The Feminist Bride returns as a guest on the Bridechilla Podcast to discuss the wedding tradition of name change (Ep #226). Host Aleisha McCormack asks (and I answer) why do women change their name? Should they? What other options are there? How come men don’t? There’s a whole lot to consider than just your personal motivations – seriously, they might shock you. If you’re a feminist bride (or groom) grappling with whether or not this tradition is for you, I highly recommend you give it a listen (which you can do on iTunes, Android or by downloading the bridechilla app!
And if you missed The Feminist Bride’s first guest spot on the podcast, check out Episode 169, where I discuss the traditions in most need of feminism and the obsolete and sexist symbolism imbedded in them.
What does it take to be a truly modern and feminist bride? I come across a lot of proud brides proclaiming to me how forward thinking they are. For example, a bride might explain how she explored all the equitable options before taking her husband’s surname…but forgot to ask him to consider taking hers. Or a bride will explain how she is going to trash the dress to stick it to the wedding industrial complex not realizing the wedding industrial complex doesn’t care because it already got her $1,500 for the designer gown.
Super excited to be interviewed on the #1 wedding podcast, Save The Date. It was really fun sitting down with the host, Aleisha McCormack to talk about some of the most sexist wedding traditions out there and what “bridechillas”‘ and “groomchillas” (bride/grooms who are chill) can do to make them more feminist and respectful for all. So please check out and listen to Episode 169, which by the way, is a totally appropriate number considering how much we discussed the role of sex in wedding traditions! To all the feminist brides (and grooms) out there, I hope it’s an eye opening listen and as fun for you as it was for me in recording it!
Some people use their astrological signs to describe their personality – preordained by time and chance according to the alignment of the stars. Some attribute their character based on their parents or environment; access to money or lack thereof. There are many internal and external factors that help create you, and it’s nice to think that identity, to some extent, is something we can choose. After a short lifetime of making those critical choices or being products of our genetics or childhood, when it’s time to ring the wedding bells do we still have that personal choice to choose “who am I – as a bride?”
There is a wedding tradition that states women are only allowed to propose to men on February 29th, Leap Day. That’s once for twenty-four hours every four years and that’s if she’s in a relationship that’s ready to move to the next step. Having such an opportunity is almost as rare as Donald Trump telling the truth or acting humble. The question is where does such nonsense come from?
Can’t wait to become the new “Mrs. His Name?” Ever think about why men never change their title of “Mr.” when they get married, ever stop to consider what it means for women to only change her title?
Hollywood reporter, Camille Paglia is taking umbrage against Taylor Swift’s girl squad, which she describes as a “Nazi-Barbie routine.” Paglia reflects on Swift’s appropriation of girl power squads from the 1990s, e.g. The Spice Girls, Def Squad, to promote a sense of women-empowered camaraderie through social media, in-person staged appearances and the pervasive selfie. After reading her fair but also pretty scathing review where she ultimately describes Swift as a “fascist blonde,” I can’t help wonder if there are lots of similarities between Swift’s posse power and bridal parties?
Nothing is better and sexier than a feminist burlesque dance. Here’s why…
UK comedian, Nadia Kamil does a perfect job of showing how awesome a feminist burlesque can be. Her routine is inspired by a Margaret Thatcher burlesque act, and thought she could one-up the Iron Lady and her patriot pubes. (By the way, doesn’t Kamil look like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon’s long lost British sister?) So next time you’re looking to book a bachelor or bachelorette party think about tracking down a feminist burlesque show, you will never regret it.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an important Nigerian novelist and gave an inspiring lecture at Tedx in 2013 called “We Should All Be Feminists.” It explores her own personal interactions and observations regarding gender in Nigeria. She shares her thoughts on these moments as they relate to feminism, power, equality and culture, but what was most powerful is how she described how gender roles in marriage often shape women and men’s equality. Here are some amazingly insightful quotes from the talk and some Feminist Bride reflections on them. I also strongly recommend watching the talk in its entirety too.
Most of us learn about wedding culture from our parents, peers, religion, businesses, media and pop culture. It’s very easy to feel like experts on the subjects since we’re inundated with lessons of how to buy the perfect wedding dress, get him to propose, what to say during the wedding ceremony, how to pick out a flawless diamond ring and how women can easily change their last name to his. When it comes to weddings and marriage, people have always been told what, when, where, how, but few ever think for themselves - ‘why?’
