So It’s Not Just Me…

This is your Monday morning controversy post. Keep it interesting for longer by waiting an hour or so before posting your comment. Oh, and behave.

It’s not really a creative idea. There have been communes of spinster women before. But I really thought there were only a few of us frum women with that idea floating around…

It’s like this: you’re single, you’re not in any danger of getting engaged. You want a family, a cute little kid or two to call your own,  and someone you like to help you raise them, but you can’t find a guy to join up with you.

On the other hand, you know plenty of girls who want families too, a kid or two and a partner in life.

Of course you know the difficulties of being a single mother. It’s pretty crazy to try to raise a kid on your own while keeping house and paying bills. A person really needs a little help with that.

So, the world is full of floating halves. All these women, just like you, who just want to settle down. Why not pair up with one of them? Or two?

Granted, it’s not romantic, but you’re not doing so well in the romance department as it is. You’ll be good friends, you’ll look out for each other, you’ll raise a few kids together in a dual-(or triple)-parent household. You can argue IVF versus adoption after you’ve found a house with enough bedrooms in a community far enough out of town that they’ll be willing to overlook the weirdness of your domestic situation.

Why this now? Well, it’s an idea that floats across my mind every now and then and that I occasionally pitch to parties who are in Despair Mode. I would say I get an 80% You-Are-Crazy response rate even from the I’m-going-to-be-single-forever types. For a while I wavered and thought that perhaps I was crazy. (Could it be?)

Then one Shabbos someone pitched the same exact idea to me. Talk about the happiest moment of the week! If I was crazy, at least I was in good company. But the anecdotal evidence in the comments of FnF’s post about skipping to motherhood suggest that there are a number of people who think this way all the time. They’re just too jealous of their reputation as non-crazy to admit it.

So come out of the woodwork, folks. Maybe we can buy out a residential complex. The more of us there are, the less weird it becomes.

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Sweep Her Off Her Feet

I received the following intriguing email a few weeks ago:

A friend, getting desperate at ever finding a good girl (yes, that happens to guys too), hatched a plan to kidnap a nice BY girl. He would use a friendly shadchan’s services to preselect the very best girl. Whisk her off to a carefully prepared New Mexico cabin. Adobe stucco, very picturesque. Treat her in a most kosher and cavalier way. And allow the Stockholm Syndrome to do the rest. Within 6 weeks he would deliver her back to the parents: safe, secure, and happily married.

There would be a few complications regarding lo signov, but we could rely on the few poskim who say shidduchim trumps  mitzvos lo sa’asei (everybody agrees that it trumps mitzvos asei). That’s it. Desperate times require desperate hishtadlus.
…Are you calling the police?

In the words of the king from Cinderella, “Love, ha! Just a boy and a girl meeting under the right conditions. So, we’re arranging the right conditions.” (Thanks, O.) But are these really the right conditions?

Bride kidnapping is not a new idea. Fiction is rife with such tales, most of them perpetrated by creeps, and generally unsuccessful—think The Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Among the attempts at kidnapping that are successful is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but that’s a post-WWII musical, which have a reputation for presenting women as far more tractable than they are in real life. (One egregious example of this rewriting of reality is Annie Get Your Gun—in real life, Frank Butler was not a self-absorbed jerk [he stepped down to become Annie’s manager], and Annie had enough backbone not to be his simpering puppy. One wonders why they use the word “tribute” in their descriptions of the film/show. Tribute to who, exactly?

There’s a simple measure of how closely a movie/musical mirrors reality—it’s called the Bechdel test. There are three criteria the production must meet to pass the test:

  1. There must be two significant female characters (with names),
  2. They must speak to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.

Good luck finding a handful that fit. And yet, I know that many women speak to other women about things besides men. Are we still in parentheses?)

But this wasn’t an entry about film criticism. It’s about kidnapping women and hoping for Stockholm Syndrome to kick in. Truth is, even with Stockhold Syndrome, kidnapped women still try to escape. They just find excuses for their captor. Every few years such a case hits the news.

The best course may be the one outlined in the Restoration drama ‘The Conscious Lovers,’ by Richard Steele. There, the main character, a Mr. Bevel, takes under his wing a young lady shipwrecked and all alone in the world. He provides for her all the comforts a young lady needs: an apartment, a maid, and a piano. And he visits frequently to ensure that she’s comfortable. They both become secretly besotted with each other, but neither dares mention it for fear of offending the other with their presumption. But of course, in the end, with typical Restoration drama chaos, everything comes all right and they marry.

Kidnapping a woman immediately gives her reason to resent you. Rescuing her immediately gives her reason to like you. And as Maureen Dowd snidely states, “Women like firefighters because deep down, they all want to be rescued.” Sadly, shining armor is out of fashion these days. Think of the wide appeal of The Princess Bride; it almost certainly stems from its adherence to the knight-in-shining-armor-rescuing-damsel-in-distress model.

So for all desperate gentlemen considering this course of action: It would be far better to arrange for someone else to kidnap the woman, so you can go in and perform a daring rescue worthy of a Jewish thriller novel. On the long trek back to civilization (a kidnapping to the Congo or Amazon would be ideal), the two of you will doubtless bond. By the time you ring her doorbell, the only thing left to discuss will be “Should we send Bad4 a response card?”