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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hobby Lobby and I Want to Marry Harry

Does a woman have the right not to be pregnant? Does she even have the right to be a woman?

In light of recent Supreme Court rulings and reality TV show viewings, I have been pondering these questions. Of course, I wasn’t surprised by the Hobby Lobby verdict, but I was sickened by it.  I was actually more surprised by the television show, I Want to Marry Harry, and I was slightly sickened by that too.

I watched every episode. Now, in my defense, it’s summer and none of our regular shows are on, and we’ve already burned through House of Cards. Plus, there’s the World Cup, which Monty’s been watching with members of his middle-aged-man soccer team. That’s left me to myself, because I’m not “allowed” to watch certain shows without him.

I realize it’s unfair for Monty to demand that I put my television viewing on hold, while he’s off gallivanting with his soccer buddies. But equality within a marriage is even more complex than societal equality, and if you don’t buy that justification, well, Monty isn’t “allowed” to watch certain shows without me, either.

Anyway, one night I was scrounging Hulu and I Want to Marry Harry was featured, and as I was bored, somewhat tired, and in the mood for something light. I figured, why not? Well, there were actually several reasons why not, but we’ll get to them later.

I won’t lie. I was transfixed. In the first episode, Matt, the Prince Harry look-alike, had already given the boot to Leah, the one contestant who wasn’t into fashion and who didn’t know how to flirt. I was in the middle of the second episode, and Maggie was being mocked for drinking too much while other contestants debated whether or not “Sir” was actually Prince Harry. I didn’t hear any footsteps so I jumped at Monty’s voice behind me.

“What are you watching?”

“Nothing!” I grabbed the remote and quickly shut the TV off. “Is the World Cup already over?”

“Yeah, for the night.” He gave me a look full of scrutiny. “Were you watching that Prince Harry look-alike show?”

“Maybe. Yes. So what if I was?”

Monty held up his hands in mock surrender. “No judgment, Luce. I just thought you were a feminist.”

Nowadays, “feminist” is almost a dirty word, although really, it just means that you stand for equal rights, equal pay, and equal respect between men and women. So yes, of course I’m a feminist. Yet I watched this show where women were lied to, made to look stupid, categorized into types (the drunk, the slut, the princess, the good-girl, etc.) and they were reduced to being “girls.”

Matt/fake Prince Harry and Kingsley the butler always referred to the women as girls.  Even the women did it, when talking about each other or even about themselves. They were always girls, never women.

Why? Because a “woman” is physically mature, capable of adult thoughts and actions, of caring for herself, and possibly for others too. A “girl” is juvenile, beautiful in her naïveté, and still attached to fairy tales. This show required girls, not women.

But this country’s legal system is no better. With the recent Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court also chose girls over women. One of Hobby Lobby’s main arguments was that the contraception in question can induce abortion, but science proves otherwise. So this case was decided more on fairy tale than on reality: girls don’t need contraception as much as corporations need to not have to think about what real women need.

I don’t claim to know what every woman needs, but I do know that the right not to be pregnant rates pretty high. As for my own needs, there are many, and my desires are even more numerous. I suppose one of them includes entertainment, because I Want to Marry Harry was entertaining, if nothing else. By the time sweet Kelly started sabotaging mean Megan, and every “girl” who suspected that Matt wasn’t actually Prince Harry immediately got sent home, I’d given up the pretense.

“It’s a fascinating comment on American society,” I told Monty, several days later, when I was still watching the show. He just laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

Okay, so maybe I hadn’t given up my pretenses, certainly not altogether. But I’m no worse than the Supreme Court, who still believes that all a woman needs is a fairy tale.


 Special sale! Right now American Angst is only 99 cents! Click here to read more stories about Lucy and Robin.

Also, a new Lucy/Monty story called "Scared Together" is featured in Love is All You Need: Ten Tales of Love from the Sophie King Prize. It will only be available in this book, and I'm very honored to have it included. Click here to download it!