Is the start of your summer filled with nothing but weddings? There’s a long history explaining why so many fall in this month. Most of it stems from ancient Roman times and is tied to nature’s seasonal cycles. With mankind being agrarian for most of human history there are some traditions that are just harder to break, even if we get our food from Whole Foods now. Here’s a list of a few possible explanations.
Every wonder why wedding cake is a tradition? Here’s a fun lecture I did at Tufts University on The Origins of the Wedding Cake and in my own wedding dress to boot! The origins is just a small part in my full lecture of “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake” for the Women’s Center 2nd Annual Symposium.
Sweet justice has been served! The Colorado State Supreme Court ruled that a public-facing business cannot refuse service to customers on religious grounds under the state’s anti-discrimination law,. The law stops businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of race, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation.
Grab a box of tissues. This is probably the most heartwarming, poetic video I’ve ever seen about couples, relationships and families, and even better it highlights the beauty of same-sex ones. The video is courtesy of Freedom to Marry and Richard Blanco, the 2012 presidential inaugural poet, wrote the poem “Until We Could.” Blanco’s poem was commissioned to mark the 10-year anniversary since Massachusetts granted same-sex couples the right to wed,” The Dailey Beast.
Emma Watson’s impassioned United Nation’s speech seeking both sexes to peacefully unite in order to achieve women’s equality has touched a nerve. Inaugurating the HeForShe campaign, Watson went on to explain that fundamental feminism “… by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
Ladies, it’s been a tough year for us. I feel your pain, not in an our-periods-are-synchronized way, but in a “This-is-2014, but-it-feels-like-the-stone-age!” sort of way. Before we celebrate Women’s Equality I think it’s imperative to review how we’ve been treated this year.
You’ve been focusing probably way too closely to the zombie apocalypse on Walking Dead and totally missed the one that was happening in your backyard (to quote the following PSA/Jezebel story) – armaGAYddon. That’s right, all these places that are paving the way to legalize same-sex marriage are opening up the door to this widespread mania. And it’s plague by really nice fancy weddings, tasty cakes and smart dress.
In New York City, with a population of 8 million, there are at least 600 people who can’t find a mate worthy of marriage. What’s their solution (or last resort) to this conundrum in the dating digital age? An “extreme social experiment” hosted by FYI TV (part of the A&E network) where four highly educated and trained professionals will match them up with the soul mate they couldn’t find independently. Sounds like a really high end dating service, right? Not quite, the catch is you can only meet this soul mate if you’re willing to marry them sight unseen.
From Suffragette to Bachelorette, believe it or not, but Rochester, New York is where you can have the most feminist bachelorette party imaginable. It’s true. Ranked as one of the US cities with the best quality of life, it is also home to the women’s rights movement. Any bachelorette party can be feminist because a b-party is really just about women congregating together to celebrate a sister and womanhood in general, but with so many special women’s activities and locations this is the quintessential one. Having always known of Rochester, I was overwhelmingly impressed with the city during my first visit. From its adorable Victorian era neighborhoods to the Genesee River High Falls, from the preserved architecture to the plethora of museums and the general geniality of the city and the super wealth of American history, needless to say, I have never fallen in love with a city so quickly (then I remembered how cold it gets in the winter and immediately reconsidered my moving there). It also offers a tons of adventurous fun (I covered some options) to balance out its intellectual side – i.e. the perfect place for a feminist bachelorette party. Here’s a list of cultural, feminist and generally fun activities as ideas for your next bachelorette party (you’ll need to rent a car). As a small disclosure, I haven’t done everything but I look forward to one day!
The Feminist Bride in Curve Magazine: “With a majority of states maintaining their marriage bans, isn’t it crucial to examine all avenues to speed date this process? Pursuing change through legal civil action is not enough. The social traditions within Western wedding culture are extremely influential when it comes to government’s regulation of marriage. This is when tradition is at its most dangerous. Social traditions have often created civil laws, such as protecting domestic abusers, discriminating against out-of-wedlock children and preventing women from voting if they didn’t share their husband’s name, and prohibiting interfaith and interracial marriage. Same-sex marriage is no different. If common social practices can influence laws, isn’t it in the best interest of the LGBTQA community to reform traditions?” To read the rest of the article click here.
The state of Arkansas created an exciting stir in the continued campaign to give same-sex couples the same marital rights and protection afforded heterosexual couples last week. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled a week ago that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
The ruling was short-lived.
According The Boston Globe, Arkansas’s Attorney General Dustin McDaniel favors marriage rights for gay couples but vows to defend the state’s laws. How supportive can Attorney General Dustin McDaniel really be if he won’t uphold it when it matters the most? Arkansas passed a state constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage as only between a man and a women. McDaniel’s sought an emergency stay, as did lawyers for four other counties.
69 of 75 local officials declined to give out marriage licenses since Piazza’s ruling, most citing confusion over the change in policy, some just plain refusing to and a separate law that barred clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses remained on the books. (That’s very sneaky Arkansas, very sneaky.)
The last license was granted to Hilda Jones and Kerin Hartsell. They join more than 540 other couples.
The fate of same-sex marriage is now in the hands of Arkansas’s Supreme Court, though attorney Jack Wagoner stated optimistically, ‘The handwritings on the wall from the United States Supreme Court. Unless every court is reading the U.S. Supreme Court wrong, the days of barring same-sex couples from marrying are coming to an end.’’
Let’s hope that the courts of Arkansas decide not to leave these 540+ plus jilted at the altar and give the happy ending that the rest who couldn’t get licenses in time that happy ending they deserve.
