Dowry

Suffering from The Bridal Shower Blues?

Of all the traditions associated with weddings, bridal showers might be one of the most obsolete traditions remaining. While there’s hope with the new trend of “Jack and Jill” showers (both sexes), it remains narcissistically sexist, greedy, outdated, and well, cheesy.

Should You Get Married If You Have Debt?

wedding-debtDebating between getting married or paying off your debt can be extremely difficult. The little financial advisor that magically appears on your shoulder will insist, “Don’t do it! Be fiscally responsible so you can properly take care of your beloved,” but the idealistic mini-bride or groom on your other shoulder will say, “Follow your heart! People get married so they can take care of each other.” While it feels better to give into matters of the heart, being money-wise is critical to a healthy relationship too; after all, money woes are the number one cause of divorce. So to live happily ever after, what’s a cash-strapped lover to do?

Jewelry that Empowers Survivors of Human Trafficking

Free Bird BraceletsFor this Feminist Fashion Friday, take a moment to think about the jewelry you are wearing right now – who made it? By buying it, did it help someone in need or make the world a better place? Here at The Feminist Bride jewelry often comes under scrutiny due to the wedding industrial complex or how it can sometimes negatively affect gender equality; but sometimes there’s jewelry that creates positive social welfare and makes an amazing difference in the lives of women and their families. Relevée jewelry does just that, and we love socially conscious options for weddings. Founder and Executive Director of Made by Survivors, Sarah Symons explains how Relevée jewelry is made not only by women but specifically helps survivors of human trafficking in South Asia. So if you need to buy your best ladies, your bride, your mother of the bride/groom, your local mailwoman or just a friend a gift consider Relevée jewelry first. Here’s more on how amazing and socially minded it is.

Show Me the Money! Wedding Traditions without the Wage Gap

When it comes to banking on the perfect wedding no one wants to feel like what business woman with lots of moneythey’re doing is perpetuating wage inequality. Sadly, The Feminist Bride calculated that there are, in fact, wedding traditions that sprung directly from the wage gap and people’s historical lack of faith in women’s economic earning power. Rather than spend your time in traditions that are a bad investment, let’s financially reform them.

The Wage Gap in Wedding Traditions? Say It Ain’t So…

It’s hard to believe wedding traditions could be tied to something so nasty as the wage gap. wedding_moneyThat sparkly diamond is supposed to make you feel like a perfect bride under all those layers of satin and waterproof makeup. How could bringing home less than your fair share from the workplace possibly play into the happy tidings of your wedding day? Sadly, it’s totally true. (This is why we also have to write advice like How to Stay Sane While Planning A Wedding.)

Creating Social Good with Your Wedding Registry

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Image: KIVA. In this Group: Saraswati, Tikeswar, Sapuri, Manorama, Ketaki, Upasi, Sumanti, Jamuna, Sumitra

Feeling like a traditional gift registry is an egregious imposition to ask for more stuff that you already have? Or an archaic gendered tradition? Suspicious that asking for money as a gift throws every etiquette book into a blazing book burning fire? Here’s an option that gives the newlyweds tremendous good karma  - consider a micro finance registry. The beauty of having guests contribute to micro finance loan account is that it generously gives to those in more immediate need and then eventually the newlyweds when their the ones in need. To read more about this idea, check out The Feminist Bride article on Green Bride Guide

Why there’s much more to the Nigerian girls’ kidnapping

Hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped in a school raid in Nigeria on April 14, 2014. 140502173752-lead-dnt-tapper-social-media-campaign-kidnapped-nigerian-schoolgirls-00012525-story-topThe kidnappers are from the Islamist group Boko Haram, which means, “Western education is sinful.”  Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been unable to retrieve the girls and he is seeking internationally assistance.

US Secretary of State John Kerry promised help. “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice,” Kerry said from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The international community is right to respond cooperatively, but what about addressing why the girls were kidnapped in the first place?

Women’s Wage Affects Their Happily Ever After

Brides, what you’re paid will affect your new family’s quality of life. If you want that happily ever after after that perfect wedding, it’s best that you put equal pay on your wedding registry.

Four in ten women are the sole or primary breadwinners in their family. While that sounds like great news, women overall still earn less, which means that even that female breadwinner (and her family) are financially disadvantaged in the larger picture.

Signs of Wage Gap in Your Wedding

Did you know that the wage gap has influenced a lot of wedding traditions? Unknown-1When it comes to the things that anyone but the bride pays for like an engagement ring (groom), paying on a date (the guy), the honeymoon (traditionally the groom) or most the wedding (the bride’s family) it’s all a function of women’s wage gap. It stemmed from when they weren’t even allowed to have careers, which meant they had no income for life’s events. Even traditions where money is not involved like the groom asking the bride’s parent’s permission to marry, walking the bride down the aisle and carrying the bride over the threshold all stem from asset issues. As in a women’s only asset was herself and her fertile uterus, which is why those are traditions of exchange (just a different type of currency, because, again, she didn’t have the monetary type).

