Confronting Traditions

Saw this post on Etsy today and my heart sang !

It talks about traditions of weddings that are gender unequal and how the writer of this post Meg Keene, a feminist, handled things when it was time for her tie the knot.

Let’s talk about some of it.

“The Engagement Ring: It starts on day one. Of course. Why is the tradition that you wear a ring that marks you as taken, while he wears nothing? Why do people act like the bigger the ring, the better a provider he’s going to be (or that it even matters)? Why in the face of all this unequal junk do many of us decide that we want a ring anyway? (The. Sparkles. Are. So. Pretty.) How can we learn to own our decision no matter what choice we make?”

Now this is something that used to bug me too. I always wanted to be asked but I didn’t want a sparkly ring.  I wanted the gesture not the bling. Which I got anyway. The sparkly ring I mean. It IS so damned pretty.  And I didn’t want the gesture to be exclusive , I had often wondered why men are not proposed to either. So I bought a ring, a considerably less expensive one, and asked him nicely. He loved the gesture and that felt good. One day, I will be able to tell my children, if we have any, how I proposed to their father after he proposed to me. 🙂 Should be a good story to tell.

The Name Change: I’ve written reams about the name change issue, but in short form: it can be difficult no matter what your situation is. Some of us don’t change our names and deal with people who refuse to acknowledge our choice (not to mention the endless assumptions that we will). Others do change their names, but really mourn the loss of identity. And still others change their name without fuss and agonize over what that means. And through it all, most men remain blissfully unaware of how damn hard it is for women (red flag, there).

This, is something we have actually fought about. I love him and I’ve always thought of it as a gesture to show off my love for him to take on his name. I would love to be called Mrs G which is what a lot of people will call me I am sure, but I love my name. Wouldn’t it be cool if we came up with a tradition of our own where we merge both names and use it as one?  He didn’t think so. He wanted to keep his name. This is one area men never have to worry about. They don’t even consider the possibility. If my parents gave me both their surnames, I would have been so proud ! But my mother kept hers, and my father his. While I love Darling, and I don’t mind going by his name, but I also want to treasure my sense of identity so I guess I will keep mine. We did come to an agreement that for the kids, if we ever have any , God willing, we will give them both our names. That would be a good tradition to start.

Who Pays: The tradition that the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, while the groom’s parents skate by relatively unscathed, has troubling roots in, say, dowries, and getting rid of that female kid that can’t earn any money, anyway. But the thing is, you may be in a situation where the bride’s parents are paying, and chances are that has nothing to do with a bride price. My parents (who contributed in an equal fashion to the wedding) actually pulled me aside to tell me that “it was very important to get to help pay for my wedding, and I needed to stop trying to take that away.” (Whoopsy.) Still, wrapping one’s head around this can be tough.

My father *insisted* he pays for the wedding. So we let him pay for the function itself, but, Darling’s parents are throwing us a homecoming, and Darling and I spend for everything else. We are just pooling in all our money and paying for whatever that comes. It works. When our children get married, if they ever do, we will let them decide. Hopefully they will let us help them out like our parents are doing now.

Witnesses. Darling’s side of the family, as a tradition has always gotten their fathers to sign for them. While I think it’s a sweet idea, I am also on the view that if a father is suitable enough to sign for their kids, a mother is too. When it really comes down to it, our fathers will sign for us, but my father AND my mother will walk me down the isle too. That’s the only way I will have it.

That’s it for now really. Will write about Sri Lankan wedding traditions some time soon.


One thought on “Confronting Traditions

  1. Oh the drama!! I sort of changed my name you know. To some, I still go by my maiden name, to others i go by the new one. Sometimes I use both. 🙂

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