For a general update on where state’s stand on same-sex marriage:
More Feminist Bride Articles on Marriage Equality:
A terrible step backwards in women’s fight for equality overseas. Iraq’s Council of Ministers has drafted a law, The Jaafari Personal Status Law, which will be voted on April 30. If passed the law would:
This law was formed to appease the Shi’a Muslim community in Iraq, which have a stronghold majority in the country at 36 million. It’s argued that Iraq’s current law that women can only marry at the age of 18 religiously discriminates against the Shi’a Muslims. As it stands, UNICEF estimates that more than 24 percent of Iraqi women are married by age 18, and nearly five percent are married by age 15.
If passed before Iraq general elections, the law will violate the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, which Iraq signed and its own constitution.
To understand how widespread this issue is in the world and not just potentially in Iraq, here are some facts:
To read more about global child bride issues:
Information originally appeared in: Iraq Wants To Legalize Child Marriage – The Daily Beast.
In what is considered another great feat for same-sex couples, England and Wales ended their
ban on gay marriage today (Saturday, March 29)! The only downside is that wedding guests will have to eat more fruitcake/bride’s pie at British weddings. Some sacrifices are worth making for equal rights.
The first couple in England to marry will be Peter McGraith and David Cabreza. All major parties in England’s parliament (including the conservative majority) supported the change. Prime Minister David Camerson shared these words,
“It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth. It also sends a powerful message to young people growing up who are uncertain about their sexuality. It clearly says, ‘you are equal’ whether straight or gay.” (PinkNews)
Unfortunately, in Ireland and Scotland same-sex marriage is still illegal, though that could change in Scotland in the coming year.
Congratulations to our oversea neighbors who now get to walk down the aisle with the same pomp and circumstance as the royal family. We look forward to even more fancy weddings with exotic headgear and perchance now a modernized Jane Austen film featuring a same-sex couple that ultimately tie the know!
Other related Feminist Bride same-sex marriage articles:
To read more from the Washington Post: Gay marriage ban ends in England and Wales as marriage bells toll – The Washington Post.
An Oregonian boy becomes a man, not only by having his bar mitzvah, but because he chose to take his opportunity to use his d’var Torah, a traditional speech, to speak as a proponent of gay marriage [in Oregon]. Duncan McAlpine Sennett’s words speak volumes to his maturity, his reasoning and use of historical analysis proves his intelligence and his bravery to even address such a topic within a religious setting exhibits immense leadership and kindness. And he’s only 13! Mazal Tov to David, hopefully he will inspire many other people to positively speak on behalf of others.
To learn more about marriage equality in Oregon check out: OregonUnitedforMarriage.org
For more awesome speeches related to marriage equality:
There’s a lot of things I’d ask Jesus if I met the guy in person, like why curse some people with not liking cilantro, what would his Cliff game choices be if I gave him Oprah, Psy and Steve Buscemi and what are his thoughts on Lena Dunham’s constant nudity in Girls? But kudos to Sarah Silverman who dared to ask, “Jesus, when does life begin?”
In a random late night
bootie call visit, Jesus approached Sarah to be his spokesperson. He was feeling pretty bummed about how people use his name for intolerance and oppression. After a NCIS marathon, seems Silverman took J-Bones up on his request and started to share the harsh reality of women’s access to reproductive rights, i.e. abortion. “Comedy-expert,” Laura Ingraham may not have appreciated the banter with Jesus, but I found Silverman’s straightforward historical context and tell-it-like it is storytelling refreshing and captivating. I also loved how she showed what a double standard it was to legislate vaginas but not penises. And to give our own fun fact, Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) actually tried to get this penis probe added to the “personhood” movement, which gave all eggs and semen the same rights as American citizens to make a point about how skewed legislature controls women’s bodies but not men’s.
What’s even better is that Silverman also asks you to carry on the word of Jesus by signing up with www.LadyPartsJustice.com to keep up to date on the level of personal pussy power in the US. There will even be a series of events through “V To Shining V” throughout the country where women can come together on these issues. So thanks for setting the record straight Sarah, oh and by the way – awesome shirt.
Strong. Confident. And accurately informed. Hillary 2016. Need The Feminist Bride say more?
Stephen Colbert is once again challenging politicians on the state of marriage. Here’s how it goes down (get to the 5.05 mark):
“You’ve got these 15 states (Illinois was just added as the 16th state) plus the District of Columbia that are riding the rainbow train to helltown right now,” Colbert said, “Hasn’t this one slipped away from us?”
“I think the real problem here is marriage has slipped away from us,” Santorum said. “Marriage has devolved into just a romantic relationship between two people. And that’s not what marriage is.”
“No, it’s for transferring property,” Colbert joked.
Santorum went on to defend that its purpose was to procreate essentially…I had no clue that romance was bad for procreating. I guess I’ll have to put away my candles, bottle of bubbly and The Notebook for the next date night. Apparently, Santorum doesn’t know what foreplay is. He just gets down to business.
Santorum seems to be forgetting that heterosexual procreation in marriage is religious dogma and that there is now, luckily, a separation of church and state. I’m currently reading All Dressed in White by Carol McD. Wallace and she states how in the early to mid 20th century divorce was as high as 1 in 4 marriages (1946). A good explanation for this is that couples adhering to the traditional family gender roles of male breadwinner and female mother and housewife were not enough for a successful marriage. Before that divorce wasn’t an option and the unlimited production of children put great physical and financial strain on a marriage and the mother (that is until birth control became accessible). History tells us marriage for procreation alone was not enough to have a good marriage, nor a fulfilling life. If you ask me, successful modern marriage is about the union of two people who love each other regardless of demographics, who bring dynamic and supportive characteristics to their new family in order to make it stronger and whole. That foundation, and the decisions made within in, are what advance society and that includes children both adopted and biological of gay parents. Producing children in a linear [heterosexual] model for the sake of marriage is not enough to advance a healthy society, Santorum.
