Live. Laugh. Lexapro.

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Speaker 1: That’s it.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the Web’s Slate’s podcast about gender feminism and this week, medication. Every episode you get a new pair of women to talk about the thing we cannot get off of our mind. And today you’ve got me. Shannon Palus, a senior editor at Slate.

Speaker 3: And me, Mia Armstrong. I’m the managing editor of Future Tense, which is a partnership between Slate, Arizona State University and New America that examines emerging technologies, public policy and society. I also work on State of Mind, which is a partnership between Slate and ASU that explores mental health.

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Speaker 2: And I’m so excited to be talking with you today because we’re going to be talking about Access our Eyes, a.k.a. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These are a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. They’ve been in the news recently for a couple of reasons. First of all, there’s been this right wing idea floating around, promoted by the Tucker Carlson’s of the world that they have something to do with school shootings. But if you take as us our eyes, that could lead you to do really terrible things, which is just not true. There’s also a big new paper out talking about what serotonin has or doesn’t have to do with depression, which has led to a lot of conversations about whether accessorised, quote unquote, work in the first place. We’re going to unpack that in the second segment of the show.

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Speaker 2: I’m really excited to talk about this because I’ve taken accessorized myself for a long time for anxiety and depression and. Even though they’ve really changed my life and made a lot of my life possible and interesting and cool and wonderful ways, I also have kind of a hate relationship with the side effects of them, and I’m sort of questioning whether I want to be on SSRI ies for my whole life.

Speaker 3: Yeah, this is a topic I like you can’t stop thinking about because I’m really fascinated by the Venn diagram of mental health, identity and medication, and also just the way that women in particular navigate mental health systems that I think are usually set up to fail us. So I got my first mental health diagnosis in college. I was 19 and I’ve defined myself a lot based on that diagnosis since then.

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Speaker 3: I’ve had a relationship with medication in the past, and I’m kind of trying to navigate my relationship with medication in the future.

Speaker 3: And as I do that, I’m wondering, like you are, about how the cultural narratives that we have, whether it’s through influencers or other mental health advocates, or just like the conversations that we have with our doctors, how all of those different narratives coming together kind of shape our relationships with our mental health diagnoses and whether medication is a part of that relationship, for better or for worse.

Speaker 2: All right. Coming up on the show, we’re going to talk about the conversations around SS our eyes and women. But first, a break. In this first segment, we’re going to talk about how accessories are prescribed and some of the narratives around how women use them. First, though, I wanted to say a little bit about how they came into my life.

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Speaker 2: I kind of reached a breaking point with my anxiety in college, like a lot of people, and went to the Student Health Center to a regular appointment with a regular general practitioner and was like, Look, I need help to abbreviate the story. He handed me a prescription for Effexor, which is in a class of drugs related to Access Our Eyes, but isn’t quite an SSRI. And it was like, Great. Make an appointment at the Student Health Center for Therapy also and take these pills. And guess what? I took the pills to me an appointment for therapy because that was easier. And the way I ended up going to therapy a couple of years after and kind of went off Effexor and went off everything and then went on what I’m currently on Lexapro, which is an SSRI.

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Speaker 2: I sort of feel like I made this decision when I was really young. That medication was going to be part of my life and that medication could help me. And now I’m just starting to think about like, okay, what are some other things that I can do to treat my anxiety that are maybe more time consuming and expensive, but might be better for me in the long run? Mia What’s your experience with medication and accessories?

Speaker 3: Mine was a similar experience. I was in college. I was 19. I started having what I now recognize were anxiety attacks, and I went to the health center on campus. I made an appointment again with a general practitioner who made me take a seven and 8 to 12 tests, which are half that that some doctors use to diagnose anxiety and depression. I was diagnosed with anxiety and I was also sent home with a prescription for the anxiety medication use for own, which is not an SSRI either, but it’s often used in conjunction with SSRI or just by itself to treat anxiety.

