Lately I’ve been having variations of the same conversation. The conversation is about relationships –male female possible marriage relationships. As the talks have all been with men I’ve known from anywhere between 10 and 21 years and not a woman in the mix I can’t tell if I’m crazy, or them, or if we’re just the micro manifestation of a more macro problem.

At its core the discussion is about roles. What is a woman’s role? A man’s? And by organizing the conversation on that front I’m already on edge. My role as woman? As if there is a handbook someplace that I simply haven’t read (although I’ve had at least one of these arguments where the missing handbook in question is considered the bible and me a heathen of sorts for not jumping on board). I just don’t see myself defined by my reproductive organs.

The problem for me is the idea that I’m supposed to do something just because I have ovaries – or because in recent history people who had ovaries did that same thing. Using that logic I should strive for slavery as well since people who looked like me in recent history held that position.

One friend debated that he wanted an equal but that he wanted her to submit to him. Submit. Submit? The word sticks in my throat a little. He said he wasn’t difficult he simply wants a woman who will stroke his ego and agree to obey him.

In some ways these conversations are dizzying for me. There are snatches of our debates that almost lead me to believe we are somehow saying the same thing; that a marriage is a partnership of equals. But then it falls away and I am left to disagree with their notion that I should surrender any opinion or ambition I have at the foot of a man with an ego too fragile (apparently) to withstand my own autonomy.

I know they don’t represent every man because I’ve dated and loved men who love me despite and because I am who I am. Even so, I find myself wondering if being myself and being part of a couple will prove to be mutually exclusive.

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