Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Settling in DC

Back in February 2008, I blogged about my reaction to Lori Gottlieb's article in the Atlantic Monthly about single women and settling for Mr. Good Enough. I remember how pissed off and somewhat offended I was by the idea. Last night I attended the discussion of her new book, "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" at Sixth and I. I haven't read the book but was interested in hearing her talk about these ideas and hear what others thought. My biggest problem with the article was that the basic premise appeared to be that marriage to a man, no matter how boring or physically unappealing, is always a better option for women, especially those who want children, than being alone. Aside from the fact that I think DC just doesn't have a marriage culture, I think the premise calls into question whether the traditional family really is the best and/or only choice for women today, particularly those who live and work in big cities like DC.

One of my favorite quotes in the article is, "Marriage isn't a passion-fest; it's more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business." For the women I know in DC and probably for many others, this is not the kind of marriage they are willing to sign up for. Many of these women are actually running their own nonprofit businesses and don't want a tedious, mundane spouse to come home to. As a lot of women have already done, why not reconfigure life for ourselves in a way where we do get all of our needs met without having to establish a traditional family. Because as many married women know and research has shown, women get much less from marriage than men do. Like many women in their 20's, I used to think I wanted to be married and have children. So I asked myself last night, what is it that I would really want from marriage and being a parent? What I came up with was: love, companionship, sex, and being involved in a child's life. When it comes to the love and companionship, I already get that from my friends and family. They also provide me with a rather fulfilling social life. The sex I can always get from a guy I actually do find physically appealing. And kids? Well, there all sorts of ways to be involved with a child that don't involve marriage: mentoring, hanging out with the children of friends and families, adoption, sperm donor, or even joint custody with a stable guy you know. Kind of like car sharing. Of course, these things may not satisfy all of our needs like maybe, the desire for romantic love. But I've begun to realize that romantic love isn't all its cracked up to be. The older I get the more it seems like an immature, manufactured notion. Me, jaded? Maybe. But anyway, the point is that I think modern women have no reason to feel forced to choose a lifestyle that doesn't fit.

And in DC, why settle for a mediocre cocktail? After the book discussion I headed straight to the Passenger where Nick Brown mixed up a lavender mint daiquiri for me (right). I noticed that on Sundays they're doing a hangover brunch that lasts all day. Now that's genius!

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Notnuts said...

Great post. Ms. Gottlieb sounds like a real overachiever.

Tote Perf said...

It sounds like what Ms. Gottlieb is saying is that women should choose beta men to marry. Men who may not be all that dynamic or may not even be quite as intelligent as their wives, but they will stay true. Thing is, on the coasts, the vast majority of women want alpha men, who don't really have it in them to stay true. So the non-marrying alpha men chase the probably-not-marrying alpha women and everyone ends up just as jaded as you are. Personally, I turn to alcohol, drugs and sex with morally reprehensible women. Who are often married (just not for the sex part)

City Girl DC said...

Tote Perf - I've always been confused by this whole "alpha" business. I just want a guy who's right for me. And believe me, I've dated men who were not the least bit dynamic and less intelligent but that didn't help in the trustworthy department. But I do believe big cities on the coasts are typically bad places to settle down.