On children with same-sex parents Santorum replied, “Every child has the right to their natural mother and father. Every child has a natural mother and father and they have a right to that mother and father to give them what only a mother and only a father can give.”
Colbert, “Wouldn’t it be better for them to have no parents than to be loved by two gay people?”
“The point of the law is to encourage what is best,” Santorum replied. “It’s to set a standard for what is best, not to set a standard short of what is best, because when you do that you get less of what is necessary.”
His parenting argument is about as weak as his romantic skills. Technically, under this rhetoric he’s even challenging the legitimacy of heterosexual adoptive parents. I’ve had the fortune of getting to know a lot of gay parents and the love I see them give to their children is unmatched and amazing. And if you don’t believe me check out the speech by Zach Wahls of Iowa. Santorum seems to miss that a successful marriage and a parent starts with the quality of character of that individual, not who they choose to watch The Notebook with.
Senator Elizabeth Warren takes to the podium on the Senate floor on September 30, 2013 to remark on the devastating impact this government shutdown will have and how it is basically a ransom tactic for Republicans to get their demands met. If you’ve ever watched Senator Warren speak publicly, you know she’s forthright and likes to rely on facts and decisions (Watch the hearing on the minimum wage as a good example).
What’s awesome about the speech is that she goes into how it affects women and how this shutdown is based on obsolete ideologies and not modern lifestyles. Not only that, they are catering only to their own agenda and not the welfare and benefit of a diverse nation of peoples. Senator Warren explains how a minority group of Republicans are taking the economy hostage and more or less refusing to participate in the democratic process that America prides itself on.
I think it is safe to say the level of frustration among all Americans and government employees runs at an all time high. While there’s a lot of finger pointing going on in the House right now with simpleminded slamming, it’s nice to hear a congressional leader offer an opinion that is not based on derisiveness or ugly tactics, but on reason and empathy. And as woman and the feminist bride, who is always constantly concerned that my access to reproductive freedoms will be limited or taken away, it’s reassuring to know that someone is looking out for me and women like me.
As far as Obamacare goes, having grown up in Massachusetts with a father who’s worked for a major healthcare company for over thirty years I’d like to think I have a unique personal insight into state enforced healthcare. I’ve always been fortunate to have excellent health insurance, but there was a period of about two years when I just chose to opt out. The penalty I paid for not having healthcare each year as a Massachusetts resident was about $41 dollars. Now I understand the arguments against big government, but I had two choices with this mandated tax; I could throw a tantrum, refuse to pay it and shutdown the government or I could just pay the measly $41. When I tried to get independent, private healthcare in the middle of that two year period, I was denied for having Reynauds. If you’re unfamiliar with the disease, I was denied healthcare coverage because my hands get cold. You know how I cure it? I put on gloves. If you want to have an eye opening read on how the current system is horrifically broken I suggest reading Time Magazine’s The Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. It’s clear there’s a lot Americans need to work on and improve and who’s to say how we’ll need to recover from the shutdown, but I feel like I can rest a little bit easy with Senator Warren in my corner. There have been many times when I’ve been amazingly proud to be from Massachusetts, this is another moment.
An old speech but an amazing one worth reviewing by NYC Senator Diane J. Salvino. I’m going to put this as one of the top speech’s to protect and support gay marriage. Another great one is by Zach Wahls of Iowa. If you have a few other speech recommendations, send them my way at TheFeministBride@gmail.com. I’d love to put together an inspiring list!
We should hail Senator Diane J. Salvino not just for being one of the few 19% of women that form the United States Congress, but for her amazing speech supporting gay marriage to the New York Senate when New York was still grappling with the idea of letting gays marry. Her speech in 2009 was poignant and inspirational, but most of all it was about time someone spoke rationally, reasonably and fairly on the subject. The speech is available on YouTube, but here is a portion of the transcript.
“I was on 6th avenue in Manhattan, I was in my car, I was driving, make a left turn onto 52nd street, I was stopped at a light, I had my window open. And a young man on a pedicab stopped and stuck his head in the window of my car, which I thought was kind of strange. But he recognized the senate license plate on my car and this was right during the week that the assembly was taking up the vote earlier this year. And he said to me, ‘Excuse me, is there going to be a gay marriage vote in Albany this week’? And I said ‘Yes, the assembly’s going to take it up, but the senate probably won’t take it up any time soon, I’m not sure when.’ And he said, ‘Are you going to vote for it?’ And I said, ‘Yes I am.’ And he said, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Because I believe that people should be able to share their life with whomever they want and the role of government is to administer that contract that they agree to enter into.’ And he stopped and said, ‘But they’re changing the definition of marriage.’ And I said, ‘Don’t get so excited about this marriage stuff.’ I said, ‘Think about this, we just met, you and I right here at the stoplight. You stuck your head in the window of my car. Do you know tomorrow we could go to City Hall, we could apply for a marriage license, and we could get married, and nobody there will ask us about the quality of our relationship or whether we’ve been committed to each other or any of those things. They will issue that marriage license and we can get married.’ And he said, ‘Yes, that’s true.’ I said, ‘Do you think we’re ready for that kind of commitment’? And he stopped and he said, ‘I see your point.’ And that’s really what this is about. We in government don’t determine the quality or the validity of peoples’ relationships. If we did we would not issue three-quarters of the marriage licenses we do. And I know there are many people in the religious community who feel that we’re going to force this on them when in fact that is not true, we have never done that. I’m a Roman Catholic. The Catholic church has the right to deny me the sacrament of marriage if they determine the person I choose to marry is unfit or our relationship doesn’t meet their standards. City Hall does not have that right. That will not change under this bill. That will never change. Religious institutions can continue to practice discrimination with respect to the sacrament of marriage. We don’t. We shouldn’t. We should not do it for gay and lesbian couples.”
