Feminist marriage: If Gloria can do it ...

By Nancy Kruse


Sarah Hepola
October 20, 2000 11:44PM (UTC)

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I enjoyed Nancy Kruse's article on the subtle dynamics of feminist marriage. Every good relationship has its confusions and ambiguities. I think Kruse and her husband-to-be are right to analyze their motives for their actions within their marriage, but they ought not feel that they're failing to live up to some feminist standard. Feminism was not about prescribing behavior, it was about providing choice. There is no set code that "real" feminists should have to live by; instead feminism is about giving women (and men) the freedom to live as they choose, without the restraints of gender roles.

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-- Ben Gran

Oh, for God's sake! I, too, am the product of Ms. Magazine's "Stories for Free Children" -- in fact I was the only kid in the eighth grade with my own subscription to Ms. -- and a Barbie-free childhood, and a highly educated and determined mother and father. And my husband and I are raising our daughters with many of the same philosophies; obviously, we think it worked well the first time around.

But I fail to see how Nancy Kruse is "liberated" if she feels that her choices are "Barbie and Ken" or "Gloria Steinem." Why on earth would anyone want to trade in one archetype for another, and then claim that she's "liberated" because of it? Why not take the theories that appeal to you the most, and that you believe in the most sincerely, and live by them as best you can -- but modify them according to what you find and learn throughout your life, married OR single, male OR female? Surely this is true freedom; and surely this is closer to what the founders of the feminist movement had in mind.

-- Victoria Esposito-Shea

My happiness for Nancy Kruse that she has found a satisfying, if in some ways puzzling (to her) relationship. However, she ignores what would seem to be obvious: As she was given a set of childhood taboos around gender-specific behaviors, violating them within certain limits and in a certain sphere would seem to carry withal an erotic charge. Or, more stupidly, the thrill of obeying her lover is the thrill of disobeying her mother.

-- M. Turyn

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Kruse sounds like a priest struggling with adhering to the arcane tenets of a harsh religion. The mind wants to do one thing, and the body another.

-- Greg Ludvik

One thing about middle-class feminists -- sometimes their protestations and enthusiasm about gender equality hide a collapse into gender stereotypes. A lot of so-called liberated women still can do hardly any "male" tasks. They just want men to share the female ones. Many of them ignore physical development, which could make them more equal to men in the physical area. And statistically, it is the middle class that embraces marriage more than working-class people. Kruse can't escape her background. Things haven't really changed that much interpersonally, from what I can see.

-- Greg Gibbs

How does Nancy Kruse get through her day? She seems unable to work, eat or have sex without fretting over the feminist implications of it all. Is this what the women's movement has wrought -- women well into their 40s who still can't make up their minds about men -- or themselves, for that matter?

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-- Doug Palau


Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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