A Feminist Bride
Written by Eva Rutland, 26.10.16
In an act of complete synchronicity (and never being one to ignore “the signs”) I was recently at the hairdressers and stumbled upon an article in one of the glossies entitled “confessions of a feminist bride”. My trip to the salon was part of my pre-opening night ritual as I was performing in a play about the suffragette movement called “Her Naked Skin”. These inspirational women endured barbaric acts of torture such as forcible feeding and sacrificed so much in the fight for universal suffrage. The majority of wedding traditions are rooted in a patriarchal society where women were scarcely treated better than livestock, so is it possible to still enjoy and embrace a traditional, fairy tale wedding without letting the sisterhood down?
Firstly how do we define a feminist? Ask Donald Trump and it’s a man-hating, dungaree and Dr Marten wearing, Germaine Greer quoting, slightly militant, slightly aggressive woman who eschews all forms of waxing and shaving and constantly has a copy of “The Female Eunuch” clasped to her (naturally) braless bosom. The reality is – of course – nothing like this. A feminist, to my mind, is quite simply a person (because a feminist is not just exclusively female) who supports and advocates women’s rights on the grounds of equality between the sexes. So on that basis, is this belief compromised by waiting for your partner to get down on one knee and not taking the initiative yourself? Or by the symbol of ownership that is an engagement ring (how often do you see a man wearing one?!). Or in asking your Dad to have the moment that he’s dreamed about since the day you came into being – proudly walking you down the aisle and giving you away? And what of the white dress and veil symbolising your purity?
Yes, the roots of all these customs undoubtedly come from the misogynistic days of yore, but much as Easter has become less about celebrating the resurrection and more about the “four-day-weekend-with-a-free-pass-to-eat-your-bodyweight-in-chocolate”, nobody observes these traditions for what they were at their inception. Surely the entire point of feminism is freedom of choice? If you want a fairy tale meringue dress and veil that’s whiter than Simon Cowell’s molars, you have it! Is asking your Dad to give you away laying your feminist sensibilities at the altar of chauvinism and objectification? No! It’s not saying that your father owns you and that you are his possession, rather it’s about making the man who has loved you forever part of your special day. Feminism doesn’t emasculate or ride roughshod over other people’s feelings to achieve its goal. As far as I can see, the only thing that contradicts or hinders feminism is the person that judges you for these choices, because judging and criticising another woman’s choices simply because they don’t subscribe to your version of feminism is about as anti-feminist as it gets. At its very core it’s about respecting everybody’s right to choose to live how they want to. Ultimately, isn’t the supreme act of feminism empowering others to be confident in their decisions?
So, have the day that you want. If that means walking down the aisle to your intended alone, in a purple trouser suit and getting inked instead of exchanging rings, then go for it and own it! However, if you’ve been dreaming of the full-blown Disney Princess style extravaganza since the first time you played dress up and wore a pillowcase on the back of your head (“Look mummy, I’m getting married!), then please don’t allow anyone to sway you. You should be unabashed and unapologetic for your choices. It’s your day after all.