I’m from the South. Weddings are part of our shtick. Daddy pays for a Barbie dreamland wedding, you go on a fabulous honeymoon to Jamaica, and return to your freshly-purchased-by-Daddy house where you live happily ever after.
Or not. In my reality, the nature of a wedding is entirely capitalist. Thousands of dollars are spent on dresses, venues, flowers, gifts, rings, food, and festivities, and a glamorous trip to some place in the tropics. For those that can afford it, of course.
For something that should be about love, mutual respect, and the connection of two people, it sure costs a lot of money. This is perhaps the reason why a study conducted by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and New York’s Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values raised such a stink.
According to this study, millions of Americans (especially those without college degrees, or the “moderately educated”) are choosing to not marry. Others who are married, report declining levels of satisfaction in their union. Also “shocking” were the numbers that suggested that people are no longer embarrassed about having children out of wedlock.
Well no shit! Life stepped in, and people had to do what they had to do. No time for a carriage ride through the park, there are mouths to feed and bills to pay.
Let’s take a look at what marriage really is. If you’re religious, it’s a sacrament that connects you, your partner, and god. If you’re not, it’s a piece of paper that means you get a few more tax breaks than your unhitched counterparts. As a feminist, I find it hard to justify marriage in that context.
Historically, marriage is a patriarchal vehicle for oppression and marginalization. In some cultures, women are functionally “sold” to their husbands, through dowries and other offerings for the bride. Shit, even the root of “bride” is something similar to “cook.”
What’s worse is when you see a seemingly bright young woman turn into a complete idiot over her man, her dress, and her venue. Their whole personality changes, often for the worse (you’ve seen Bridezillas, yes?). So many women, despite their successes, just can’t seem to be happy until they’ve got that damn ring around their finger.
I sort of have an odd perspective on marriage, actually. My folks had a pretty quick engagement/marriage process, and have been together for over 25 years. It works for them. Not because my mom does what she’s told, but because they’ve created a lasting partnership.
Yet, I still am not convinced marriage is for me. Being from a small town, I’ve seen people marry at 18 and divorce at 18 and a half. I’ve seen women marry out of desperation, and out of love. I dig hanging out with boyfriend, and love him very much, but just don’t see marriage as being in our cards. What, you mean I’m really going to have a to wear a white dress and be in a church? No.
Ultimately, we know that marriages aren’t about dresses and churches. We know they’re about love, respect, and caring for your partner. But that’s just a good partnership. Not a marriage. You don’t need a wedding or a dress or any of that other shit to be happy with your partner. Thus, marriage is irrelevant.
I said it. Marriage is irrelevant. It is unimportant, unnecessary, and a complete affront to the values that I hold as a feminist. I don’t need your dress or your piece of paper to be happy with my partner. You can commit your undying love and affection (with or without a ceremony) without this institution.
Well, maybe for sorority girls and socialites weddings aren’t irrelevant (not to mention that multi billion dollar industry that it supports). But for the rest of us, the working folk, we’ll just stick to being in love and being happy.
Amy is a social media strategist living in Dallas, Texas. She likes music, trashy TV, and ladybiz. tweet: @aemccarthy