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Speaker 3: And so I took this brand kind of without question, for the next two or three years. It helped me during that period of my life, and I remember the whole ordeal with the general practitioner in the in the student health clinic lasted like 20 minutes and there wasn’t much analysis of like what my life looked like or like what other options were for me, or like what taking this medication looked like in concert with other things, as you mentioned, like therapy.

Speaker 3: But in that moment, I do remember I felt really empowered because the doctor explained my mental health diagnosis. And these terms of like your brain chemicals are out of whack, you know, you can take some medication and we can balance them out and you’ll feel better. And to me, that felt very empowering because I think some of the internalized stigma that I had surrounding mental health, I was blaming myself for the way that I felt and for what was happening to me. And to know that I didn’t have to blame myself anymore was a really empowering experience.

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Speaker 3: Long story short, some years later, I had kind of stopped taking views for own, but I found myself in a rough spot again. My therapist at the time suggested I see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with anxiety again, and this time also with depression. And the psychiatrist prescribed me an SSRI called Lexapro. I just kept hearing again and again in my mind the echo of what the doctor had told me about side effects. He had said like, Be really careful. You’ll probably feel really drowsy and out of it the first days. Like make sure you don’t have anything important at work because you know, again, you might not be yourself. And I just kept hearing that I felt like a lot of fear surrounding the conversation of side effects. And I kept making excuses to delay starting the medication.

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Speaker 3: And then what happened is, somewhat unexpectedly, I moved so I wasn’t going to be able to do a follow up with the same psychiatrist. I didn’t have a psychiatrist in the place where I moved to. Some circumstances with my life changed and things started to feel a little bit more manageable. So I didn’t actually end up starting the medication. But for the next year or so, I would look at the prescription bottle that I had filled. I had it on my bedside table and I would think, like, what if, what if, what if? And I certainly don’t want to generalize my experience, and I would always recommend that people follow their doctors instructions. But I will just say that my experience with the process of being prescribed medication has generally been a negative one, where I just haven’t felt that there is a holistic conversation about how I’m feeling and what my options are.

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Speaker 2: I want to like pick out a word that you said in the middle of your story, empowered, because even with these complex questions around medication, whether one medication or another medication is the right choice for you, whether you could be or in a perfect world would be doing other things. I really felt that empowered feeling, too. When I first got my Effexor prescription, I remember almost crying in the doctor’s office being like, What is my mom going to think if she hears that I’m taking these? Like she’s going to worry about me. And then I remember going to the pharmacy and filling the prescription and paying for the prescription with my own money and just thinking I’m taking my health into my hands. And this is really cool.

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Speaker 3: One of the things that we don’t talk about very much is like how many people are on medication, right? So according to a recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics, around 18% of women and 8% of men used antidepressant medications in the past 30 days. So that’s really significant. And it’s also kind of significant to note the difference of 18% of women and 8% of men. And in addition to being more likely to use medication to treat mental health, women are also more likely to seek counseling. And notably, there was also a study from Sweden that showed that women are prescribed antidepressants without reporting depression more often than men. And the researchers in this study said that that finding was possibly a sign of overtreatment for women.

Speaker 2: That’s so interesting. So kind of the implication from those numbers is that maybe women are more anxious and depressed than men. And also maybe doctors are more likely to see someone for like a very short appointment and say, oh, you’re just depressed, take this and you’ll feel better.

Speaker 3: I want to ask you, like, why you think this is like why we have arrived at this point. Like, I think, you know, part of the issue is, is like we don’t have a robust mental health care system. So maybe like someone’s only interaction with the mental health system can beat us like a 20 minute free appointment at the student health center. Or like if we had a more robust system for folks like maybe we would be able to have more holistic care. But like, how do you think we have gotten to where we are, where, you know, this is kind of a norm for people, these these quick appointments and then leaving with a prescription.

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Speaker 2: So in addition to taking SSRI, as I’ve done, just an absolute fake time of talk therapy and it is so, so expensive and time consuming. I early in my 20 years, I did cognitive behavioral therapy that which is like for me, this looked like having a therapist designed this whole plan where I was exposed to my anxiety triggers and I acted them out in a safe setting and I felt nervous and I talked about it with her. And I did this like week after week for months. And those appointments were 40 bucks a pop, which was just an incredibly good deal.