When thinking about the wage gap and all the debate over it this week, consider how it might affect other areas not just your direct deposit into your bank account. If you’d like to learn more about where women stand in terms of matching men’s earrings, watch the video below. Just remember next time you find yourself with a cumbersome and annoying amount of pennies – every cent counts.

Iraq Moving To Legalize Child Marriage

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:

  1. Legalize marital rape
  2. Grant men the authority to marry girls as young as age ninePhoto Courtesy: (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
  3. Prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims
  4. Require wives to submit to sex on their husband’s whim
  5. Prevent women from leaving the house without the permission of their husbands
  6. Give automatic custody in divorce cases to fathers.
  7. Only father have the right to accept or refuse a marriage proposal
  8. Discontinues temporary marriages for sexual pleasure (called zawaj al-misyar or “traveller’s marriages”)

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:

  • In developing countries, more than 60 million women aged 20-24 were married/in union before the age of 18. Over thirty-one million of them live in South Asia (UNICEF estimates based on MICS, DHS, and other national surveys, 1987-2006).
  • In countries like Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Niger more than 60 per cent of women entered into marriage or into a union before their eighteenth birthdays (MICS, DHS, and other national surveys, 1987-2006).
  • Girls living in the poorest 20 per cent of households are more likely to get married at an early age than those living in the wealthiest 20 per cent. In Peru 45 per cent of women were married by age 18 among the poorest 20 per cent, compared to 5 per cent among the richest 20 per cent (UNICEF estimates based on DHS 2000).
  • Women with primary education are significantly less likely to be married/in union as children than those who received no education. In Zimbabwe, 48 per cent of women who had attended primary school had been married by the age of 18, compared to 87 per cent of those who had not attended school (UNICEF estimates based on DHS 1999).

To read more about global child bride issues:

The Young and the Betrothed – Child Brides

15 Year Old Afghan Bride Beaten for Refusing to Enter Prostitution by In-Laws

Acid Throwing and Forced Marriage Now Illegal in Pakistan

Information originally appeared in: Iraq Wants To Legalize Child Marriage – The Daily Beast.

 

Malala Yousafzai on Empowering Women through Education

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:

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13-Year-Old Speaks on Marriage Equality at Bar Mitzvah

One of the Best Speeches Championing Marriage Equality

Speech! Speech! The History of the Wedding Toast

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Shares How Gov’t Shutdown Affects Women

Zach Wahls Speaking on Marriage Equality in Iowa

 

FB TV Review: My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding

2 Fem Rating SMMy Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding (TV – 2012) – Child brides, High School drop outs, first cousin incest, virgin brides, extreme consumerism, fashion nightmares, arranged marriages – TLC reveals that all of this is happening in America’s backyard. TLC dives into yet another cultural minority’s hidden and secret world, this time with Romanichal Gypsies. Given TLC’s penchant for supporting the Wedding Industrial Complex with their other wedding shows, one might expect this to be in line with the rest (and seems to be racing to become the next Jersey Shore).  It does manage to raise the occasional eye on the double standards between the sexes. Girls are restricted to the home, married off at 16 (ish), and are only expected to become mothers and housewives; the men are the breadwinners. Girls on their wedding day must be virgins (many have not even kissed a boy, let alone know their groom well) or else are labeled unfit to be someone’s wife. (It even shared the story of a same-sex wedding, a big taboo in Romanical culture and TLC.)

And the show is not shy about highlighting the tawdry fashion of the community. It often relies on the fashion designer, Sondra Celli to explain the bride’s culture and fashion choices. While the massive, plantation-style wedding gowns run upwards of $10,000 and run amuck with Swarovski Crystals, the day-to-day dress of a Romney is very provactive. Why the Romani lifestyle is quite anti-feminist, they do have feminist fashion leanings. The women in the show often struggle with being called sluts by “gorgers” (non-travellers) for their attire and seductive dancing given that a Romani woman’s innocence is extremely protected and cherished by her family and community. They struggle constantly with discrimination and judgment being placed on them by outsiders, period. Though the show heros even admit part of the sexy outfits is to attract a mate…

The heros of the show describe their culture as extremely family driven, they carry a strong pride within it and are firmly dedicated to keeping the community alive through new generations and upholding traditions – no matter how outlandish they are. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is an odd mash up of respectable values, trashy TV, feminist and anti-feminist rhetoric, media exploitation, big personalities and lots and lots of tulle. It’s sort of a train wreck; and it’s impossible to look away.

Is The Prenup Passé?

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.



