I sometimes have a husband–though I am all-of-the-time unwed. My “sometimes husband” is an ever-changing gentleman with an elusive face and 10-12 different names. If I am dating somebody in real-life, my sometimes-husband never takes their name or face–strangely, that would feel too deceitful. Fictional husbands should never tamper with the living. This is a rule I have had to make up because nobody else has written rules about sometimes-husbands and the ethics that surround them.
In all honesty, it is less about my sometimes-husband and more about the implication of my sometimes-husband through my sometimes- wedding ring.
The sometimes wedding-ring is my Great Grandmother’s engagement ring in real-life and it usually sits on my right ring finger so as to avoid confusion but this same ring moonlights as my wedding ring when my sometimes husband comes to town–or, more accurately, when I go to towns that require a sometimes husband.
I was too when first introduced to the concept.
Frankly, I’m still confused today.
I’m confused that this seemingly innocuous symbol of marriage supposedly keeps me safer–but I’m not necessarily surprised that it does.
Some women wear wedding rings abroad so that they don’t get harassed or so they can avoid some unwanted attention.
I can’t seem to escape the cat calls or the looks or the exhaustingly unwanted flirtation. But I can deal with all of these things–I have learned to deal with all of these things. This is not why I have a sometimes-husband.
I have a sometimes-husband because I have learned first hand that there are places in the world where my non-consent will matter far less than this universal symbol that a man has full ownership of my vagina.
I have learned that I sometimes enter cultures where an anonymous man’s perceived claim to my body MATTERS, whereas my actual RIGHT to control my body does not.
Lately though, I’ve been struggling with the implications of wearing the ring: Am I buying into the cultural norms that I actually abhor? Am I empowering a womanizing culture by abiding by its twisted ethics? Would it be more powerful for me to walk down any given street, quietly declaring that I (an unwed, young, attractive woman) have the right to go anywhere I please? And if I did this, would it really change one underlying reality: while I might have the right to go where I want, without extensive precautions, I cannot always do it safely.
Moreover, this whole thought process has left me struggling with a conversation that rarely happens: why aren’t we talking about how much more difficult it is to travel as a woman than as a man? why aren’t we addressing the fact that even within our own country, it is more dangerous to move around as a woman alone? why are we accepting this as an unfortunate reality instead of seeking to curtail it as an abhorrent abomination? why aren’t more men livid that their friends and sisters and mothers and wives are in danger? but maybe much more importantly, why aren’t more women?