I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day for as long as I can remember.
The theme, location, guest list, bridesmaids, dress style - you name it, and I’ve probably planned it. But it wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized how many wedding traditions revolve around a creepy and outdated ownership of the bride. How have these traditions survived to 2017 without further speculation?
1. Asking the father for permission.
I agree that it’s a sign of respect to ask for permission since marriage is such an enormous life step. But why does the groom traditionally only ask the bride’s father? And why does the bride not ask the groom’s parents for permission to marry their son, as well?
The only reasoning for this is that women were historically owned by men.
Once a woman was married, she transferred from being owned by her father to being owned by her husband. Since the bride was the property, there was no reason for her to ask the parents of the groom for permission to marry their son. This obviously is not the reason for the groom asking permission in the modern day, but the act of continuing such a sexist tradition is sexist, as well.
2. The father "giving away" his daughter.
I recognize that this represents little to nothing in modern culture. It can serve as a special way for a father to be with his daughter during such an important moment.
However, its sexist symbolism is similar to that of asking the father for permission. The fact that the father even has the ability to “give his daughter away” implies that she was owned by him in the first place and that she will now be owned by her husband.
The weird emphasis on this being the father and not the mother or any other family figure feeds into the overprotective-father vibe.
It’s unfortunately common for a father to reinforce rape culture by being overly controlling towards his daughter’s love and sex life. This can be extremely damaging. If a woman grows up feeling as though she belongs to her father, it may feel natural for her to feel owned by her husband. She may not be able to recognize what is and isn’t sexual, physical or verbal abuse.
3. The bride walking down the aisle.
This tradition, quite literally, puts the male on a pedestal. It also creates a disproportionate amount of power from the very beginning of their marriage.
4. White dress.
White symbolizes purity and virginity. It’s an old expectation for the bride to stay celibate until marriage, and that she is otherwise impure. This objectifies women and creates a sideways view of a woman’s character in relation to her sex life. I love "Say Yes to the Dress" as much as the next gal, but you better believe my dress won’t be white.
5. Taking the man's last name.
As a little girl, I would put my first name with the last names of my crushes to see if it sounded nice. It took me until now to realize how messed up that is. It’s so normalized for a woman to change her entire identity to that of her husband’s that we don’t even question it anymore.
It says that his family lineage is more important than hers. It also adds another layer of a woman becoming her husband’s property.
6. "You may now kiss the bride."
Just, no. This implies the power is in the hands of the man for their first kiss as a married couple.