I Can’t Figure Out How To Not Care

During first period today, one of the girls sprinted to the bathroom to throw up. A quartet of concerned friends gathered around her afterwards to whisper and comfort.

“She might be…” one of the friends told me, eyebrows raised meaningfully. “But it’s OK, miss! She’s married!”

Here is where I bit my lip not to scream, “NO, THAT MAKES IT MUCH WORSE.” The student, at 17, is married. And academically gifted. And her future is now a fucking waste — or, at the very least, difficult and limited — but none of these girls gets that. They think it’s romantic and sweet.

Then I went to lunch, where a 23-year-old teacher who is clueless was saying how she “wouldn’t mind” getting pregnant this year after her wedding, because “that’s what my mom did, and then she stayed home. Which I wouldn’t mind either.”

Look. It’s great to live the life you choose, if you’re privileged enough to choose it from an array of attractive options. But why are so many women willfully stupid about the consequences of their choices if something goes wrong or they change their minds about what they want?

Why is it not TERRIFYING to contemplate dropping out of the workforce in this economy? Why is it not A VERY SCARY THING to leave school or a career before you have any real skills; before you’re competent in your field; before you have a degree or tenure or any kind of work-related security? Why are women not understanding that economic dependence on a man LIMITS YOUR CHOICES in a very practical, day-to-day way? How can women see all the 30-year-old single mothers; the 40-year-old divorcees; the 60-year-old-widows scraping by and not think: That’s where I’m headed if I don’t take my own life seriously? 

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26 thoughts on “I Can’t Figure Out How To Not Care

  1. “That’s where I’m headed if I don’t take my own life seriously? ”

    Women are just never encouraged to take ourselves seriously at all – it’s too much like selfishness. A patriarchal system of values encourages nothing but full throttle masochism in women, and these womens’ self-defeating behavior is yet another example of that (as is the libfems’ unquestioning acceptance of MtT’s BS ideology).

    Any chance the girl (if she is indeed pregnant) will have an abortion?

  2. It took me a long time to figure it out, and luckily in the meantime I didn’t get pregnant by any of my lousy exes. Mostly because I am not much of a careerist and despise the whole rat race. Stay-at-home moms seemed to have found a golden ticket out of the bullshit. It takes quite a bit of maturity to really understand that nothing is free and the dependent mom’s happiness (if it exists at all) is precarious, unless she is married to a very good man.

  3. Also, WELL-SAID, ethicalequinox. Word. Thank you. Full-throttle masochism it is, and I guess we do know why. It’s just so hard to actually WATCH it happen, day in and day out, in real life.

  4. Such good points, so important to say these things. I wish more women could hear and understand the truth of it. I used to teach and too many of my former students abandoned their jobs and careers as soon as they got married and started having babies. They’re thinking they can easily go back if they need to, completely ignoring what’s really happening to women in the U.S. in this economy — we’re more likely to be laid off and less likely to be hired. And that’s women who haven’t dropped out by choice. Women’s choice to drop out has always been scrutinized closely and the potential that any given woman will spend time away from the workforce is one of the major excuses given for women not being paid as much as men in the same jobs. In a terrible economy, a major time gap in a resume is probably all anyone needs to justify not hiring that woman, or if they do, to pay her far less than they would pay a man with the same experience on the job. And that only gets worse as the woman gets older. I wish girls and women would consider all that instead of just believing in the fairy tales.

  5. What I see is that women are really quite ignorant of economic consequences. I’ve been working for well over 30 years to try to get women financially literature, and it’s been an uphill battle all the way. Also, the work place is hard, and a lot of women don’t realize that they’re in a war zone, and that men are an enemy. They are in a war, and don’t know it.
    Even in this day and age, there is no massive mainstream stuff out there supporting girls being smart in jobs and money. Their is the bubble headed world of hetero girls that always perplexed me as a lesbian. There are women who really live in fear if they are single without a man in the house. One woman said she owned a gun–“When I was single” as if this explained this.

    I don’t know what would get women to listen– I rail against going into low paid professions, getting a damnd English degree when engineering or hard sciences would increase earning chances. It seems like there is this big divide between kind of passive women just floating around out there, and the driven women who go into law or medicine.

    Then patriarchy does throw some indulgences to women, some marriages do work out, the kids grow up, and then the women really do lead lives of leisure that makes other women think being married to men is a cushy thing.

    And I often get the impression that het women are kind of spoiled and lazy, and don’t have the guts to duke it out, and get the pay raises or create the viable businesses. Business and money really make a lot of women uncomfortable. They’d rather marry a doctor!