Speaker 2: I happened to live in Philadelphia, where the University of Pennsylvania has this training program for therapists. I did all this research and found it. And, you know, it was able to get this therapy at a very, very reduced price. But even if you’re paying 40 bucks every week for 12 weeks and then you’re taking an hour out of your day for the appointment and more time for travel time. And, you know, I had to be on a waitlist to get into the appointment and I had to do so much advocacy for myself to get this set up.

Speaker 2: I think that it’s no wonder that people will turn to medication either to the exclusion of other things or just as like this necessary ongoing component of their care. And I want to be really careful here, because medication has helped me so, so much and I’m so grateful for it. Why does medication have to be something that I sort of rely on forever? And why is it prescribed as the frontline solution? I mean, I would say it has a lot to do with cost and the ease of taking a pill instead of doing other things. And at the same time, a little bit to do with the fact that it can work really well for people.

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Speaker 2: When we were discussing this episode, you brought up this ra ra culture around medication that I find fascinating. What are some of the things that you found when you went looking for examples of how like influencers are talking it out as us our eyes?

Speaker 3: Yeah. So it’s been it’s been really interesting looking into some of these things. And I want to be clear that I think the stigmatization of medication is great and really important, but it’s brought with it also a sort of cultural movement and commercialization that it deserves kind of some healthy skepticism. Right. So one of the places that we can see this is, of course, on Etsy. So on Etsy, if you’re going and looking, if you type in like Lexapro on Etsy, some of the things that are going to come up are a t shirt that says. Coffee run Lexapro repeat, which I thought was like really interesting because it plays into the whole like grind culture. It’s like an intersection of like medication and grind culture that the very culture that for many anxious people like worsens are symptoms. So so that was one interesting thing.

Speaker 3: You can also pick up a live laugh Lexapro cross-stitch pattern. A sponsored by Zoloft mag, a prozac pillow, a stay sexy take sertraline flag and like on this item in particular a review caught my eye and the review was This is my favorite purchase I’ve ever made. It fits my personality so well, I can’t wait to hang it up. And that word personality jumped out at me when I looked at that review, because for many people who have a mental health diagnosis, that diagnosis becomes part of our identity. But then when a a medication but not only medication like it, but a specific brand of medication becomes part of your identity or personality. That seems like it’s potentially problematic.

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Speaker 3: Right. And so, of course, there are like lots of people, influencers, celebrities who have kind of helped build up this this market that we’re now seeing on Etsy and other places. So, for example, in 2020, Jezebel ran a story titled Drew Barrymore has finally revealed what drug she’s on. She’s on Lexapro. But that to me was like wild because it’s we’re all sitting on the edge of our seats, like waiting to see what drug Drew Barrymore is. I’m like when really that conversation should be a conversation between Drew Barrymore and her doctor. I think it’s great that celebrities and influencers are open about mental health, even are open about medication, but like honing in on these very specific drugs feels kind of weird to me.

Speaker 3: Another really classic example of this is the writer Glennon Doyle, who talks a lot about her experience with mental health, but also specifically her use of Lexapro. So she has the saying, which is Jesus loves me, this I know, for he gave me Lexapro. The way that I feel about this is that there are a lot of people who talk about how SSRI are like insulin and I totally understand where they’re coming from on like a biological. This is a life saving drug level, but it’s just hard to imagine any other medication that commands this level of cultural attention. And it kind of translates what should be a very private and personal conversation between a person and their doctor into like a public movement.

Speaker 2: On the one hand, as you’re talking, I like feel myself pushing back and saying, well, no, like if Drew Barrymore tells whoever she told, if she tells them that, like, oh, yeah, I’m on medication, I take this, it’s not a big deal. Like, and if that helps people say, like, you know what, yeah, I am going to go talk to my doctor about what can be done for my depression and anxiety. I am going to like fill this prescription even though I feel embarrassed or even though I’ve heard Tucker Carlson saying that SSRI is are dangerous. I think that that can be a really important counter-narrative.

