White wedding vs my feminism…hm (Picture: Getty) Let’s be clear: most weddings are a glorified gala of patrimony.
Take the bride’s attire – the white dress, a symbol of her purity.
A man leads her down the aisle then hands her over to another man as though she is a commodity to be traded – indeed, she once was. Then there are the speeches, traditionally made by men, and taking your husband’s last name. I could go on.
And I want all of it.
I want a traditional wedding it all its antiquated, misogynistic glory.
At 31, I can’t escape weddings, full stop.
Summers are dominated by friends’ nuptials, and my Facebook feed is fit to burst with ads for quirky wedding gowns and ombre cakes and hipster venues because I typed ‘vintage engagement rings’ into Google once (OK, a few times).
Alright. I have a secret wedding-inspo Pinterest board. It is a sickness.
I am in a long-term relationship and my boyfriend is pretty rad: hot, kind, funny, and he loves me unconditionally, even when I throw up all over his side of the bed at 2am.
He, in turn, is the only man with whom I can imagine growing old, and I find the idea of publicly declaring our love quite cheery.
What has surprised me, shocked me, is the speed and fervour with which I have embraced the more ‘old-fashioned’ aspects of marriage – you know, the ones deeply rooted in centuries of male oppression.
I am a feminist. Of course I am.
Basic common sense dictates that a woman should be paid the same as a man for doing the same job, and not be sexually assaulted on the tube.
And every time I browse white gowns, every time I doodle my first name in front of my boyfriend’s last, the feminist angel on my shoulder, who looks and sounds remarkably like Roxane Gay, raises her eyebrows.
I am an independent, adult woman, yet I want my dad to give me away.
I am self-employed and career-driven, yet I want to take my partner’s name.
I want to wear white, though lord knows my purity is long gone.
Why are these things so important to me?
Why can’t I picture my wedding without them, despite knowing, knowing, that I can wear what I want, make my own speech and change my last name to PyjamaFace-Llama should I be so inclined.
Why do I want things so at odds with my feminist principles?
Am I brainwashed?
The wedding industry is worth billions and the white, traditional wedding is so firmly entrenched as ‘what a wedding looks like’, that it is hard to deviate.
Maybe it’s because all my female friends – some vehemently feminist, some not – have subscribed to these traditions on their wedding days, too.
The traditional trappings of marriage are, it seems, the acceptable face of patriarchy.
My guess? Feminism is complex, personal and messy, and after centuries of unequal pay – and tube gropes, and being denied education, and sanitary products, and being persecuted for driving, and having an affair, and being raped – we are only now beginning, still just beginning, to reframe the conversation.
The anti-feminist rituals of marriage are a drop in the patriarchy until we right these anti-feminist wrongs.