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Bridal Party: Surprise! Misogyny is Here!

A Godzilla statue wearing a bridal veilHoly moly, readers! Nothing brings misogyny to the yard like weddings and impending marriage.

For a brief moment I thought, "this would be a great place for me to talk about Lacan's redux of the castration complex!" Then I realized that it would probably end up being a long-winded snoozefest wherein I eventually get angry and confuse myself. Also there's the whole problem of gender-essentializing, what with psychoanalysis and Lacan working and living during a time when that was everyone's favorite pastime anyway.

BUT WAIT! Gender-essentializing is STILL a popular pastime around ideas of wedlock in Dominant Culture (I like to capitalize Dominant Culture because I often personify it like a little creature on my shoulder telling me a bunch of WTF). I believe we're all familiar with the Dominant Culture-style tradition wherein male-ness likes to disavow positive feelings about commitment, despite the irony that historically/traditionally, the self-identified man was the person responsible for initiating said commitment in the first place because women weren't allowed to do much for centuries.

A rough retelling of the story about cultural gender binary/essentializing commitment:

a cartoon of a man marrying a woman with satan horns and a tail. the priest says, last chance Fred--are you sure you want to do this?A fellow falls for a gal. Said fellow spends some amount of time with said gal. The fellow decides he better live up to some socially expected duty and pop the question to the gal. The gal says yes. The wedding planning begins. The fellow knows he has willingly trapped himself, SURE he's going to want to keep sexin' around with any number of gals FOREVER even though he hasn't been doing that to date. The gal begins her transformation from awesome girlfriend to shrill shrew-wife over the course of wedding planning. Marriage happens. The man's life is over.

Hollywood LOVES this story.

There are a number of theories about how this narrative was and is perpetuated, but the one I'm most interested in is the one that originates from the tradition of women being the symbolic, physical embodiment of the exchange of property and economic resources in a patriarchal system. In fact, marriage was SUCH a civil and economic affair, Martin Luther actually declared that marriage was "a worldly thing... that belongs to the realm of government," and the English Puritans of the 17th Century passed an Act of Parlaiment that relegated marriage to a purely secular realm having nothing to do with religion.

Back to the idea. Which is that because historically men depended on the exchange of women in order to acquire ana screenshot from Father of the Bride, where Steve Martin is walking his daughter down the aisle improved station in life (after all, romantic marriages based on the idea of love are a modern invention), they ultimately resented their wives as the necessary burdens of financial success, but also as unwelcome economic and emotional burdens.

Which in a way does make some sense. I mean, if culture dictated that I had to buy a stranger from another person in order to improve my economic outlook, and that I had to take care of said stranger for the rest of my life, I'd probably feel a little resentful of said stranger, too. Now we're stuck with centuries of bridal resentment engrained in our cultural fabric like a rude little sexist seed.

And despite the fact that no one's buying brides as a culture here anymore, we still like to tap into that nasty history by having fathers "give away" their daughters (I would like to note that I realize many people continue this tradition from a really sweet place and I've seen some pretty tear-jerking, tender versions of it and am not advocating that it's evil or something, just demarcating its root, which is gross). We also as a culture like to produce so so many movies and images that equate wives with sexless, burdensome, money pits.

LIKE THIS RUDE LITTLE SEXIST BEER COOZY

beer coozy with a silhouette of a man bowing down to give a silhouette of a woman his credit card

What the hell!? Misogyny 100% just ruined one of life's best inventions: the beer coozy! There you are, trying to find something to keep the sweat from a pleasantly chilled IPA off of your skin while you're at the river or pool or whatever and BAM! Uninvited sexism ruins the whole shebang.

Also, while I appreciate the deep bow of the little bathroom symbol man, I don't understand why he'd have to give over his credit card to the bathroom symbol girl. Don't most people just have their own credit cards? Or at the very least, debit cards with a Visa or Mastercard logo? Has the bathroom symbol wife spent all of her own money? And if so, why is the bathroom symbol husband bowing down in the process of doing something that's already uncomfortable? My chilled IPA will never be the same again.

If this is what dominant culture says about marriage, no wonder it says so many crappy things about weddings, the gateway drug to marriage. Things like how the future husband, seeing as how he's walking into a trap of his own making, generally isn't into helping plan the wedding. That's the future bride's job, right? Right, Dominant Culture? But then, Dominant Culture also says the day should be perfect, should cost A LOT of money because impressing people proves how much you love each other, and so on and so forth.