Despite her impassioned speech, lawmakers still denied the bill to give gay couples equal marriage rights. However, in 2011 the New York government came around and finally passed a Marriage Equality Bill. Speeches like hers may not make changes over night, but they certainly can plant important idea-seeds that will grow in flourish in the future.
When Harry Tries to Marry (2011): As a result of his parents divorce, young Harry believes arranged marriages are the only way to have a successful marriage. Straight out of college he rushes to employ a matchmaker, gets paired with a very nice match and goes about planning his wedding. Except amid a long-distance relationship… life and love unexpectedly happen. Harry is left to decide between his hardcore beliefs and the natural path that is laid before him. The movie ends on a really good lesson; that life and love cannot be rushed in youth, inexperience and impatience. Time is one of most important assets we can give ourselves. (Subjects: Marriage, Love, Arranged Marriages) Director: Nayan Padrai
In honor of the Supreme Court ruling today defending the legality and support of same-sex marriage, I thought offering insight into the future of marriage would be a salient point. I’m thrilled that many same-sex couples in states that recognize gay marriage can now enjoy the same state and federal benefits hetero-couples do, and I hope that many of those in states behind the curve can start planning their own legal nuptials soon too. However, while today was a huge milestone there is still lots more to accomplish…for all sexual orientations. Everyone should keep marriage equality as their number one wish on their wedding registry.
In the meantime, I predict more scandalous celebrity marriages and divorces that will push the limits of conventional marriages (I’m looking at you Kardashians). Now with California, I foresee one highly publicized gay celebrity marriage sponsored by US Weekly that will help mitigate the fears of same-sex marriage, but also (unfortunately) perpetuate gay stereotypes. I envision a line of new wedding products designed by those briefly married celebrities. I foreshadow more diversity in the couples TLC wedding shows exploit. Rom-coms will continue to define its female lead’s value by the relationship she gets by the end of the movie. After all of this, I hope Hollywood will be a little more conscientious about how it treats marriage and those within it.
There are more positive things to predict though. I predict, like interracial marriage, gay marriage will be commonplace in the next twenty years and our children (born inside or outside of marriage) will read about this civil rights movement in their history books. In the near future, I anticipate people will come to better understand that mass cultural institutions cannot take precedence over a person’s private rights as protected under the fourteenth amendment. I also hope same-sex marriage naysayers learn that a strict exclusive definition to marriage dilutes its power and meaning, it is stronger when it is all encompassing and embracing. Love does not discriminate and as its formal frame, neither should marriage. I believe gay marriage will help eradicate sexist gender roles in wedding traditions and marriage and we will be better off for it. I predict every person, regardless of their race, age, gender and sexual orientation will eventually access the same rights, the same benefits and the same protection, not because they fell in love with someone, but because we’ve come to respect and love humanity above the private privileges marriage retains for itself. But most of all, I hope the terms same-sex or gay marriage disappear and we can just recognize those forms of marriage as what they truly are, just marriage.
I predict the next big issue when it comes to marriage will be among the permanent, lifestyle singles. With 95% of people trying marriage at least once in a lifetime, the next minority to feel excluded from the special provisions provided by marriage will be singles, and single families. This means that fixing the cracks and dents in our existing family law will be the next reform issue. And it’s a major one. We seldom realize that our existing family law discriminates against almost everyone, regardless of his or her race, sexual orientation, marital status and age. (Sorry, plural marriage participators I just don’t think the US is ready to pull your number for reform next.) I foreshadow that in the effort to eradicate singlism, the next great debate will not be what is marriage, but what constitutes family.
I’m struck by all the happy and celebratory posts on Facebook in light of today’s Supreme Court ruling, particularly by those who do not benefit directly from today’s historic ruling. Their elation shows true altruism. For everyone celebrating though, it proves that marriage is purely enjoyed when everyone can partake in it. And for my final predictions, I foresee a still long walk to the aisle for same-sex couples, but today it got a little shorter; I envision happier and just slightly brighter smiles at weddings, and I expect to get invited to many more weddings now.
The NY Times is having a debate on whether or not the prenup is passé. Whatever you think, I think it’s important to consider who needs to protect their assets the most. With men still earning $1 to women’s measly 77 cents, it is fair to assume that it’s not the women. Prenups highlight the unequal wage and income issues that women still face. If office income is not enough to make you think twice, consider that many women who decide to cut back on office hours part time or completely for family set themselves back considerably financially – in terms of retirement savings, competitive wages, position advancements, etc. Married mothers loose around $11,000 in salary for every year they miss in the workplace and that gap only grows with each kid. The role of homemake and mom just isn’t appreciated in terms of its economic contributions like a paying job is. If a prenup needs to be enacted and it favors the father, what happens to the women who put aside both her spouse’s assets and her own income earning potential? No matter what the courts decide in terms of alimony, divorced women can expect a 30% decline in their standard of living.
Whether or not a prenup is necessary before you say, ‘I do’ consider the larger social issues it relates to – not just for you but for all women.
See what others had to say in the NY Times debate: The Power of the Prenup – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.
