Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Real Meaning of Marriage

I keep this blog pretty much to work out the things that stick in my craw and sometimes I feel like I shouldn't post certain things because I know I am going to be accused of looking for stuff or nitpicking.

But, damn, sometimes I just have to say something! Right now I am annoyed because of the comments on this post at A Cup of Jo. I like that blog; it is light, it is cute, it is fun. But it is sorely lacking in any sort of feminist critique. The post in question is about bridal veils. Maybe I spend too much time on feminist blogs but I went to the comments section fully expecting someone to say that veils represent women's subordination and commodification; that they romanticize rigid gender roles.

I got none of that of course, but what I did get was a whole lot of women (I believe) talking about how lovely and romantic veils are. I especially love this gem:

"The veil is so beautiful and wearing it over the face is just so romantic!"

Also, apparently, when talking weddings "old fashioned" is a good thing.

"That is quite romantic and old-fashioned. It seems like veils covering the face at weddings have slowely (sic) been phased out - I still adore the sentiment!"
This one is my favorite:
"This is so moving and beautiful. It really does remind us of the real meaning of marriage. Stunning."
These comments had me thinking about how some women romanticize the wedding ceremony. I am not going to go into all of the different traditions and what they mean because I just don't have the energy. But I am led to wonder how so many commenter's on A Cup of Jo can, without a trace of self-examination or critical consciousness, say that a bridal veil is romantic.

Old fashioned, yes. Traditional, yes. But let us look at that tradition that these commenter's wish to romanticize. On a website for bridal veils, they describe the tradition as such:

"In medieval times...the veil was used to protect [the bride] from 'the evil eye' and was a symbol of purity, chastity, and modesty.

Others say the the origin of the bridal veil was due to the circumstances of an arranged marriage. In days past, men bargained with an eligible young lady's father for their hand in marriage. AFTER the ceremony, the veil was lifted to reveal the brides features. This was to keep a groom from backing out of the deal if he didn't like what he saw.

Some say that the veil was used in days past as a symbol of a bride's submission and willingness to obey her husband."

Remember, this is a site that sells veils! That these traditions actually do represent the "real meaning of marriage" is perhaps the best argument I can think of against marriage.

It really bums me out that women don't think more about the meaning of the traditions that they are upholding in their weddings. And if they do think about it and then uphold them anyway, well that is just terrifying.