I couldn't help but exclaim "...and about bloody time!" while reading this article, on
The Lutheran vicar Yvonne Hallin, quoted in the article, sums it up best, saying couples who marry "are equal when it comes to finances, politics, values ... but when they come to the church ... the woman suddenly turns into a man's property". Halleujah, my vicar sister. We women of the West are the grand-daughters of the Suffragettes, and the daughters of the Feminists. We work, we vote, we spend, we drive, we are able to live our own lives without the dictates of others. We generally do most of the wedding planning, yet on the day itself, we allow ourselves to get passed from our fathers to our husbands like a frickin’ meat tray? Where’s the logic in that?
Now before those enamoured with traditional wedding features tell me they’re expressing their free will by choosing to include and honour their fathers in this way – you’re right, of course.* I acknowledge that being able to make that choice is a good thing. It’s taken me some years, but I have finally accepted that it is the sincere wish of some women (including dear friends of mine) to have a wedding with all the trimmings. That is their right, and I will defend that right, as they say, to the death.
But I also maintain the right to object to traditions with sexist undertones (no matter how subtle) being kept alive just because they’re “nice”. In my mind, there’s nothing more evocative of women having freedom to choose than being able to walk confidently up to your husband-to-be and say “I'm here babe - let's do this thing”. Even better would be the couple making that purposeful walk together. You want symbols – what better to say we’re walking together towards our future? We’re choosing it – together. What I advocate is a further change in attitudes when it comes to weddings, to weed out the more archaic traditions, and create some new ones of a more equal nature.
At the wedding of my boyfriend’s dear sister last year in
I am in general, fairly turned off by many of the traditions surrounding weddings and marriages that some women seem to embrace. Name changing, for one. Woah, Nelly. I thought we’d outgrown this one. I object to it primarily because it is not an option men have to consider, and it again echoes the idea of woman as property, and transferable.** My surname is an innate part of me, and I don't believe it shows disrespect to any partner to maintain that heritage. I choose to honour my partner by committing to a life with him; and I choose to honour my father by keeping the full name I received at birth. Having him traipse me up a strip of red carpet seems to me to be something of a hollow substitute.
I like to think I have at least a bit of a romantic soul (I am, like all proper ladies, besotted with Pride and Prejudice), but I certainly don’t buy into archaic wedding traditions. I applaud this particular church for carving out a different path, and hope it will continue developing a more progressive style of wedding that truly reflects the needs of modern Western partnerships.
And let’s face it, for many brides the “walk down the aisle” only exists to allow the woman her glowing moment, so everyone can squawk at the gown and tear up at how beautiful she looks on her special day. Now, if that’s what float your boat, why would you want to share it with your Dad? He’s going to block at least one side of the assembled masses from getting a good look at you. Plus he’s probably going to trip over your hemline and burp inappropriately. That's just what Dads do.
*Yes I am avoiding a debate on social constructs, thanks for asking.
**Of course I realise it’s a patriarchal hand-me-down – it’s my father’s father’s father’s name, not the graceful Devoy of my mother, the fiery Khambatta or earthy Gerraghty of my grandmothers, nor the very British Pritchard of my great-grandmother – but they were all men's names as well, and you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.