Laws preventing consanguineous marriages still exist, but more-than-friendly brother-sister relations still occur like out of a V.C. Andrews novel. The latest international news story was about a German couple in 2001: As a result of their amorous affection, they bore a child, did hard time, and love still survived. The idea of it still captures the distorted fears of moviegoers today with movies like The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003, 1986, 1974), Deliverance (1972) and Wrong Turn (2003). In less horrifying film, who can forget in The Godfather III when Mary Corleone ignited a fire with her cousin Vinnie Mancini, but her father, Michael Corleone, forbade it.
While today sibling relationships are both taboo and illegal, there was a time when it was widely practiced, and even encouraged in order to prevent the tainting of royal bloodlines. Before Mark Anthony, Cleopatra VII was married to her brother Ptolemy XIII, and she was the offspring of a sibling marriage as well. While technically illegal during Roman times, it is said that Roman Emperor Caligula did the deed with all three of his sisters, Julia Livilla,Drusilla, and Agrippina the Younger. And no story of incest would be complete without the tale of Oedipus, who brought shame and ruin to himself and his city for marrying his mother. These tales were (and still are) told to children to impart lessons on morality, civility and health. The moral of these stories is that it is wrong to bang your sister and have children with her, but unsurprisingly, nature has a hand in promoting or preventing this kind of attraction.
The Westermarck effect is a process by which two people become sexually desensitized to each other during their first couple years of life, which is thought to be a natural selection process promoting gene diversity. For example, when a sister’s friend finds her older brother attractive, the sister fails to relate to the attraction. On the other hand, there is a theory of a “genetic sexual attraction,” whereby relatives kept apart during their formative years might be more inclined towards mutual sexual attraction. Finally, it’s well known that the risk of congenital diseases and birth defects rises with each inbred generation, a risk factor that can be determined by an “inbreeding coefficient.” An Ohio State studyresearched Charles Darwin’s genealogy. Ironically, Darwin himself was a product of consanguineous marriages; and after marrying his cousin; their 10 children faced severe health problems and infertility. Three of them died prematurely. It is thought that Darwin’s children suffered from inbreeding effects.
Over hundreds of years, marriages between cousins frequently occurred for a variety of reasons. Like ancient Egyptian royalty, European royalty encouraged marriage between cousins as a political strategy to unite kingdoms and forge alliances. The Hasburg family of Austria was most famous for interfamilial marriages, so much so that Charles II of Spain exhibited signs of genetic disorders. Ultimately, his infertility led to the extinction of the Hasburg family line. Survival and companionship was another motivation, which was especially useful in pioneering communities. For small religious groups at risk of extinction, faith survived better by marrying those within the community – namely relatives. Retaining wealth, assets and titles was a huge driver in uniting relatives. Laws prior to the 1900s forbade women from retaining property and turned all assets over to her husband’s control. So to keep it in the family, families literally kept it all in the family. But in today’s more modern times, love may just naturally bud at family reunions, maybe as a result of that “genetic sexual attraction” theory. Pass the potatoes please.
Despite the dangers of inbreeding, along with the social and religious ramifications, there are an amazing amount of geniuses and leaders associated with this consanguineous practice. Johann Sebastian Bach married his cousin and they had seven children together. Albert Einstein thought it a smart idea too. Jessie James was not so much of a tough-guy to say no to his cousin, and perhaps writers Edgar Allen Poe and H.G. Wells both found inspiration in their aunt and uncle’s children. Queen Victoria, who set in motion the Victorian model of a modest bride, married her cousin, Prince Albert. Jerry Lee Lewis married his second cousin, an improvement over firsts, but he loses points because she was allegedly only 13. And while FDR bravely battled the Depression and Nazis, and while Rudy Giuliani fought against the destructive efforts of terrorists in 2001, both succumbed to the feminine wiles of their cousin-wives as well. (Giuliani anulled his marriage after 14 years with the Catholic church on the grounds the cousin-thing made it illegal in the first place.)
Affinity marriages are ones of indirect blood relations and can be defined as “in-laws,” which are still too close for comfort in certain jurisdictions and religions. One of the most famous affinity marriages is that of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, daughter to Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II. Catherine had been married to Henry’s brother, Arthur, who died suddenly. To keep relations between Spain and England strong, Henry married Catherine after she promised the first marriage had never been consummated, and the Pope granted dispensation from affinity. Eventually, Henry, lusting after one of the Boleyns, justified his divorce from Catherine on the grounds that she had, in fact, consummated the marriage with Henry’s brother. And then he accused Anne Boleyn of sleeping with her brother in order to get rid of her.
Despite religious condemnation, legal disapproval and social discontent, history has shown that the practice was generally accepted among some of the world’s greatest leaders, thinkers and poets. While Thomas Jefferson marrying his third cousin seems too long ago to matter in the present day, the taboo itself has widely shaped and influenced history and culture. The question of its morality is not what’s being debated here, this dialogue is to bring attention to the fact that by treating consanguineous marriage as abnormal and taboo, we fail to recognize it as a pervasive component in history and in doing so only half the story will ever be heard.
I created this ‘Name Change Cultural Spectrum’ for a lecture I gave at Tufts University this spring. I wanted people to understand where their decisions stand in the broader context of equality. For example, a lot of women who retain their surname but also incorporate their new spouse’s name through hyphenation will defend their decision as being progressive or feminist or seemingly more about equality. If you look on the spectrum, that one-sided name change is not as based on equality as we might like to think, especially since men typically do not join women in this one-sided hyphenation.