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Speaker 2: But as you’re saying, it is weird to have this culture build up around a drug that people make money off of, and that can be really useful for some people sometimes and also can have bad side effects and can be in some situations not as good as, you know, maybe going to therapy or should be done in conjunction with therapy that is is really expensive.

Speaker 2: And we’re going to get into in the next segment that point about you know is our SS our eyes like insulin what do SSRI actually do in the body and how cultural narratives have kind of taken this space of like a real scientific understanding. And I think we can also get into a little bit of the downsides of these drugs, too, after the break.

Speaker 2: If you want to hear more from Mia and myself on another topic, check out our Waves Plus segment. Is this feminist where today we’re debating whether getting married in your twenties can be feminist? All right. In this segment, we’re going to be talking more about assess our eyes. Namely, we’re going to talk about a recent study about depression and the brain that made a big splash in the media.

Speaker 2: The study is called The Serotonin Theory of Depression A Systemic Umbrella Review of the Evidence. It was published in Molecular Psychiatry in July, and the conclusion of the study was that folks who have depression don’t actually have lower levels of serotonin in their brains compared to other people. So a dominant narrative that we mentioned a little bit in the first segment around depression and anxiety meds is, oh, you just have a chemical imbalance in your brain. You can take these medications and they will restore your chemical imbalance to normal.

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Speaker 2: One of the really interesting things about this study is that it didn’t actually reveal much new to experts. A recent piece in Slate by Sahanika RatnayakeIn. She’s a philosopher of medicine in psychiatry. She was talking about how her friend sent her the study being like, Oh no, does this mean my medication doesn’t work? Like, do I naturally have normal levels of serotonin? And, you know, why am I taking this stuff if it’s not balancing out the serotonin? And she was like, Yeah. Experts have known that the chemical imbalance theory of depression is like a vast oversimplification for a long time. And actually everything here is fine and normal, which I just found fascinating.

Speaker 3: One of the things when I was reading the authors right up in the conversation, kind of their summary of of the study that they published in the conversation, there was this line that they had and they wrote, quote, We conclude that it is impossible to say that taking SSRI antidepressants is worthwhile or even completely safe. And I think this is what understandably upset so many people, whether there are other professionals working in this field, other researchers or people who are on this medication, because what they do is they jump to this conclusion. It’s impossible to say that taking SSRI antidepressants is worthwhile, which, as many people have pointed out, is a really big and fallacious jump.

Speaker 3: Right. Because just because we don’t know exactly how these drugs work doesn’t mean that they don’t work for people. And these drugs are worthwhile to many millions of of people who take them. And so I think, like what the questions that I come out of this with are like said, we have a better model for patient education. Yes.

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Speaker 3: Should we invest in better research, especially related to side effects? Yes. Should doctors have conversations with the people that they see about alternatives to medication? Yes. But those are yes and two things, right? Yes. And these medications are really important for so many people. And yes. And we do need to reduce stigma.

Speaker 3: So I wanted to ask you a little bit about how you perceived the reaction to this study. And then also just like how we should you as as a science editor at Slate all the time or looking through new studies with different findings, and how should we think about coverage of studies like this and what we can and can’t take away from them?

Speaker 2: So one thing that always happens to me is when when as as our eyes are really in the headlines is I kind of drop out of science and help editor mode and just read them in like Shannon human bag mode. And what happens to me in those moments is I look at what the researchers are saying and I’m like, That cannot be true, that access our eyes might not be worthwhile because they’re so worthwhile for me.

Speaker 2: And I think in a lot of ways this is a news cycle that comes up every few years or even like as the summer has shown every few months where it’s been, you know, first it was our SSRI is linked to school shootings and like, you know, a lot of people in the liberal media did not take that seriously. But it was a real news cycle that was making national headlines. And now it’s like, oh, we don’t know really how depression in the brain works chemically. So their eyes might not be correcting things the way many people thought. And I just look at that and I think, you know, well, I’m an RN of one, but I’m the most important person to myself and I know that that is false.

