For ages, women have fought for the right to be treated, in all ways, as equal to men. Because women have the burden (miracle) of childbirth (take your pick), that outcome may never be fully realized. Still, we have made considerable progress. Unfortunately, gender roles are quite confusing to a lot of men who are doing their sincere best to get it right. We women have got to take our fair share of the blame for this.
On the one hand, we declare our unqualified independence and equality. On the other, we expect a man to place a wedding ring on our finger that he chose and bought. We expect him to propose, to ask us out, to make the first move, to hold the door, to defend our honor, to prove his ability to provide, to… You get the idea.
So what should a wedding look like when there are no gender roles mucking things up? What traditions might change when we no longer have to bow to tradition? And what traditions would we keep due to sheer practicality? If gender roles were completely undifferentiated, here are a few things we would have to reconsider:
In the brave, new world of weddings without gender roles, all participants would be expected to provide their own rings, if any, for the occasion. You would have to bring your own ring. That also implies that you would have to buy your own ring. The good news is that you can also choose your own ring, which makes it a net benefit.
That means the black diamond rings for your engagement you chose can be artfully paired with something appropriate for the big day. Since you are the one who has to wear it every day for the rest of your life, it only makes sense that you be the one to select and procure it.
But does this vision of the future actually track with reality? Do women really want to procure their own rings? While some do, many women want the man’s participation. Some women even prefer to be surprised. They want to know that their man is able to pick out the right thing. Without gender roles, it is not the man’s responsibility to place a ring on your finger. It is yours, alone. And that is a sobering thought.
No One Gives You Away
Did you ever stop to wonder why the groom stands in place while the bride has a grand entrance? Rest assured, there are archaic gender roles to thank for that bit of ceremony. Sorry to break it to you this way, but it all has to do with you, the woman, being the property of your father, and soon to be, the property of your husband. This grand bit of ceremony is an acknowledgement that you are always the property of some man or other.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to rid ourselves of this awful tradition. Yet here we are, long after the bad old days, independent-minded, modern women are still giddy with excitement over their march down the aisle on daddy’s arm, to be given away as if they are oblivious of the implications of that particular tradition. There are certainly alternatives. I have to wonder, in a ceremony celebrating equality, why anyone needs to march at all.
You May Kiss Each Other
It’s hardly worth mentioning. But it has always been a pet peeve of mine that at the end of the ceremony, the groom is given permission to kiss the bride. No one besides me has the right to grant permission for my kiss. And why is it presumed that the groom is the initiator of the kiss. Why is permission never offered to kiss the groom? This has no place in the liberated wedding of my imagination.
But at the end of the day, this liberated wedding is only imaginary. The problem is that women have grown to like many of the niceties born of chauvinism. Before we can expect men to understand what gender equality means, we have to understand it ourselves.