Friday, December 28, 2012
A Marginal Christmas
I had the opportunity to take African American Literature this last semester at the University of Utah, the only ethnics course offered by the English department and since an ethinicity course is required for graduation I took it. I also got an A.
Two new terms were introduced that I really connected with: "marginal" and "liminal" which my professor, Dr. Wilfred Samuels, used frequently in lecture to describe the social and economic state of blacks in this country. I immediately connected these words to the state of the single woman and a future blog post began to take shape in my head. I went online and found this helpful article from which I will be borrowing many of my best lines. Here's the link so the English major won't get in trouble for plagerism: http://www.liminality.org/about/whatisliminality/
We live in a ritual society. We also have a need to catagorize and organize everyone into their proper place, pigeonholed with the correct label. This is especially true here in Utah where the Mormon religion helps shape our lives with this familiar lifescript: (see November 11, 2011 "The Single Ones") 16 > date > marriage > career > children. Still generally accepted as rites of passage, even in our post-familial world, http://www.newgeography.com/content/003133-the-rise-post-familialism-humanitys-future, another new term referencing a study done about the decrease of traditional marriage and households headed by traditional husband and wife. Young men and women are expected to grow up, have dating relationships, graduate from college, and, if you live in Utah, get married and have kids; not necessarily in that order. This puts single, never married women with no male breadwinner, or children to identify them, in a bit of a quandry. A wedding is one of the biggest rites of passage in a woman's life. Soon as you hit 16 the pressure is on to start dating and find a partner. Getting married means we are no longer in that single, "liminal" betwixt and between, standing at the threshold of life, temportaty state. Married folks have crossed through that doorway and assimilated, successfully. Those that fail to marry are forced to eke out their own marginal exisitance, pushed to the fringes, excluded to inferior positions in our communities and basically ignored.
A marginal, inferior, and liminal lifestyle is not always by choice. For Christians, life is liminal, a temporary state that ends with death, the hope that there will be something better waiting for us on the other side, and if that means a husband and family, well, I suppose that's an encouraging thought. Almost makes me wants to go out and join some of those groups I've read about who choose to opt-out, prefering instead to live a marginal life on the edge of society or refuse to cross the threshold into social acceptance. A few examples: the tea party groups, the homeless man who chooses the hobo/hippy lifestyle on the street, the mostly married Mormon feminists who want wear the pants and hold the priesthood at the same time, then there's the LGBT groups who are also demanding the right to marry and be recognized by society. Not to mention the spiritual groups like monks or the pologymists in Texas and Hildale, Utah who not only choose a marginal existance but perfer to shop at Wal-Mart.
What about those who choose chastity, honesty and virtue? We are the group that is becoming increasingly marginalized. We are also a minoirty group, struggling to climb out of the crack we've been pushed into. We, the single, never married women who want very much to cross the threshold of liminality and find social acceptance with a husband, home and family of our own. An identity of our own. Freedom is nice, living alone is nice, having the remote control all to yourself and a freezer full of ice cream you don't have to share with anyone is nice too, but, it's Christmas. We didn't CHOOSE this lifestyle. Don't we deserve a website too?
Luckily I have my brothers, friends and my faith to keep me going. If this single lot is getting you down, I recommend rounding up some of your best friends and going to a movie like we did:
Hope all my readers had a Merry Christmas and I wish you all a very Happy New Year!