June 8, 2005

If it Happens on TV, it MUST be True...

Does anyone remember that show, "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" that was on FOX a few years ago? To refresh your memory, Rick Rockwell, a supposed millionaire was selected as the ultimate bachelor, and several women competed for the opportunity to marry him at the end of the show. Darva Conger, a nurse, competed on the show and won.

What happened next was pure TV. Darva Conger wanted out....not just, "Maybe we can still be friends-out", but, "You're creepy and I never wanted this in the first place-out". Of course, she knew what was involved, went through the whole process of applying for the show, being interviewed, winning a place as a contestant, and fighting for the big prize. Later, she claimed that she didn't know what she was getting into and that this isn't the type of thing that she would do....blah, blah, blah.

I don't know why they popped into my head today, but it seems that marriage to a lot of people is just a big joke or a game. Now I know that I shouldn't take what happens on TV too seriously, but between "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" and "The Bachelor", it seems that marriage is seen as a gimmick.

I normally don't watch "The Bachelor", but I did this last season and I have to say that for the first time in a long time I was happy to see someone on TV have a little self-respect and restraint. Charlie O'Connell, brother of actor Jerry O'Connell, was this past season's bachelor. He actually decided to forego most of "The Bachelor's" traditional conventions and decided that rather than ask someone to MARRY HIM (after like a month) at the end of the show, he would ask for additional time to date these two girls and decide which one he really liked. Then, he'd decide later whether he and the winner are marriage material.

Now, I could go on and on about how dangerous a show like "The Bachelor" is to women, and about how it exploits women into thinking they need to ruthlessly compete with other women for a certain man, and that they can only win him over by conforming to his tastes, etc....but that's for a different post or a different blog. I think these women know what they are doing, but aren't clear on whether they *should* be doing it. Whatever.

Rather than rant about the show or the women, I just want to say something about the concept in general. Marriage is not a prize at the end of a competition. If anything, its the beginning of a long process that requires endurance and patience. What these shows tell people is that if you are married you have won, if you haven't you suck.

As an almost-married person, I am looking forward to getting married, but I don't see it as the end of a "game". I see it as the beginning of a challenge, an adventure, and a time that will present us with many rewards and changes. As a single person, I often felt like society was saying to me that unless you are married you simply don't count. There were plenty of times when I know some of my married friends didn't invite me somewhere because I didn't have a guy to accompany me...it wasn't couple-y enough for them.

That's why I hate these shows that both show distain for singlehood and a total lack of respect for marriage...They perpetuate these myths that single is bad at all costs and marriage is always preferred. These "either, or" assumptions make it impossible to live up to the media standard of what is "normal". Just by televising these shows, "normal" gets skewed...who even knows what "normal" is anymore?

Posted by tsch0020 at 2:02 PM

June 6, 2005

What I Learned at Puppy School

Derek is going on a trip to the Boundary Waters in a few days and it will be just me and little Dylan holding down the fort. Dylan just turned a year old on May 16th, and so far being "puppy parents" is turning out to be pretty fun.

It was only recently that Dylan started acting somewhat normal and less like a psycho puppy. The first few months with him were really hard. He's a Collie/German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix and he has a great deal of energy. His little puppy teeth would scratch my skin every time I got near him because he had that chewing puppy fixation that most dogs outgrow pretty quickly. In Dylan's case, he still hasn't outgrown it altogether but its gotten better.

When Dylan was about three months old we took him to "Puppy School" and he graduated with a diploma, a little graduation cap, and "Pomp and Circumstance" playing on the boombox....Yea, a little overboard, but the teacher seemed normal in all other respects.

One of the first big challenges that Derek and I had to deal with after getting a puppy was how to come to an agreement about how he would be disciplined and cared for. I hate to admit it, but Dylan is the most disobedient little puppy I've ever had, so it was frustrating to try to get him to do what we wanted him to do without ticking the other person off. I was less about spanking him, but Derek seemed to get more respect from Dylan when he did that. So we had a whole big thing about whether we should be smacking him when he does something bad (like chew, bite on hands etc.). We agreed to go to obedience school with him every Saturday for eight weeks and the results were really pretty good. He learned certain commands and he was much more manageable, but we still had problems with him from time to time.

In general, I'd say that if you really want to test your relationship and your ability to make joint decisions (like the kind you have to make when you have kids) get a dog. Obviously, only do this if you are *sure* you want to be with someone forever, because the last thing you want to do is have one of you get attached to a dog and then break up. But if you are in a serious relationship headed toward marriage, try a dog before kids if you can. The skills you'll learn in negotiation and compromise will mean a lot later on.


Dylan at his "Puppy School" graduation. Derek is trying to put his little cap on.

Posted by tsch0020 at 8:50 AM

June 1, 2005

What Exactly is Being "Defended"?

I’m getting really tired of hearing about the “Defense of Marriage Act”. Basically, what this law says is that each state gets to determine what it considers to be a marriage, but it also recognizes only “marriages” between one man and one woman at the Federal level.

Some states have decided to try to push through legislation that would allow “civil unions”. Vermont is one state in which residents can enter into civil unions and have most of the same benefits that married couples receive.

Taking it a step further, the Netherlands allows same-sex marriages to have the exact status as opposite-sex marriages.

What exactly are politicians trying to defend anyway? As a soon-to-be-married person, I don’t feel threatened in any way that a homosexual couple could have the same benefits and responsibilities that my husband and I would have. Who cares?

Some people argue that it’s the word “marriage” that is at issue…that somehow allowing homosexual couples to call themselves “married” is an atrocity. I personally couldn’t care less…whether called civil unions or marriages, these partnerships are all just that: partnerships. Who one chooses to pair up with should be nobody’s business but their own.

I just get sick to my stomach every time I think of a couple, who could be together for twenty-five or thirty years, and if one was admitted to the hospital, the other could be denied visitation or the ability to make decisions for the other. I think back to a movie I saw called, “If These Walls Could Talk 2”, that told the story of an elderly lesbian couple. One of the women died suddenly, and her family basically threw her partner out on the street and out of the home they had shared for decades. The film took place in 1961, but these types of incidents probably still occur. Thankfully, domestic partners can now have legal documents such as Living Wills and Power of Attorney so that they can give some decision-making ability to their partners, but there should be implicit benefits given to partners based on a legal marriage.

As a side note, one of the most aggressive “defenders” of marriage locally is Senator Michele Bachmann. There is a great blog called, “Dump Michele Bachmann
that explains the paranoia that she seems to have about the gay community. Some of you may have heard about how she crouched down behind some bushes to covertly observe a gay rally a few months ago. In case you didn’t see the pictures, the person who took them has his own blog.

Posted by tsch0020 at 4:15 PM