With many placing blame on the rape victim in the Steubenville rape case I have thought about how women are viewed in our society and what traditional views guide the way women are perceived in various circumstances. I have also questioned how important women’s rights and gender equality are to me. What I realized is that, despite some baby steps toward progress, women are still unequal to men, both financially and socially.
By accepting Jesse’s proposal last November, I acknowledged that I was ready to get married and spend the rest of my life with him. Until recently, I had not given much thought to marriage in the context of gender equality. I now realize that this topic should be discussed by all couples who are considering getting married.
A good friend of mine is a bridesmaid for one of her closest friends whose wedding is this summer. My friend has confided in me about her concerns about her friend. She has told me that her friend’s fiance is very controlling. This friend has to ask her fiance for permission to do practically anything. This couple already shares a bank account and this friend has, in so many words, told my friend that they probably will not see one another very much once she gets married.
I share this story because it is, in my opinion, an all too familiar case of a woman who is limiting her potential in order to be with a man. I will acknowledge that, in her view of reality, her relationship probably seems logical and she may not even feel like she is being controlled. (And, if she does, maybe she thinks that is how all relationships between a man and a woman are supposed to be.)
After an engagement I think it is very easy to get overwhelmed by all the decisions you realize you will be making when planning your wedding, especially if you are going to be planning most of your wedding on your own. Where do you begin? How soon should you commit to a venue? Who should you invite? When do you ask your closest friends to be your bridesmaids? Should your wedding have a theme? Should your reception meal be buffet style or plated? There are an indefinite number of questions that arise when you realize that actual wedding planning is not as fun as pinning ideas to your “My Future Wedding” board on Pinterest.
Since my engagement I have realized the importance of defining my own expectations of how I want my wedding to be. I reflected on this topic in my last post. This mindset has helped relieve a lot of my worries about planning a wedding. It can be difficult to find your own bridal voice when there are so many sources dictating what a wedding should look like. On page 3 of her book, “A Practical Wedding,” Meg Keene suggests that wedding magazines, among other resources, dictate the expectations of a modern bride.
“Every book or wedding magazine has lists—lists ordering that you immediately do this, lists forcefully suggesting that maybe you should start doing that, mile-long lists of activities that you to complete if you want to be a Proper Bride.”
Even though I have spent very little time reading wedding magazines or articles on wedding websites I have seen these lists and expectations Keene is referring to. In the months since my engagement my best friend, mother, and future mother-in-law have all purchased wedding magazines for me. I haven’t taken a serious look at the content because I am more interested in finding inspiration from the colors and images. However, I did mark “The list: Your wedding to-dos—And when to do them” in the December 2012 issue of Brides magazine. Included is a checklist of what to accomplish 12 months before your wedding, 10 months before, etc. For example, 8 months before your wedding you are supposed to: “Book the caterer, florist, band/DJ, ceremony music, and photographer; order your dress; block hotel rooms for out-of-town guests; and register your wedding” (p. 54).