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Speaker 2: One thing that I think is just so important to remember, when you’re thinking about big, big studies of ourselves, our eyes are big, big studies of two. Russian is. First of all, views are looking at averages of what happens between people. Everyone is a little different. Everyone can fall at a different spot on the bell curve as us. Our eyes might not work for a lot of people. In fact, they do not. And at the same time, they may work for other people and they in fact, they do.

Speaker 2: So one of the most important things when taking in access our eye is, as you mentioned, just your relationship with your doctor. And I think that this is where having like really good ongoing mental health support alongside exercise is so crucial because you can just get to check in about your prescription once a year with your GP or you know, you can have a dedicated psychiatrist who you trust, who is affordable, who really is compassionate about what’s going on in your life, who takes your concerns about side effects seriously, who will listen? If you want to say, I want to scale back my medication, or I’m really concerned about how medication is affecting my sex life and we’ll look at you as a whole person. So I think that that’s much more important on an individual level than what the latest headlines says.

Speaker 3: Individuals relationships with their mental health diagnosis are like very complex and involve a lot of different factors, like whether those are factors that are neuro, biological or genetic factors, or whether those are factors that are like more systemic factors. Racism, poverty, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, those sorts of things that that can also contribute to mental health. And I think it’s very there’s no there’s no like narrow why for for mental health and because there is no narrow why we need a really huge, expansive set of options for people.

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Speaker 2: I want to talk a little bit about how the side effects have affected my life and kind of affect your life. And I think doctors don’t always explain that enough. Lexapro can make it hard to handle alcohol. I’ve had to, like, really rethink what my relationship to drinking is. In something of a positive way. But also just to like, whoa, this is like a real different way. It also has a large effect on people’s sex lives. It can dampen sexual desire. It can make it a lot harder to orgasm, which isn’t a small part of life for a lot of people.

Speaker 2: And I think also one thing that this study does highlight is that, well, if a SSRI isn’t fixing some fundamental, simple, straightforward chemical imbalance, the way a vitamin is, is that you don’t have to be on it forever. It’s not like you have this thing missing from your body that you need to now put in your body so that it’s there forever.

Speaker 2: Maybe medications can be more of a short term solution. When I say short term, I mean maybe you could take an SSRI for a few years and then you could rebalance the way your life works, or you could ramp up other forms of treatment. The way that, like I’ve kind of settled on thinking about them is the SSRI is are a tool. They are loaded with so much cultural baggage from all sides. But at the end of the day, they’re a tool that can help you be the person you want to be. There are things that you can use to improve your life. They’re also a thing that you can change your relationship with. And there very thing that you can sit down and say, All right, I don’t need this like hammer anymore. And I think that I’m just trying to create some like. Space between who I am and the medication itself.

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Speaker 2: Before we head out, we wanted to give some recommendations. Mia, what are you having right now?

Speaker 3: Yeah. Sorry. I thought I was stuck on the topic of anxiety, and I. I feel like this recommendation is going to make me sound like I believe in quick fixes to mental health, which I definitely do not. But one thing that my therapist has recommended to me lately, when I feel very overwhelmed, my thoughts are just I’m having really overwhelming anxious thoughts is counting backwards from 100 and by seven. So you would start at 100 and then you would go 93, 86, 79, 72 and so on until you reach zero. But key to this track is that because it takes some attention to do this, it can kind of distract your mind from overwhelming or anxious thoughts that might be difficult to manage in the moment. I love.

Speaker 2: That. It’s kind of like an easy, focused meditation almost.

Speaker 3: I feel like it’s a first like quote unquote mine. I don’t know if this actually counts as mindfulness, but, you know, it’s something to kind of help you like focus and pay attention in the moment. And I feel like a lot of those mindfulness meditations or things like that don’t work for me, or I have a really hard time at least executing them when I’m in a spot where I’m super anxious. But this is one that that has worked after much trial and error. So what about you, Shannon? What what are you recommending this week?

