Its springtime folks. Cherry blossoms will soon be bursting forth from the branches. Sunlight will creep on to the window frame earlier, and stay there later. Birds will sing…and bells will ring?
“Well, aren’t you thinking about getting married?” a friend said to me while sitting at Tryst for a quick tea break before work.
“NO!” I cried, aghast. More than a few heads turned. But I paid them no heed. I needed to nip this unpleasant conversation in the bud. “Why would I want to get married NOW?”
Lately, it seems as if marriage is on the minds of a lot of people. My cousin just recently got married; a beautiful arrangement of elaborate table settings, expensive dining, open bar, family and raining dollar bills (it was a Greek wedding). Although just a silly superstition, I both pitied and was amused by the ladies’ attempt to catch the bouquet. But I was especially terrified that I would. As they smeared cake onto each other’s faces, everyone laughed and sighed over the happy couple. Happily ever after…let me give another example.
A sister of a co-worker of mine will be getting married in late summer. At present she is doing what any bride (especially on a reality TV show) would, ensuring that all details are perfect, that all her desires are fulfilled and that they are fulfilled IMMEDIATELY. In contrast, another coworker of mine is getting married in a month and a half. She and her girlfriend are very relaxed about it. They are having a very small wedding with family and then a party at their house. Only the most time-pressed details are arranged, everything else will fall into place whenever it does. Both cases will probably also result in their happy endings.
But, for me, I get caught up on that word, not “happy”, no that other word, “endings”. My fellow blog readers, we have come to the heart of the issue. Marriage is the end of all things feminist and progressive. Perhaps, I exaggerate. A little. However, as you will certainly read further, you will see that I am most serious in all regards to this…sacred ceremony.
What I find most disturbing about the concept is not the matrimony itself, but what it is that happens after the church or court doors have closed. That the woman will put aside all for her husband, be the perfect housewife and move on to the next stage of marriage, aka children. Let me delve into this a bit further.
I can only speak to my experiences: I am an early-twenties, straight, biracial woman who has been raised in America. My personal experiences only include the brainwashing from various cartoons, books, TV advertisements and new articles. My conclusions from these media are that a woman who is married must be subjugated to the yee-old beliefs that a woman becomes the property of her husband after entering marriage; she must abide him and put him first in everything. (And men call women a ball and chain!)
Even as I write this (as if by fate!), a confused late Valentine’s Day Pandora commercial asserts: “what is better than chocolate on Valentine’s Day? Well, an engagement ring of course! Verragio rings: the ‘ultimate expression of love.’” No! False. Lies…I mean mistake. Mistake! (A quick tangent: this advertisement also points out how marriage in many ways has become an industry meant to give false meaning to the concept of union and replace it with a subliminal capitalist message that you need to have an abundance of exotic flowers, outrageous catering, the perfect $10,000+ dress, because it is your day. Unfortunately, women are the target of this invasive bullshit that forces girls at a young age to start planning, and saving, not for a college education, but for the wedding expenses. Isn’t marriage about the official union, in front of witnesses, of the love one person has for another? Why does it matter what that person is wearing? Go naked!)
What it comes down to is, I have always felt divided, even as a little girl, about the choice: marriage or a career. Not both, only one. How many times have you heard the message that a woman cannot work a full career and risk leaving a family in neglect, or, about the woman who has given up her dreams in order to pick up and drop off her kids at school? Let me point out, I have the utmost respect for the women who pull the double duty, the women who (and this is especially true now in this economy) have to work and also make it home in time to cook dinner. (Thanks Mom). I also have immense respect for the women who want to be at home with their kids. Or the single moms who don’t have anyone to lean on, or have to take care of other family members in addition. I respect and have a deep admiration for those women. But I also hold to the same respect the women who put their career first, decide they do not want to have children and fight their way to equal pay, high positions and who make a difference because they choose to advance their passion.