What it means to be a bridesmaid these days has run amuck. Once upon an ancient to Victorian time, a bridesmaid’s main job was to dress like the bride as a divergence to evil demons who wished to dispel bad luck on the bride (think how Pippa Middleton diverted everyone’s attention). Nowadays, the duties of a bridesmaid are endless. It includes being a shoulder to cry on, party planner, envelope licker, penis paraphernalia collector, moral compass, yes-woman, Mother of the Bride interference runner, 24/7 on-call support, mind reader, errand girl, attention giver and wine supplier at every occasion. And to boot bridesmaids get to buy their boss multiple presents, spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on travel and buy their own work uniform that they will wear once.
Happy Feminist Fashion Friday! You are about to discover the wonderful and edgy web-comedy, Modern Women by Chelsea Devantez and Emily Walker! Coming to us via The Second City Network, Chelsea and Emily navigate how complicated it is to dress whatever way you want – while not getting street harassed – while honoring that feminist class from college you took. Watch and enjoy!
Stop for a minute and ask yourself these questions: Do you have an egalitarian relationship? Are you on the path to achieve your career goals? Have you ever put your guy’s career before your own? And does he put forth as much effort as you in the home? Your honest answers, not your ideal ones, are important. (And for the record, no, this article is not about how to ride the coattails of your hubby, as if…)
A Harvard Business School study reports that both male and female HSB graduates, who believe in parity in the workforce and in relationships…don’t actually practice it. This is an incredibly important discrepancy because it negatively impacts women’s professional achievements, particularly in top management positions. That’s why answering honestly was so important, most of us believe we have egalitarian relationships, but per the study that’s not really the case.
Ladies, if your best friend is your brother, or that awkward college guy who naively explained that Beirut is a place, not a beer game, or your male coworker who loves afternoon Hot Pockets almost just as much as you and you’re getting married to…someone else, why not put that best friend in your wedding party?
Gentlemen, if your best friend is your sister, or cousin who encouraged you to embrace your affinity for knitting infinity scarves, or your former high school prom date who danced so awkwardly to House of Pain’s Jump Around that you found a platonic, kindred spirit and you are also marrying someone else? Then you, too, should feel free to put them in your wedding party.
I know that by saying I’d rather be a groomsman over a bridesmaid, it sounds like I’m confirming the old Freudian theory that feminism is nothing more than penis envy. Don’t worry Freud, this has nothing to do with penises or mommy issues. I’m merely trying to bring attention to that fact that the role and responsibility of being a bridesmaid has completely turned to the dark side. Bridesmaids used to enjoy the minimal involvement that groomsmen experience today. Nowadays the difference in the responsibilities of the two are a lot like the wage gap; both sexes enjoy the same status and title but bridesmaids are expected to do a hell of a lot more for the same job! I’m campaigning that bridesmaids and groomsmen responsibilities be on par with each other.
I winced when I heard Ms. Amal Alamuddin was changing her name to Mrs. George Clooney. She became yet another example of a women choosing for her identity to be represented by a man’s after marrying. Here’s how her decision, one shared by the majority of women, is vastly more complicated than it seems.
Tired of winking at people online? Starting to wonder why you’re friends with some people if their other friends are the duds they keep setting you up with? Finding yourself starring over to the kitchen, wondering what type of hors d’ oeuvres they’ll be serving after the wedding ceremony? Focused on your career, grad school or the number of dates you have lined up? Thinking you can have it all and NOT be married? Or are you just holding out for the perfect one and the perfect conditions?
On other non-bridal news… Earlier this year, comedian and actor, Louis CK took the SNL main stage. His opening monologue covered women’s vote, women in religion and how awful it is to name a t-shirt affectionately after the act of wife beating.
I’m happy that Louis CK took it upon himself to talk about real issues facing women like his daughters and me – and with humor. It is a funny and absurd observation that some people in this country are older than women’s ability to vote! But I’m confused at the feminist undertones of his SNL bit. Didn’t he tell The Daily Show, when discussing the Daniel Tosh’s controversial rape ‘joke,’ “[it’s] a fight between comedians and feminists, which are natural enemies, because stereotypically feminists can’t take a joke, and comedians…can’t take big criticism and are big pussies.
