever) and I'm a little ashamed of how I'm reacting to this, to be honest.  But hey.  I like to be honest, and this is a really commonly discussed topic in lady issue circles.

So... I've lost weight, since my wedding and moving.  Not a lot, but enough that my average weight range is now lower than the lowest end of my weight range has been for at least six years.  About ever other morning now, my weight ends up below 1X0 instead of above 1X0, and at the time of my wedding, it was averaging at about 1X7.  (Oh, and the reason for the Xs?  My actual weight isn't relevant to this post.  Insert whatever number for X that you want, I really don't care.)  I generally consider myself to be a person who is pretty accepting of all sizes, and pretty size-positive.  I'm not an outright fat activist, but I really do believe that health and appearance are often not related, and that if someone is fat, it's their own business and says nothing about their personality or even life habits.  Like most people, I know skinny people who eat shit and drink all the time, and heavier people who work out and eat healthy.

The thing that is weird here, is that the second morning in a row that the scale was under 1X0, (because the first morning it was I dismissed it as a total fluke) I got really, really happy.  And then really upset with myself for being happy.  Because my weight doesn't matter, and I'm pretty happy with the way I look, and the way I have looked the last few years.  Hell, before my wedding, I actually knew I couldn't lose weight, or my dress wouldn't fit.  But now, I'm just dropping weight, and I'm not trying.  The main thing is that I'm drinking less, because I'm studying for the bar instead of being depressed that I don't have a job.  I'm also possibly eating healthier, because summer means MOAR DELICIOUS FRUIT, and I really like fruit but really hate apples.  Seriously, they are the WORST.

I'm also drinking more tea and fidgeting a lot.  Because man, barbri is essential, but it is BORING so I drink my tea and I basically dance in my chair the days we do lectures at home, and hope no one notices that my legs are flailing around the days we do lectures in class.  But like... I don't get it.  I still eat peppermint mochas and danishes for breakfast whenever I am slow moving in the morning, and I still am a fairly lazy non exercising person, since I don't have a gym membership and our pool is um, not really meant for swimming in and also always full of people getting drunk.

And yet, my happy-with-myself self is... happy that I'm losing weight, even though there are really no physical signs of this.  I grew up being sort of terrified of getting fat, since my mom is heavier and was pretty vocal about her disappointment with her body, and that led to some internalization of body-fear.  Mix that with the fact that I'm about half a foot taller than most of my friends were growing up and that my shoulders and hips are wide, I always felt ridiculously huge and disproportional, even though as an adult I realize the only thing really disproportional about me is my ridiculously long waist.  Which means next to no shirts actually meet the waistline of my jeans.  Thanks, body!  Anyway, I remember trying on my mom's wedding dress when I was 14 or 16, and it wouldn't zip up past the start of my ribcage.  (given that it is over 40 years old though, I don't think I would have wanted to wear it anyway NO OFFENSE MOM) It all fed into a really self conscious and uncomfortable me back when I was a teen and just starting college.  I am also a lazy person who enjoys cheese, booze, and sweets, so um, yeah.  But as I became an adult and realized my body had settled into a shape I actually liked, I stopped worrying, and I stopped caring as much, and other than weighing myself about once a week, I really didn't care.

And now I'm weighing myself every day marveling at this, and thinking that I'm only 3 pounds away from the weight I was when I graduated highschool now, and wondering what is WRONG WITH ME THAT I EVEN CARE.  Part of me is all "Yes, losing weight!!!" and the other part of me is all "NO I want to keep my boobs and hips and butt!" and the dominant part of me is all "SHUT UP OR I WILL THROW OUT THE SCALE".

Losing weight is not automatically going to make me healthier, not if the most exercise I get is fidgeting.  And while I do eat a LOT more fruit than I had been doing in Boston, I feel like I am actually eating more food here, not less.  So what is going on?  I don't understand my own metabolism, and I don't completely understand my reaction to it, and I feel a little bit like a science project, and the part of me that wants pretty new dresses is all "yessss, keep losing weight, get us new sundresses yesssssss" while the part of me that likes budgeting is telling me that I spent too much on nailpolish and peppermint mochas (WHICH ARE A LEGITIMATE STUDY AID AND THEREFORE EXCUSEABLE), and now I'm thinking that my sad materialistic/capitalist side and my sad appearance conscious side are trying to band together against the normal me who hangs out in jeans and a different color of the same tank top every day, with a ripped ugly grey hooded shirt on top, no makeup, and air-dried hair.

Whatever.  I'm still going to keep my new nightly habit of drinking 1/3 of a mug of warmed heavy whipping cream while reading before bed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Internet Is My Generation's Consciousness Raising Group.

Consciousness raising groups were a big deal in feminism back before I was born, but I had never heard of one until my feminist jurisprudence course in law school.  When I first read about them, I couldn't really see a purpose for them in the modern era, but after discussing them in class, I really wanted to take part in one-- I can see something of value in discussing our problems, successes, and concerns with other women, including women who aren't our friends, and in seeing similarities in many different ways of living.  It's a connection to the "personal is political" world of thought, which, while still an important part of feminism, is less focused on now that feminists tend to make more choices that would be questionable to the feminists of yore-- things like dressing to appeal to the male gaze of a partner, or the resurgence in interest in being a stay at home parent, and a focus on cooking and crafting.  Some women  are re-embracing some stereotypically feminine things that were once does as a necessity and getting joy out of it, which understandably might feel a little like a slap to women who fought for their right to not do those things.

But end digression.

My class attempted to form a concsiousness raising group... but we were all too busy to make it work.  Which is something of a terrible excuse, since most of us were on the law school campus at some time during most days of the week anyway, but still.  We couldn't get more than three or four of us together at a time, and without having some consistency to things, it felt difficult-- to me, anyway-- to open up about concerns and worries.

And so, I envied women who had been able to be a part of a consciousness-raising experience, and then I thought about what my generation is doing instead and I realized... plenty of us ARE involved in some sort of consciousness-raising group, except we don't call them that, and we don't meet with others in person.  Instead, women of my generation seem to be turning to the internet, to anonymous message boards like reddit's Two X Chromosomes community, or fandom livejournal and tumblr communities, or comment sections on popular blog sites, like Shakesville, feministing, and feministe... and back in the day, before the changed their comment system and alienated a lot of their user base, Jezebel.

I see, in these places, women discussing all the issues of their lives and getting feedback from other women.  And finding out that some personal things are more common than one might think.  Just look at these places-- people talk about their work experiences, their relationships with family and partners, the ways others interact with them in public, and how it changes when they dress differently.  Just... all sorts of things.  Whatever you have a question about, you can find someone to talk with, without even having to reveal who you are.  I mean, you find a lot of posts comparing the best kind of menstrual cup, or asking where to buy affordable, professional work clothing so that you don't have to drop mad cash or show your boobs, but still.  Serious issues get discussed, and people connect, and get more insight into their own lives when they reflect on them and reflect on the lives of others.  So while I still think that real, in person consciousness raising groups do have a lot of value, I see a lot of value in the internet's ability to educate, enlighten, and just get us talking to people who want to talk about the same things.