When this topic arises with friends, I joke that the man I marry had better be used to hard work, because chores will be divided 50-50, I intend to have my career and continue it whether we have children (even if he happens to be extremely wealthy), I intend to keep my last name, I will pay for half the dates out…the list goes on. And, while I love children (check my resume, I have practically worked with pre-school/kindergarten age children through college, babysat most of my pre-college life and my mom has a preschool on the first floor of my home in NYC), the idea of having a child is synonymous with slow torture. Or worse, the end of my freedom as a person until they are old enough to kick out of the house. At least 20 years later.
I believe that my views stem from my family. My family is a matriarchy. Seriously, my mom and five aunts rule their households with diligence, intelligence and not a little bit of force. Their husbands know that they should do what they are told or face the consequences. My grandmother was also a force to be reckoned with, and she had to be, raising 7 children. All of these phenomenal women urged me to do well in school, pick a career I was passionate about, and pursue it. They said that my future was in my hands and only I could make it come true. Boys, they said, were like buses. Miss one, catch the next. In that environment, it was hard not to become a feminist. And also not to feel that a woman’s career is just as, if not more important, than an official union with a man.
To me, the reasons why a woman should get married were the following:
– She has reached an acceptable point in her career where she feels as if she can give adequate attention to a significant other enough to get married
– She has decided to take pity on a persistent suitor whom she admires, but never had the urgency which he displayed to get married
– Her partner was in need of the income provided by her amazing career
– She wanted to support her partner who had in their care a child and provide the support she had at her disposal
– To carry on the family sensibility and intelligence
– Oh, yeah, I suppose I should add, because of love
Recently, I have been obsessed with the show, Downton Abbey. It’s great, filled with drama in an early 20th century noble family in England. A major crisis in the show (and don’t worry, I am not spoiling anything), is the need to marry off the oldest daughter, Mary. As the daughter of a prominent family, she is obliged to marry well. In another British show Pramface, a guy pursues a girl he got knocked up at a party in order to marry her, and “do the right thing”. And there are at least a hundred more circumstances (rape, arranged marriages, safety, income) into which women are forced to marry because they do not have the support, the means, the rights to have another option, or worse, feel as if they are not a woman unless they are married. #atleasttwootherblogpostscometomind
In these situations, instead of throwing rice, I have a mind to throw lock picks and chainsaws, something useful, to the many brides who feel that they have to marry before they get too old, or ugly, don’t have anyone else to ask them, or have to conceive an heir. Really, I want to break the conception that many women still hold that their life has no value unless their hand is attached to a ring. Unless they have someone to care for, in sickness and in health…let’s take a closer look:
Groom: I,____, take thee,_____, to be my lawful wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
Bride: I,_____, take thee,_____, to be my lawful wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.
With words like these, no wonder more and more people are deciding to forgo the ceremony and just live together “sinfully un-married”. I mean, OBEY. Women are not slaves! Women are powerful, smart and progressive; they can choose a career and not be deemed inhuman. Women do not have to fall in love in order to feel like their life has meaning. The concept of a union, outside of marriage, is just as strong as what the ceremony is supposed to bestow. Will love last longer because of a few words? Isn’t it about the relationship itself? And must the relationship last forever, or are a few wonderful years with one (or more) people just as fulfilling?
Believe it or not my friends, I do intend to get married in the future. Or at least, I deign to enter into a relationship with someone for longer than a year, and perhaps build a family with the person. However, until that day a long, long time in the future, I will further my career, travel and become successful. Additionally, my career won’t stop when I do decide to “settle down” (what a terrible term), and as a woman, I will push for the rights that will make that choice, to have both, easier.
What’s next? Here are some ways to assert how you are against the institution of marriage and enter into discussions about that very topic.
– When next you here a female friend or family member declaring that they must marry soon because of X reason, unless it is something they really, (really) want, engage them in a conversation that brings them up to speed about the importance of a strong relationship and the preposterous-ness of a marriage.
– If you are a lady, do not try to catch the bouquet at the wedding
– Encourage people whom you know to live together first, before tying the knot
– Any other suggestions? Or, remember, your wedding might end up like this!!!!