Women and Agency in Opposite Sex Pairings

screaming mikiOne interesting thing that came up near the end of the “Women of Marvel” panel was the observation (made by the only man on the panel, as it so happens, and yes he was white) that female characters, upon entering a romantic involvement with a male character, tend to lose all of their personal agency and become an adjunct to this man.

Well, I think in this situation, it’s sadly a case of art imitating life. Social norms dictate that a woman, once involved with a man, is communicated to through this man instead of directly. Male-female coupling often leads to a lessening of personhood for women. That puts women in a situation where we feel we have to choose between romance and independence.

I feel sorry for a lot of men – especially ones who aren’t so bright who wind up involved with a very ambitious or driven woman. A lot of the reasons I broke up with Greg had directly to do with his male chums playing into his male ego and the idea that as a man, he was not only entitled to, but honor bound to speak for me.

Well, I’ve got 18 years and about 60 IQ points on the dude, I didn’t want him speaking for me. I didn’t want my choices to be determined by a man who – not only I – but everyone else – knew was much worse at decision making than I am.

Now lot of people are telling me that I need a smarter man to make decisions for me. And I keep saying, “No. What I need is to make my own choices. I love men, don’t get me wrong – I just don’t want them making choices for me. Is that OK?”

dads tombstoneNow that I am single, I notice that people are constantly trying to suss out whether or not I may be involved with some man who has the power to tell me what the fuck to do. People are all like, “Oh… maybe she likes him. Maybe we can get him to put her in her place.”

Not sure where my place is, by the way. But wherever it is, it’s probably under some guys, who are protecting me from other guys (in their minds) because you know, the big bad boogieman other dude is the reason you need to control women. For our own protection. From other men who might be trying to “use us” for our bodies, or our money, or whatever things that are ours that you need to control for us because we can’t be allowed to control our own bodies, or our own money.

Historically, women who were no longer under the control of men – mostly childless widows, or widows without male heirs to take control of their estates – were considered so powerful and dangerous that witch hunts were used to divest them of their property.

Nowadays we just prematurely age women – men my age literally run the world, but you want to tell middle aged women we are in our dotage. Seriously? Tell it to Obama, he’s considered extremely freaking young for a president. Tell it to Donald Trump.

The average lifespan for women is 86 now. That means the middle of your life is 43. People in their 40s are only half way through their lives. If you are a man, that means you are coming into your own.A woman in her 40s can come into her own, too, but not without a fight.

mikinronnieI admire and respect women who are successfully able to conduct relationships with men without losing their personal identity or sight of their own ambitions. It’s a little late in life but, I suppose it is time for me to admit that I have ambitions and dreams of my own. I want to be more than someone’s wife, someone’s daughter, or someone’s fiancee.

None of this is easy for a very romantic person. It’s not easy for a girl who is prone to smiling and laughing in the rain for no reason. I’m so used to sucking up the smallest drop of a man’s love like a flower trying to grow in the desert. I am used to allowing the need for that love to interfere with everything that means anything to me. I’m just a girl who misses her daddy sometimes.

Before my dad died, he told Greg he was glad he was there to take care of me. The last words my dad said to Greg were, “Get off the couch. Miki has to drive.” Greg was passed out. My dad wasn’t perfect, but he loved me. My dad knew how I was – an emotional chick who always liked to have someone there to hold my hand. It’s like the premium for hand holding got too high. I was going to have to pay through the roof for hand holding.

I still want someone to hold my hand. I just want to be treated as an equal – not inferior because I’m human and I need some affection. Is that really too much to ask for?

One good thing about dating is, you can send these guys back to their homes afterward and they don’t stick around trying to run your life. So if you see me out and about with a man and we’re doing our thing and having a good old time, do him a solid: don’t start trying to determine what his relationship to me is, and whether or not you can use him to control me. If I start feeling like a dude is being used to put me in my place, I am going to run away from him screaming, like he’s made out of chains and trying to trap me somehow. I just need me right now.

I hope that’s okay.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on October 3, 2015.

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