Princesses are yelling “Fuck No, I Won’t Let It Go!” when it comes to inequality. Nor should they! FCKH8.com, a “for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission” that focuses on anti-discrimination, is using f-bombs yielding princesses to talk about women’s inequality. Aside from the over the top acting, it sends a powerful message that shows how sexism affects women of all ages. I especially loved the ending when they talked about how gender roles hurt men too; and I fell over laughing when one princess was making it rain in the swear jar. They totally put it into perspective when the video asked, “What’s more offensive: a little girl saying ‘fuck’ or the evil fucking sexist ways society treats girls and women?”
Comedian Eliza Skinner has some wickedly awesome sage advice about how to tell the different between a sexy halloween costume and a slutty one. So as you ponder this year’s halloween costume, consider that it’s the women underneath that makes a difference and the person who calls her slutty – is probably going home alone on October 31st. #BanSlutoween
What if men had to go through the same hoops as women to get birth control? Check out this feminist role-reversal video that highlights what double standards women go through regarding medical insurance, pharmacy prescriptions policies and attitudes from men. I bet men would be upset too!
“Being a bridesmaid has always been a coveted spot for women. It’s right up there with the titular role of BFF. But what if I told you being called a bridesmaid was really the linguistic equivalent of frenemy? It’s hard to believe, but hear me out.”
Thank goodness for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the people at hitRECord for stepping up to the plate for feminism! JGL is one of those rare instances of men coming forward and identifying as a feminist. (Sorry ladies, there’s no real word on whether Ryan Gosling is an actual feminist. The Feminist Ryan Gosling memes were made as study notecards.)
Not only is JGL explaining why he thinks it’s just plain common sense as to why he’s a feminist and why the world needs it, he’s calling out others who feel like they don’t (#WhyIDon’tNeedFeminism). He also wants to encourage other feminists to come forward and share their ideas on the topic or any topic on their minds really.
hitRECords is a new type of production company that looks to connect thought-provocateurs, writers, artists, musicians or anyone else looking for a creative outlet to team up and create art! If I know feminists, I know we have a lot to say and we definitely love having conversations and collaborating with people on it. So watch the video below and find how you can get involved!
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.”
Taking your first steps as a child are a big deal, so are the ones you and your spouse take together as newlyweds. Who wouldn’t want to step off on the right foot into a lifetime of marital bliss? It’s not the actual steps one takes at the reception that matters (though knowing how to walk in high heels under layers of tulle is a feat unto itself); it’s how the Master of Ceremonies introduces the couple that makes a big difference.
Playboy, an unlikely ally in women’s quest to end street harassment, especially because they’ve made millions and millions off encouraging men to ogle at women, has done something wonderfully feminist. Hugh Hefner has even claimed we are living in a post-feminist world before, meaning that a chart like this shouldn’t even be necessary. But here we, feminists, are in agreement with Playboy’s work for once. Hell just froze over.
Playboy and graphic designer Shea Strauss have designed an excellent explanatory flowchart (click to see full chart) that answers when it’s okay to catcall a woman. In a sort of choose-your-own adventure game, guys can follow the line that represents his libido and male entitlement the best with options like, “Are you sexually frustrated?” if yes, proceed to “Yeah, I wanna yell sex stuff at people.” It eventually all flows down to “Nope, don’t do it,” and “Yeah, go for it.” There’s a real educative twist to help folks understand that the only case where it’s okay to catcall is when there’s mutual consent (and even then they make clear heckling is an equal opportunity for both sexes) and when it’s an actually kitty. For everyone other instance, it’s not cool.
This chart comes in the wake of other great devices to battle street harassment. There’s the bell Hooks hotline, which provides women a fake number to give to strangers who ask for it. The idea (unfortunately, this reasoning exists) is to safeguard women “because we’re [women] raised to know it’s safer to give a fake phone number than to directly reject an aggressive guy.”
There’s also the Cards Against Harassment, which are business cards that anyone can get and hand out to street harassers to explain how their actions negatively affect women. And Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art project, Stop Telling Women to Smile attempts to combat harassment directly on the streets too.
While this great flowchart doesn’t get Playboy out of the doghouse for its years of misogyny, objectification, exploitation and body issues, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
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.
Finally, there’s a solution for when you don’t want to give your phone number to creepy people, but don’t want to be rude either because as the bell Hooks hotline explains, “because we’re [women] raised to know it’s safer to give a fake phone number than to directly reject an aggressive guy.”
