Thursday, 2 July 2015

Disobedient Eves

There was once a disobedient woman, who in the words of Thomas Hardy was 'neither a maid, wife or widow', but unlike Hardy's heroine this was because she was no longer a maid and had never wanted to be wifely. There was no husband who could elope to warmer climes, although I dare say if she'd had one she would have preferred it. Enforced time apart from each other, a six-month separation. I'll see you in the summer. Ah, Summer! When we won't be cooped up with one another, is what she would have thought and not said. She would have engineered it; encouraged her live-in partner to leave with that fateful line: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, which was much kinder than saying I need space!
She imagined that as a wife or a cohabiting partner this was how she would act: disobey any vows undertaken, even if the other party believed these were still being held. Regularly say farewell to her spouse with the slight bending of the truth, “Of course I love you, but you're wanted elsewhere.” Omitting the fact that she loved him more when they weren't sharing the same house, the same bed, the same long winter nights together, or that she'd feel relieved when he'd gone. That she'd hug the empty days to herself and feel a warm glow like that of the rising sun. A glow that spread from within and lit her without. Her eyes would sparkle, her face would take on a dewy complexion, and her lips would appear redden like that of a tempting ripe apple.
Assume the appearance of an Eve, and yet not give herself completely: wholly over to the ties of partnership or matrimony. Still very much thinking and feeling as an individual. Mate absenteeism would be a blessing, not a curse, and she'd break social convention to attain it. Define her terms.
An absentee mate an necessity not a bonus for she prefers to create womanly mystique. An air of mystery, which she considers the saviour of relationships; the chief law being that each retains their own privacy and interests, and spends as little domestic time together as possible. Having too much intimate knowledge of another kills passion; smaller doses accentuates it, and more so if you were born with a restless spirit. You're not less committed, but distance keeps feelings alive. In some cases strengthening them so they don't become commonplace like a native flower that you walk passed every day and don't look at.
Some people would judge, cast doubt on this form of love and genial companionship, but why is it wrong, seen as odd or frowned upon? It may not be everyone's idea of the 'perfect' relationship, but for others that's exactly what it is. Some women prefer not to be permanently joined at the hip to an Adam as they value their need to live independently more. Failure to honour this need, for it is a essential need and not a selfish luxury, would only lead to bust-ups, divorce courts and estrangements. Rebelling against their true nature: the trait that compels them to fly and to resent captivity generates self-inflicted complications. Some it drives to madness, but these ones are either caught or convinced they must try. Try, try, try to conform. To that external picture of wife and mother. Pretend they feel maternal instincts when in truth they have none, or at least not in the way it's decreed they should by the majority.
But there are some rare Adams who confess to taking the same line – to disobey what society says we most desire: a conventional union, ideally with children, and well before you're fifty years of age.
Ah, those poor souls!” the married ones say, “He has no wife/She has no husband. What a dismal, tiny life they must lead!”
Yet disobedient Eves still bare the brunt of this scorn - it's unnatural, it's unwomanly - while Adams can fraternise all they want. Who cares as long as they're sowing seeds with different tempting willing Eves and not just one?

Quote Credit: Two on a Tower, Thomas Hardy
Picture Credit: Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus, 1891,  John William Waterhouse