Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Why I hate the word 'domestic' (Or, why you shouldn't ask me about marriage)

As a teenager, I told my mother I did not want to learn how to cook. In my naive view, I didn't need to know. I enjoyed food, but the meals we had at home had become boring for me. I wasn't going to cook- I would get my partner to, or housemate, or simply just buy take out and ready prepared meals.

Then, a year or so ago at the age of 20, I became more interested in cooking and baking. I started looking up recipes, experimenting with flavours. And I started to really enjoy baking. I've always had a sweet tooth, and thus baking was perfect for me.

In April I moved out of home. So thus, I was cooking more and buying things in the shops I never had before (because I had never needed to buy saucepans or side tables or wine glasses previously).

Then, when around family came the inevitable comment, the one that I despise for many reasons:

'Haven't you become domestic'

Said will admiration and a sly smile. As if it is an accomplishment that I have finally embraced 'womanly' things like cooking and cleaning and interior design. The implication, of course, that these are required skills for the future, when I will be solely responsible for keeping house.

This frustrates me to no end. In fact, my boyfriend with whom I moved out with has also began to cook more, and clean more, and buy things for the house. But he is never subjected to the tag of being 'domestic'.

They say it in a good meaning way. In fact, they believe it to be a compliment. It is a good thing that I will be able to take care of my boyfriend in the future by cooking for him. It's a good thing I am interested in buying things for my apartment, so I can make it look nice for my boyfriend.

Which brings me to the next statement I despise hearing. Something that I have grown to hear more recently, something which is guaranteed to make me see red.

The 'when are you getting married?' question. Not always structured as a question, it is sometimes thrown in as a comment along the lines of 'you two will be getting married soon'.

Because obviously, as a twenty-one year old who has almost finished university, who has numerous opportunities coming her way, the question about the future I should be focused on is when I will be getting a husband. Not what my plans are for university, if I want to travel, if I plan to move away or stay here or if I want to become a journalist or work in the Public Service.

I have been with my boyfriend for roughly 3 1/2 years. We are both young, and not even finished university yet. And we are not getting married anytime soon. But even if we were planning on getting married, this would not be the most important aspect of our future. We both want to travel, build careers, do a number of things that are more immediate and more important than marriage.

To be honest, I'm not even sure marriage is something I particularly care about, in the scheme of things. I'm not saying I would never get married, but it's not particularly high on my list of priorities in my life. And it's not that I don't want to have a family (I do, eventually), but that I don't feel marriage is a necessary part of life. And I am sick to death of everyone asking a twenty one year old student when she is getting married, as if this should be something on my mind, that I should be planning and dreaming of the day when I am lucky enough for a man to want to marry me.

And this isn't just confined to the older population either. It's not a byproduct of grandparents thinking that everyone should be married young like they did. It's young people like me, asking if I'm thinking about it, if we've discussed it, what the timeline for engagement is. I have been told by people my age that calling my boyfriend a 'boyfriend' is immature, that I should refer to him as my 'partner'.

Give me a break.

Honestly, everyone needs to get out of the mindset that women want to be married, and want to be married straight away. And if you want to stay on my good side, don't ask me about marriage or comment on my cooking. Discuss the economy, politics, recent films, or my studies. Ask me about anything except how I'm 'domestic'.