Is companionship still the ultimate goal or does the pursuit of liberation and self-expression take us beyond it?
Last night, at a reception for the Japanese consul General, I met a friend after many years. “I’m single and don’t want to loose this precious ‘freedom’,” she said. And if the man she married was liberated and gave her space? She vehemently insisted that she could “have him” anyway without marriage. “What purpose could marriage serve anyway in this day and age?”
Cut to a long lunch with friends and here I find an even more liberated endorsement of that view from a women who covets freedom over the trappings of marriage.
“Come on, it’s modern times!” says my friend, as I look up at her, bewildered. All the attention from my salad Niçoise transferred to her now, with her startling revelations on her “liberated” sex life.
Yes, we are seeing more and more women belonging to the urban class who are financially independent veering toward a freedom of expression and an independence of choice. Not driven by conservative views on virginity, matrimony or committed fidelity to one partner, these women don’t want to loose their freedom at all. Yes, for them, modern times mean liberation and freedom with choices towards sex untrammelled with heavy hangovers of love or sentiment beyond “an interesting person”!
But even so, I find many of these ladies still keep their lifestyles under cover.
Here she is blatantly telling me that she had sex involving interludes with the same mindset as was earlier relegating to men. What about love? I am modern too, but doesn’t love have to be a pre-requisite?
“I do believe in love” she tells me, “and, yes, it would be great if it came my way. I do deserve a partner who will be that ‘one’! But I’m a self-willed independent minded thing — and I’ve not met a man who can take me on. But do I have to languish on a shelf? I’m not hung up on marriage and apron-strings or driven by what people say. It’s about getting a life. Men have had it that way too long. Now it’s our turn — We’re human too aren’t we?” She declares with flourish.
To an extent, what she tells me is relevant or even practical, but what of the sanctity that has been associated with this aspect of life? — This lady seems to have thought it through.
She explains that the sanctity of marriage is about the act of creating a new life. About pro-creation, and responsibility for the child and care and maintenance of the woman who is your partner in carrying forward your lineage. None of this is important in a world were women are having babies alone with a sperm donor or, more often, not interested in progeny.
My mind reverts to the idealism of physicality as a culmination of emotion, and caring and the old-fashioned word, ‘love’. All this alleged modernity to me suggests a people who are lost in some sense.
If life is about being immersed in one’s own self, one’s own needs, desires and one’s own individuality, largely disconnected to the feelings of people close to your life or society in general, I wonder if it is a fully satisfying life?
My own feeling is, that economic independence does not take away, although it may seem to, from emotional needs at a deeper level.
I feel that a ‘life-partner’ — indeed a partner hopefully for life — sharing, caring through life’s travails and joys, and the ensuing commitment it brings about makes of life a more noble endeavour. And what is wrong with idealism? Is modernism the death knell of emotion, attachment and unselfishness? Where you are too preoccupied with your own appetite for life to concern yourself with the joys of companionship?
But different strokes for different folks. Judgemental philosophy can have us going round in circles reaching nowhere! So, yes, while I do believe long term one would definitely miss an enduring companionship, I also realise that some people just prefer liberation to all else.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at email@example.com