In fact, Dominant Culture has quite a bit to say about your ritualistic ceremony that speaks to the love, respect, and trust you've built with one another. Geez! Listening to the tropes of Dominant Culture during wedding planning is pretty stressful, a gal could get pretty stressed out, there's a lot of pressure and not much support, it's pretty STRESSFUL. Uh-oh! Enter the term bridezilla—the more hilarious modern-day equivalent of the term hysterical.

screen cap of the show bridezillas, showing a white woman scowling in a wedding dress

Oh no! According to the narrative of Dominant Culture, the pupation stage of "lovely girlfriend" is concluding and the emergence of the "shrew-wife" begins in this, the Bridezilla stage.

The best illustration of the "shrew-wife" trope I think came in the form of The Hangover's Melissa. Watch below as Melissa nags and emasculates the metaphorically castrated Stu:

"Paging Dr. Faggot?" Woop, woop! Sexism AND homophobia for the price of one scene!

You know what, Dominant Culture? Hush. And I call bullshit on you, modern-day equivalent of "female hysteria" spread by the mechanisms of Dominant Culture. I think you're an overblown bit of sexist propaganda facilitated by an overcommitment to the gender binary. That's my opinion.

Because what happens to sexist wedding/marriage narratives when there is no bride? No groom? No clear delineation and therefore no way to essentialize?

Let's look next week! How's that for a cliff hanger?

Previously: Pomp, Power, and the Myth of Virginity, Let's Get Married

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Comments

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I am loving this series on

I am loving this series on weddings and marriage. You illuminate the insane cultural values we gulp down like water in the desert and crack my shit up while doing it.

"(I like to capitalize Dominant Culture because I often personify it like a little creature on my shoulder telling me a bunch of WTF)." ME TOO.

Is it bad that I now need to

Is it bad that I now need to know what happens in Why Did I Get Married Too?

'(I like to capitalize Dominant Culture because I often personify it like a little creature on my shoulder telling me a bunch of WTF).' Wouldn't you know - it's sitting on my shoulder, too. And 'telling me a bunch of WTF' is one of the most accurate descriptions I've seen of its behavior; it's just perfect.

Great piece! I don't know

Great piece! I don't know which was my favorite line; the following: "I like to capitalize Dominant Culture because I often personify it like a little creature on my shoulder telling me a bunch of WTF" and "Misogyny 100% just ruined one of life’s best inventions: the beer coozy!" made my morning.

This is great! I am loving

This is great! I am loving this series, as well as they way it's written. The WTF-spewing creature has been highly praised, and rightly so, I see, but I personally am liking the phrase "rude little sexist seed." This piece is also making me think about how rude little WTF misogyny is so inescapable sometimes, especially when it comes to marriage. Like, if a woman doesn't want to get married, or she wants to get married but doesn't want the whole dress/cake/aisle/ring type wedding, then there's something *wrong* with her, but if she DOES want those things, she's a castrating, bridezilla shrew. It's like, women are always wrong in the eyes of the WTF-spewing Dominant Culture creature.

I'm getting married in a few

I'm getting married in a few months and I've noticed the Dominant Culture. It's just little things like people's reaction when I tell that it is my boyfriend who wants to have big fancy wedding, and that I would have been fine with a court house wedding. I was told by a few people that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't have a traditional big wedding. Plus, they seem to think it's odd that I'm not that interested in colors and flowers and all the stuff that goes along with planning. People are also shocked that we are not getting married by a minister and are having a friend marry us.

Yea, I had a very similar

Yea, I had a very similar experience when I got married. My husband (or really his mom) wanted an actual ceremony (or really just a party for our friends) and I was all for just a courthouse ceremony. To that end, I got my sister to plan everything (she works for a caterer, and loves party planning, flower arranging, shopping and all the stuff), and just did what I was told. I had multiple conversations where people expected me to be all obsessive about details that I didn't care about, and mostly didn't even know about.

No offense

I would take you more seriously if you didn't try to be cute. Here's a particularly cringe worthy example: "What the hell!? Misogyny 100% just ruined one of life’s best inventions: the beer coozy! There you are, trying to find something to keep the sweat from a pleasantly chilled IPA off of your skin while you’re at the river or pool or whatever and BAM! Uninvited sexism ruins the whole shebang."

No offense

but your comment is rude and frankly doesn't make a lot of sense. Who doesn't love coozies?

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Kelsey Wallace, contributor

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But...uninvited sexism DOES

But...uninvited sexism DOES ruin beer cozies.

Thank you so much for this.

Thank you so much for this. I'm getting married in 2 months and have been getting more and more agitated by this depiction of women. Anyone else hate those ridiculous pictures of the groom trying to run away and the bride pulling him back?