Feminist author bell Hooks has created the Feminist Phone Intervention Hotline for anyone to use when faced with the dating dilemma of giving out your phone number to a stranger. When you’re just not that into the suitor, you can just give them the phone number (669) 221-6251.
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!
Now Pantene has joined the list of for-profit companies that are creating ads that not only empower women but address some very real inherent issues in female culture. Joining GoldieBlox, Aunt Flo, Verizon and Always, Pantene is tackling women’s overuse of the phrase, “I’m sorry.” It’s pretty amazing to see how Sheryl Sandberg’s #BanBossy Campaign has filtered down into other areas. After all the controversy it received, it’s clear that a lot of important people at big women-focused companies were all change, which is why we’re seeing so many of these types of ads. I don’t know about you, but I hope to see many more and in MEN’S advertising too!
[Watch the video below!] While this Always ad is not about weddings, it’s important to think about how we treat and raise young girls – girls, who will ultimately grow up and get married. How they see their value as children will ultimately impact how they see their value, potential and contribution as grown women in relationships. I’m no psychologist, but it seems logical to assume that a person with healthy self esteem is more like to have healthy relationships.
When I started The Feminist Bride website, I would get two responses: an “oh boy!” with an eye roll because they were expecting a one-sided soap box conversation; and a “why are you bothering to get married then?” ignoring the fact that feminists, too, fall in love. I had even debated back and forth on whether to even use the “f” word as the blog’s namesake. Five years ago, the acceptance of the word was a lot more hostile.
Today, it seems the fire most people associate with feminism has warmed people up to it. According to Ms. Magazine, the number of women calling themselves feminists increased from 50 percent in 2006 to 68 percent in 2012. The New York Times came out with an article asking, Who Is a Feminist Now? looking at the change in attitudes (both ways) among celebrities.
In an Elle article, Amy Poehler, 42, said, “Some big actors and musicians feel like they have to speak to their audience and that word is confusing to their audience. But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, ‘I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.’ ”
I highly recommend reading the article. It’s both a great indicator of change and an embrace of the word, but also a sobering account of how much feminism also needs to be understood better still.
I may be biased because I was (and am still) obsessed with The Goonies and love Raising Hope, but I think Martha Plimpton, 43, said it best, “We’re going to have to insist on correcting bigotry as it happens, in real time. And fear of women’s equality, or the diminishment of it, is a kind of bigotry. I think it’s important to remove the stigma associated with women’s equality, and as such, yes, normalizing the word ‘feminist’ and making sure people know what it means is incredibly important, whether we’re talking to celebrities or anyone.”
As Plimpton revealed there’s still a lot of initial bias when people hear the “f” word, which means it definitely deserves a second consideration before being discarded. For the people out there still thinking about it, since embracing it whole-heartedly, feminism has really given me some amazing gumption and sense of self that I never knew I needed or already possessed. While I may actually be on that soapbox, it’s important for folks to know that I’ve got some awesome company up here, both men and women. And there’s plenty room for more friends. The work laid out ahead of us is hard, but the benefits are great and we want everyone to enjoy them.
To read more about feminism and linguistics:
New Yorker cartoonist, Liza Donnelly takes to the TEDWomen 2010 stage to talk about the power of humor. She shares her journey as a female cartoonist and breaking the glass ceiling in her field. (She joined the New Yorker in 1982, when she was only one of three women on staff). What’s most interesting to brides out there though, is how her humor works because it’s tied heavily to female culture and traditions.
During a medieval tradition called the bedding ceremony, the bride and groom were escorted by the groomsmen to the newlywed bedchamber. Since any piece of the bride’s garment was considered lucky with the garter as the crème de le crème, the men would subsequently scuffle with the bride to remove the garter. As a result, the bride started preemptively throwing it away. And thus the garter toss tradition was born because who doesn’t like a good ‘ole medieval groping?
Obviously, the garter is an erotic symbol, yet women throw asexual flowers. During the wedding game, brides shyly laugh and try to push the groom out of her undergarments, whereas the groom seeks the treasured garter using his sexual prowess. Imagine reversing the roles, with the bride sexually aggressive and tossing some tighty whities. Seems raunchy right? It’s a complete double standard to how men and women are allowed to treat sex, yet it’s accepted and practiced at nearly every wedding without a second thought.
