My own divorce story is woven into many posts usually as part of my commentary at the end of each post. I have, however written a few posts specifically about my journey which I’ve always seen in my mind as a climb up a mountain. When I reach the top I stand up tall, raise my arms to the sky, lift my face up and let the wind blow through my hair. I’m not there yet but I’m getting there.
–Mandy Walker, Divorce and Me
- A divorce coach.
- A divorce mediator.
- A host/facillitator of divorce support groups.
- A writer about divorce, including her blog Since My Divorce and (formerly) divorce related posts at Huffington Post.
All of this was made possible by, you guessed it, divorcing her husband. Divorce changed her life and gave her her new identity. And yet, Walker is deeply troubled that her doctor would ask about her marital status. Walker asks Huffington Post readers to join her in refusing to answer this question in Why I Refuse To Give My Marital Status:
Asking about marital status is an anachronism. It no longer serves a purpose and is irrelevant. Won’t you join me in boycotting this question?
Walker has made her divorce the defining moment of her life; she literally can’t shut up about it. Yet she is uncomfortable identifying herself as a divorcée to her own doctor. Why?
As absurd as this sounds, there is a good reason for it. For women, divorce involves a huge loss of status if it isn’t quickly followed by remarriage. Checking the box “Divorced” is a painful admission of profound failure.
It isn’t just Walker who is haunted by her status as a divorcée. Fellow professional divorcée, divorce blogger, and Huffington Post Divorce author Rosemond (Rosie) Perdue Cranner is also deeply troubled by the post divorce status double standard. Rosie explains in I’m a Divorcee? But what do you call a man who’s divorced?
…it is telling that the world needs a word to describe a woman’s previous marital status but society doesn’t feel the need to label a man’s track record. Why? No one really cares if a man’s been married before but a woman? It’s a mark.
…nobody cares if a man has been married before, but for a woman there is still a bit of old world stink. A slight stench of previously used goods. I think that the literal translation of Divorcee is, “someone’s been in my vagina already, so move along.”
Rosie is wrong on one part, and right on the other. There already is a word for a man who is divorced. The word is divorcé. But she is absolutely right about the different status implications for divorced men and women. This is one of those intractable problems that feminists simply can’t solve, because it comes down to the heart of the differences between men and women. Feminists can try to change the language all they like, but they won’t be able to change the way both men and women think about these things. The same goes for the terms frigid, slut and coward, and the different perception of single mothers vs single fathers.
For example, on another post Rosie warns divorced women over forty to avoid dating never married childless men over 40:
Don’t waste your time dating a man over 40 who’s never been married and had kids.
Rosie, who elsewhere argues that men should face the same stigma women do for being divorced, argues that women should shun never married men and seek out divorced men:
Here’s my advice. Want a real shot at happiness? Find yourself a man who’s been married before. Find a man who’s had kids. Someone who knows what its like to drive carpool. To hold his wife’s hand in the hospital. Someone who’s got battle scars and loss. Find a real man, not a self involved 40 something man child.
Laughably, Rosie tries to claim that having broken a solemn vow is more moral than not having made the vow at all:
4. Being married before means you are brave enough to make a commitment.
Yes, we’ve been married and our marriages failed but at least we had the courage to say I Do.
Maybe we failed miserably but we took the walk down the aisle, threw the wedding bouquet and put ourselves in debt to have a kick ass party. At least we tried. Men who’ve made it to 40 and can’t commit? Let them go.
See Also: Haunted by a number