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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Liz Funk: "Can we have sex without solipsism?"

Liz Funk on Lori Gottlieb's infamous "Marry Him!" article in The Atlantic and subsequent movie deal (that's in addition to the book deal):

Gottlieb’s success makes an interesting issue really stand out: can there be solipsism-free writing about sex and dating? Honestly, I think there are so many writers who focus on romance and sex and even gender issues who posit that the things that bother them and the issues they encounter apply to everyone. Gottlieb made it known that she conceived with a sperm donor because she couldn’t find someone to marry… but just because she should have settled doesn’t mean that everyone else should.

In fact, a week or so after Gottlieb’s article generated such a media firestorm, the blog PostSecret (link contains often graphic content) published a postcard with a picture of a prison on it that said “Marrying the wrong person is more like having a cellmate.” Lori Gottlieb had thousands of words to make her point, but that think that precise postcard was far more poignant.

Here's Breakup Girl on the matter:

Okay, now you settle down. The real issue with the piece is that according to Gottlieb, women who want to get married are … all women. If you say that’s not you, she says you’re in denial. “Take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous,” she writes. (”I took Gottlieb’s advice, and my face does look silly. But that’s just because I’m making gagging faces and pantomiming a stabbing motion to my throat,” Broadsheet’s Sarah Hepola responded, adding, “Maybe I swallowed my panic and desperation. Though it tasted, for all the world, like a delicious cheese blintz.”)

There's been so much fallout from this article, one that seems intended to push people's, largely women's, buttons. At first, I too was horrified. But at the same time, Gottlieb has what I so desperately want: a child. I will be upfront and say I want a child in such a powerful way that I don't feel that same urgent desire for a relationship, which I also very much want, but not in quite the same way. The difference is, I can have a child on my own if I like; I can't will a relationship into existence.

I teeter between seeing Gottlieb's point and finding it infinitely sad. Of course people settle, but to so brazenly want to pursue the art of settling, to crave the lowest common denominator, seems like we then put ourselves down by saying that we are not enough on our own, and that instead of searching for an authentic match, any match will do. As AisleDash wrote:

Please tell me we're still fighting for the bastion of marriage based on true love and absolute friendship. Not simply the complacent truth that he's willing to puree peas and pull cheese-string bits out of the portable DVD-player, despite the fact that "you get a cold shiver down your spine" at the thought of embracing him.



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