    But the biggest mystery to me is why women or girls who are poor have kids? They can’t afford them. The biggest indicators of bankruptsy now are single mothers with kids. Elizabeth Warren wrote about this huge trend that had gone unnoticed for decades. I think when you come from poverty so much is against you…. so you take what you think is the romantic way out— find a guy have a kid… the brainwashing is so all pervasive.

    There is a reason women have lived in patriarchy for 5000 years. We need to face it and keep fighting on and educating and mentoring…. and not give up no matter what!!!

    Thanks so much for this post Phona, it’s so real, so grounded in daily life…. we need to not forget how much girls capitulate, the forces against them. Heck, I don’t know why a lot of lesbians I meet ever had sex with men to begin with. I never get that!!!!

  6. Exactly, Noanodyne. Women really, truly believe that it’s no big thing to spend a couple of years out of the workforce; or “until the last kid starts school.” They don’t bother to keep their contacts; they don’t think ahead; and then they wake up in a dependent situation in midlife — EXACTLY the time nobody wants to hire a woman unless — maybe — she’s a teacher, nurse, or clerical worker.

  7. Hi, Sheila 🙂 and thank you. If I had it to do over again, I’d skip the English degree. As much as I loved it, it wasn’t a smart choice. I’d have just read and written on my own instead.

  8. Yeah, men putting off grad school for a couple of years to raise the kids! Massive amounts of men taking time off to raise the kids. Are they doing this? Hell no, good point Phona on that.

    As for English, you can get the money making degree, and write on your own. The purpose of a job is simply to make money. Everything else is volunteer work. If women could really understand this one basic concept, it would change this economic reality in shocking ways, that and not doing housework for male workers, or “producing” male children.

  9. I think middle- to upper-class women buy into several fairy tales — the first is that your man will always be there to take care of you and your children, of course, but the second is that paid work should be what you LOVE to do in order to live a fully realized, joyful, and integrated life. If you don’t LOVE it, something is wrong, so better stay home and avoid the whole thing if you can, especially since society will give you lots of cookies for raising kids full-time (unless, of course, you’re single or nonwhite).

    Do men fall for this? No, they do not.

  10. Yeah, the whole “love” your work thing is something I ONLY hear women blather about. Work is just plain work. But go for work that pays well for Goddess sake, just do it. There should be some interest or ability, but I mean really, is low paid traditional women’s work all that alluring? What about computer science, finance, engineering, contracting etc.? Kindergarden teacher, day care center worker…. all low low low paid jobs, that just get women nowhere economically. But hey the slaves have to proclaim “we LOVE our low paid work.” And that creeps me out.

    I’m still meeting women who drop out of college (not for financial reasons) they goof around for decades, then end up barely getting by as a Starbucks barrista… they have dreams of opening up some little coffee shop… they have no idea how a business runs, no capital, and then they go and do some fundraising for some organization giving all their time and energy to something else that doesn’t pay. I’m not kidding, women do this.

    Work is about making money. If you want to LOVE something, volunteer work of all kinds is available BUT YOU GET NO MONEY FOR IT. Real money is in certain fields, then men just sucker women into doing the shit work of the world. And women just keep flocking to english, psychology, sociology, gender blender studies… anything but hard science, advanced math, business heck no, let’s take some more english classes so that we can qualify for more poorly paid jobs involving…. you guessed it CHILDREN! Yikes, it’s enough to make me scream, and this after 30 years of watching whole new generations of women fall right into those low wage jobs over and over again. “Loving” a job. It’s like women who say they “love” their car….. You can do jobs competantly, be paid extremely well, and do so much more in life. You can scrape by on peanuts, doing the dog work of the industrialized world… hey, I’ve got to run to my sociology 101 class that will qualify me for what?

    Somebody has got to scream about this. Good news is that I do meet a lot of women in law, and some doctors, and a few business owners…. practical, get the job done, it works.
    Don’t get me started on the next women with dreams of opening a bed and breakfast!!!

  11. I enjoy my work and it’s important, so I think something is wrong-er with American society than it is with me when it comes to the fact that I don’t make more money. Education isn’t valued highly, but that doesn’t make it of little value.

  12. I was hoping you would have something to say about that ^, Phona. SheilaG has several good thoughts/points, but the charge against the profession of education was, in my opinion, poorly thought out.

    SheilaG – I’ve read your responses to most (all?) of Phona’s other posts, and I highly respect your input on her words, so I’m NOT attacking you, as a person. Please understand this.

    I realize that this medium, and my comments herein open ME up to reproach as well. My hope is that my words are not seen as an attack, necessary of defense, but rather (if anything) as an open for more respectful discussion. THAT is my only intent.

    SheilaG?

