Dodge Sees a Future for Love and Marriage: Intimate Memories

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Title

Dodge Sees a Future for Love and Marriage: Intimate Memories

Subject

Sex, Gender, Women, and the New Woman

Description


Dodge Sees a Future for Equal Love and Marriage

Despite struggling in her own life with how the subordinate role of women prevented their full participation in open marriages, Dodge consistently looks forward to the future and believes in the ability for change to come. Dodge’s hopeful stance on love and marriage illustrates Dodge’s intuitive ability to accurately look forward to the future beyond “The New”. Dodge’s perceptiveness and positivity in reform is the spirit that allows her to execute so many momentous events like the Armory Show and the Paterson Pageant during her short stay in Greenwich Village. Dodge is wise enough to acknowledge how the world she exists in prevents love and marriage from thriving while also understanding that equality could come about in the future. Trimberger writes how the ideal for marriage before and during Dodge’s time was that “Husband and wife were supposed to be companions but the increasing separation between men’s public and women’s private worlds meant that the ‘ideal’ for companionship was rarely achieved” (10). Dodge does not view this separation of spheres negatively, but perceives it as an opportunity for growth.

Dodge states, “I do not believe or disbelieve in marriage.” By not taking a stance, Dodge’s writing reflects her openness to new directions (Luhan 2665). Saying that she does not “believe in marriage” conveys how Dodge doesn’t really ascribe to a concrete judgment on any institution or idea. Dodge is still critical of the ways in which an institution might be problematic while not demonizing it completely like other feminists of The Village. One of Dodge’s closest companions, Mina Loy, denounces marriage and heterosexual love. Loy writes, “Women must destroy in herself the desire to be loved” (Barnet 21). Loy’s frustration was echoed by her contemporaries, but Dodge’s perspective conveys how Dodge was able to look ahead. Dodge could see marriage as imperfect and unjust but did not denounce it. Another woman of the Village, Edna Dell, claims her lover (Floyd Dell) “was trying to shackle her with the old feminine labors of cooking and baby tending” (Trimberger 11). Dodge looks to better the institution as long as individuals still desire marriage. Dodge’s receptiveness to the complexity and ambiguity of the future allows her to stage more complicated conversations with her peers about institutions like marriage. Dodge’s beliefs about marriage stem from her belief in the importance of the individual. Dodge says love can exist “within an institution or without it,” which conveys how Dodge’s opinions were always focused on the complexity of the individual. Dodge is suggesting “to each their own,” and imagining a future in which equality and love could flourish inside or outside the institution of marriage.

Dodge doesn’t believe in concrete ideals, but one thing Dodge does believe in is the beauty of the individual and in humanity. From Dodge’s effusive writing on her lovers, it is already apparent that she is a hopeless romantic, but there is something to be said about the power of her positivity. Dodge’s positivity promotes progress. Dodge writes, “I do believe in love… providing that it is free” (Luhan 2666). Dodge very rarely says that she believes in anything. Dodge believed in human good and the possibility for pure love. Dodge’s optimism throughout her writing conveys she was so open to new ideas as an attempt to further humanity as a whole. Dodge is at her core a humanist. Dodge’s work was about bringing people together, which is really centered around her belief in the importance and beauty of every individual. Dodge believes in a type of love that can be liberated from the constraints of institutions.

Dodge understands that, despite the constraints of Greenwich Village 1910, this ideal is attainable. In the microcosm of Greenwich Village feminists who denounce love and marriage, Dodge attempts to navigate relationships applying the ideology of the “New Woman” and to make herself a catalyst for change. Trimberger writes, “Women like Mabel Dodge persuaded men to participate in relationships with the egalitarian ideal” (11). Though use of the word “persuaded” insinuates that the men weren’t as interested in the relationships as Dodge, what Trimberger is saying is that Dodge actively pushed for equality in her love life. Dodge never accepts less than equal love, and therefore, she is part of many failed relationships. Even after being separated from people she had deep connections with, Dodge is able to believe that equality in love is possible.

Barnet, Andrea. All Night Party: The Women of Bohemia Greenwich Village and
Harlem. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2004. Print.

Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Intimate Memories: The Autobiography of Mabel Dodge Luhan (Kindle Locations 2665-2667). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.

Trimberger, Ellan Kay. Intimate Warriors. Ed. Ellan Kay Trimberger. New York: The Feminist
Press, 1991. Print.

Creator

Mabel Dodge

Source

Intimate Memories

Publisher

University of New Mexico Press

Date

Published 1999, ca. 1914

Contributor

Lois Rudnick

Format

Written Memoir

Language

English

Type

Memoir

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

“I do not believe or disbelieve in marriage, but I do believe in love, which may exist either within the institution or outside of it, providing that it is free. Free love seems to me that love which has been released from any limitation of personality or self-seeking, and which finds its fullest expression in service.”

Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Intimate Memories: The Autobiography of Mabel Dodge Luhan (Kindle Locations 2665-2667). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.

Original Format

Written Memoir