Also to show that existing name change culture does not encourage equality, I had to invent the term Neutronymics. Neutronymics is the adoption of a new name or combination of names created using the names of married individuals or the retention of separate surnames. It is meant to be a solution to those wishing to participate in neither patronymics nor matronymics and to increase name equality. Mutual hyphenation, the Scrabble Name Game and Surname Retention are all options people are aware of, but had never been grouped before or labeled. Labeling it gives it legitimacy and really puts into perspective the other options that favor one sex over another.
So when it comes time for you to get married and you’re not sure if you’re making the right decision that honors yourself and/or your partner – take a look at the Name Change Culture Spectrum. See where your decision places on the map and you’ll get a better sense as to whether you are helping to buck the dominating patriarchy, are alone in your name change decisions or are making a healthy decision that really promotes equality in your relationship and teaches women to value their name too. And if you’re a lady getting married, don’t forget to make the groom put in the same type of name change consideration you are putting in yourself!
The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!
In a historical change of mind, President Obama has come forward to proclaim that he supports same-sex marriage. Prior to this announcement, he limited his belief system to civil unions based on his own religion’s edict that marriage was only for men and women. Regardless of his new personal beliefs he still believes the legality of same-sex marriage should be dictated on the state level. I could find no information as to whether this would prompt him to change the federal policy which still doesn’t recognize legal same-sex marriages from the seven states that allow it.
Mary Poppin’s “Give Women the Vote” song just joined the 21st century through a rendition of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. I’m thrilled that there are slowly more and more independent short films focusing on women’s issues and done in a funny way. It’s marvelous that producers, writers and directors can take a serious topic and approach it with fun and humor. I believe those tactics alone represent a new age of feminism (ahem, fourth wave feminism) that no longer isolates the objectors and objected but critically addresses a topic with less aggression so the message can be easily, effectively and enjoyably understood by all. Brava. I particularly cracked up at the line, “We just want to wear pants.” Women may have gotten the vote in 1920 but contemporary reinterpretations reminds us modern gals that there is a lot to be thankful for. If you’re into 4th Wave feminist media, check out this classic: Jane Austen’s Fight Club.
Between Republican Presidential Candidate’s Newt Gingrich’s delightful views and treatment of women, people attacking Obama on his legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights, the Susan G Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and now the blatant exclusive male debate over women’s birth control, I get a really warm, fuzzy and inviting feeling when it comes to women’s place in politics.
So when I see the countless people celebrating this President’s Day weekend, I’m only compelled to celebrate the Monday I’ve been given off. There’s little cause for me to celebrate. Out of 44 presidents (and 55 available terms), not one has been a woman. A few have come (sorta) close though. In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president. Back then women did not even have the right to vote in federal elections yet and wouldn’t until 1920 – 52 years later. The female candidates between now and then have been few and far in between with no successful ones. A 2009 poll revealed only 55 percent think America is now ready for a woman president. Despite Americans seeing themselves as a world leader, we actually rank 90th in the number of women in our national legislature. And given the US’s history of world politics we’d be embarrassed to realize what other countries are ahead of us such as Cuba (ranked 6th) and Afghanistan (30th). The figures are no more encouraging for other political positions. Overall, for dominating 51% of the total US population, women only account for 17% of the seats in Congress. And our numbers are declining. At this rate women will not reach parity for 500 years!
I’m happy to think that a lot of this birth control debate and the blatant misogyny we see occurring in our reproductive fate is encouraging women to speak up after too much silence. I haven’t seen such overwhelming support for women since the 1990s. The personal may be political, but in the public realm most of us have been keeping the personal private and that is clearly dangerous. We’ve naively assumed that the personal will be protected. Without our direct involvement in our own fate we can’t assume the progress of women will continue. Below is a list of where women in positions of political leadership currently stand. The statistics are scary.
On this President’s weekend, I encourage women to think about their own involvement in the political process. Are you voting for candidates that believe in women, that will fight for ALL women and include women on their own offices? What is your own involvement in politics – instead of being disgruntled at the our current state of affairs, why aren’t you throwing your hat into the ring? Many of us grew up in a generation that taught women can be anything they put their minds too, yet few of us have followed up on that idea. We should recognize we hold all the same skill sets, will and strength to run and hold positions of leadership as any other candidate. Why aren’t we more involved then?
Sorry to copy straight from the pages of the WCF Foundation, but I found the statistics so compelling, eye opening and straight forward that it just seemed better to give them a tip of the hat on their work and a little plug for their non-profit (Click here to donate to their “She Should Run” Campaign). Here is their mission statement: “WCF is dedicated to helping women build the skills and infrastructure they need to become more effective leaders in public life. WCF Foundation conducts action-oriented research and pilots targeted programs that prepare women to become more politically active, increase their engagement in key democratic processes, and ready them for public leadership roles. At WCF Foundation, we not only identify barriers to women’s political equality – we find solutions.” I would also like to point out The White House Project that encourages women’s leadership in all sectors. Their mantra of “Add Women, Change Everything,” speaks exactly to the power of including women.
Where We Are: 2010 Election Update
For the first time since 1987, the United States made no progress in electing more women to Congress.
A few pieces of good news in an otherwise dreary election cycle for women:
Women are still under-represented at all levels of government.
Facts on women of color in elective office
Why We’re Here
Parties can make or break a woman candidate:
Gender Stereotypes still play a role:
This news of a Republican panel of five men and NO women convening to discuss denying birth control coverage struck a sour chord. It saddens me because I don’t want men dictating how I treat my body, and we women are not second-class citizens who are unable to think for ourselves. (One woman did show up to testify, but was shown the door.) But it also saddens me because denying this coverage commits an entire sector of our population to an endless cycle of poverty. It’s amazing how making a little pill (or other more reliable options) available to all, regardless of income, can make a difference in the educational level and the standard of living of our entire country.
