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  1. I would love to be able to simply scrap, as you put it, the parts of marriage I don’t like, and keep the rest. However, it’s been my experience that society doesn’t allow that us privilege — social expectations and pressures are usually a sort of package deal. As an example, what you suggests sounds to be much like saying I can scrap the parts of being female that I don’t like (i.e. lower pay, sexual harassment, glass ceiling, fear of rape, etc.), and keep the parts I do like. Gracious, I sure wish I could do that! :)

    Further, for all the social squabbling about what a child really needs to be raised well, we’re still dancing around one huge issue which needs to be brought out for discussion: in US society today, it takes two adults to earn enough money for a comfortable middle-class family. If marriage dictates there are but two parents, and they’re both working… then who takes care of the kids? Further, when (not if) most couples are driven apart into divorce by the stresses of struggling to both work and raise children — how does that affect the poor children themselves?

    This is where I think the matrifocal subculture of the Moso of China have a fascinating solution which bears careful consideration in our culture as well: they’ve disconnected marriage and child rearing. In fact, they don’t have marriage at all, and there are no words for “husband” or “father” in their culture. Children are raised by extended families consisting of a matriline: a woman, her children, her daughters’ children, and her granddaughters’ children. Men may visit other family houses to sleep with their lovers, but “their” children are the children of their sisters. As the Moso poignantly put it in the article I read, lovers come and go, but their children always have a stable and loving family.

    While I know we can’t simplistically swipe whole-cloth from another culture without significant changes, I still wish we had that healthy an attitude regarding raising children.

  2. I can most assuredly get behind the idea that a heroine, male or female (to use your literary assumption) has to be, as a basic building block, a thinking, feeling person that acts upon the world, rather than having the world act upon them. There are many people out there that don’t even meet this basic requirement, but they are not folks I want to read about for entertainment, unless the story is about them becoming that kind of person. But at the very least, a protagonist of this nature does not qualify as a ‘heroic saga’, and would likely be some other kind of fiction all together.

    As far as marriage is concerned, though, I am of two minds about it. While I’ve heard your beliefs on the matter, and tenatively agree that marriage is based in an outmoded place, it seems to me that at least part of what a marriage is is dependant on what you make of it. Just because there are pieces of it that you don’t like, doesn’t mean you can’t scrap the parts that you don’t like. Yes, the laws in regards to marriage are unfair in places, and those are much harder to ignore…ideally, if the relationship works, they’ll never come up. But what if it doesn’t? Ay, there’s the rub.

    This brings up a more interesting question: can heroine(s) be married, and still be heroines? I tenatively say yes, but it seems to me the question is going to be addressed in both of Briggs’s ongoing series. Mercy may be more independant than Anna, but she has also chosen to accept a werewolf as a mate, and there has been much discussion in previous books about her not wanting to get romantically involved precisely because Mercy was worried about losing that much cherished independance…

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