Who wears the pants in the relationship? A metaphor that I, for one, could totally do without. But, no one asked me and this week Eonline and Taylor Swift used this tired metaphor to talk about Swift's dominance as a business woman but her desire to be equal in a relationship: "Taylor Swift may wear the pants in the music industry, but when it comes to relationships, the superstar doesn't like to take control."
While stating equality values is good, I'm not sure why it's a "confession" that she would like an equal in her relationship. It seems to me that most girls and women might say something to that affect these days, even if the reality is less than equal once they are actually partnered.
What seemed more confusing was Taylor's insistence that while she may be all powerful in her business, she certainly doesn't want to transfer that to her relationship. Why not? It's a great thing to not control your partner, but an equal partnership doesn't involve "handing over the reins."
"It's wonderful to hand over the reins to your boyfriend when you control so much of these big, high-pressure decisions, you know? That is a huge defining factor in who you choose to be with."
It is interesting to note that she feels like she has the power to hand something over in the first place. I guess that's a change. But, is it real, or is that an illusion?
And, what is it with the pants? Eonline quoted Taylor as stating, "If I feel too much like I'm wearing the pants, I start to feel uncomfortable and then we break up....relationships are the ultimate collaboration." What does that mean these days, to wear the pants? Rather than outdated metaphors, I'd be much more interested in hearing what Taylor thinks is an equal partnership. That would be a powerful message to send to her young fans. Instead, they're getting the advice that it's okay to be powerful and successful in business, but just make sure you're not too powerful in your relationship.
On the Ellen Degeneres show yesterday, Miley Cyrus chatted with Ellen about her upcoming wedding. While I found her quite personable and actually very well-spoken, her comments regarding her wedding were incredibly complex and intriguing. For those who don't know, Miley's engagement has been much hyped in the media (I think both because of her popularity and also because she is a young 19 years old.).
Interestingly, she started out by distinguishing herself as a bride not obsessed with the details ("Like, I don't care what color the napkins are, to be honest,"). I always think it's interesting when women feel the need to assert themselves as NOT a bridezilla. Jessica Biel was also similarly quoted in describing herself as relatively low-key when talking about marrying Justin Timberlake. I'm curious how this is a reaction to, or in judgement of, the popular television show Bridezilla, now in it's 9th season. However, despite this assertion she seems to contradict herself in her low-keyness later in the interview by stating, "This is the one day that it's what I choose and every detail is things that I love." And, it's hard to blame her for wanting to pay attention to every detail given the enormous pressure brides are under these days to treat the wedding as a statement about their identity, let alone adding the pressure of being a celebrity.
Then, Miley goes on to talk about "that look" as what she's looking forward to during the wedding, "What I'm most excited for, is that look when, you know, who you're marrying, you see, the first time you're seeing the dress and everything that you've planned for months and months, like, coming together, and that you did it together." It is sweet that she's emphasizing planning the wedding together and capturing the moment when you both realize it's actually happening. Talking about jointly planning a wedding is unusual in cultural representations of the engagement process.
Yet, the more she kept talking about it, the more she seemed focused on HER look, and being an object for her fiance's affection. And, she reiterates the cultural obsession of creating a "perfect" day stating, "That's my day", a day for the bride (not necessarily the couple). In fact, she even references that she's focused on "the first moment he sees me in my dress" and that it's a time when "the movie crap, that romance" is actually supposed to be real.
Maybe I'm being too cynical and she's actually trying to express what Jane described in the movie 27 Dresses:
"You know how the bride makes her entrance and everybody turns to look at her? That's when I look at the groom. Cause his face says it all you know? The pure love there."
I still have mixed feelings about the clip. On the one hand, she seems to be demonstrating an awareness and rejection of the images of romantic relationships in movies and culture. She even at times is having to resist the cultural stereotypes being layered on her as wanting a big and over the top wedding. Yet, she subtly repackages much of the same societal messages (Bride's day, about the dress, perfect day) while trying to appear to rebuff the stereotyped image.
What was unequivocally fantastic about the interview however, was the normalization brought to same-sex weddings. Miley not only nonchalantly referenced Ellen's wedding to Portia, but held it up as a standard and ideal. Maybe we have come a long way after all.
If you're in need of a beautiful love story on this cold Monday afternoon, Story Corps has provided. Check it out and remember to love those in your own life today.
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?
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.