In Defense of Rory Gilmore

gilmore-girls-netflix-revival-rory

Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

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I’m telling you the Truth: you gatta believe me!

Just so you know: My friend is a Good Guy.

Of all the stupid, thoughtless, insipid things that people say to single, childless women approaching thirty (or not approaching thirty) that the Internet loves to list alongside GIFs of celebrities rolling their eyes in exasperation, the one I have been getting since I was nineteen is the following.

Me: No, I don’t think I want kids.

Them, turning around and seeing me play with a baby: Sure you don’t.

Recently I had lunch with an expecting couple.  In the car the man said something to me about “when I get pregnant”; I exclaimed, “why are you so mean to me?”  We laughed.

At the restaurant, a couple with a small child were seated next to us.  The baby was somewhere between six and twelve months.  She was sitting up and smiling, but not running around yet.  My friends and I smiled and played with the baby from our seats after one of them struck up a conversation with the other couple.  My friend, the expecting father, takes a good, long look at me and says:

“See?  You changed your mind.”

As if I’ve never seen a baby before and my eyes were just opened to their sweet adorableness.  Let’s forget the fact that I have four nieces and nephews, I used to live with my nephews and one of my nieces, and that I was present for the birth of one of my nephews.  Also I lead middle schoolers on nature hikes, and, in high school, I used to babysit and work in the church nursery during Thursday night services.  But, of course, it was seeing that adorable baby in the Boston restaurant that opened my heart and my cervix to having one of my own.

OK, some women want children.  They know this ardently in their hearts.  Some women I know have described it like a switch being thrown.  One day they were cruising along, not caring they didn’t have children, then, the next day, BAM, they were filled with a desire to have babies.  This might happen to me.  Other women I know have known for many years they want children, and, therefore, are actively pursuing relationships trying to find the man with whom they want to pump out some rugrats.  This has not happened to me.  Still other women I know have fallen in love and married the man with whom they want to share their lives and haven’t given a second thought to producing any wee ones.  This neither has happened to me.  Many other women I know are single, dating, childless, and aren’t giving much thought to having babies.  Like me.

I am turning thirty in the next few months, but I look like I ought to be declaring a major, I tend to paint my nails black, and I don’t drive.  People don’t often ask me when I think I’m going to have children; they tend to think I am a child myself.  After a little conversation, new people tend to ask “how are you single?”  It’s once people get to know me, know that I am smack dab in the middle of my baby conceiving years (literally, if women in my family really tend to hit menopause at forty five), that they call me a liar about my lack-of-desire for babies.

“But you’re so good with kids!”

“I want to see your beauty and intelligence passed on!”

“Kids love you!  You’d be such a fun mom!”

“You don’t want to be an old mom!”

“You’re going to change your mind one day.”

Thanks, friends.

To be fair I am fun, intelligent, pretty, and good with kids.  But I am also seasonally employed; I have trouble keeping both plants and pets alive; I don’t have a permanent address; my savings account is dismally low; I don’t have health insurance; I am single; I’ve never had a romantic relationship that remained healthy longer than six months.  And, probably Most Importantly: There are a number of things I’d like to do before I settle down with a husband and/or a baby (if we decide to have any).  Babies are so far off my radar, the SONAR doesn’t even pick up their signal.

My friend didn’t mean anything by his comments.  He is simply excited by his own situation.  He is excited and he wants other people to be excited.  He also knows that I am excited for them.  But, like people who have recently gotten engaged or married and try to set up all their single friends so they can be as happy as them, he is spreading his excitement around illogically and unchecked.  I am not offended by my friend, because he is my friend and I know all this about him.  (If he were a stranger it’d be a different story.)  But it would be nice to be given the benefit of the doubt and believed when I say I’m not interested in having children.  Especially when I turn around and have fun playing with a small child.

Because Other Peoples’ Children love me doesn’t mean I ought to want some of my own.  And it doesn’t mean you can make me want kids because you think I should want kids.  There are seven billion people alive on the planet today.  Human beings are putting a strain on the Earth and her resources.  Some of us not having babies won’t save the world, but it might help alleviate the stress.  Also, and More Importantly: whether or not I have children is entirely up to me.

Link

“The Pregnancy-Industrial Complex” by Laura Tropp

Currently, since I am poor, homeless, and unemployed, my only viable living options are with people-with-kids; mostly baby to toddler aged kids (unless I move to Arizona, then it’s a ten year old).  The best option for me is with a couple with a two year old and a newborn (not even two weeks).  They live in an area that embraces Public Transportation and has the most job options for someone like me.

Some things I have learned: Kids are tough.

Since I was present for the birth (in the next room listening to everything going on and praying my older nephew didn’t wake up — yeah, home birth) I have had a number of people ask me the following two questions: 1) What was it like/Was is scary? and 2) Does this experience make you want to have kids of your own?

1. No.  It wasn’t scary.  I knew what was going on.  I knew my sister was in labor and I’ve seen enough television and listened to enough women yap about their birthing experiences to know that it sucks and it’s uncomfortable and sometimes all you can do is scream.  The midwives and my bro-in-law didn’t seem worried so I didn’t worry (and I am a huge empathetic worrier when it comes to my siblings).  Personally, I was more concerned we weren’t going to need the tub and no one was going to tell me and I was going to keep filling it and then we wouldn’t need it.  Thankfully they told me before the water was a foot deep and there was less to pump out than there otherwise would have been.

