This morning’s post is from Elizabeth. Her pondering on finding a way to be a wife on our own terms strikes to the core of what Reclaiming Wife has always been about for me. Being a bride is tricky and culturally loaded, but being a wife seems so much more complicated. Though, these days, watching so many of you own the term, I’m honored to be in your company. So take it away, Elizabeth:
I’m not a wife yet; I must wait until August 20th to officially claim the title. Though, technically, I can’t get legally married so I don’t feel bad claiming my wifeliness a little early, although I have been “domesticated” in the state of Washington.
I started to reclaim what being a wife meant a long time ago, I think I was 14 when I first started to think about what it meant to be a wife and be gay. I don’t think my 14 year old self is alone in struggling with how sexuality and a future baby family mesh together. My mom was the classic wife; homemade bread and cookies, dinner on the table by 5:30, and an abundant garden. Incidentally, she reclaimed wife in her own right as a product of the woman’s movement in the 70’s. She left her full-time, paycheck-producing job to be a stay-at-home-mom in 1990. Our culture is full of images of what a “good wife” looks like, but have you ever seen a “good gay wife”? Is there such a thing? I’ve spent the past 10 years looking for an image of the kind of wife I want to be. I’m not a stone butch lesbian, and my stiletto skills can’t hold a candle to The L Word Divas. Most days, I trade in my lipstick for an organic lipgloss, but I have a really great haircut and can rock a scarf better than Julia Roberts (not that she is gay, but we can hope right?). I love to cook (real food, from scratch), can’t wait to have kids, and would give anything to have the kind of life where I can stay home with the kids and write a cookbook for a living.
Somehow the LGBTQ community, which has spent years breaking down stereotypes, has very strongly held parameters for what it means to be a lesbian, and my rather classic and traditional personal expectations of being a wife doesn’t mesh. I am simultaneously not gay enough to be a good lesbian, and not straight enough to be a good wife. So that leaves me paving my own wifely path. I come from a new generation of lesbians that grew up in a slightly more welcoming culture. My family never told me that I wasn’t going to be able to have my own family and my parents never worried that they wouldn’t have grandchildren. I’ve always known that I could have whatever kind of life I wanted, that my sexuality and my life choices aren’t inextricably linked, unless I wanted them to be. Intellectually, I know there must be other LGBTQ individuals with a similar perspective out there, yet without a booth at Pride it’s hard to find each other. A Google search for “lesbian wife” returns voyeuristic romance novels and chat rooms full of angry husbands. It would seem that these two words don’t go together in a very positive way.
So, I’m not so much reclaiming wife, as I am creating wife. When you really think about it though, isn’t that what we are all doing? Creating ourselves and creating a space to be the kind of wife we want to be.
Photo: Ashley Forrette from Portland, OR