Pam Pastor's little
column "The next person who asks me when I'm getting married will get punched in the face"
posted in the Inquirer this afternoon was quite interesting and illuminating, not just for its content but also for the varied responses to its content. In it, she describes in horrifically accurate detail what single women like myself are subjected to, not just during the holidays, but during almost every single family gathering.
I am, like Pam, also 30 (okay, 31) and not even the fact that I have two older unmarried sisters can insulate me from the inevitable questions and the consequent looks of pity. Just this past Christmas, at one of those aforesaid family gatherings, I was just sitting on the couch minding my own business when one of my older cousins sidled up and whispered, "O, ikaw, kailan ka naman ikakasal?"
("So, Mary Ann, when are you getting married?")
If she thought it was an ideal conversation-starter, well, it wasn't. If you're single and unattached and with no
immediate plans to rectify that situation... what do you say
to something like that? I admit, a slew of responses similar to and yet more uncharitable than Pam's did go zip! like a bunny in my head. What stopped me from unleashing the full force of my withering sarcasm, though, was the tiny yet shrill voice of my conscience screeching "She meant well! She meant well!"
And that's the trouble, isn't it? Most people who ask this question always
mean well. They genuinely are interested in and worried about your future. I remember staring at my cousin for a full five seconds, searching for some sign of malice aforethought in her face (Alas, there was none. She's from the branch of the family that wouldn't know deadpan irony if it goosed them on the backside. She honestly believed that this was The Right Thing To Do) before smiling awkwardly and saying "Walang oras, alam mo naman, laging
busy." ("Oh, you know how it is, no time, waaaay too busy.")
And that would have been the end of that, if she hadn't added, "Oo, kasi para habang pwede pang magka-anak, di ba?"
("Oh yes, you should get married while you can still have babies, right?")
Goddammit so much.
You know what really irks me about questions like that? It's the assumptions inherent in them. The state of matrimony and motherhood is apparently the Holy Grail of being a woman, and anyone who makes the conscious decision to either postpone or completely write off one or the other is apparently someone that needs to be saved from themselves. And any protest, however mild, is looked at as hurtful and offensive towards someone who only wants what's best for you. Looking at some of the comments left on Pam's article certainly cements that impression.
(Some people on that comments board do make the point that it's part of Filipino culture, this intrusive questioning. Oh yes, it's right up there with "near-non-existent grasp of irony" and "no concept of personal space". To people who try to excuse that behavior by saying it's "part of the culture": Screw you. It's annoying in every
Here's the thing: Yes, I am single. No, I am not seeing anyone at the moment, but even if I was it sure as hell wouldn't be with the intent of dragging him down the aisle lickety-split. Quite frankly, dearest cousin, I'm really not interested in getting married at this time
because 1) I dislike fuss and weddings are the very definition
of fuss; 2) it will inevitably lead to questions like "O, kailan ka ba magkaka-anak?"
("So, when are you having kids?") or, more rudely, "O, buntis ka na ba?"
("Aren't you pregnant yet?"); and 3) I have no interest in enabling your self-validation.
If and when I do
decide to get married, it won't be because there's this societal, cultural need to do so before the age of 40; quite frankly, I'm quite open to the idea of--dun dun dun!
LIVING IN SIN--provided it's with the right person. I will get married because I and whoever I choose want to.
And if that happens when I'm 55 with no possibility of having kids, well, that's fine.
Don't worry, I'll still invite you to the wedding. Don't be scandalized if I don't wear white, though.WERE YOU AWARE OF IT?:
The Philippines is one of only TWO countries (the other being Malta) where divorce is illegal
. So basically (except under extreme extenuating
circumstances): you break it, you bought it.