Speaker 2: I’m going to recommend guided meditations from UCLA Health. These are free meditations online. When I need to just settle down quickly, I will Google Free UCLA meditations and these will pop up. There’s one that’s 5 minutes. There’s one that’s 11 minutes. They are available in all kinds of languages. I’ve tried to meditate a great many number of ways over the years. I have a pretty good meditation practice going right now with the Peloton app, but I just really enjoy having something that’s available quickly that’s familiar that will not take much time and thoroughly nice.

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Speaker 3: I love that I have tried so many times in my life to get in a meditation habit and this sounds doable and like something new that I should try. So I will definitely give that a try.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I think one of the secrets of meditation is that like, it’s great if you can do it every day and if that works for you, but it sometimes can just help when you’re feeling overwhelmed or bored or like doing it once in a while is also helpful.

Speaker 1: That’s it.

Speaker 2: All right. That’s our show this week. The Waves is produced by Shannon Roth.

Speaker 3: Shannon Paulus as our editorial director. And Alicia montgomery is vice president of Audio.

Speaker 2: We love to hear from you. Email us at the waves at Slate.com.

Speaker 3: The waves will be back next week. Different hosts, different topic, same time and place.

Speaker 2: Thank you so much for being a Slate Plus member. And since you’re a member, you get this weekly segment. Is this feminist? Every week we debate whether something is feminist. And this week, we’re talking about getting married young or maybe whether waiting to get married is feminist. I’m really excited to talk about this because I recently got engaged. I’m 32 years old, which is not super young for marriage. Maybe like in my head, it’s somewhere in the middle. But me. You’re also getting married soon.

Speaker 3: I am. And I am almost 25, which I feel like is a better way of saying that I’m 24, which is in many people’s minds, very young to get married.

Speaker 2: Did you get engaged when you were 24?

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Speaker 3: I got engaged on my 24th birthday. Yes, actually.

Speaker 2: Tell me a little bit of the thought process that went into getting engaged.

Speaker 3: Yeah, well, so I’ve known my partner for five years now. We’re also both he’s Mexican, I’m American. And so a lot of our relationship had been punctuated by, like, not being able to be in the same country for various logistical or legal reasons. So I think, you know, anytime you have those sorts of dynamics to your relationship, that that’s something that comes into play. But I think, like more profoundly, we are both at a place in our lives, in our relationships, where we like getting married, felt like the best, most like growth filled possibilities for both of us as individuals and us as a couple.

Speaker 3: And I think like one of one of the things that I would say about my experience with getting married at the age that I’m getting married, is that like a lot of people have a lot of opinions about it. You know, whenever I tell someone I’m getting married, like a lot of times it like leads into this interrogation of like while you’re so young, how do you know? And I feel like, like what happens is, like, people love to interrogate and question my choice when really it’s a it’s a choice that I feel like totally and uniquely myself and confident in.

Speaker 2: That must be so annoying when people are like, How are you getting married now? Like That’s kind of like a very annoying reaction to like good news.

Speaker 3: It comes from this place where like, you know, I think people think about like a woman in a marriage and there’s like a lot of judgment that that comes into that. And so I think a lot of times people bring like their own issues and their own cultural baggage into into conversations about marriage. But I’m interested in your experience as well, like having recently gotten Gauge, how have people received that news and how have you processed that news in relation to age?

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Speaker 2: One way that people receive the news is by saying, so have you set a date yet? Which I just find so annoying because I’m like, No, we’re just like kind of reveling in being engaged. Like it happens like both a month ago and two weeks ago and a couple of days ago. I feel like, because we’ve been talking about it for such a long time and then we made the decision to do it and then we got the ring, which is a family ring, and then we got her resized and now it’s kind of finally on my finger. So I feel like people are just so interested in like the milestones of it where like, you know, okay, so like, what is it going to be? Official.

Speaker 2: Official? What are you like signing the paperwork? Yeah, I really related to you just pointing out that, like, oh, this is like the best choice for me and my relationship, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with these larger timing things. I will say, though, that as a feminist, I kind of have this idea in my head that there is something like almost like good and moral about getting married later.