Home birth is one of those things that is heavily portrayed as a hippie-crunchy totally completely out there sort of thing that only nudist, fake Buddhist, pot smoking, pseudo-environmentalists do with only their yoga instructor/tattoo artist/doula to preside (except for, of course, that episode of Judging Amy).  But it turns out my sister isn’t totally insane and there are a lot of benefits to home birth. A) you don’t have to worry about taking the kid home.  B) No doctors or cold medical staff, pushy nurses, people who view childbirth as business as usual.  The midwives might do this for a living, but these women seemed to see each client, each baby, as individual cases that require specialized care and attention.  I would want these women to take care of me in any situation, they were so kind and caring and funny.  C) While they were down to earth and friendly, they were also extremely professional and clearly knew what they were doing and talking about.  If anything had gone wrong I am confident they would have been able to handle it – even if that meant rushing my sister or nephew to the hospital.

2. No.  Oh god, no.  Someone else having a baby or getting married or going to grad school does not make another person want to do these things too.  I can be happy for someone else having a baby, but that by no means makes me want to have one.  This experience, being present, listening to my sister give birth, being with the family while they get used to having a newborn, watching my older nephew try to cope with the fact that he’s not the center of attention anymore, has done one thing for me on the children front: reconfirmed that I am not ready.

When my mother was my age she either had three kids or had three kids and was pregnant with her fourth, I’m not sure.  That idea blows my mind.  I cannot imagine currently being married, let alone having a bunch of kids to care for.  I have barely lived a normal “adult” life, the idea of changing that for a kid is unfathomable.  I don’t feel badly about this: not everyone is meant to be a parent.  And, if they are, they aren’t necessarily meant to be a parent at the same age as another.  My sister told me she started really wanting a baby when she was my age now.  It took a few years, but she got one — and now she has two!  But I am in no rush.  I might never have kids!  And, right now, I am ok with that.

The linked article above also makes me not want to have children.  The obsession with celebrity pregnancies and the pressure to look as good as Katie Holmes or Kym Cardashien or Kate Middleton when they were pregnant is ridiculous.  People praise Katie Holmes for being so cute and dressing Suri like an American Girl Doll and turn around and knock Jennifer Garner for having normal looking kids and neither are really important.  I see moms stressing over wanting their kid to be the cutest and it’s exhausting.  I don’t want to be one of those women.  Or, if that is my fate, I don’t want to be one of those women yet.

I am relatively young and have always sort of been a little bit of a late bloomer, comparatively.  All my friends had boyfriends in the sixth grade and I turned down my first offer in the seventh grade because I knew I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t start thinking about what I want to do with my life until I was in college; most people I knew had their lives planned at fifteen.  I live an unstable lifestyle because I get bored and I like to move on.  I have never been a career-minded person, therefore I am seeking something, anything, that isn’t my old job simply because I’m ready for a change.  I am absolutely still in some sort of exploratory phase of life and have many things I’d like to accomplish before Children are any sort of a reality.

Being present for a birth doesn’t automatically turn on that biological clock metaphor thing.

In her article, Tropp comments that pregnancy used to be a “period of waiting” but medical advances, celebrity and media culture have all contributed to make pregnancy into “another over-hyped, over-romanticized, over-marketed product”.  Everyone wants to see pictures of “the bump”, they want to know about your morning sickness, they want to know what color you are going to paint the inside of the baby’s closet; women make molds of their pregnant bodies, they paint their swollen bellies, they have nude photoshoots so they can remember the experience forever (is it really that forgettable?).  There are a plethora of (un)necessary products for pregnancy that our grandmothers’ would laugh at, and events during pregnancy that don’t seem all that exciting.  Baby showers are one of the worst experiences I’ve ever gone through (followed closely by Bridal showers), I can’t imagine what a “gender reveal party” could possibly entail, but I never want to find out.

(She also makes an interesting comment about how in America we provide all sorts of support and events and attention to a woman while she is pregnant then pretty much leave her alone once the baby is born; other countries, however, she says, focus a bit more on giving the woman support after the baby is born – you know, when she really needs it.  As Garfunkel and Oates say “Pregnant women are smug” they don’t need quite as much support as the woman does once she has the crying, pooping, suckling bundle of joy.  New moms are a mess; Juno’s stepmom says it very eloquently: “[You look] like a new mom: scared shitless”.)

As a selectively private person, I say this now, I think my pregnancy is one thing I would want to keep to myself.  It feels like one of those things that doesn’t really have anything to do with other people.  If you’re not the mother or the father, or the grandparents, I suppose, then it’s really none of your business.  Then again, as a human being I understand the value of a baby to the community.  Babies are, to anyone not the family, symbols of Life and Hope and Goodness; and all communities need to be reminded of that time and again.

For me, children are only on my radar because I am living with people-with-kids.  If I were surrounded by people more in my stage of life, they wouldn’t be on my radar at all.  I am always loads more comfortable when I am with my childless friends – or, rather, friends who do not constantly talk about their kids.  I am not married and I do not have children and neither are likely to happen any time soon.  It is important, I think, not to blow off your married friends or your parent friends, but it’s just as important as an unmarried and childless person to seek out the company of others like you.  It’s important to have friends in the same phase of life as you.  Otherwise things just start looking sad and you get bored and start feeling like you’re never going to get anywhere — at least I tend to.