Here's a link to a hilarious video by Mikala Bierna and commentary by Bitch Magazine. Bierna pokes fun at the pressure on brides to do-it-yourself and be your most creative and perfect throughout the wedding process. And, while this video might be teasing at the pressure to be unique and creative, brides generally are shown to be wedding planning by themselves. As in, with out the groom.
Do you think this over hyped pressure to be perfect would change if wedding planning was actually a couple endeavor and not a moment to "show" the bride? What if do-it-yourself could actually be changed to do-it-together?
Another excellent blog post by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence today: How's Your Relationship? Kelly Starr raises a very good question in deed. Why don't we ask each other about our relationships? We celebrate unions, and many ceremonies talk about the necessity of support from family and friends for a healthy marriage. Yet, after the wedding ceremony, the conversation tends to stop. Ask most unmarried couples about how often people ask when they are planning to get married and you're likely to elicit a lot of responses. But, I'm guessing most people aren't asking about the quality of the relationship, especially long after the marriage. The media certainly has a lot to say about relationships: how they should be, what they look like, speculation of celebrities relationships. Could we all really tell you more about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship than our best friend's or our sister's partnerships? Why is that?
Given the multitude of conversations relating to the recession and recovery of the US economy, it's not altogether surprising that the discourse has involved speculation about marriages and divorces. A few folks have speculated about the rise and decline of marriages and divorces during the recessions (Do the rich get more recession divorces?).
What really interests me though is the juxtaposition of dialogue that suggests on the one hand that marriage is the cure for children living in poverty and on the other hand marriage is the "End of Men" because wives are becoming more successful than their husbands.
Let's look at the thesis suggesting women should just get married to solve child poverty. At the beginning of September 2012, the Heritage Foundation proclaimed that the solution to child poverty was marriage. For some great responses on debunking this claim, check out Professor Stephanie Coontz's response on CNN and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence's blog. What women really need to support their children is access to resources and a stable paycheck. As WIFE.org proclaims, "A Man Is Not a Financial Plan". We can do better for women and children in society and offer families and girls real empowerment.
In contrast to this notion that somehow all of our problems will be resolved if damsel's in distress every where could just find their prince on a white horse, we see competing narratives that suggest women are doing so much better than men. Hanna Rosin is coming out with a book titled, "The End of Men: And the rise of Women". In it she pronounces that for some classes in society, women are more likely to be the breadwinner in married couples (See her article in the Atlantic here) and that women are rapidly outpacing men in the workforce due to them getting more education than men and their ability to be adaptable to change. Obviously, this proclamation is not sitting well with everyone, given that the majority of statistics would just not support her thesis that women are taking over. Check out a review of the book by Jennifer Homans in the New York Times and the many blog postings by Dr. Philip Cohen on Family Inequality for some counter argument.
I'm not entirely sure how both of these things can be true at the same time: women need a man to support themselves and their children AND women are ending men as we know them because they are just so much more successful than men. How can women both need a man and NOT be the primary breadwinner at the same time?
What this really does is say to women, your place is married and in the home. Make sure you have a man in your life but don't emasculate him. Really, what we're seeing is just the double edged sword that women experience in multiple facets of their lives. Be thin, but not too thin. Be fierce, but don't be bitchy. Be strong, but don't be arrogant. Be a wife, but not one that makes too much money.
While watching one of my favorite shows, So You Think You Can Dance?, I was intrigued by the clip shown below. In the promo for the dance, Marco and Whitney talk about the theme of the dance- wedding. According to them, the choreography is about a couple on their wedding day, but the bride is not sure she wants to get married. Well, enough.
However, I was appalled that in relating to the audience, Marco pretends to ask Whitney's dad for permission to marry his daughter. It's 2012!! The last time I checked, women were more than capable of making their own decisions about whom to marry. Whitney goes on about how her father won't let her get married at 18 (well, I'm sure most PARENTS, moms and dads alike, wouldn't be too thrilled about that, or for that matter, wouldn't like it for their daughters OR sons) and that he has a shot gun. This reference seems to be both communicating her dad's love and protection for her as well as stereotypes about folks from Utah.
I know many of you would say, "it's just a joke!" but what I'd like to point out is that this imagery happens over and over and over again and that's the power of the messaging- it seems small, why even notice it. Yet, it adds up. And, my question is this- in 2012, do most American men still ask for permission from the soon-to-be-bride's father? Don't even get me started on the property connotations this elicits!
As we're trying to teach people how to have healthy relationships, wouldn't it be more helpful to have the onslaught of images represent couples jointly making a decision on whether or not to spend their lives together, as peers, as equals?
Also, I would say it's not likely a coincidence that the white, thin, young, blond dancer was picked as the contestant for the wedding choreography. You can see this replicated in any movie and any bridal magazine you pick up.
Things I DID like about this clip: It was definitely refreshing that it was the bride in this scene that was not sure about marriage! Generally, grooms are portrayed as the only ones resisting marriage and having cold feet with women doing everything they can to 'trap' their man. Also, I found Cat Deeley's joke at the end regarding pre-nups humorous.
And, the dancing was fantastic.
I read a criticism on the web a few weeks ago (my apologies that I don't remember where!) that in an effort to "humanize" the current presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney were both going to point out some mundane flaws with their respective husbands. Think along the lines of leaving socks in the middle of the floor, or singing off key, etc. Sure enough, both Ann Romney and Michellen Obama talked about minor idiosyncrasies of their respective husbands.
"You see, even though back then Barack was a senator and a presidential candidate … to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door … he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a Dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small."
While this was a relatively minor part of their speeches, I do think it suggests something interesting. In an effort to be relatable, both wives were tasked with showing what a "normal" family life they have with everyday people characteristics. Is this "humanizing" an innocent part of showcasing men as whole people, flaws and all, or does it speak to something bigger about the portrayals of masculinity in the culture?
Taken on it's own, it doesn't appear to be significant. However, in the context of how men are routinely portrayed as goofy, buffoons, and generally unable to take care of themselves on sitcoms and commercials (especially commercials for food and cleaning products), does the harmless appearance change? Yet, in both of these speeches, characteristics of both Obama and Romney were provided with much more detail and context about multiple facets of their personalities. Was this inclusion necessary for some humility in an otherwise overly positive characterization of these two men?
And, would it have been any different if the presidential candidate was female and her male partner was speaking on her behalf?