AskMiriam

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Archive for the tag “feminism”

On Not Caring What Others Think

Ben is now with me in Vancouver and we’re quite happy about that. It’s nice for us to get to be domestic together again. Aside from that, I’ve unfortunately had to deal with some family nonsense. Last weekend, Ben and I went to visit my grandmother, who has moved to BC from Quebec. She moved to the same city as 2 other family members of mine, whose identity I will keep secret. Until recently, she was living with them and that was difficult at times because one of them can be a rather taciturn individual. I will call that individual R and use the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ in order to keep the gender a secret. R discovered my blog about 8 months ago and sent me a very disgruntled email. I had written about my interest in doing a PhD in order to study polyamory more in-depth. R wrote to me saying that I might as well do a PhD in being a couch potato because that would make just as much sense. R also wrote that I was disgracing the family because I use my name on the blog – forget the fact that I don’t use our last name, so people who don’t know me personally can’t trace my family through my blog. I sent R a rather diplomatic email back, but never heard back. I don’t really care what R thinks because we’re not close, but I was concerned because my grandmother was living with R and R definitely shared how they felt with my grandmother. When I visited my grandmother 2 years ago, I had tried to explain poly to her, but she didn’t really get it. After the nonsense with R, I was very happily surprised when my sister actually stood up for me and explained to my grandmother that I wasn’t cheating on Ben. When Ben and I actually saw my grandmother last weekend, she said she doesn’t care about how I live my life; she’ll always love me. Before going to see her, I sent a cordial email to R saying that Ben and I would be visiting that city and I asked R if they would like to meet Ben. R wrote back saying, not interested. I’m disappointed that R doesn’t really want to be involved in my life, but ultimately, it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is the fact that another family member of mine isn’t talking to me and I’m close to them. I will call that family member S and use the pronouns they and them. S is someone I’ve grown very close to over the last few years. S is actually the only person in my family to have met the American, who got me into poly. I thought the 2 of them would get along, so I introduced them when the American visited me and that did go well. In terms of more recent events, S was going to contribute money to the wedding, but has decided not to because they think Ben and I shouldn’t be getting married right now due to our unstable financial situation. S also thinks that I should not be doing a PhD; I should focus on making myself employable in Canada. The irony is, one reason why I want to study in the US is because that will make me more employable in Canada. Universities tend to like it when you’ve studied in a different country because they want to have different perspectives contributing to the field. Also, PhDs in the US tend to be funded and there are people I want to work with there. I would very seriously consider doing my PhD at UBC because I really like Vancouver and I don’t have a huge desire to move yet again, but I need to know that it would lead to employment afterward and that I would be funded. Regardless, the situation with S is difficult because we are close. I care about what S thinks, but I’m not going to modify my life to suit S’s concerns. There is a part of me that thinks that S is afraid of being abandoned. They don’t like the fact that I keep moving and would prefer if I was in Toronto. The truth is, Toronto doesn’t feel like my home anymore.

In general, I think society often expects that women are going to adjust their lives to suit others around them. Women follow their partners to other countries because their partner has found a job there. Women give up a career they love to raise children while their partner continues working. Women may even modify their reactions to suit their partners. As a feminist, I refuse to change my life significantly to suit someone else unless I feel comfortable with it. I like pleasing people, but I also want to please myself. I was talking to a slightly older friend who told me that all of this gets easier with age. Women are respected more and taken more seriously as we get more grey hair. Thankfully, I’ve already started getting those…

If you have any relationship questions, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca  Thank you as always for reading! I hope to blog more regularly from now on.

A Woman’s Right to Choose

This week, I want to talk about a subject that’s very dear to my heart: a woman’s right to choose whether she wants children or not. Last week, I had a bit of a scare because I should have been on my period and I wasn’t. Now, this sort of thing is not without precedent: I spent 4 years in England and Japan from 2006-2010 and during that time, I missed a number of periods. In England, I went to the doctor to inform them of that fact and the female doctor told me not to worry; it’s typical when you’re adjusting to a new environment. In Japan, I didn’t have periods for the first 6 months of my time there. Yes, I was adjusting to a new environment and I was also eating a lot of soy, which apparently delays the menstrual cycle. I thought about those times last week, but I also thought to myself, I’ve already adjusted to China, for the most part; why is it that I would miss a period now and not in the beginning of our stay here? Alex very kindly went with me to get a pregnancy test at a local drugstore. We returned to my apartment to find Ben here (I was expecting him to be out), and it was really nice to have both guys here while I did the test. Thankfully, it returned negative and we all celebrated with chocolate, hugs, and kisses.