Many a fair maiden has pranced around in a garter. It’s a fun, frilly piece of lace meant to be sexy and flirtatious. Other than Victoria Secret models, no one really wears them for functional reasons like holding up your pantyhose and knickers. It serves no practical purpose anymore; instead, promoting the notion that purity and virginity are present, but that the wearer has a friskier side. A perfect cat and mouse chase. Removable chastity.
There are creative possibilities to rethink the tradition more fairly and appropriately without abandoning the garter completely. Consider keeping it private and solely for the wedding night. Removing the garter can be quite the sensual act and will definitely be more fun to keep going without an audience waiting to dance the funky chicken. It could be relegated to a Jack and Jill party where guests will be close friends from the same generation who accept the sexuality of the garter removal and toss. Or for the couple who decides to keep the tradition, think about incorporating something equally sexual for the bride; say, removing her husband’s bow tie with her teeth – that would be talent – or if the couple is very bold, reverse the roles completely now that would be an evocative and witty message.
What a powerful presence, speaker and inspiration! Feminist Bride fact: As women’s access to education increases, they end up marrying later in life. This occurs because educated, professional women need marriage (or a husband) less as a means of support. Marriages to highly educated women are more likely to succeed because of their financial independence and more developed conflict resolution skills. Educating women is a no brainer!
Her book, I am Malala is available on Amazon.
For more awesome speeches from inspirational people and on marriage equality:
Struggling with planning a wedding? Being a bride today is not nearly as bad as it was 60 years ago! Jezebel offers some sobering and interesting insights into what weddings and wifedom were like back in the 1950s. The article explores Modern Brides‘ advice to young brides like on selecting an intelligent or a not so intelligent mate,
“The average man marries a woman who is slightly less intelligent than he is. That’s why many brilliant women never marry. They do not come in contact with sufficiently brilliant men, or fail to disguise their brilliance in order to win a man of somewhat less intelligence. College males tell us that they want a girl for a wife who is intelligent but makes them feel they are still more intelligent!”
If you find yourself agreeing with this antiquity mindset, you might want to loosen that equally outdated girdle you’re wearing. The next time you hear someone talking about how wedding and marriage tradition should be firmly adhered to and never changed to accommodate modern women and same-sex couples, just send them directly to the article to read more horrific advice. And if you’re still convinced there’s a nugget of good advice in there, here’s this hilariously offensive bit of marital insight:
“Is He an Agreeable Person—Or An ‘Individualist’”? The agreeable person tends to conform to the norms set by society. Particularly this is important in a girl. For example, she favors prohibition and opposes burlesque shows. She finds it easy to accept leadership when it is directed by ethical considerations. Not liking to be ‘different,’ she wants her marriage to meet community standards.“
As a kid the best part about Disney princesses was watching the sassy, beautiful princess go on an adventure, defeat the bad guys and fall in love. As a teenager, I loved collecting all my well used VHSs and searching for the hidden sex scenes (the only undeniable one was in The Little Mermaid, which probably only exists on the VHS version now). As an adult, I still enjoy Disney movies but, as a feminist, I need that bottle of wine as my spoon full of sugar to soften those misogynistic blows in technicolor. Graduate school and my romps in feminism hasn’t ruined Disney, but I swallowed that blue pill. I woke up to their sexist reality and Cinderella will just never be the same (which is why, unlike my childhood, I will probably raise the kids on Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Castle).
To be fair, Disney is slowly getting better. The last few Disney princess movies have not ended in marriage. This winter’s Frozen was probably the most progressive in implying that a women’s value is not in her amorous relationship. And it’s misunderstood villain, Elsa reiterates that neither do women have to sacrifice their interests or subdue their personality to get a man. (Though Frozen is not socially perfect, it was awfully white…and I’m not talking about the snow.)
If you’ve missed the gender evolution of Disney movies and were totally unaware that Belle had a verbally abusive relationship with the Beast or that the Cinderella and Snow White could only escape domestic drudgery if they married. Luckily, you can still enjoy the imaginativeness of Disney despite its magic spell being broken with the fun viral videos by the AV Byte Brothers that let’s women know, “Why keep on assuming men will save the day, I can be a hero, and do it my own way…I am fine the way I am, I don’t need a man.”
