Weddings and Feminism

Linda Raven Wedding

April 4, 2017

As Claudio and I prepare to get married (and work through the many layers of bureaucracy delaying our marriage), I have been using this time to work through my own layers of baggage around marriage.

First is the fairy tale story of big white dresses, princes at balls and unicorns.  For the majority of women that I talk to, when it comes up in conversation that Claudio and I are trying to navigate the bureaucracy in order to secure a marriage certificate, I get giggly sorority girl squeals.  I’m not sure, but I think these squeals are rooted in 5 year old girls being told to fantasize about their wedding and start planning it.  Even though I was not raised to see myself as only valuable once I have attached myself to the opposite sex, unfortunately, these values still permeate US culture and society.  So, they got us anyway.

So people squeal when I mention the marriage process is underway.  They squeal in a way that I have never heard anyone squeal about any of my other personal accomplishments.  Completing a Master’s degree, installing a grey water system in my garden, making delicious chocolate from natural healthy ingredients in my home.  I believe I squealed alone for all of these.  Now mind you, none of these people would consciously say to me, “Linda! You are finally going to be a worthwhile member of society now that you have found a man who is willing to stand before a representative of his national government and promise to stay with you until one of you passes away.”

Originally, Claudio and I were just going to get married at the magistrate and be done with it.  Long story, its evolved into a bit more than that.  I don’t yet know how much more than that.  Since I no longer believe in prince charming and unicorns, I really hope its not a lot more than that, but only time will tell. Its pretty much out of my hands.  I keep trying to get clarity from Claudio and his family on how much I must compromise from my original vision of a beautiful small ceremony with some meditation, some “om”s, some nice words, followed by some cake and everyone getting to bed early.  I believe I’m walking in uncharted territory, so clarity is hard to come by.

Must the dress be white? “No, whatever you want.” “Yes, everyone wears white.  It should be white.”  Must it be uncomfortable? “No!  Wear whatever you want!”  “It should be a wedding dress though.”  So, against my better judgment, I ventured into a bridal shop the other day.  I looked at the manikins who even looked uncomfortable in those bridezilla costumes. I asked the sales lady, “Do you have any wedding dresses that aren’t huge and crazy and uncomfortable?”  “Oh, you want a simple wedding dress?”  “Yes, please a simple wedding dress.”  “Oh, yes, we have them, come look.”

She proceeds to show me a dress with about 20 layers under the skirt.  “Look! This one is very simple!”  “Why so many layers here?”  “Okay, look at this one! Very simple.” Again, it would take several bridesmaids to help me navigate a public toilet.  I also pointed out that I don’t want strapless.  She said, “Oh, you can just add a jacket!”  “No”, I countered, “I want comfortable.  Anything that is designed to stay up by squishing my lungs and abdomen can not be comfortable.  The weight of the dress (preferably not a lot of weight) must be held up by my shoulders.  Lungs free to breathe. Abdomen free to consume mass quantities of cake.”  “Okay, what about this one?” Exacerbated I said, “If this was comfortable and simple, why don’t you see people wearing this on a day to day basis?” Now she was also getting frustrated with me, “But this is what a wedding dress must be!”

Wow!  Then I started getting philosophical and my angry feminist started coming out.  Why must women wear such hideous, expensive, uncomfortable and dare I say, unhealthy dresses, just to attach themselves to a man?  Who in the world came up with this bright idea and why did they not come up with wedding yoga pants?  Where can I get my wedding pajamas? (And I’m not talking lingerie.  I mean clothes that feel like PJ’s.)

I’ve known for a while that society does judge an older single childless woman a bit harshly.  Now I’m realizing just how strangely women who get married are also treated.

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