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Frank Selasie

Marriage As The Death Of A Woman

Marriage As The Death Of A Woman

Another essay written for my literature course, it amused my professor exponentially. She's convinced I'm going to be an award-winning author as a result. It has been updated with consideration for the wayward desires of the heart.


When the topic of marriage comes up we as human beings are inclined to automatically romanticize it because of a centuries-long propaganda campaign to transform the traditional definition of love from its patriarchal reality to a Disney version of a story of love & connubial felicitation. The fact is that marriage for love is an extremely modern concept; marriage between heterosexual individuals will and always has rested on the hilts of a misogynistic & controlling foundation. Heterosexual men at large have been conditioned to believe the world of heterosexual women revolves around the acquisition of marriage, which disables common sense & a real sense of equality in their understanding of “love.” They threaten those they consider wayward women with lifelong solitude; saying things like “You’ll never get married” or the age-old “You’ll never keep a man.”

It’s as if they believe that the maintenance of a relationship with their kind is the only manner in which we can measure a life well-lived.

    The uses of marriage historically are as follows; the acquisition of property; the subjugation of the female population, the illusion of male importance by tying marriage to a notion of respectability, the demonization of the single women as something broken or demonic in her inability to “attract/keep” a man, the “legitimization” of children & forced pregnancy, the expectation of husbands of their wives to fulfill the role of mother, sister, maid, cook & sex slave while all they offer is existence. The demand that marriage is the end goal for all heterosexual women & the violence-tinged response when such a case is not found.

Marriage has always been used to elongate the man’s life & raise his standard of living while it relegates the role of caretaker to their female partner.

     Even in our modern concept of romance the popular features of marriage still depend on the erasure of a woman’s identity; the taking of a man’s name, the accusation of emasculation if one suggests otherwise. Why shouldn’t two individuals combine & create a name anew when forming such a union, why must the women’s entire identity be absorbed into the man’s existence?

In my specific culture when two families are joining the groom has to present a gift of fabric, alcohol & gold to the bride's family & legitimately ask for permission from the male representative of the said family to take his bride away. I have always found such a display to be entirely belittling to the wife in question. Years later, in an altercation, the groom can very quickly refer to such a moment & insinuate that since his wife was purchased with property that she is property as well.

There is also the ever-popular notion that marriage can subdue or tame the “wild woman”  & the forced idea that all women come from the rib of a man. Therefore we exist on this earth to serve as lesser companions to them. In my culture, & I’m sure many others that glorify unification with the opposite sex we are advised continuously against making more money than your husband & utterly inundated with the 1001 rules about catering to the fragility of toxic masculinity at the cost of your happiness at every turn.

    My mother has been married & divorced a total of five times; in my estimation marrying & divorcing five times in 29 years clearly shows how defunct marriage is to a specific type of woman, that woman being a learned, cultured & outspoken woman. There was so much outside pressure from our family & the eyes that watched her to keep trying because our culture made her feel like a failure in life for being unmarried no matter how much success she gained in her career & how much of the breadwinner she is for our entire clan. She is the happiest she has ever been in these 29 years of my life being ideally single. Watching her go through those marriages was like watching my mother cut off pieces of herself to fit into an unnecessary idea of what a couple is supposed to be. All of my stepfathers required her to lob off parts of herself so that she could fit into their tiny estimation of her; an opinion supported & sponsored by the patriarchy at large. I also grew up with examples of 4 of my godmothers, three of whom are married, two are married for obligation, propriety & a sense of duty, one married for love but still had to battle the ingrained & conditioned subtle misogyny of her husband's marital expectations. The unmarried one remains an example of true freedom existing as an unmarried woman in the 21st century without guilt or shame.

    By my learned estimation heterosexual marriage appears to be nothing but a gilded cage whose importance has been bloated & used to control & subjugate many a perfectly happy woman into thinking she is somehow defective for not linking herself with a male partner that is statistically shown to shorten her life while lengthening his own.

Divorced women have been proven to be much happier, while divorced men usually immediately remarry or go out seeking new partners because the truth is that the only people that marriage has ever truly benefited in the free world are men.

Looking back on the biblical story of Adam, in Hebrew texts, his true first wife Lilith left him to wander the wildness in starvation & agony because that was better in her mind than being stuck with him for all of eternity; Eve was then created to soothe Adam’s neediness & loneliness. Therefore matrimonial monogamy with men can be qualified as a destroyer of life & vibrancy for any woman seeking an existence that lives outside of the realm this patriarchal society has demanded we shackle ourselves to; most notably in West African culture.

Now, this article isn't simply meant to belittle the institution of marriage without regard to the consideration of actual love, it is simply to say that our historical understanding of marriage between heterosexual partners does a grievous injustice to the liberty and freedom of heterosexual women at large. 

I believe true and honorable examples of all the blessings marriage can foster can be seen within many non-heterosexual pairings. In essence, they have the freedom to create their own foundation of actual love, companionship, partnership, and equality without the overbearing influence of patriarchal nonsense and expectations. I look at those examples when I think of what love and marriage can provide in your life. As handicapped as we all are because of the centuries-long propaganda, they are a little less so and because of this can thrive with far more ease and understanding. 

I believe in love, I believe in its gifts and its magic in your life, but I am also incredibly aware of the mountains of bullshit that threaten its very existence and can starve it of any power when pitted against the misogynistic expectations of this world and it's implementations of the institution that can be called marriage. 

In a Psychology class last year I was tasked with taking a Romantic Attachment Quiz, a quiz to accurately measure the style in which I romantically attach myself to others. The results of this quiz told me that I am slated to possess a great deal more anxiety about the loss of a relationship than I do inclinations to avoid relationships themselves in entirety.

The results showed that relationships may feel frightening to me and may consume a large amount of emotional energy for both my chosen partner and myself. It is said that I can also become overly preoccupied in my relationship. I believe all of these assertions about myself to be true. In many ways, as a cis heterosexual woman of the 21st century, I have been conditioned to seek freedom and expression of self while also being heavily imprinted with the ways of the old world when it comes to the vast universe that is romantic love.

Even our conditioning is conditioned. 

The mistakes and wills to possession of my forefathers ring true in my decision making in the face of romantic opportunity and yet I never shy away from the chance to dive into the next grand love affair of my life, no matter the curses heterosexuality provides. 

Although the result of the test describes me as full of anxiety, this is juxtaposed against the second half and central part of the results; my romantic attachment style is both secure and happy. That is to say that when in what I have come to understand is love, I am a beacon of boundless joy, affection, comfort, and appreciation. My anxiety at the loss of the light of love never touches my ability to shine in and bask in what I believe to be love. I have never been without the ability to express how I feel; I know when to depend on others when it is appropriate or rather when I perceive them to be capable of holding the weight of my person, and I am considered a rock and beacon of strength for those who possess an insecure attachment style, no matter how draining that may be. At 30, I have begun learning these essential things about myself as reflected in the successes and the failures of the adult relationships I have built, acquired, and maintained all of these years. 

In the end, it would seem that I have given myself the ultimate task of unlearning the primitive and illogical nature of the manner of love I was taught as a child and as a woman. I want to love as securely, and as happily as possible as the result of this text show I am capable of doing. The first preoccupation was to recognize and deal with my anxiety in the face of and towards relationships at large.

The weight of holding another in your heart is something one must adjust one's soul to especially when it comes with the risk of said person not being worth the space that is given to them.

But the experience of loving and having been loved, outside of a cage, is still a light that is worth all shades of darkness.

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