i am really starting to find it tedious when people ask me what my knuckle tattoos say (“spinster”) & then they gesture toward jared & say something witty like, “well, not anymore.” excuse me? are jared & i married? did we secretly get married & i just forgot about it? also, do you think that’s not the immediate response of at least 90% of all people who see my knuckle tattoos & have foreknowledge that i am in a relationship? if you really must comment, at least generate some original material.
even better are the people that ask, “what if you want children someday?” if being married is a prerequisite for having a child, i guess the embryo currently residing within my uterus didn’t get the memo. lots of people are having kids without being married these days. lots of people are having kids without even being partnered these days! hello, it’s 2012! & what about queer parents that are legally prohibited from marrying in their states of residence & don’t want to jump through the hoops of getting hitched in one of the few states that allows it? lots of queer couples are having kids these days, after all.
i generally don’t make assumptions or ask nosy questions about other people’s marital or partnership status. maybe i’m a weirdo, but it doesn’t even occur to me to look for rings. maybe i’m a super-weirdo, but i usually assume that a wedding ring is just a fashion statement until someone actually says, “this is my wedding ring.” i have been married but never had a ring. my parents were married for almost 28 years & both of them lost their wedding rings sometimes in the 80s. although my brother, who was three years old when my dad’s wedding ring fell off while he was swimming in lake michigan, was concerned that losing the ring might mean that our parents weren’t married anymore, rings actually have very little to do with a person’s marital status.
this all kind of reminds me of asexuals on tumblr who are constantly writing epic diatribes in which they go into great details about their sexualities & romantic preferences. not only do they go on & on & on about how they MUST be asexual because they don’t fantasize about specific individuals when they masturbate (thanks, i needed that info), but they also go on & on & on about how they’re constantly freaking out squares by introducing their queerplatonic aromantic life partners as their queerplatonic aromantic life partners. like, at work events & cocktail parties. if someone came up to me at, say, the history conference reception & said, “oh, i’d like you to meet diana, my queerplatonic aromantic life partner. we live together, but we have separate rooms & don’t engage in a sexual relationship. we want to share our lives with one another & eventually raise children together, but we don’t have romantic feelings for one another,” i would back away slowly. not because i’m judging them for being asexual, but because i am judging them for oversharing & not having appropriate social boundaries.
i feel the same way about people that nose into my marital status & make weird assumptions. i recognize that in my case, i kind of asked for it by getting a visible tattoo that kind of makes a statement about my marital status. but i still think it’s kind of a leap & not really socially polite for a relative stranger to start asking weird questions. a sampling of what i’ve gotten:
“what if you meet someone & fall in love?”
“you’re too young to give up on love!”
“don’t say that! you’re beautiful! you’ll find someone!”
“oh, are you, like, really into knitting?”
“cool! are you a deejay?”
i have seriously gotten the last two questions at least half a dozen times each. it always makes me laugh. i love the people who immediately go from “spinster” to “spinning wool” to “knitting” & assume that i am just really hardcore about making sweaters. i need to start befriending those people.
i am thinking about all of this stuff again because jared & i went to a barbecue the other day, with a bunch of his history colleagues. pretty much everyone there knew we’re expecting, or they found out at the barbecue by overhearing other people ask us about it. the hostess inquired about my knuckle tattoos & then, in all her brilliant originality, said, “well, not anymore,” & nodded toward jared. I waved my hand & said, “whatever. we’re not married, are we?” she kind of blanched…why? because i was so blase about getting married, something that a lot of people still see as a major life goal? because she knew i was pregnant & was disturbed that i wasn’t married as well? maybe i’m reading too much into one momentary facial expression, but she pretty much turned away & left all conversations i got involved in for the rest of the barbecue. i don’t know.
& there was a recent survey in which people were asked to rate the relative morality of various life situations. the results were then broken down by political party. apparently 47% of the american population still sees having a child out of wedlock as immoral or morally questionable. maybe i live in my own little bubble, but…really? what the hell is the big deal? again, what about people who are having kids but are prohibited by the government from getting married? i asked jared about this & he said, “like you?”
“like me what?” i asked.
“like you, how the government won’t let you get married or you lose your disability benefits.”
“oh yeah! yeah, like me! i mean, i meant gay couples, because i totally could get married to you if we were okay with the concept of being plunged into destitution as a result. we are making a choice here that other people don’t get to make. but yeah, it is really frustrating sometimes that we can’t just do what would really be easiest for us as soon-to-be parents because i would be denied 80% of my income as a result.”
& that is probably the most annoying part of the whole “assume ciara is married” thing, for me. sometimes people want to know why jared & i aren’t married, if we already live together & are having a kid together & everything. i don’t really like to talk freely about being on disability because so many people are still such raging assholes about it (“well, sometimes i get migraines but i still get up & go to work,” “you seem perfectly fine to me,” “you’ve got a real nice scam going,” “you’re using up money that other people really need,” etc etc etc). funny how being on disability makes people feel entitled to flap their gums about my financial situation in a way they’d never do if my income came from, like, slinging lattes or being a librarian or whatever.
okay, i feel like i did kind of a lot of pointless whining in this post, but the bottom line: do you make assumptions or feel entitled to information about other people’s marital/relationship statuses? if so, why? how do you feel when that kind of nosiness is turned on you? maybe you should knock it off. remember: if we all work together to create a world in which people can just be in relationships or not, be married or not, have kids or not, & none of it is really any big deal, we’ll be that much closer to never having to deal with another asexual person trying to freak us out with their queerplatonic zucchini, & that’s a world i really want for my unborn child.