Ashley Ann got me thinking about marriage again. For some reason the threads that pop up on Feministing always seem to come up with the most diverse set of opinions. And that always gets me thinking.
It's especially interesting for me to see how other people conceptualize marriage. See, I definitely noticed the incredibly sexist conditions under which the institution of marriage has and continues to thrive. The thing of it is though, it seems like a lot of people thus feel that the institution of marriage is consequently fucked. That their options are to have THAT kind of marriage and wedding, or none at all.
That's not my conclusion.
My basic premise: marriage is beholden to the people undertaking it. Therefore it is as malleable as the people who are getting married. The traditions surrounding it are symbols. And symbols require people to give them meaning. Therefore the symbols are just as malleable as the people invoking them.
My husband and I, our marriage is exactly what we want it to be, and designing the wedding ceremony to reflect that was incredibly important to us. And design we did, from start to finish, including the vows. The fact is it never even occurred to me not to do so. A wedding ceremony is far too important to ever attempt a "cookie cutter" version.
Traditional elements that were included:
Engagement ring. I got a wedding set from an estate case (woot recycling!). My husband paid for it, I felt that was important because it was for me a sign of commitment. I also got him a ring sometime earlier which he felt served the same purpose.
Asking dad. We did not do this. I thought it would be "cute" in a very ironic sort of way given how untraditional both my relationship and my family was. But it didn't happen. What I suppose I was more looking for was the two men I cared most about to sit down and have a heart to heart, for my dad to be able to trust my husband and for them to be on the same page. I am a Daddy's girl, and I wanted them to get along. Turns out they ended up having that without the "asking for" thing included. That's even better.
Walking down the aisle. We did not do this either. And I told my Dad right from the beginning we wouldn't be. I am not a fucking parcel to be given away, no thank you. I understand why the engagment ring is looked at as a dowry or down payment or something and why some people are against that, but this giving away shit was just too much for me. Husband and I walked down the aisle together. We both felt that was far more appropriate, I mean we're undertaking this life together, right?
Name change. Didn't do this. We talked a lot about it. He'd prefer to take my name as he has no attachments to the family his last name comes from. We also discussed both changing our names to his mother's maiden name, as that is the family he is connected to. Honestly, I doubt either of us will actually change our names unless we have kids, I dislike the way our names would look hyphenated.
"Mrs". Yes, I use this. I like it. I've seen arguments against it, and I understand them. But I still like it. It's a spiffy new title. Honestly I think it's stupid that guys don't get their own new title! In the name of equality I think we should come up with one!
I guess my point is, you can take one symbol and it can mean something to you and something to other people. I think what disturbs me about marriage and weddings as general concepts is that people take what is one of the most important commitments of their life and simply use the symbols laid out for them. They don't talk about their wants and needs, what traditions are meaningful to them, what exactly they're vowing to... Without that people are adopting essentially meaningless symbols, or worse, symbols with deeply ingrained meanings for those around them, which they have no real interest in, never understanding that they're missing the entire point. Ending up unhappy in that situation seems a no-brainer to me.