  13. I was just talking about the need for women to be fully aware of economics… it might have veered off topic… since the original article was about how hard it is to wake up high school girls, or the shock of a 17 year old girl who is married with a kid, and all that implies.

    I’m always trying to wake up women about the nature of what gets paid, what gets underpaid, and how women are exploited in jobs that women are trained from birth to go into: nursing, teaching etc. you know the drill.

    What I want is for women to “follow the money” to know this, to be aware of it, and to know what is possible and what might lead to poverty, or hardship, in the same way we would try to get girls to listen about having babies… or to avoid unprotected sex, for example.

    I believe women still are mystified about work— pay—long term perspectives. A lot of this is hetero indoctrination, which all lesbians have been subjected to as girls as well. This means girls are indoctrinated into the “male will feed and clothe you” you don’t need to worry, marry prince charming etc…. this makes it very hard for women from a very young age to think — “What is really going to pay me well, and what might I do to get that training?” Or to even entertain the idea that the purpose of work is to make money. It is not about self expression at all. It about economics, and women becoming free of male control within the home. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t have anything against teaching or english… I do a lot of teaching myself, but I do know it’s dangerous for women to stay in those fields, when there is hard science, computer science, engineering etc. Women “end up” often in teaching because it is so “female conditioned” as a profession. Just like it is so female conditioned to marry men and have kids…. it’s why it takes a very long time for women to even consider themselves lesbians sometimes because of this conditioning.

    So that’s it. I mean no disrespect, but I am hard headed about women getting real real real 🙂

  14. To answer the question: “why isn’t it terrifying for women to consider dropping out of the paid work force in this economy?” A paraphrase of one of your questions Phona. I’ve often wondered this myself, because I’ve always had an inner terror of men owning me. I’ve always had an inner terror of being poor, or having kids, or being sexually owned by males.

    And I thought seriously about this even as a 7 or 8 year old child, as I looke at the Want Ads in the newspaper— help wanted male ($$$$) help wanted female ($ and a few pennies). I recall looking at those ads and thinking — “I want the $$$$ jobs, the good ones” I remember looking at the “female jobs” boring, boring, waitress, secretary, receptionist…. “male jobs”– astronaught, banker, lawyer, doctor, engineer, welder, carpenter etc….

    I recall my obsession with the need to save save save and to learn to invest invest invest, to work overtime, to save save and save. To be horrified at having kids, the boredom of listening to het women go on and on and on about their kids, when I wanted to travel the world, and learn interesting trades, and invest that cash, and get property, and have power over my days, and not get stuck in 9 to 5 Walmart hell.

    It was my child baby dyke self, so driven, so horrified at hetero women, the slavery, the boredom (again, just my childhood self here).

    I couldn’t figure out why the girls didn’t want to learn how to fix a car, or change the oil or take welding or advanced math. I couldn’t figure out why smart girls would dumb down around boys, and go on dates, and become cheerleaders. But that was a very focused baby butch self that hated feminine conditioning, and hated boys and hated motherhood…. hated slavery that females were stuck in. So I was horrified from a very young age at the slavery of girls and women, the tyranny of boys and men, and the work place that kept women out of all the high paying jobs!!!

    It is a mystery that even today, when help wanted male or female has long be outlawed, that girls are still getting pregnant at age 17. I’ll never get heteroness.

  15. If you take your life seriously as a woman you are a ball-busting bitch who’s taking a job away from a man you’re simultaneously emasculating, and destroying civilisation by your failure to play Nuclear Family woman.

    Wow, when I put it like that, getting serious sounds like a lot of fun!

  16. I’d like to get in on planning retirement communities on women’s land for all of us who came to these realizations late (or early, but for whatever reason didn’t make a ton of money). I think that most women are going to have to rethink their elder years, and very few of us will be able to do well alone.

  17. Damn, that’s tragic if she really has no way out of the situation. (And it’s beginning to look like even middle-of-the-road American culture will no longer tolerate abortion, either.)

    The only way this whole patriarchal mess of a world can continue is to make certain that women are kept under the delusion that all of this was all their own idea in the first place, i.e. we want to be the ever self-abnegating mother, the constantly pleasing and available sexual entertainment provider. And women have to be masochists in order to convince themselves of that. It’s a self-perpetuating and Self-destructing nightmare.

  18. I think it is essential for groups of older women to plan land collectives, or create shared resources, because getting together 10-15 women to share assets, set up collective space etc. will be much more powerful than living on our own. No matter what your economic situations, I hope I will be able to live simply with a group of lesbians when I’m older… something we create for ourselves. The problem with hetero women is they invest a lot of resources into male controled nuclear families, and at least older lesbians I know got out of that loop early enough.

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