Speaker 2: And I, I can tell where that comes from, which is my mom always talks about how she got married in her late twenties and she grew up in Atlanta. And so her mom was like, Oh, you’re going to be like an old maid and kind of say stuff like that to her. And, you know, it’s just wild because someone getting married in their late twenties is like potentially being an old maid. So I do have a little bit of the sense of like bucking the, like the societal trend or expectation in in waiting of that.

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Speaker 3: I feel like in my own life, the way that I have thought about it is like what feminism looks like to me is like respecting the whole, like, universe of of a woman’s choice. And I feel like a lot of times when people come toward your choice with this, like, interrogation and like cultural baggage, it can it can feel really delegitimizing. And so I think, you know, as long as, of course, respecting choices when there’s not weird power or dynamic things or, you know, when a choice is fully consensual. But I think, like, that’s the way that I’ve tried to come to think about it is I think and the thing that you mentioned is like as soon as you tell someone you’re engaged, they’re like, Oh, do you have a date? Because it becomes this like communal process where everyone wants to be involved, everyone wants to be in the details. And really it’s just like marriage in many ways is just like a private decision between two people that gets transformed publicly into this this cultural narrative.

Speaker 2: Yes. The like. I think that that’s so like apt for both of our experiences. And like, why should anyone have an opinion on when you’re getting married? Like, it’s really, really good that we’re in a place where, like, women do not have to get married long. But. I think it is like just almost kind of odd that people expect are trying to fit like the people around them into this box of like, oh, like you’re not waiting that mean something or you are waiting that mean something where it is sort of just like, well, this is like the specific way that my life happens to go. It’s not really like a political statement.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, no, I think that’s so true. And I think it’s great that we’ve moved beyond the cultural expectation that a woman should get married young. But I think we should also move beyond any cultural or like cultural expectations related to women and their decision to get married or not get married or the timing around which they get married. You know, I think, like, if we can just leave all of that behind and respect it as a personal, individual choice, that doesn’t necessarily have to carry this like larger public meaning that everyone gets to opine on. But I think that’s kind of would be like the full the full realization of of that process and allowing women to be more autonomous in these decisions.

Speaker 2: And just seeing there are decisions is like individual human decisions.

Speaker 2: I want to wrap up. I’m asking you, what do you wish people would say or ask when you tell them that you’re getting married rather than being like, wow, really? Argh!

Speaker 3: Yeah, it’s oh, this is like this is a really good question because I feel like it’s it’s always like a little bit like the conversations around marriage are always a little bit fraught. A lot of other people that I’ve talked to who have recently gotten engaged, like there’s this big, like congratulations, like excitement, frenzy that I think sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable because it’s like this. It’s treated as like a sort of achievement. And of course, like it is it is a milestone and an achievement in some ways to like get to a point in your relationship with another person where you like want to make this decision or take this step.

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Speaker 3: But, you know, I think like. I think expressing happiness for another person is is fine and good. But I think in general, just like being being in a place where you withhold your opinions unless you’re asked for your opinions is like always going to be the better the better answer. And I think if your reaction to people like whether that’s oh like why is this person not married or oh, why is this person getting married too young? Like if that is the thing that comes to your mind and that’s where your mind goes, I think you probably have some like work on you that you need to do and you should do a little bit more reflecting of like what narrative you’re carrying about those issues rather than kind of throwing that line of questioning on someone else.

Speaker 2: I like always like getting the question, how did you guys meet if it if the person doesn’t know us so well? Because I just love talking about that story. And I think another good go to is like, oh, congratulations. Like, what are you most excited about?

Speaker 3: I think that’s beautiful because because you’re not making some assumptions about, like, the relationship or the nature of, like, the wedding or the marriage, or you’re kind of just like letting them take the stage and be like the center of the conversation, which is how it should always be.

Speaker 2: Is there something you’re dying to know if it’s feminist or not? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at the waves at Slate.com.