Monday, April 16, 2007

Cinderella

Having returned from the Cinderella bridal shop, I now suspect that straight-girl feminism, while well-intentioned, may be doomed.

9 comments:

Harv said...

Oh my! I'm very interested to hear about this...

And I thought David's Bridal was a horrible experience...

(particularly the forcing of a veil onto my head. grrr...)

astrodyke said...

Well, as I spent 2 hrs at the dress shop waiting for the clerks to figure out how to order a dress, I did some math:

A young straight woman spends 0.2--0.5 womanyears planning her wedding. The US marriage rate is 2.2 million/yr. Let's say half are re-marriages w minimal ceremony. That means American women spend 0.2--0.6 million womanyrs are spent, every year, on weddings.

People can do whatever they like with their free time (go surfing, protest war, plant roses, pick noses). And I have no right to tell people how to spend their time. Especially women, given the ridiculous demands on the time of working women in this country. All true.

But still. Half a million manyears is enough to change the world. In 1 yr, it could build a new Habitat for Humanity house for every New Orleans resident displaced by Katrina. It could provide 16 hrs of tutoring for every elementary schoolchild in America. It could start a revolution.

And that's my sadness. That Margaret Mead had better be right about a handful of people being enough to change the world -- because most people are busy calling the caterer.

trogon said...

I started a comment on this, but it got really long, and I didn't want to hijack your thread since it went off on a bit of a tangent. So I posted it over on my LJ instead.

Jackie M. said...

Speaking as a straight woman, I'm confused as by the conflation of my feminism with the David's bridal wedding.

Not least because my husband did 60% of the wedding planning.

astrodyke said...

jam -- i almost didn't post this b/c i didn't want to hurt your feelings. especially since your wedding was one of the few I truly enjoyed, that wasn't remotely creepy. How many people have a wedding where a Vatican Big Bang cosmologist delivers the blessing? Or an explicit statement that you aren't property to be given away, but that your Dad would walk with you to show support for your decision? Way cool.

I'm just struggling to understand why women are SO GOOD at organizing things like weddings (a societally- encouraged activity), and SO BAD at getting their collective shit together to fight the violence, discrimination, and anti-family policies that we've almost gotten used to...

Harv said...

Oh yeah, I hear ya! We're trying to keep this wedding as simple as possible, with the idea of, hey, let's have a party. Unfortunately, I feel like I have to fight with my mom every step of the way. She doesn't understand that I don't want a veil, that I don't care what she wears (she usually looks nice!), and has been fussing over how I'm going to do my hair.

sigh...

Most of our time so far has been spent doing dress fittings, but hey, the dress was really the only thing about the wedding I wanted and our seamstress (a dorky Girl Scout/Science teacher) sees this as a "challenge". So for once, I'll get a dress that *fits* and is really cool.

But yeah, the amount of time spent on silly things. Unfortunately, those silly things have been said girls all their life to be "important" whereas the other stuff has been downplayed, so most people have a skewed vision of what's important.

Jackie M. said...

Point the First: Let's just get it out in the open straightaway that it's complete bollicks to say that any one group of people--woman, man, straight, gay, queer, or other--would immediately shift their all of their time and money towards "changing the world" if you were to suddenly free a giant chunk of those resources by doing introducing some like a universal prohibition on formal weddings. Nope! No way. What would I have done with my 1/2 womanyear of free time? Probably read more SF. Or gardened. Or gone birding or sailing with you guys.

Or sat on my backside eating cheetos and watching Saturday Night Live reruns. You know: whatever else I wanted to do with my free time.

The only time people will start putting any amount of time and/or money in "changing the world" is if 1.) they can be convinced that it does, in fact, need changing 2.) rather fucking urgently because 3.) it affects either them or their loved ones and 4.) that there is some real chance that they will, in fact, be *able* to change it with an appropriate application of time and/or money, and most importantly 5.) that YOUR suggested application is the best way to go about using all that lovely time and/or money.

I think you can see where I'm going here? re: heternormativity? Yes?

Which brings me, somewhat tangentially, to my second point: you have to understand why people have weddings in the first place. This involves understanding the advantages bestowed by bowing to the oft-times ridiculous pressures of society-at-large--a privilege you might rather understandably balk at, since society-at-large has declared you so far outside the norm (in this particular instance) as to be ineligible.

But in the end, it's just the opposite side of the same cultural mind-block which prevents ye olde-fashionede straighte bridee from understanding your knee-jerk resentment at being called to participate in a formal frogmarch five-star family-style wedding.

So.

What are the advantages to bowing to the will of societal expectations? Well, your mileage may vary... but the thing about weddings it that are all about appeasing the FAMILY. First and foremost. Especially the parents. Whose views, yes, are probably shaped by societal norms. Actually, you already know what I'm talking about: you've spent years of your life hammering away those expectations in your own parents/in-laws. Because you had no choice--it was either that, or cut them off completely from that part of your life.

But AstroDyke, just stop and for a second and ask yourself: how many womanyears have you amassed talking this through with your parents? Coming out to your parents, angsting over your parents, trying to get through to your parents, compromising with your parents? And it's not like it's a no-risk thing, either--RC will tell you it's no fun when someone in the family decides to stop talking and start trying to cut you out of the family completely.

So if you had had the choice to just skip all that shit and instead have a slightly stupid formal wedding with poofy dresses for everybody involved? Such that VOILA!--magically everyone would just accept everyone else and you could just MOVE ON and start having picnics and Christmasses together and cupcakes together? Wouldn't that have been just so much easier? A little stupid dress-up, just to make everyone happy? Just to make everyone treat you like an goddamn adult already?

And don't forget: societal norms dictate that a woman doesn't become an "adult" until she can get herself up to the alter in a poofy dress. This is important: When people stop treating you like a child, they often start opening doors and treating you as an equal partner. In everything from, say, knitting circles and supper clubs to condos sales and high risk entrepreneurial investments.

Do NOT mock the high risk knitting circle entrepreneurial investments.

Okay. Maybe. But, you say: that's a good reason for do the stupid formal frogmarch to appease the parents. Still. Why-oh-why must brides waste so much time personalizing all the trivial little details?

Because it's an act of rebellion. It's an assertion: we're acquiescing to this paleozoic ritual of adulthood, but we're going to also use it as an opportunity to start practice making counter-demands on society. White dress? Fine. But it's going to be cut so low that you can see the fringe of my purple lace corset. All my sisters as bridesmaids? Including the ones I can't stand and haven't spoken to in years (and would happily continue NOT speaking to, were it not for this wedding)? Fine. But I'm dressing them up to look like a brides-of-Dracula tea party. Mother-in-law insists her boy be married in the Catholic church? And that we do the all anti-birth-control brainwashing classes? Fine. But Padre ProLife is going to have to share alter time with Rabbi Rosenblum. Not because I'm particularly Jewish, mind you. But my Mom is. And she'd like it. And why does the mother of the groom get to have what she wants, but not the mother of the bride? Plus I'm pissed about the stupid Catholic classes, so here's a little passive aggression.

Brides, it turns out, are ALL ABOUT the passive aggression.

Ahem.

Jackie M. said...

Can you tell that I spent ALL DAY thinking about this?

(But not so much time typing it. Typos! Gah.

Please fix 'em if you ever quote me, 'kay?)

alex said...

what's the difference between a manyear and womanyear?

It seems like you're saying that manyears are productive, while womanyears are spent planning weddings.