Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Scrubbing the surfaces

Strange as it may seem, the semester appears to be over. Graded, read over evaluations (seems I'm a better teacher than I was when I'd never taught before - whodathunkit? ), ran ten thousand errands on and around campus, and attended my department's holiday festivities. I'm on fellowship for this coming semester, so no more commute, no more NJ Transit blogging. I turned in my office key and everything. My husband no longer needs to drive me to the train station every morning. The perma-exhaustion might be over, although so very very much work (what dissertation?) remains.

To celebrate, or make sense of, my newfound non-commute, I did what everyone who works from home does, which is furiously cleaned the apartment. Well, work-in-progress, but the kitchen's looking impressive. While scrubbing surfaces, I listened to the DoubleX Gabfest, Slate's women's show - this combination probably means whichever feminist credentials I gained last week are back to whichever probationary status.

Anyway, the Slate crew appear to think - contrary to recent complaints from feminists - that it's delightful that men still, in this day and age, propose marriage to women, always and without exception. Or, with exception, but when it's a woman who kneels down, we're apparently right in assuming that she's more into him than he is into her, and as we all know, relationships work better when it's the other way around. (Can't interest ever be, like, equal? Equal-ish? Isn't it usually?) Name-change isn't cool, because if you change your name you demolish your identity (yet somehow my professors and blog-readers, not to mention friends and relatives, continue to know who I am), nor are engagement rings (so bourgeois), but let's preserve the male proposal, because that's just how it must be for all eternity.

Actually, this arrangement strikes me as consistent. If we're to believe that heterosexual romance thrives on the framework that he's more into her than vice versa, it makes sense that the woman would not change her name, or proudly march around with a bauble from her dude. She can give or take marriage and commitment, because she's not at all clingy, she can give or take him, she's an adventurous, exciting woman of the world, and aw shucks this goddess deigned to give a mere mortal like Mr. Schlub here 5% of her attention. But then it's not really feminism making the woman more independent, and it's not even a genuine independence, so much as an elaborate performance of playing hard to get.

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