On this Valentine’s Day with great signs of affection, red roses and confectionary delights, many will declare their love to another. But what if lovers could do something more meaningful beyond the time-honored champagne and strawberries? Like admitting that the biggest misdeed in being partners in crime is that few couples are truly treated as equals and promising to correct that?
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.
In the saccharine land of rom coms, plots can be trite, characters undefined and sappy sweet endings all too predictable for most movie goers. And the worst part is that they are usually geared towards women. No one wants to watch the same movies with the same formulas. If you’re like me, you’ve been looking for something different, endearing and more in touch with reality.
That’s where Obvious Child (2014) comes in by writer and director, Gillian Robespierre. Unlike rom coms being about getting the boy or choosing love, Obvious Child is about what a woman chooses for herself – in this case, an abortion. It follows Brooklyn comedian Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for the worst/best Valentine’s Day of her life. The best part about the film’s description is that it focuses on the nature of the Donna’s choice and how after everything, she ends up all right.
Strong. Confident. And accurately informed. Hillary 2016. Need The Feminist Bride say more?
As a child of the 80s and 90s, all I wanted to do was build and engineer things with my Legos. People were nice enough to encourage this, but they insisted on only giving me pink Lego sets with dolphins and pink convertibles instead. As adults perhaps they thought they knew better than 8-year old me, who wanted the train or pirate sets they marketed to boys. Barbies held no interest for me, but I loved building the sets of houses where she lived. And I had to built it without instructions because that was more challenging. Once it was built, it sat there collecting dust. I was pro-princess however, but when I played princess she was the heroine and I was frequently rescuing others. I adapted to the gendered toys handed down to me, but I spent so much energy modifying them to fit something beyond their girlie-ness that I have to wonder if my creativity and personal development was limited by them.
That’s where GoldieBlox comes in. It’s a toy company that focuses on creating construction toys that develop an early interest in science, technology, engineering and math for girls. It was started because for over a hundred years, these types of toys have been limited to the boys club. One might argue that girls could easily just buy and use the same Erector Sets the boys use, but marketing has sent a clear message that those toys are more for boys than girls. And it’s had a profound effect on women in the sciences.
“Only one-fifth of physics Ph.D.’s in this country are awarded to women, and only about half of those women are American; of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14 percent are women.” (New York Times, October 2013, Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?) Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 actual engineers are women (Upworthy.com).
They are trying to get the message out on this discrepancy and get girls constructing! They’ve released an awesome ad, which they are vying to get into the Superbowl with. It will be a great break to see girls do something else than eat Doritos provacatively, wash cars in bikinis or drink cold bear in a push up bra. So if you want young viewers to see something with a positive message that’s not about sex and stereotypes, vote for GoldieBlox here!
It may be too late for me to reclaim my childhood filled with pink and princesses, but GoldieBlox and myself can at least make sure that the next generation of girls can be more than just damsels in distress!
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.
For my bachelorette party in Las Vegas, we participated in some typical bachelorette events. Some of us went to see The Thunder Down Under at the Excalibur and some instead went to go see…John Stewart. Whatever floats your sexy boat. Another night many of us went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. Here is my best way to describe Zumanity – half Vaudeville humor, half erotica show with the typical Cirque du Soleil acrobatics but with stripper poles. We all enjoyed the show, it was tastefully, well balanced between the love scenes, the star crossed lover story lines, the flying trapeze boobies and the sexy cheerleader who was twirled around by the grip of her teeth. However, we were most impressed with the pole dancing moves. They literally defied gravity.
Stonehill College was nice enough to invite me as the keynote speaker to a panel on gay marriage. As a Catholic school, it had just added anti-hazing based on one’s sexuality to its school charter; and given the recent US Supreme Court decision, same sex marriage was a hot topic on campus. I was joined by two professors one with a law background commenting on the recent US Supreme Court ruling and another who specialized in the gender issues and gay marriage. I decided to talk about choice feminism and how within a hetero framework, women who use the “freedom of choice” to justify patriarchal or socialized gender traditions perpetuate prejudice and discrimination in both sexual spheres. In my lecture, I asked that choice be made not just to the benefit of oneself, but keeping in mind the needs and welfare of others as choice is constraint by many systems, both seen and unseen, and therefore must be made wisely.
A special thanks to Stonehill College. The students and faculty were very welcoming, respectful and engaged; and I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas and research.
Breaking the Rules Panel. April 2013
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.