This is the first year I have fully appreciated International Women’s Day, and how important it truly is. In the last couple of years, I have been acutely aware of the issues surrounding gender. We all know the scandal that was Harvey Weinstein and the #TIMESUP Campaign, but things like that happen everyday not in the world of Hollywood.
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage traditions, (mainly because I spend most days watching at least 2 episodes of Say Yes To The Dress/I Found The Gown), and how I actually disagree with a lot of them. I think that nowadays, women are becoming so much more aware of their value as individuals, rather than in relation to men and how they can go against tradition. I thought i’d go through a few of these traditions and why I don’t think i’ll stick to them when the time comes for me to (hopefully) get married, in the hope of encouraging others to think about the deeper significance of these traditions. Marriage and weddings are beautiful, and nearly everyone I know wants to get married. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that marriage is still a very patriarchal tradition, and i’m not comfortable with that.
1. Being given away by your Dad.
Sounds lovely right? The more I think about this, the more i’m not so sure. I prefer to think of this as more of a grand entrance, than being handed from one man to the other, like some sort of property. History dictated to us that we were to be owned by men. Coverture in the 12th C dictated that women, and everything they had, became the property of men upon marriage. Women were used as pawns for male success. Overtime, we’ve got the 1937 Matrimonial Causes Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Married Women’s Property Act, and so many more rights than we used to have, so why are we still abiding by these backwards laws in our weddings and being treated as currency? I’d like to be given away by BOTH of my parents. Both raised me, so why not? I don’t want to be physically handed from my dad to my future husband. If my future husband (hopefully Matt lol) wants to do the same with his parents, then so he should! I also find it weird and silencing that the invitations come from the bride’s parents, i’d like them to be from me and my future husband.
2. Taking your husbands name
This one i’m really not so sure about. I love my name, it’s interesting, I grew up with it, it defines me, and it connects me to my family. I don’t like that I feel people would expect me to change my name, I wouldn’t be just swapping families and having nothing to do with mine anymore. I know my surname is a bit different but i’d like to double-barrel names, as a marriage is a connection of two people and their families. I remember being in primary school when girls would pretend they were marrying celebrities from TV and had their surnames, and thinking ” I don’t want to change mine!” and i’ve never wavered from that. I don’t fancy carrying children for months and months only for them NOT to have my name as well, they have two parents so it doesn’t seem fair. I mean, i’m not begrudging anyone who wants to take their husbands name for personal reasons, but I think my surname suits me and i’m in no rush to get rid of it. It should be symbolic of two people joining together. Plus, I don’t see why I should be the only one to deal with all the complicated legal forms that need changing. No thanks. My name has just as much value as anyone else’s, and my future marriage doesn’t define my whole identity. It honours everything I have done for myself throughout my whole life. I think couples should think about creating their own family and building a new life with that rather than the woman having to switch sides, as it were. I’m not afraid of disapproval by traditionalists for having this view, but nothing anyone can say will change my opinion on this.
I know a lot of men might not be on board with this, but if some men don’t want to change their names, what makes you think we do? I’d rather invent a totally new one for us than simply take someone else’s family name. (See you later for an argument, Matt).
3. Engagement rings
You’re both off the market right?? Why do just women have to wear a symbol that they are taken? It doesn’t give men free reign to skip around pretending they aren’t engaged. Don’t get me wrong, I want a beautiful engagement ring one day, but I don’t see why men can’t have their own symbol of your impending nuptials. Be it a ring, or bracelet, anything really, i’d definitely buy my future husband one. It seems like a lack of commitment if both parties aren’t willing to express this. Male engagement rings are being designed by more jewellers every year due to the rise in millennials ignoring tradition. For example, they are seen in H. Samuel and Tiffany’s. If Michael Buble is doing it then it must be a “thing”. They are so much more than just a ring, they symbolise the everlasting commitment in a relationship, and scream “back off, i’m taken!” Surely women aren’t the only ones who should be expressing this? I think it should be an honour to share this together.
I’m sure there are more, but these are the main ones. I think a lot of marriage traditions are emblematic of patriarchy and shouldn’t be expected of us anymore. I hate that women have to become ‘Mrs’ when men stay as ‘Mr’. Wanting a feminist wedding doesn’t mean I don’t want a beautiful dress and my hair and makeup done, I just don’t want to give in to societal pressures. I want a speech from my mum, Maid of Honour, and me, no throwing the bouquet, equal organising, and things that symbolise more than my future position as a wife and potential mother. Why should the groom be the only one that has someone tell everyone anecdotes about their childhood or friendship? I know that this is all a long way off, i’m only 20, but in light of International Women’s Day 2018 I wanted to have my say on what I would do to tackle these non-feminist traditions. It’s never too early to start thinking about things like this, right? It’s all about equality.
IRONY: Post about marriage, but the photos are all strong women I know. Please check out www.internationalwomensday.com for more information on how you can #PushForProgress. Happy International Women’s Day!