Wedding Planning: Motivating the Mister

What’s a bride to do when faced with an unmotivated fiancé? First, both bride and groom must understand a wedding is not a “girlie” event. Wedding “How-to” books and magazines pressure us into various pretty accoutrements because their objective is to sell. If getting Joe to jump on board between a floral or candlelit centerpiece is the equivalent of pulling teeth, perhaps forcing an opinion is the wrong strategy. Teamwork and motivation is better accomplished when a task has a shared commonality, find something that perks your fiancés interest and learn to accept that orchids or other conventional décor might not. Wedding design, like marriage, is about compromise.

Wedding culture encourages women to plan their wedding from early childhood. Joe probably hasn’t. Before the bride’s preconceived ideas can dominate wedding choices, let the groom have enough time to catch up and formulate his own. My fiancé also revealed that with a bride’s prefabricated wedding ideas, it’s sometimes easier to accept her idea than him accidentally offering an unpopular one. A wedding day will be more special if the groom feels comfortable with sharing and respected for his opinions.  A bride might insist on pink, a groom on using the Steelers’ colors; but mutual agreement on something like a color scheme will encourage team ownership instead of individual isolation.

When it comes to inspiring a reluctant groom to help plan a wedding, it is important to understand his perspective. More importantly, a bride must manage her own expectations of how the whole planning process and choice selections should go down – abandon the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. Magazines and industry marketing have spoon fed women ideas on “how” wedding planning should occur, but these are tools that perpetuate sexist divisions and prevent teamwork. Abandon the notion that a wedding is more for the bride than it is for the groom. Whether a bride and groom decide to release doves or fireworks or walk down the aisle to Kiss or Bach’s Canon in D, a team effort will eradicate the existing sexism in planning a wedding and a partnership will prevail.

Are Diamond Engagement Rings Really Worth It?

Ever stop to think about whether or not to say yes to that diamond engagement ring? I’m not talking about saying yes or no to the person doing the asking, I’m talking about the actual diamond ring! We put so much emphasis on the rock that sparks the start of two people’s lifetime commitment to each other – carat, cost, clarity and cut, that have we really stopped to think about if it’s an icon worthy of representing our love for another?

Understanding the Past, Present and Future of Marriage

This is my most recent lecture at the Tufts University GSC Research Symposium. It was me and a bunch of Ph.D. candidates lecturing on mostly science, but alas my speciality is in marriage culture. Here’s a breakdown of how marriage’s past, present and future effect our quality of life. It’s an interesting overview about how our time-honored traditions are totally irrelevant to Western lifestyles, which in itself makes a case for why it’s really important we respectfully modernize them! Enjoy.

15 Year Old Afghan Bride Beaten for Refusing to Enter Prostitution by In-Laws

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.

FB Movie Review: The Buccaneers

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

Acid Throwing and Forced Marriage Now Illegal in Pakistan

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. 

Religion and Marriage

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.

The Young and the Betrothed – Child Brides

While many of us fret over unimportant issues related to our own weddings or believe that our freedom of choice on how to marry is a sign of progress, we must remind ourselves that equality and humanity in marriage is seldom enjoyed in other parts of the world. From the denial of gay marriage to the following issue of child bride, we must remember that  many existing forms of marriage violate basic human rights. It is up to us who are privileged enough to enjoy healthier forms of marriage to not turn our backs on those who still need help.

Could You Have A “Naked Marriage?”

Before you start getting all shy and reserved, this is not about a nudist colony wedding. A “naked marriage” is a new Chinese term to describe newlyweds who forego all the consumerist, expensive tradition of a typical Chinese wedding. Do you think you can strip away all the wedding traditions that require you buy a dress, rings, a lavish ceremony and just marry on your merits of love?

Meaning of “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

“Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

Ever wonder what this rhythmic superstition meant? While no bride should ever feel the need to be superstitious on her big day, these bridal superstitions where there to add a little extra karma to the special day. Bottom line is though, feminist brides don’t need superstition to ward off bad juju or collect extra luck; you’ve thought long and hard and just know in the pit of your stomach you’re making the right choice to marry and who you marry. Nonetheless here’s the background on this little ditty.

Feminist Bride Movie Review: Dangerous Beauty

Dangerous Beauty (1998) – Based on the 16th century true story of Veronica Franco who falls in love but can’t marry the object of her affections due to a lack of a dowry. With no marriage prospects, she’s faced with the decision to either enter the convent or become a courtesan. She chooses the life that provides her access to education, independence and the power of expression and articulation, as opposed to the cloister or wifehood which forbids women an education, basic intellectual rights and keeps them as subordinate creatures. Her beauty and smarts win over the hearts (and beds) of most of Venice’s aristocrats, but after Venice faces war and then the plague she is accused of witchery and causing the downfall of Venice. 

Wedding Contract by Males and Dowry Dispute Leaves Bride in Poverty

Yes, Virginia [Woolf] dowries so still exist! The writer who insisted women must have their own income would be upset about this law decision and the culture leading up to it in all capacities. Our Canadian neighbor’s B.C. Supreme Court turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Seems that the dowry and sharia were contracted by the bride’s uncle, leaving her to live in poverty after her divorce.