A Feminist Wedding? An Intro

Even if you only knew me from reading this blog, you probably already guessed that I identify as a feminist (I think I may have mentioned it in my first post on this blog actually!). Gender equality and rights for women are extremely important to me. They pretty much always have been, although my views have evolved over time and I have definitely become more aware of subconscious bias against women over the years. That's one reason (among several, including that I want to write more, I like having a project, and I just get bored sometimes) that I'm writing this blog in the first place.

By Tim Gould, used under a Creative Commons License, available on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/gambort/5838670372/

By Tim Gould, used under a Creative Commons License, available on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/gambort/5838670372/

I am really damn excited about getting married. I was super happy to get engaged. But part of me feels like, by being excited, I'm letting down feminism. Part of me feels like by letting John propose (something he was quite set on, I should note - I would have been totally fine and gung-ho about proposing to him, but he really didn't want to do that), I have failed somehow. All the big feminist writer names I know are so cool about their weddings. They start out with intros about how they never really thought about their weddings before they got engaged, or never thought they'd get married at all, or how their proposal was totally a conversation and agreement among equals and nothing out of the ordinary.

For example, in "My big feminist wedding" for The Guardian, Jessica Valenti said, "As a kid, I wasn't sure that I would ever get married - I was not the kind of little girl who played at being a bride. My parents have a wonderful marriage, but they have been together since my mother was 12, married when they were just teenagers and are barely ever separated. They even work together. As a result, I have always thought of marriage as involving the loss of a certain amount of autonomy. Not to mention that, as feminist as our household was, I grew up seeing my mother do the majority of the domestic work and her paid day job to boot. That did not exactly sweeten the deal."

Me, however? It's embarrassing to admit, but I, uh, was that little girl. I have honestly been dreaming about my wedding since I was a little girl (cultural norms are very powerful!). I clearly remember drawing a picture of me in a wedding dress and a veil marrying my kindergarten sweetheart (named Jordan or Justin or something...there were a few J named boys I enjoyed chasing on the playground at age 5). I've actively dreamed about specific dresses and music since I was a freshman in college, when my sister got married and I gleefully borrowed all her wedding magazines. I believe that was also around the time I started reading Offbeat Bride, which I've been pretty obsessed with ever since (Sidenote: I literally think being a regular reader of Offbeat Bride and its associated websites has changed my life and made me a better person, but that's a story for a future blog post). 

So I'm not exactly your "good feminist" when it comes to weddings and marriage. I am admittedly not schooled in feminist ways of thinking. I've never taken a class in gender theory. I have never read The Feminine Mystique, or the Second Sex (although I really really should). I feel a little shame about that because clearly my life as a woman isn't hard enough and I must feel badly for not being more educated in feminism and also for being excited about something society has told me will be the "best day of my life" for my entire life (NO PRESSURE AMIRIGHT). But I also just don't believe that weddings and marriage, at least as they exist today in modern society, are incompatible with feminism. 

Because I am the person I am, I of course am looking for evidence to back up that belief and also evidence that might refute it. I want to learn about everything to do with both weddings and marriage as I plan one and enter into another. I want to know what all these traditions are, where they came from, what they mean. I want to determine what role they will play in my wedding and my life with my eyes fully open. For me, at least, an unexamined wedding is not worth having (props to Socrates, although really, that statement is much darker in its original context than how we usually use it now).

*(I should note now that literally no one has to agree with me on this. If you don't want to overly analyze weddings and marriage after getting engaged, that is your prerogative and I wish you very well! That's just not my personality. I wish I didn't have to state so often how extremely okay and non-judgmental I am about people making choices different than mine, but people get very touchy about wedding and marriage traditions sometimes, so I think it bears repeating.) 

Though there's an extent to which this entire blog is really about investigating whether it's possible to have a feminist wedding, this particular series of posts will go into it a bit more in depth and look at several articles and podcasts on this specific topic. They won't come out consecutively all the time, but I'm looking forward to working on it anyway.