When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, we seek to spend it with those we love and shower them with all the accoutrements a Hallmark Valentine’s can bestow. What about spending Valentine’s Day in a non-commercial way? What if you could honor the women in your life by participating in something that seeks to support and empower them? What if you spent this Valentine’s Day learning how to appreciate yourself?
It follows New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. New Jersey lawmakers should be voting on the measure next week and Maine might revisit it again in November. However in the same month as Maine, Minnesota might ban gay marriage, along with North Carolina in May.
Washington fought for equal civil rights for the LGBT community for over 30 years without success, except the last 4-5 years. Washington passed a domestic partnership law in 2007, after it has passed its own Defense of Marriage Act.
The house passed the bill 55-43. It should be signed into law next week and will be active in 90 days. However, if opponents gather enough signatures these plans will be put on hold as law requires the issues to go to the ballot box in November. The Huffington Post reported that 55 percent would support upholding the law.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle referred to Tuesday’s ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Prop 8 unconstitutional, “The court addressed the question of why marriage matters directly,” he said, and read a section from the ruling that stated “marriage is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.”
To read more about the news: Washington House Passes Gay Marriage Bill.
Other related Feminist Bride gay marriage articles:
As an artist, I’m usually caught in a conversation with patrons over the stories related to specific pieces of work. A few years ago, I found myself talking to a 50 or so year-old woman about my photo of Havana, Cuba. Both having traveled there we positively swapped stories of the people, the climate and the culture. Any American in Havana is rare these days, I was lucky enough to travel down there legally in 2002 on an academic visa while studying abroad (Fidel even spoke to us at an assembly and then he threw a party for us at a compound). So I was curious why this other American was there.
“Oh,” she nonchalantly replied, “I was there in the 60s to get an abortion.”
Having spent all but five minutes with this woman, I was taken aback by her candidness. I didn’t press the story much further, but it told me 1. at the time abortion was illegal in the US and 2. her presence in Cuba was probably even more illegal. So dire her need for an abortion, she sought the help from one of our countries most notorious enemies because the service was legal there and because it would be performed safely by a surgeon (they do have excellent healthcare there). Making abortion illegal creates a lot of unsafe procedures that put women’s lives at risk. And I have to admit I had no clue about home-abortion kits until I watched Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet. Hollywood drama aside, no health class or any other source had bothered to inform me as to what life was like before Roe vs. Wade. (Read Mother Jones 2004 “The Way It Was” by Eleanor Cooney for a really good account of pre-Roe).To get an idea on current global statistics when abortions are illegal, “Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with 6% in the developed world,” [Guttmacher Institure].
Roe vs. Wade just celebrated its 39th birthday but it’s still under contention. As the 2012 presidential elections come closer, the politicians’ stances on topics such as abortion come into the spotlight. GOP candidate Rick Santorum opposes abortion in the strictest sense, even in cases of rape and incest. He claims his stance is not religious based, but in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan he eventually mentioned the big “G.” He argued a woman should, ” ‘accept this horribly created’ baby, because it was still a gift from God, even if given in a “broken” way.” Santorum was also part of the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban bill” passed by Bush #2 in 2003. Characterized as almost zealous in his anti-abortion lobbying and protection of human life, he somehow finds it reasonable to support the death penalty in absolute cases of guilt. Seems his belief in the value of life is conditional. He is just one of the hour GOP candidates that believe Roe vs. Wade should be reversed. Even Michelle Bachmann is claiming that abortion will be made illegal after the 2012 elections.
While it is not hard to understand how religion has influenced these politicians’ abortion views, the Guttmacher Institute release worldwide abortion statistics that suggests that making abortion illegal actually increases the rate of abortions. If the GOP candidates using reasonable deduction skills, fulfilling their goal of making abortion illegal would not solve their problem at all. In fact, between 1995 and 2008 abortion rates have lowered in developed nations, which can be explained by better access to sex education, general education and access to healthcare. And countries with more liberal laws on abortion actually have lower abortion rates.
Obama had this to opposing view to share, “As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.” Santorum accused Obama of being “radical and extreme” when it came to women’s reproductive births.
I remember an interview with Sarah Palin around the 2008 elections talking about how she was so happy that Bristol chose to keep her baby and made the right decision in her book. The reporter nailed Ms. Palin, anti-abortion supporter, on her choice of words, i.e. “chose.” The irony of the comment was not surprisingly lost on Palin, which goes to show that no matter what your view is, it’s the right to choose that makes a difference. It’s not a really happy birthday for Roe vs. Wade if people are at great odds almost 40 years later on the morality of the issue. We have yet to understand that personal beliefs should not dictate public direction. My personal choice when it comes to my body is my own, but I should have the right to have access to any possible options and not have someone predetermine what they think is the right course for me. Only I can decide that.
Gregoire, 64, is in the last year of her second term. She has not always supported gay marriage equality, though now she states, “For all couples, a state marriage license is very important. It gives them the right to enter into a marriage contract in which their legal interests, and those of their children if any, are protected by well-established civil law,”
Gay couples already enjoy the same rights as heterosexual ones under a Washington government domestic partnership law which stays within parameters of federal law. While this is still a step up from states that provide no rights 0r protection to gay couples, it practices the notion of “separate but equal.”
Support for gay marriage is split in the state between more the more liberal coast (including Seattle) versus a more conservative inland. While Washington is mostly democratic, gay marriage is still a split issue as a result of conservative democrats. The domestic partnership law was barely approved the first time. In terms of revisiting gay marriage rights, Gregoire commented, “It is time, it’s the right thing to do.”
