Thursday, July 23, 2015

More Wedding Rants that You Probably don't Want to Hear

Adam and I have booked our venue!!! We're getting married in the Virginia Kendall portion of the Cuyahoga Vally National Park, which is an old state park that was turned over to the national park system. It's a collection of smaller parks with really beautiful, rustic shelters built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Adam even has some relatives that worked for the corps...not necessarily on this specific place...he wears a ring given to corps members. This section of the park is particularly beautiful. It's built around sandstone ledges that mark the prehistoric edge of Lake Erie. There is a ridiculous view and gorgeous landscape that means we can easily have all our pictures taken in the same place as our ceremony and reception with very little hassle.

I chose this place, and then suggested it to Adam who agreed, for a few reasons. The first is the cost; $110.00 for the entire day. We can do whatever we want in the shelter for that time, including hosting a wedding and reception, assuming the music is not too loud. The neighboring field and attached restrooms are not reserved, which is fine with us. Sharing our space with other park goers is not a big deal. I like that the space because it prohibits alcohol. The cost of alcohol is OUTRAGEOUS. Paying for wedding guests to drink alcohol can often double a wedding budget...or double the food costs alone. No thank you. You can drink on your own dime. The shelter is big enough to accommodate the size of our wedding and is pretty in its own right. No decorations needed, which means even more money saved. But also, Adam and I spend a lot of time in the parks in the area. Getting married in one of the parks just makes total sense. The Ledges Shelter is large enough to host a pretty decent-sized wedding. I had looked at other shelters in the area and the space wasn't quite as big and the surrounding parks weren't quite as stunningly beautiful. This park has it all...including a 1-mile trail that I am absolutely going to encourage our wedding guests to enjoy!

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"Engagement" photos done by Kinsey Staab of Nixon Photography in Omaha, Nebraska

So what about those rants?

You know, there are a few things that keep happening as everyone talks to me about my wedding and my engagement and my marriage. The first is, of course, talking about it like it isn't really mine. Why can't everyone mind their own damn biscuits? It's my fucking life, not yours! But whatever. I KNEW I was getting into this.

One thing that constantly comes up is my lack of engagement ring and my choice not to take Adam's surname (so far, I'm not fully settled, but it just feels right to keep my own). The main reason I have for not doing these things is that Adam doesn't own me. Engagement rings are a sign that women have been marked as property. You are now taken by another man who is going to buy you from your father. There is no way around this. Engagement rings are not modern and are not symbols of love. They are symbols of property, and worse, symbols of brilliant marketing plans by American corporations. There is no argument you can make like the one I so often hear, "It doesn't mean that to me," or, "I don't think of it that way."

The problem is, you can't say those things, because they aren't true. When you say, "I don't think of it that way," you're actually saying, "I have been culturally conditioned to believe this is a symbol of something it isn't, and I refuse to educate myself to the enculturation I've experienced."

And ok, whatever, you like your pretty ring, and THAT IS FINE. You are allowed to like jewelry. But just ask yourself, if this engagement ring is a symbol of love and commitment, or future commitment, then why don't men ever wear them? Why is their no male equivalent? Why are women the only people who need to be marked for the future?

We should not be teaching our daughters that it's all ok and whatever because it just means love. We should be teaching our daughters to think critically of the decisions they make and not to buy into enculturation just because it's what we do. The meaning behind traditions and symbolism can change, if we continue to talk about it. (Fuck it, teach our sons too, so women might actually have comrades in this evolution.)

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"Engagement" photos done by Kinsey Staab of Nixon Photography in Omaha, Nebraska

The other rant has to do with my name, my identity, and why Adam doesn't own me.

The thing about taking your husband's name, if you are a woman, is that it is, again, a sign that you have been sold. Your identity matters insomuch as someone owns you. You inherited your father's surname because he owns your family (and this is true across almost all of the cultures of the world throughout almost all of history). You can change your surname when you, as property, change hands. There is no other argument to be made about this...unless you are in the rare heterosexual marriage where he took your name or you came up with a new name. Hyphenated only counts if he did it to.

Now, I often hear, "Oh, I don't think it's about ownership, it's about family pride." That would be a good argument if you could name ten heterosexual couples where the woman didn't take the man's name and you have to exclude anyone who kept their name because their future husband's name was ugly, because they were established in their career with their name, or any other reason that isn't, "Well he doesn't own me."

Family pride isn't exclusive to men. Why is this identity question a question only women have to ask themselves? Why aren't men talking about taking their wive's names so as to preserve her family pride? Do the Lewis's, Eging's, Lyman's, Chapman's, Platt's and so on not matter? (And I could go on for literally dozens of surnames lost to the women in my family for the sake of taking the man's name.) What is it that makes the question ALWAYS about his name and NEVER about her name?

These are the questions you have to address before you say, "Oh it doesn't mean that to me." Because it does mean that to you and to every person in your culture who adopts a tradition of women being owned by men without carefully considering it.

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"Engagement" photos done by Kinsey Staab of Nixon Photography in Omaha, Nebraska

But what does it matter anyway? Who cares if you take his name, right? It's a perfectly good name, you wanted it anyway, you weren't tied to your own identity that existed for years before you met him.

I mean, that's part of the problem. Heterosexual women in the U.S. who desire to marry a man view their identities as fluid because they have been taught and they believe so deeply that they don't consider it, that their identity WILL change.

But also, consider this; women in American STILL make more than 20% less than men in America. Do you think that could possibly be connected to the fact that men in America are taught they own women? Why on earth would a man pay something he owns more or the same as himself? Ownership of an item puts that item as less than the owner. This pervades American culture and history as well as European culture and history.

I know, I know, I know, you feel attacked like suddenly your pretty jewelry and last name are meaningless. I'm not saying that. Be who you want and own what you want, simply know why you're doing it and understand the ramifications of your choices.

2 comments:

  1. The part about women not being able to have family pride was my problem. For that reason I tacked Josh's last name on, because I wanted the same last name as my daughter. So now I have four names and Dobbs lives on. I could not, however, make him understand this. It's been my identity for 27 years! I don't want to just get rid of it!

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    1. Yeah, Adam is hung up on the family name thing too. He doesn't care if I don't have his last name, but he wants his children to. Why? He can't tell me. It's ingrained in him to believe he has that right. But I will keep pushing him because women should have rights too!

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