Hello again! And welcome back to BroadFish Blogging.
As I often do, I am creating a show that parallels the events in my life. So I’m writing a story about a woman who plans a wedding before finding her groom and I’m in the midst of planning my very own wedding*
*Don’t worry – I have the groom. 🙂
Here’s the thing: I was always a bit of a Judgemental Judy around weddings.
A lot of the marriages I witnessed growing up were not happy and seemed to involve sacrifice as opposed to compromise, which led to a great deal of resentment in both husband and wife.
I worked as a cater waiter for large events, and witnessed horrible things like full plates of food being thrown away, and mean shouting matches on wedding days between warring family members.
I was also raised as an Italian Catholic – so marriage was wrapped up in patriarchal ideas about ownership, property and old-fashioned gender roles. And that’s not my jam.
As a gal who was determined to have a career and a life of adventure, I made the assumption that marriage wouldn’t be a part of my future. And I was totally okay with that.
Plus, I worked as a story editor on this show:
So it was pretty easy to be cynical about people and their weddings.
And then I met my fiancé, Matt, online on OKCupid. Online dating. It works. Who knew?
As we grew to love one another deeply, I realized that I had found in him a partner that not only supported my career ambitions and my desire for a life of creativity and art, but also one who was pursuing the very same goals and whose presence in my life elevated it and made it fuller, and brighter.
And it caught me completely off guard, because I 100% wanted to marry this glorious human being. I wanted to live the rest of my days with him in my corner and at my side. No question. Surprise! I’m going to get married!
So we started to plan a wedding. And it seriously made me examine everything in my life: my relationship to the cosmos, my feelings around money, and my identification as a feminist. Yep. There it is. The F word. Still with me?
I absolutely consider myself a feminist. A proud feminist. And I’m proud to be marrying a feminist. My fiancé Matt is an advocate for human rights, and equality. It’s great.
When we started to plan our wedding, I went through a very interesting internal struggle. The judgemental part of me wanted to slough off the giddy joy I’d feel when we’d plan the littlest detail. I didn’t want to tell most of my friends that we had an engagement shoot, even though I had a blast doing one. And I felt embarrassed sometimes when I talked about my plans with certain people who didn’t see me as a ‘bride’ or ‘someone who bought into all of that’.
The truth: I was really happy planning a celebration that would solidify my wondrous partnership.
So why all this shame? A few reasons, I think.
I do a lot of satire and comedy, and I’m a university educated artist, mentor and an advocate for women’s rights. Because of this, I somehow felt that I should downplay my girlish excitement. That it was foolish. I feared I had become some sort of Bridezilla-esque beast infected with the frivolity of fairy tales.
And then I read several articles full of judgement, like this one and it made me really angry:
Now let me say this: the wedding industry is full of all kinds of cons. Short cons. Long cons. Hideous, tulle-covered cons. But buying a beautiful dress for your wedding day doesn’t mean you’ve ‘bought in’ to something. Necessarily. And people are welcome to spend as much money on a wedding day as they’d like. Who the fuck is anyone else to criticize? But they do. A lot.
And my biggest beef with that article I posted above is that despite the author’s efforts to make the post a criticism of the industry, or an indictment of reality television (which I can totally go along with), she inevitably makes it about forcing her own judgments around how much money is too much money to spend, or that weddings in general are distractions from other pursuits for women. I think this is a slippery slope. Is there truth in some of what she says? Sure. Is there also an absurd amount of judgment around women’s personal choices? You bet.
Aren’t we supposed to support one another’s personal choices? Or, if not support, not completely invalidate one another’s personal choices?
Yes weddings can be steeped in old-fashioned ideas and gender roles. And yes, it can be damaging if women only see themselves within the context of relationships to the men in their lives. And there is still, most definitely, far more emphasis on being a ‘princess’ than being any other kind of woman. But isn’t denigrating women for wanting traditionally labeled ‘feminine’ experiences just as damaging? There’s challenging the patriarchy, and then there’s creating a new stifling system where we as women dismiss our own gender through rigidity and criticism. Can we be feminists and want poofy dresses? I think we can.
When I was growing up, feminism was about equality. At least for me. It was about choices. Birth control, abortion rights, equal pay – it was about being in charge of my own choices, and wanting the same thing for other women. Other people. Period.
I know it’s more nuanced than that. Patriarchy, privilege, power systems. I know.
But at the base of it all: could we avoid perpetuating the idea that you’re either an intellectual or you’re a princess? Could we be more than that? Could we be queens and rule over our own bodies, our own minds and our own choices? And honour other queens, whether they get married or don’t, have babies or don’t, wear dresses or don’t? Can we be critical and still be able to celebrate? Still love beautiful things? Still like the idea of being someone’s wife?
I think there should be more women in political power, that we MUST protect pro-choice laws, and that the key to a more progressive world lies in the liberation of women from outmoded ideals/systems, AND I also absolutely love planning my wedding with Matt. I am both of these. At the same time. Plus a whole bunch of other things. BAM.
What I’m witnessing is that as I allow room for love, joy, femininity, and companionship in my life I am able to allow room for others to experience these things in the way they see fit. And that is heartening.
Here’s to celebrating our choices!
Agree? Disagree? Let me know! @melissadags