Critics of the proposal say that Gregoire should be focusing more on the state’s $1.5 billion budget shortfall. However, what no one has managed to consider is how much gay marriage approval would contribute to Washington’s wedding industry revenue.
More than 40 U.S. states have outlawed same-sex marriages, while six states explicitly allow it: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa. Gay marriage is also legal in the District of Columbia.
To help support gay marriage legislation in Washington State check out the group Washington United for Marriage
Other Related Feminist Bride Articles:
Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley Pushes for Gay-Marriage
To read more from the Chicago Tribune: Washington governor supports gay marriage law
Dahiney Ghuri in Pul-i-Kumri, Baghlan Province, Afghanistan: Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, outlawed forced marriage and acid throwing on December 11, 2011. Unfortunately for Afghanistan, a similar story has gained huge international attention as well, but for opposite reasons. 15-year old bride, Sahar Gul, who after refusing to become a prostitute by her in-laws was severely beaten and locked in a dirty basement bathroom for several months with barely enough necessities to survive. Her in-laws of seven months pulled out her nails, clumps of hair, burned her with cigarette butts, and tore pieces of flesh from her body. Gul, in critical condition, will be transported to India for serious treatment and recovery.
The Buccaneers (TV mini-series 1995) – If you like romantic period pieces this series is for you. The Buccaneers is the last novel written by Edith Wharton of four young American girls with “new” money that spend a season in England in the hopes of finding rich, aristocratic husbands. The girls are successful but their stories unravel as being married and someone’s wife reveals a much more sordid and unsatisfying life than they had been lead to believe. How the girls cope with obligation, expectations of their sex and class and love is worth a watch. (Subject: Marriage, Etiquette, Love) Director: Philip Saville
A historical moment for Pakistan, whose Senate passed two new bills: The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 and The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008. This makes the following illegal in Pakistan.
An amazingly powerful speech that should be shared and heeded. Hillary Clinton speaks to the United Nations about how LGBT rights are human rights. Clinton explained that LGBT legitimacy does not differ from the civil rights issues that other groups experienced throughout history. She stresses that to make sure LGBT members are not discriminated or abused we all need to recognize the need to accept and protect – that they should be as free as the rest of us to live in peace, expression and lifestyle without condition.
“It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.”
“I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.”
“It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.”
Click to here to read full transcript.
More Feminist Bride articles related to gay rights:
“…a student at the University of Iowa…I scored on the 99 percentile on the ACTs, I’m actually an Eagle Scout, I own and operate my own small business, if I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I would make you very proud…the sexual orientation of my parents have had zero impact on the content of my character.”
Happy Birthday Elizabeth Cady Stanton. You are 200 years young! Born on November 12, 1815, you were the mother of the suffragist movement and a pioneer for all women’s rights. You’re great but I have to wonder what you spent all your birthday wishes on cuz we’re still fighting for some of the same damn things you were!
Daughter of Earth by Agnes Smedley. An under-appreciated feminist novel, Agnes’s fictionalized personal memoir traverses her impoverished and brutal childhood to her equally straining, political adulthood. Daughter of Earth gives amazing insight into the issues of the working class proletariat during the Depression era. Smedley brings us an eye-opening account of how starvation, extreme poverty, brutal working conditions and a lack of education can shape the emotional and physical experience of an individual. The book also focuses heavily on the social conditions imposed on women from the limitations caused by marriage to a lack of birth control and over populated families, from domestic abuse to sexual freedoms. Aside from the book’s political nature and historical insight, it is a smooth read and a pleasure to read. Smedley should be remembered (and read) just as much as her feminist sisters!
This chart has been circling the Internet. What’s interesting about wedding tradition today is that it is mostly shaped by pop culture and media, whereas back in the day it was influenced mostly by religion. This chart lays out the various verses that relate to marriage, sex and women’s issues. While a lot of these practices are not as commonly practiced, I thought I might address ones that are:
Man + Women (Nuclear Family) bride who could not prove her virginity was stoned to death – this still happens in the middle east and sub-Sahara in what is justified as an honor killing. Honor killings are not limited to stoning but can also include burning, acid burning and other forms of abuse. For example, in Iraq 2007, a 17-year old girl, Du’a Khalil Aswad, was stoned to death in an honor killing because she fell in love with someone outside her religion. She was from a minority Kurdish religious group called Yezidi, and the boy was a Sunni Muslim. Iraqi Security forces stood by and watched as she was dragged into a square and publically flogged until her death. Pools of her blood collected around her body in the middle of the street. Not one person in the crowd tried to save her. The entire event was captured on camera and released on the Internet (Warning: Graphic Violence)
Man + Woman + Woman’s Property – This was called coverture and wasn’t outlawed until 1933.
Man + Woman + Woman + Woman – An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people live a polygamist lifestyle in the US.
Rapist + His Victim – While no one forced a victim to marry their rapist, one parallel issue that could be drawn is how state abortion laws treat pregnant victims of rape. First, states that outlaw abortions outright are leaving little choice for its constituents, along with the states that limit the victim’s freedom to chose the outcome of their pregnancy and have control over their own bodies.
Male Slave + Female Slave - The Department of Justice estimates that more than 250,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Each year an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold, or forced across the world’s borders [2003 U.S. State Department estimate]. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as 5, who fall victim to the sex trade. in 1999 that more than 200 international matchmaking services operated in the United States, arranging 4,000 to 6,000 marriages annually between American men and foreign women, mostly from the Philippines and former Soviet Union.
From Frans Kahn to now a tired middle-aged man, the French are having their own sexual revolution as of late. The question is which way is it going?