Moderndaysexism’s Blog


Sexism in the Traditional Marriage Ceremony
January 6, 2009, 6:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Almost every little girl dreams of her perfect wedding day. She imagines the dress, the vows, and even the guests. Weddings in movies are generally exceptional events. Plenty of flowers, bridesmaids and gorgeous (or purposefully hideous) bridesmaid dresses. Immediately after the wedding there is a wonderful reception with lots and lots of dancing and then the bride and groom are whisked away in a super-stretch limo to some enchanted getaway for the perfect honeymoon. The bride is beautiful, the groom in handsome. This is the perfect wedding that every little girl dreams of.

Unfortunately, the wedding ceremony isn’t quite as perfect as little girls dream. Much of the wedding is filled with antiquated sexist rituals that really, have no place in modern day society. In fact, many modern brides and grooms have begun to revise the ceremony to fit their beliefs and create new traditions. Here’s a look at some of the sexist elements in the traditional wedding ceremony.

Love, honor, and obey.
Only the woman says the “obey” part in the traditional ceremony. The thinking is that the man is the head of the household. With conservative Christians he is in a way, an extension of God and therefore the woman must obey him. The obvious assumption that the woman is inferior to the man is beginning to upset modern brides and many grooms. Many couples are dropping the obey part from their vows or even writing their own.

Who gives this woman?
At the beginning of the traditional wedding ceremony the priest, minister, or preacher asks “And who gives this woman to this man?” Where upon the father of the bride says “I do.” This tradition makes it seem as if the woman is property to be transferred from one superior man to another superior man. Many people are changing the phrase to “Her mother and I,” or even dropping it completely. After all, in modern day society it is the woman who chooses to get married. Her father does not choose her husband for her anymore.

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Jones.
Traditionally the woman takes the man’s last name. When they are introduced for their first dance they are introduced with the man’s name. It’s as if the woman is completely giving up her identity. Many women now choose to keep their last name, hyphenate their new a

nd old names, or even more radically… the man takes the woman’s name. Of course, this is much more complicated legally than simply signing a marriage certificate.

A dowry?
It used to be that a dowry was given by the woman’s family to the man’s family. In many third-world and very traditional countries this still takes place. There is still a remnant of this in Western society weddings as well. The bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding. It’s as if the bride’s family is paying to get rid of her. Of course, with modern finances being what they are, who pays for what is becoming much more complicated these days.

Other sexisms…
There are many other sexisms in the traditional wedding such as the white dress signifying virginity (rarely true these days), the woman walking towards the man (doing all the work, he just waits for her), the man standing on the right (signifying the right hand of God), “you many now kiss the bride”, and many other small details. While the traditional wedding is full of sexisms, your wedding doesn’t have to be. You can make it what you want it to be. Have your best friend walk you down the aisle, write your own vows, be married by a justice of the peace… whatever.

What the traditional wedding doesn’t recognize is that moden women are strong and independent, emotionally, physically, intellectually, and financially. So, when planning your wedding, be sure that it represents you and not a woman of the 1950′s.

Link to article: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/9489/birdie.html


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

One correction. Although the white dress has probably come to symbolize virginity and purity, its original purpose in the Victorian era was to indicate the bride’s family’s wealth, that she could wear something that could only be worn once. Otherwise, you’re quite right about the sexism in traditional marriage.

Comment by Jim Ruwaldt

It is nice to see that things are changing.

Comment by JoAnne Dietrich

As a pastor I have tried very hard to omit these sexisms when I perform weddings. Yet, you would be amazed at how many people insist that they not be removed from their weddings and have even rejected my officiating their wedding if I did include them.

Comment by Paul Donelson




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