Two things: A gorgeous personal story and a bad rant on marriage

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

Very quick ‘two things’ update this week. An amazing piece of writing on intimacy, followed by a weird rant in the Guardian about marriage. Click, read, comment etc – and if you do spot things that you think I should be featuring in my Monday posts, then please do recommend stuff in the comments.

Good thing: Andrew Gurza’s ‘price of intimacy’

This gorgeous article by Andrew Gurza, is incredibly moving, and all the things that get me in the heart about a really good piece of writing.

“I spent weeks quieting the voices in my head telling me that using the services of a sex worker was not a good idea. Would this be the only way I could find intimacy? Would someone even want to do this with me, or would he only view it as a charitable opportunity to help a cripple? Despite all these questions, I sat in my apartment reflecting on my nearly year-long celibacy. It was time to take care of myself.”

I’ve interviewed Andrew before, and I think his work is amazing. He’s a Disability Awareness Consultant whose passion is making disability accessible to everyone. He is the Founder and Co-Director of Deliciously Disabled Consulting, a company, brand and movement that aims to make the lived experience of disability accessible to pop culture. If you like the piece above (and why wouldn’t you?) please do follow him on Twitter as well.

Bad thing: commitment as necessity

This article about marriage and good sex in the Guardian annoyed me last week. The author talks about the fantastic effect marriage has had on her sex life, which is lovely. But in discussing how brilliant it is for her, she ties herself into weird logical knots explaining a ‘prevailing narrative’ that I’m not entirely sure exists:

“That’s because the prevailing cultural narrative for women my age – I’m 27 – is that our teens and 20s are for sexual adventures: the try-before-you-buy approach. Our early 30s are for being just as flirty, perhaps a wee bit pickier, and for forging ahead with our careers. Eventually, when we get bored with playing the field and crawling home at 4am with a hangover that lasts three days, we settle down, have babies and start listening to Radio 4.”

Far more common, to my mind, is the pressure to get married, have babies, and fit yourself into the ‘happy ever after’ narrative before it’s too late to do so.

I love that she’s happy in her marriage. Equally I love that others are happy outside marriage. Far more, I would love it if we didn’t insist on using ‘marriage’ as the benchmark by which we understand relationship ‘success.’ I’d appreciate it if we stopped equating monogamy or one particular decision as ‘success.’ I’d like us to accept that what makes you happy at one point in your life might not give you the same joy forever.

Most of all I’d like us to stop pretending that everyone’s happiness looks the same.


  • Mrs Fever says:

    The OUT piece was a beautiful perspective. Thank you for sharing.

  • Chris says:

    I loved the first piece – so moving.

    As someone who has worked in the world of infertility for years I struggle with the idea that it’s fine to leave having kids till your late 30s. If you’re lucky, you can, but I’ve seen lots of women who aren’t, and that probably skews my outlook. If you know you want kids and you have a partner, don’t wait if you don’t have to.

    And what’s wrong with Radio 4 anyway ;-)

    • Girl on the net says:

      The point, though, is that not everyone wants to have children. And those that do have other priorities too. And we’re repeatedly told that we’re ‘leaving it too late’ or that we ‘might not get the chance.’ I could as easily tell someone they’re running out of time to start their sex blog, but it would be equally nonsensical to them if they didn’t want to start one, and equally none of my business.

      I agree on Radio 4 though – nowt wrong with it. except perhaps the shouty Today programme which kicks in when I wake up most mornings and occasionally confuses me with weird political morning dreams =)

      • Chris says:

        It’s not equally nonsensical – eggs and sperm do degrade as you get older, and waiting increases the likelihood that you can’t have children or you’ll have a child with genetic problems. And actually, you might want to start that sex blog sooner rather than later – there’s often a good and a less good time to catch the wave.

        If you don’t want kids, that’s absolutely fine, you don’t have to think about infertility (although POF can cause other health problems so it’s most likely still something you’re better off knowing). But making a decision about the risks and benefits of waiting needs to be an informed choice, because you can’t prioritise having kids against the other things you want to do unless you have that information.

        IVF has a very high failure rate, so does egg freezing, yet this technology is presented as the answer to the problem of how to fit in career/having fun/finding the right person/becoming financially stable at a young enough age. The prevailing narrative is that there’s plenty of time. For a good proportion of women, unfortunately, it’s not, and I hate reading things that perpetuate this idea.

        • Girl on the net says:

          Your comment’s a bit disingenuous. My point was that it’s equally nonsensical *if you have already stated that you do not want to have children.*

          Like this conversation:

          You: I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in starting a sex blog.
          Me: OK, here’s how you start a sex blog [gives you a bunch of details on blog set-up, SEO, etc]
          You: I don’t want to start a sex blog.
          Me: I think it’s important that you know how to do it, just in case you change your mind.

          Except add to that the fact that for your entire life the media has been nagging you about starting a sex blog, you’ve already been made well aware of how to start one and the consequences for you if you don’t, and you’ve already had myriad conversations in which you’ve made it clear that you *100% definitely don’t want to start a sex blog, and you’re aware of the time limitations if you change your mind.* And yet still – STILL – people insist on lecturing you on all the things you already know.

          “I hate reading things that perpetuate this idea.”
          I am not perpetuating this idea. I am pointing out that some people choose not to have children. This is not a blog post about fertility, it’s about choice, yet you have chosen to make it about fertility. To me, *this* is the problem with the prevailing narrative: women are considered ‘wrong’ or ‘mistaken’ if they state their desire to not have children, and are subsequently assumed to be making their decision in total ignorance of biology. They then have to listen to a lecture on fertility which tells them things they already know.

  • Anna Sky says:

    I completely agree with what you’ve said about society’s yardstick of success. I am happily married (now) but have been through a (relatively-easy-even-though-he-will-always-be-a-dick-in-most-ways) divorce that I instigated. The amount of guilt that was implicitly placed on me by friends, family and (before I had the sense to be self-employed) colleagues was crazy. And the pressure to find someone too, because perish the thought that I might not want to be someone’s “other half”. As it turned out, I met someone completely unexpectedly and as we’re both monogamous, marriage suits us and we’re both happy. I would never judge anyone else by that though – one size simply does not fit all, and we’re consenting adults after all, right?

  • Asrai Devin says:

    Not everyone who wants to get married and have kids will do so either. The pressure to define yourself as successful at life by these things is enormous for some and very unfair. Sometimes you just don’t find the right person or infertility happens even really on. Lives shouldn’t be defined by these acts.

    Of course there are people who think I’m failing at life because I had a kid at 21, 14 years later I am a stay at home mom. *shrug* other people sick.

  • sole gonzalez says:

    I loved both parts. But I must say the link to the twitter account of Andrew Gurza leads to a different one (leigh hood).

    • sole gonzalez says:

      And this “I’d like us to accept that what makes you happy at one point in your life might not give you the same joy forever.” Is a great truth. The greatest one, in fact. Very few of my close friends is still married with the same man she was happy in her twenties at her forties. And among the ones that are still married, the vast majority doesn’t love their husband any more, but they won’t divorce for economical or other reasons that have nothing to do with love.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you! It looks like Andrew’s changed his twitter name and someone else has snapped up his old one – will change the link in the piece and Andrew’s new twitter is:

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