From Woman To Wife: A Feminist Affair

I can imagine the headlines now. “Woman Takes Day Off Being Feminist In Order To Marry!”, as Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, joked in this article. We’ve set the date, informed the guests, and given notice at the registry office. It’s happening – your favourite blogger is getting married later in the year.

We were waiting for civil partnerships to become legal for opposite sex couples, as they have eradicated so many of the sexist traditions related to marriage, but since they don’t seem forthcoming, we’re taking the leap into traditional marriage. Well, kind of. As a salute to my sisters who have been (and still are) forced into this patriarchal institution, I’m giving certain traditions the finger.

Dress

Virginal white? Do me a favour. This tradition seriously needs to die a swift death, if you ask me. Sure, if white is your colour, rock it, but the idea that the bride must wear white is incredibly outdated. It’s also not a particularly flattering colour, but more importantly, I am super messy. Like, needs-a-bib-at-every-meal messy. White is the worst choice for me.

So I’m wearing a multi-coloured dress that looks like it’s been designed by a toddler haphazardly flicking paint on some fabric. It’s not formal at all, and has in fact been in my wardrobe for years. But I wholly disagree with the idea that I *have* to buy a new, expensive dress, and that I *have* to conform to expectations. As a nod to the diversity of women, and also to my “non-conforming” sexuality, I’m going to be bright with colour. My partner’s wearing jeans and a black shirt. Also, tattoos out.

Femininity  

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Jess from New Girl is my spirit animal. We are almost literally the same person, it’s eerie. Despite being a rampant feminist, I still like to be “feminine”. To me, that means getting my nails done, wearing make-up, and having my hair curled for the ceremony. I love a good pamper. I have mud face masks which are an absolute delight, I have an entire beauty station in our spare room/office, and I have way too many hair products. I enjoy doing these things, but they’re by no means necessary, nor should they be specific to women. And they certainly do not mean that I can’t be a strong, intelligent woman.

Ceremony

In brief:

  • No rings
  • No vows, except the legal ones of course
  • Despite my chronic illness, I’m just about capable of walking myself down the aisle*
  • No flowers – I have allergies
  • Like, 9 guests
  • And I’m keeping my surname. I am famous, after all.

*We’re arriving together & walking in together, but nobody is giving me away. That is definitely one tradition that needs to go away.

(Trust me, I’m A LOT of fun at parties. If by parties you mean small gatherings, with tea and cake involved.)

Dinner

We book the room, you pay for your food. The idea of paying for guests to eat at my wedding reminds me of handing out party bags at my birthday. When you look at it closely, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And we’re having to do this on the cheap. Besides, it’s been said that I always have to be different!

No kids, no open invitation for plus 1’s, only close friends and family. We’ve been extremely clear – if you can’t/don’t want to come, for whatever reason, just don’t. We understand that people may not be able to book the time off, or afford the meal, or insert-legitimate-reason-here. But we’re not changing anything to cater to anyone else. Despite the drama caused by a certain member of my partner’s family, in her childish attempt to make every single thing about her, we haven’t given in, and she has found herself uninvited. It may seem like we’re being brutal, but it’s because we strongly believe that you have to stand up for yourself, and do what’s right (that goes for all aspects in life). This is our day, and for once, I feel we’re justified in being selfish.

(As an aside, I’ll probably bake my own cake.)

If you know me and my partner, you’d know that the above is way more our kind of thing than a huge extravagant wedding. For starters, we’re poor graduates, but we also hate being the centre of attention. Those 30 or so minutes spent in front of the registrar are going to be hellish enough. I’ll probably fall over at some point. Very little alcohol will be consumed, though we will definitely be wolfing down some steak.

We’re not making a big deal out of getting married, because, to us, it isn’t a big deal. Nothing will change, other than our legal status. We already live together, and we’re parents to two irritatingly cute kitties. We don’t want children (seriously, don’t ask me if we want children). Our lives will go on as normal. So why, you may ask, are we getting married? Simple – because we want to.

We want to formalise our arrangement. This may sound detached, but my parents weren’t married, and when my father died, their relationship wasn’t recognised. My mum owned the house, but if she hadn’t, or if they hadn’t had wills, things could have been very different. So I’ve seen first-hand how unmarried couples are still treated in England, in this day and age. I’d rather see things change, but sadly nothing seems forthcoming, so we reckon we should just toe the line this once – with a few changes, of course. Romantically, nothing will change for us. Legally? Well, there are some big differences between married and cohabiting couples (this table is fairly informative, if you have a spare 5 minutes).

There’s nothing wrong with tradition per se, but we take particular umbrage to certain traditions when it comes to marriage. Marital rape only became a crime in 1991, the year I was born. Domestic violence is not among the 12 legal grounds for divorce in the state of Mississippi. Women are still routinely murdered in “honour killings” in certain cultures across the world, often for the crime of marrying someone against their parent’s or family’s wishes, or for their “purity” being called into question. The registration officer still only asked us about our fathers, rather than our mothers. We still punish victims, not rapists, even when the rapist is your husband. Prior to women working outside of the home and gaining our current independence, women were often kept by their husbands, and were often shackled to the marriage, no matter what went on behind closed doors. You only need to watch movies like Suffragette to see how much power men had over their wives, and women in general.

This isn’t your standard “I’m getting married!” blog post. It’s about recognising a sexist institution, created by and for the patriarchy. It’s about really seeing how women have suffered in the past, and how they continue to do so. Feminists are retaking marriage – in many Western cultures, it’s now our choice to get married, and we can reject so many traditional views and practices. But I’m going to keep in mind those women who went before me, the women who are still married in less than ideal circumstances, and pay tribute to their strength. I’m both incredibly proud and incredibly lucky that I’m able to say and do the things I do, and I’m not going to forget that.

What are your ideas for a feminist wedding? Can we really retake this sexist institution? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “From Woman To Wife: A Feminist Affair

  1. Hope you have a nice day. I do agree big expensive weddings are way overrated and unnecessary. Having been happily married for 49 years, I see it, not as a formality, but as a happy, voluntary commitment. We had a very small, inexpensive wedding, not unlike what you plan, with few of the traditions apart from the cake (though think I’d do away with that one if I were marrying now – although it’s a harmless one)

    Liked by 2 people

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