Feministing is one of my daily reads. As such, I've come to admire and respect founder Jessica Valenti, now a published author and fixture on the college speaking circuit. Valenti has been engaged for several months now, and has written in several places about the process of being a feminist and planning a wedding, something that seems to many to be an oxymoron. In this piece for the Guardian, Valenti offers an eloquent recap of the process for her thus far, and the response her engagement has elicited from some conservatives ("You've Never Met a Bridezilla Like a Feminist Bridezilla") to fellow feminists who believed Valenti had compromised her values by wanting to be married (she "seem[ed] to find flaws with patriarchy, but fail[ed] to find a way to bring it down"). The value in having this discussion in multiple mediums is enormous, and digging into feminism, romantic partnership, and structural conditions is something that I could do all day long. What these serious discussions come down to is the same bottom line that fluffier wedding-based reads bring up for me: do what makes you and your partner happy. That's it. That's all.
Being a feminist and planning a wedding embodies much more than whether or not you're wearing a white dress (I am) or changing your name (I'm not) or being given away by someone (both my parents, thank you). Being a feminist and planning a wedding is about your relationship and your partnership, and incidentally how you choose to celebrate (raucously and tenderly all at once, for us, and with donations to a same-sex marriage fund in lieu of favors, because we feel extraordinarily lucky that we're able to marry at all). Trevor and I are equal partners through and through, and I think our wedding celebrates that fact. Our campaign logo is fun and memorable, but is quite literal in the statement that it makes. Adams Hanger '09. Separate entities joined on a ticket. Distinct identities embarking on a journey together. (Remember a Council Between Equals?)
I like the kind of wedding that celebrates how stubbornly independent the two of us are, while not diminishing for a second that we're also madly in love with each other. I like the kind of marriage that kind of wedding will kick off. And maybe I do have a set of 12 glasses on my living room floor right now with an etched family monogram that will never be ours, sent by someone who didn't quite get it. These things will happen, and if I get fed up enough I can call my future mother-in-law, who never changed her name, for advice. That small hassle, though? Totally worth it. Because I get to marry the only person who's ever made me excited about the idea of marriage, and because he's every bit as equal-opportunity and well-adjusted and unpossessive and excited to be married as I am. Is he "garnishing his testicles" for "letting" me keep my name, as someone wrote about Valenti's fiance? Hardly. Trust me.
It's funny to me how much we can fuss about the way other people decide to get married. If we're going to fuss about it, let's fuss about those who aren't even allowed the option. That's the real deal. Me? I'm just a feminist co-hosting a big 'ol beach party and shacking up with her favorite guy for the rest of her life.
Congrats, Jessica. And you know what? Congrats, me! (Us, I mean us.)
Happy Friday, everyone.
Friday, April 24, 2009