mooglets: (Default)
[personal profile] mooglets
I first wrote this something like three weeks ago.

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I am beginning of think that one of the reasons I like Jane Austen so much is that (aside from the fact that she’s basically a satirist and a feminist and a great character writer) her romances were written at a time when there were strict guidelines as to how people were expected to act. There are rules to follow, expected actions to take, set amounts of time people could be with one another (fifteen minutes or half hour visiting times and so on).

It’s like, everything conforms to a set rule book, and the rules are easy to follow - someone does this, so someone else must do that, you can’t do this, they can’t do that - and so on.




I know very well that the period was extremely constricting, obviously, and sex education was, to put it bluntly, abysmal (I have been informed that both parties involved could end up traumatised if they weren’t well prepared before hand); elder sons were expected to marry well, women couldn’t own their own property and so on, so there were a lot of intrigues and arranged marriages and mother’s conspiring to catch moneyed men simply to make sure the daughters were settled well and didn’t end up being a burden on their families and so on with all the chauvinistic, misogynistic, sexist crap of the era (as well a shit ton of other things that were just wrong.)

That set of rules, guidelines, the strict way of going about a romance - especially as they are lined out in the Jane Austen novels - is something that appeals to me because, I swear, the whole modern/current dating thing makes zero sense to me. I’ve read modern/current romance novels and always found myself unable to relate, because they didn’t make much sense.

Obviously, Austen didn’t always follow them, that’s kind of the point of her books - unlikely romances, women who didn’t follow the rules laid out before them by society (Elizabeth Bennett anyone?) And you can tell she wasn’t fond of the rules and the guidelines from the way her characters talked about certain things here and there.

There’s an easy to follow flow in the Austen novels, though. And I’ve read books about etiquette in that period, so I get it. The guidelines people were expected to follow sort of make sense (not if you extrapolate to now, of course, what with our current recognition of gender and sexual diversity) and I can follow along and get what’s happening.

There’s nothing like that for contemporary romance. I don’t get it and there aren’t exactly any rule books that the entire Western collective follows. I hear contradictory ‘rules’ all the damn time, which just serves to confuse me.

I don’t get] what romance is anyway. Is it flowers and hearts and chocolates? Going on dinner dates? Movie dates? Cuddling up to watch a film together? Buying small gifts to give to your partner/prospective partner just for the hell of it? Are these romantic things? I do these things with people I consider friends. Sometimes people I consider acquaintances. (Except for the flowers and hearts, because I’m aware that those are overtly ‘romantic’ gestures - yes? It’s hard to miss the way they’re paraded around on Valentine’s day and in romantic comedies. And I suppose there’s a difference between a dinner date in a well lit place, and a dinner date in a low-light place? Does that count as different enough? Am I meant to think that low-lighting conveys, I don’t know, intimacy? While well-lit doesn’t? Or what? But I’ve had dinners with friends, not prospective partners, in low-lit places! And what I understand is actual dates in well-lit places!)

(I’m actually sitting here trying to think of ‘romantic’ things, and I’m stumped - that little list I just gave you is about as much as I can come up with - but as I say, I do that for friends and acquaintances as well - so where the hell is the line? If I don’t know where that line is, how do I cross it if I want to, and avoid it if I don’t? Is this why I’ve had unwanted advances in the past? Because I’ve done these little things [i]I[/i] just think of as considerate, but apparently someone else thinks of as romantic? I don’t really know. I mean, I get [i]some[/i] of it, because I’m 28 years old, and I’ve been in 6 relationships, so I’ve picked things up through trial and error and conditioning from my partners.)

I think, basically what I’m saying, is that I wish there was a rule book. I wish there were set out guidelines that I could read and understand, and that every person I am likely to meet has also read and understood.

I may be aromantic, but I would very much like a companion sometime in my future, and going through all this rigamarole that I simply don’t understand (and most of the time don’t care to understand) is unappealing and just a huge pain in the ass.

If we had this actual set of rules that everyone played by - like they do in the Austen novels - things would be so much easier. I could make it apparent right off the bat that I’m aromantic and asexual and any prospective partner would understand and know the rules that applied in my case. It would be infinitely easier.

Ugh.
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