How To Write Your Own Wedding Woes

11 Nov

Frankly speaking I am quite perplexed about my upcoming nuptials this weekend. I have been told feeling jittery is to be expected. My concerns have also been met with a swift dismissal from some quarters- ‘needless fuss over nothing’. But the scraps of ‘nothing’ have been building up in my mind. Never having wanted to marry, I found myself despising the necessity of ‘legalizing’ my relationship, as well as accepting the legal boundaries of marriage, in order to even continue my relationship in the same country as my long term partner. In a way, I suppose I felt my choice to marry had been made from a position of weakness, or coercion of circumstances, and therefore not a ‘free choice’. So last night I took to the internet to browse stories of other women plagued with the same concerns as I.

Although I wouldn’t call my wedding a ‘feminist wedding’, mostly because I am not entirely sure what a ‘feminist wedding’ actually is (Is it a wedding in which one or both of the couple identify with the label ‘feminist’? Is it a wedding that eschews the patriarchal power quotient? If so, how? What distinguishes a ‘feminist wedding’ from one that is not?), this Guardian article by Jessica Valenti titled My Big Feminist Wedding got me thinking about not just how I view my own marriage, but also issues that a lot of young (and perhaps not so young) people are increasingly considering and negotiating while marrying. Similar to Valenti, I have been quite hesitant so far to write about something so personal on a public forum. To quote her, I too felt: “When you address personal issues, especially those so fraught with politics, you are sure to cause a stir.”

I think this is an important topic to discuss as the one of the ‘feminist’ (I am using the word with caution, keeping in mind the heterogeneity of opinions, principles and ideas that it can connote) notion that marriage is ‘antithetical to feminism’, to quote Valenti again, does not prepare us for the fact that in today’s world marriage is a legal requirement that many of us must fulfill in order to live a life where we have access to the things, material or otherwise, that we believe are of utmost importance to our happiness. Thus, there is no use dismissing marriage as something that ‘other’ women (and men) do and that which has no meaning outside of its legal and social inclusion implications. I believe that it is an institution that is discriminatory, gives rise to social exclusions of certain people, and hamper equal distribution of wealth and welfare; hence, I cheer on its abolishment. But it is also a celebration that many enjoy and would like to not do without; and even when they want to do without, can’t.

How we deal with this complex situation is by appropriating marriages and weddings as something that is meaningful to us. By dismissing marriage altogether then would be denying us that fragile appropriation we had carved for ourselves in the first place- by telling us what we have done is meaningless because it is either ‘too common’ to be a consequential story or unimportant just because marriage is ‘a public matter surrounded by a mass of essentially patriarchal law’ and hence inappropriable. I wonder how it is even a tad bit empowering to take away someone’s ability to tell their own story. I will, therefore, cover the different strands of thought I have been led to reflect on in a series of posts over the next week in order to tell my story. In the meantime, let me know how you view marriages. What meaning does it hold for you?

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5 Responses to “How To Write Your Own Wedding Woes”

  1. Sarah J November 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Some reasons as to why people get married aren’t completely logical. A lot of it is social conditioning and gender roles we’ve been taught. Since when do all traditions make sense anyway? But marriage realistically can open certain legal doors easier, like you said. We can analyze the death out of why people feel the need to celebrate and have something marriage certified on paper. But in the end, just be happy and do whatever fulfills your soul. Sometimes you need to think simple to let go of the fear. Tell us how you feel after you get married. 😉

    • Maitrayee Basu November 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

      I feel the same, Sarah. Hasn’t changed our lifestyle much. Except people seem to want to call me Mrs. F by default, which I am not that happy with. Some of the comments under the article I quoted suggest that things have changed drastically and noone expects women to change their names after their marriage. Well, in my experience, they do. It is true that most aren’t scandalised by my choice, but it seems to be the default assumption unless I correct them, which can be irksome.

  2. beafeminist November 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    This is such a hard one – for myself, I feel no real need to marry in order to legitimize and legalize a relationship. But you can’t argue that it does legitimize you in the eyes of general society. Just like anything else, it can be appropriated and taken back. My biggest problem is that I feel marriage is often pushed on me as necessary, and I’m looked at as a weirdo for not being that interested. I also hate hearing that I’ll change my mind when I meet “the one.” I don’t go around trying to persaude married women that they’ll change their mind because divorce is right and natural.

    • Maitrayee Basu November 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

      I totally hear you. Despite what people might think there is still considerable pressure in the society for young women (and men) to conform to the heteronormative ideal. Couples who choose to not marry, or even have relationships that are not exclusive, face criticism and judgement and their relationship is deemed to be less serious, if not downright immoral. This is why choosing to marry was a hard one for me. However, as I said in the post, since we were a long distance couple, the very survival of our relationship depended on whether we were willing to marry or not. It was a very difficult decision for me and I am not happy that I had to make it. (More on this later)

  3. departure films September 14, 2014 at 8:30 am #

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