The day after, I went downtown to visit Mily, which was very pleasant. She made a delicious egg cheese vegetable casserole and we had good conversations. At one point, I did make her cry though, as she talked about her past relationships and I told her that I think she’s scared to get hurt again. At that point, we were sitting outside, me eating ice cream and her drinking coffee. I told her that I’m still attracted to her and she playfully said, why don’t you move closer? She kissed me on the cheek and I returned the favour. I felt a bit self-conscious, but there was a part of me that wanted to kiss her on the lips again. After that, I got on the bus to go back home and there happened to be a family from Ecuador there. One of them actually asked me if I was pregnant and offered me her seat, saying I looked so tired. I said, well, that’s a funny story… Unfortunately, that night I dreamed that I needed an abortion and I was still in China. One doctor, who was white, accompanied me to a drugstore and showed me various implements I could use to perform the abortion myself. I panicked and asked him if he could help me; he said yes. Obviously, my mind is telling me I don’t want an abortion in China.

Nearly 3 years has passed since I myself had an abortion. At that time, I was with my ex-boyfriend and we were about to break up. I had debated for a long time whether I wanted children or not and I came to the conclusion that I didn’t, for various reasons. As an environmentalist, I think there are too many people in the world and we should be reducing the population, not increasing it. People tell me that my kids will be smart and environmentalists too, but there’s no guarantee of that. Plus, if we live in the first world, our environmental impact will necessarily be much higher. Secondly, as many of you know, I like travelling and I really enjoy my freedom. I don’t want the responsibility of caring for someone if I truly want to get up and go somewhere, especially for an extended period. Finally, I don’t really want to change my body. For the brief period I knew I was pregnant, I felt horrible. I know that the second trimester gets easier, but I don’t even want to wait the 3 months for that to happen.

At that time, I was very impressed with my ex because he did want kids and he encouraged me to get the abortion. Everyone supported me, though my mother apologized and said, I’m happy that you’re pregnant. She and my father did accompany me to the hospital and I was rid of the fetus. People ask me if it was a difficult decision; in fact, it was one of the easiest I have ever made. I had gone to the doctor several weeks before for another reason and I told them how I felt (reduced appetite and exhaustion). They told me to get a pregnancy test, which I did in the lab in that building. The next day, they told me I was indeed pregnant so I felt vindicated that something was indeed wrong. I was about to go to Europe for 1 month and I told them I needed to get an abortion quickly, which did happen. Just after I returned, my ex and I broke up, so I’m even more glad that I made that particular decision because the child would not have been well cared for. I am happy now that my ex is about to marry someone who does want children. In the future, Ben may have children with someone and my hope is that we would all live together and raise the children. I’m happy to be a part time mother because I think the relationship between parent and child is incredibly special; I still depend on my mother to this day and I’m very grateful to her. Finally, I’m glad that I had the right to choose not to have that child. Every woman should have the same right, whether they want children or not. We are continually fighting for women to have the same rights and opportunities as men and our right to choose what to do with our bodies is inherently part of that.

Thank you as always for reading. If you have any sort of relationship question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

Express Yourself

When you’re in a relationship, I think that self-expression is very important. A few nights ago, Ben and I got into a big conversation about various things, including the subject of femininity and masculinity, which I talked about in the last blog. Ben has had struggles over the years with what it means to be masculine. He had a complicated relationship with his father, about whom he felt admiration and resentment. Of course, our fathers always shape what it means to be a man. I grew up with my mother and sister. I did see my dad every other weekend, but I was mainly surrounded by women. On the other hand, my friends have usually been male. With Ben, I feel that my feminine side gets expressed more often than my masculine side. I do feel that I can be myself with him, but the self I happen to be at the moment is fairly feminine. I admire the assertiveness men have and I think I am assertive most of the time, but I aspire to be even more so.

Perhaps we need to ask, what does it mean to be masculine or feminine? In our society, despite the advance of feminism, women are still expected to act a certain way. We’re expected to be more timid and not to ask for what we want. Normally, I am neither one of those things. I’ve asked out most of the people I’ve dated. I have no trouble showing people my crazy side. Are these normally masculine traits or is this just me being me? I also happen to have a non-verbal learning disability, which among other things, affects my ability to read social cues. Sometimes I have no idea if I make people feel uncomfortable and sometimes, well, I don’t really care.

I think that in some monogamous relationships, people have trouble expressing themselves. When you are limited to being with one person, you may feel that you can’t fully be yourself because you have to be preserve the relationship above all else. In poly, different selves can be expressed with different people. I think fewer of us feel the need to act differently from who we are – we know that we need to be ourselves with everyone we are with. They are with us for a reason, after all. For everyone I’m with, I strive to be myself and I ask for what I want. I have thought recently about how I would act if I was with Ben as well as a woman. I don’t have a lot of experience with women, so when I am with a woman, I often let her take the lead. However, I want to change this. That’s the thing about poly – we get to learn about other people, and maybe even more about ourselves.

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