Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I got Engaged

As the title of this post suggests, I got engaged last week. No one was more suprised than me, except of course, for maybe my new fiance.

The reactions have been...mixed. Some have been happy for me, some of started crying fearing for who we will become, but most of them have been shocked. Extrodinarily shocked: gaping mouthes, unable to communicate, considered it a sign of the apocolypse shocked.

I shudder to think how our respective parents will act when we get around to telling them.

But the reaction that hurts the most is the idea that I'm a hypocrite for getting engaged. This worries me, because it may be true.

I don't like traditional marriage: it has been a property exchange instead of joining of people, or a religious experience. I'm trying to avoid this by not taking his last name, my father is NOT giving me away, and not getting married in a church. But, is the institution reclaimable? It's currently discriminatory: my gay friends and relatives can't get married while straight me can. There is still a lot of social capital wrapped up in it.

But, on the other hand, I do love him. I want to make a promise to him. Not to mention, when he has to move away in a few monthes for a job, I want to be told if something ever happens to him.

So instead of spending a long post on this, I shall ask you in the feminist blogsphere: is getting married anti-feminist?


At 8:40 PM, Blogger Tara said...

I don't think (who the hell am I, anyway) that getting married is anti-feminist.

I don't think it's feminist either.

To me, it's more of an opportunity cost than a sin of commission. What was lost was an opportunity to build and model a kind of committed relationship that doesn't depend on government recognition and enforcement. (Legal marriage is different from public commitment/promises).

(As you might guess from that, for me recognition of gay marriage hasn't made marriage much more feminist than it used to be (I'm in Canada)).

That makes me sad, but it doesn't really seem like a good enough reason for anybody to make sacrifices to their personal happiness.

Does that make sense?

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Mermade said...

Congratulations! I'm a new feminist (as evident from some of my older comments on Hugo's place), but nowhere have I heard that getting married is anti-feminst. The Happy Feminist is a happily married woman, and Hugo often writes about the joys of a feminist marriage. There's no feminist rule book. Feminism is about choice, and about creating a world where women can make satisfying choices that make them happy. If getting married to this guy is something you deeply want, then it's a 100% feminist decision in my book!

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Hugo said...

As you know, I think that marriage -- freely chosen and egalitarian marriage -- is one wonderful vehicle for mutual transformation. I'd like to see it extended to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, but I do that cause no favor by abstaining.

Mazel Tov!!

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Noumena said...

No*, marriage is not anti-feminist. The exact same way that no*, wearing makeup and high heels is not anti-feminist.

The tricky part, in both cases, is sorting out what's going on in the footnotes.

Start by asking yourself in what ways marriage might be anti-feminist. One answer here, of course, is that marriage has traditionally been a transfer of a woman, as a piece of property, from one man (father) to another (husband). Hence, during the wedding, the traditional emphasis on `purity' in the form of the white dress, the father `giving away' his daughter to her husband, the whole surname business, and so on.

The other part of the answer is the question of whether straight folks can get married while gay folks can't. I think it's right to say that refusing to get legally married isn't a very powerful protest, but I'm straight, so have nothing really at stake in the fight for gay marriage. You should talk to folks who are more deeply involved in that struggle.

Here's what I'd like to recommend, though of course you don't need to take the advice of a complete stranger over the internets (and one who's never been close to marriage, I should add). Start by reading some feminist critiques of marriage, if you haven't already. Not just the wedding, but actual married life -- Arlie Hochschild's The Second Shift is a classic, still in print -- and even (gods forbid it happen to you) divorce -- Ann Crittenden's The Price of Motherhood is quite good. Amanda of Pandagon had a favourable review some months back of Kamy Wicoff's I Do But I Don't, so you might read that as well. (I haven't read Wicoff's book myself, so that's only a tentative recommendation.) If your fiance isn't inclined to read these sorts of books on his own, make him.

After you've both read up, the two of you need to talk about the issues these books raise: What does it mean to say that a marriage is `egalitarian'? What's going to happen when kids come along? How's the family budget going to be managed? Is the most financially lucrative career going to be prioritized over the less lucrative career? Just what the heck are you going to do about those surnames? And anything else that worries or interests either of you.

Ultimately, think, vent anxieties, comfort each other, talk, argue, make up, and repeat for the next 60+ years.

Good luck, and congratulations!

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your engagement! I wish you every happiness in your new future life.

I'm a feminist and to answer your question : no it is not anti-feminist to get married! To me, feminism can be summarized in 2 simple phrases:
- we belive in equality between men and women
- we believe that women and men should be free to make the choices that are best for them

Given that feminism is about choice - if you choose to get married, then you are absolutely being true to yourself as a feminist! Just like one can work in the home or outside of the home and be a feminist: as long as what you do is a choice you have made, and that you were free to make that choice, then in my opinion, that is a feminist approach.

All the best to you!


At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my first time posting on this site. I was compelled to just drop one quick reply:

That poor dude.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes, poor boyfriend: voluntarily did he say yes and now he has a lifetime of a (hopefully) pleasant and strong relationship.

Too bad he couldn't be like you and be too much of a chicken shit to actually post a name. That's so much cooler.


At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, that poor dude.


(Feel better, I posted my name.)

At 9:01 PM, Blogger * * * said...

Congrats. Marriage, and anything else you choose to do, need not be boxed into a category of anything. Feminism has been credited by some very credible people (Richard Dawkins) as a contributor to 'consciousness raising'. As someone who has been married, let me assure you that having a husband will have that effect on you too. Good luck.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger mythago said...

Feminism is about choice, and about creating a world where women can make satisfying choices that make them happy.

Feminism is about far more than getting to make choices that make us happy.

antigone, you say that what you like about marriage is making a promise, and getting told if something happens to him. You can do these things without marriage. Therefore, there's something else about marriage you want: what is it?

At 11:29 AM, Blogger R said...

Congratulations! I'm wrestling with ideas of feminism and the institution of marriage, myself (wedding date is in October). I don't really have any answers for you, but I thought I'd drop in and let you know that you're not the only one asking the questions. Sometimes there's a little comfort in that.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Actually, mythago, I can't. The airlines are not compelled to inform anyone of an accident except for family members.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger mythago said...

Are you really getting married because there is a tiny chance he will be killed in an airplane crash, and the airlines would notify his parents before you?

Please understand I'm not in any way *criticizing* your decision. I'm just saying that the reasons you've given don't actually require marriage.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Actually, mythago, I am a bit concerned. His parents don't like me very much, and I would be worried.

But being completely honest, I suppose I will also enjoy the social "legitimacy" issues I get out of being married. It's not just a "fling" it's a committed relationship. (Which, I know is illogical: just because you're married doesn't make you serious, and just because you aren't doesn't mean your not committed).

At 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am engaged. i am a male and i have no desire to get married. i am not a christian, and i reject marriage as it is merely a formal prop for a relationship. it is insurance almost. a crutch. if you love someone, stay with them. why would so many people need this external reinforcement for their relationship? we are monogamous and will be. we are both non-agnostic atheists. i don't see a marriage soon. maybe someday for taxes and to party. i look at it mainly as social protocol. i don't think it is inherently anti-feminist or sexist or coercive. it just strikes me as something that everyone gets to choose whether or not they do it. if they do, great. if they don't, great. happiness, love, and responsibility shouldn't hinge on an external reinforcement if indeed the two people should be together for the rest of their lives.

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At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe reading more about the psychology of narcissism and the underlying insecurities which feed it would help you find the answer to your own question.


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