The title of this sounds like something that is far more encompassing than I could write in a short article. Actually, people have written tomes on this very topic, and subsets of it. There are certain things I know from life experience that still do not cease to amaze me when I see them resurface again.
Women are harder on other women than men are; and, to add to this, women tend to have more of a problem with “progressive” decisions than men do. By this, I mean any deviation from the norm – I was at a bridal shower recently where the would-be groom (who came as things were wrapping up) told his mother about how a friend of his and the bride’s had been recently married and was not changing her last name. He, who is relatively “traditional,” so to speak, didn’t seem to have a problem with it (whether he would have had a problem with HIS wife doing this is another story, but she took his name, so it’s moot). However, his mother went off on a tirade about how much she hates it when women refuse to take their husbands names. I bit my tongue, as I intend to keep my given name for intensely personal reasons, but it wasn’t worth starting an argument with a woman I hardly knew.
A recent post in On The Edge regarding whether or not women should propose had me quite shocked. The author, Kristi Gustafson, noted that she thought proposing was up to men, and posted an article with a differing opinion. This in itself wasn’t shocking, nor was it terribly shocking that most of the comments agreeing with Kristi were women, not men. This could be, in part, that a man did not want to say he was against it in fear he would be lambasted, or because women truly think of this as a bigger deal than men do, but though not surprising, it was interesting to ponder. However, what I found to be somewhat shocking was the comment about a reader’s friend who had recently been proposed to by his girlfriend, at his sister’s wedding. She described it as, “ripping his manhood out in front of his whole family.” She followed with, “unfortunately, he said yes.” Now, personally, I find the idea of proposing (male or female) at a wedding (family or not) to be incredibly tacky for OTHER reasons (it’s the bride and groom’s day, not yours), however I found the phrasing to be offensive. Obviously, he didn’t see it as having his manhood ripped out, as he said yes. Not to mention, the comment was particularly offensive to men who had been proposed to.
Then again, perhaps this was the point? Shouldn’t he punish that woman for stepping out of line and taking away his masculinity? He certainly shouldn’t be humoring her, that’s for sure! How dare he legitimize this behavior!
As I’ve gotten older and learned more about it, I’ve found the pomp and circumstance surrounding wedding traditions to be a bit much. The whole idea of the veil and the father walking the bride down the aisle is reminiscent of a man essentially selling his daughter to another man, the veil covering her face until they complete the contract. I find it incredibly offensive. However, I know many women who like the idea of the veil – not necessarily the history behind it, but the tradition it represents now – and who also have always dreamed of their father walking them down the aisle. I did not have a father growing up, and the closest thing – my grandfather – passed away four years ago. So, for me, it’s a moot point anyway.
My tangent up there, however, isn’t necessarily to wax poetic on ye olde wedding traditions, but to point out that, if and when I ever do marry, my intention to walk with no veil, no train, and (I would like, if he agrees), arm-in-arm with my husband to be as we escort each other into the next stage of our lives, will probably be met with biting criticism from many, and most of it will probably come from other women. Why is it that women cannot support one another in their various life choices, rather than putting them down for not choosing what they would choose?
I find, though, that both sides of the coin do this. Women who want to be more progressive get angry with women who want to hold true to the traditions. Isn’t feminism about being able to make these choices? Unlike me, my cousin, who will get married next summer, is planning on getting the snow white princess dress, complete with a train and a two-tiered veil. Her dad will walk her down the aisle, and she’ll have a full mass nuptials, and take his name after it’s all done. I’m excited for her, because this is all exactly what she wants, and it will be special and meaningful and wonderful for her and her husband-to-be, and I’m looking forward to taking part in the wedding party.
And, I promise you, if I do get engaged, I’ll be sure not ask him on her wedding day. 🙂