"Please, whatever you do, don't ever put yourself in a position where you're dependent on a man."
—A drunken John, to his then-student Darcy
"Jesus. How old are you?"
—A drunken Darcy's mystified response
I've spent my adult life in the orbits of first libraries, then universities and Microsoft. Among other side effects, most of the women I've known have been educated, professional sorts. And then I moved to the sticks of the Peninsula, and that changed in a hurry.
I've lived here since 2002, and I can't name one educated career woman I've met. Not one. They tend to top out at personal trainer, ferry worker, waitress, sales. This is all well and good—I, myself, and ashamed of what I do for a living, so believe me I'm not judging—but it brings with it what had so mystified Darcy: women who are so financially reliant upon men, they struggle to live without them.
Not that they try very hard. And that, I do judge.
Out here, gender inequities are epidemic. Yes, here as where you live, hot women still manage to control relationships. It's their options after their hotness fades that I wor—actually, that's not even true. I can think of two hot women I've met in the last year who are still astonishingly without options in abusive relationships.
Lita is absolutely beautiful. In between clearing my plates, Lita blathers about her Dharma, positive paradigm shifts, and the virtues of living in a yurt.
"So is the universe expanding or contracting?" she asked me one night.
"Expanding," I replied, mistakenly thinking she actually wanted the answer to a physics question.
"I disagree," she chirped cutely. "I think the universe is getting smaller all the time!"
She's a spectacularly sunshiney flake, and that led her to marry and procreate with a smarmy cult leader. Controlling every aspect of her life, he portrays any expression of dissatisfaction as her needing an attitude adjustment and/or her being a horrible mother. She wanted out. So she looked at a rental room. It turns out the guy renting the room, 26 years her senior, is her soul mate. What fantastic luck! So now she's living with, and wholly dependent upon, him. In that he throws money at her interests, he's the most wonderful man in the world. And he only charges her $600 a month to have sex with him.
I ran screaming from Lita. I know the type of woman whose mere presence will drive me insane, and although I'm rooting for her, holy fucking shit almighty. She's the most helpless human being I've ever met.
Anna is married to a guy who cheated on her last year. He's lately taken to being verbally abusive, yelling and destroying household objects, to the point where their kids are terrified of leaving their rooms. She confided all this in me recently, not having any idea how deeply wired is my rage about abused women and children. She alternately talks divorce ("I need a job with benefits!") and reconciliation ("I didn't leave him five years ago because he keeps seeming like he's getting better"). She says he's mentally ill, which is fair enough, but there's no plan to treat any such chemical imbalance. Her plan is that the problem will just magically get better. His plan is that she'll shut up and learn to live with it.
Anna is utterly screwed. He derides any interest she has in returning to school as unnecessary and a sign of her lack of commitment to the marriage, and said cheater further insists that commitment can only manifest through her staying home and taking care of the kids. And then, and I'm am not in any way exaggerating, she tells me with a straight face that this is a good sign because it means that he's taking making the marriage work more seriously. "What else could it mean?" she asked me. I declined to answer. What would be the point?
"So what's the plan?" I sigh.
"That's what I need help with."
"What WAS the plan when you married the guy and crapped out kids with him?"
"For things to work out."
Peninsula, hell. This is a time machine.
I would like to help, but I can't really see how. Me writing a check just transfers the flag of dependence from one man to another. And so I muddle through, being a quasi-friend, suggesting avenues that I know she can't practically pursue, pretending that she has a future anyone should actually want.