Friday, September 24, 2010

On Being a Feminist Bride

You may be surprised to find out that I wasn’t always sure I wanted to get married—especially since I love weddings and had ideas for my own wedding before we even decided to get hitched. But it’s true, as much as I love weddings and other celebrations, there were a lot of conflictions in figuring out if marriage was right for me. It was never about spending the rest of my life with Mr. Cheetah. I was always sure of that—and after being together for a decade (and living together most of those years) we already felt very committed to each other.

I’m a feminist (so is Mr. Cheetah), and I have given a lot of thought about what it means for a woman to enter into marriage today. In the past there were many sexist aspects of marriage. A woman was to obey her husband, domestic abuse laws did not exist, a woman’s worth was closely tied to her virginity, her property became her husband’s after they were wed, her name was never carried on—she had to take his. And the list goes on. Women were in a tough spot; there weren’t many choices for them. Very few careers were open to women, and women did not get paid well (remember women today still make less than men). Often women had to get married just to have a livelihood.

A couple years back with the recognition of same sex marriages in many places I could really get behind the idea of marriage—it’s all about love and legal rights. Hey, I like love and equal rights! That’s the kind of marriage I want! But then prop 8 happened here in CA claiming the marriage was about traditional (read: bigoted) roles. That’s not kind of marriage I want. Thankfully there has been some positive movement on the equal marriage front and I can’t wait for the day that ANY two people can be joined in marriage if they desire to do so.

So why am I getting married? While I believe that you can have meaningful lasting commitments without marriage and that it is a personal choice for all, I ultimately decided I wanted the legal recognition & rights. Being legal next of kin is very important to us. If we have a family this will make things easier as well. Plus, we are really looking forward to pledging our love in front of our nearest and dearest come March. I do not want an old school or “traditional” marriage. I want my marriage. We define what that is. This is one of the many reasons I’m keeping my name and Mr. Cheetah is keeping his. We can be joined, be a family and still have our own histories, identities, and lives.

I give a lot of thought to the meaning that is present in my actions and intentions in my daily life. So I have taken that approach to my wedding and marriage as well. As I said before, we’re both keeping our names, I’ll remain a Ms., he’ll remain a Mr. I will not be “given away” or escorted down the aisle. Mr. Cheetah will walk down alone, and I will walk down alone. After the ceremony we will walk back as a married couple together. Even the word “wife” conjures up ideas of traditional roles and marriage for me. I think we’ll use spouse. There was equality in the proposal too—I guess I should tell you guys about that—post to come soon!

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