These days, the bridal bouquet toss is as popular as Beanie Babies. There’s a mildly fond recollection of the pastime, but no one really wants to play with them anymore. Maybe the reason why is that somehow despite the “me” generation clamoring for attention online, clamoring for a bunch of flowers in front of family and friends is just not cool? Or maybe it’s also not cool to pressure people into marriage anymore (if it ever was)? Then again, maybe it’s because the floral game is a sexual double standard compared to the erotic garter toss? Or maybe it has something to do with identifying all the single ladies in the room and playing a game that implies being single is bad and undesirable? I’m gonna go with D. All of the Above.
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.
For decades adults have been traversing the perils of walking home the morning after a hook up with their makeup smeared, hair disheveled in what is classically known as The Walk of Shame. Yet, Amber Rose is taking to the streets in her clothes from last night to declare that The Walk of Shame is no more! Amber Rose with the help of Funny or Die explores what it would be like if people didn’t shame those for enjoying sex and high fived those who got their socks rocked. In their eyes, if you’re walking The Walk of Fame you’re “living your best life!”
Everyone’s favorite breakfast shop and jeweler, Tiffany & Co. has just released a new engagement ring ad, “Will you?” featuring a real life same-sex couple. Like an engagement, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate when a company diversifies its ad campaigns to include more than just white heterosexuals. J. Crew, The Gap, JC Penny and Ray-Ban are just a few of the companies that are starting to cater to the LGBT market. However, before we pop that champagne there’s still plenty to consider.
It’s a night that strikes fear into the hearts of many a young lover – where fiancés disappear in the night to sow wild oats; where irresistible strippers spread their legs for the almighty dollar; where “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is more than just a motto, it’s a credo; and where the ability to remember the night’s events is worn either as a medal of honor or as a sign of disgrace.
The event itself has historically been the man’s day, yet women are now taking part as well. Some women dare to rival the debauchery of bachelor parties, but many also insist upon propriety and decorum above this one “get-out-of-jail free” card. No matter your taste in parties, it’s important to make sure the party is a representation of your ideals – not what other people think a bachelorette party should entail or how a woman should act.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe this momentous night is about saying goodbye to singlehood. Whether you’re the bride with the “suck-for-a-buck” t-shirt, or want to form a sewing circle, a bachelorette party is more about bonding with friends – of all genders. Traditionally, this is a same-sex party, and while I’m all for ladies’ nights, women keep anatomically dissimilar friends these days. So invite your guy friends! There is no rulebook that says a bachelorette party has to be ”just the girls.”
We’ve all seen the trend where opposite-sex friendships dissolve because a significant other felt threatened, or that eventually the lady felt like the male friendship was inappropriate, whether it really was or not. What does it say about a relationship that limits with whom you can be friends? If you value a friendship of the opposite sex, it’s important to honor it, and if your partner values you, then he should respect these friendships as well. It’s a powerful testament to see brides make a man a bridesmaid, and vice versa. A relationship is stronger when a partner can accept friends of all shapes, sizes and anatomy.
As my friends and I brainstormed on my own party, we stopped to consider the girls in relationships – would their boyfriends and husbands approve of a bachelorette trip…to Vegas? We quickly noted the folly of this thought process – we considered ourselves progressive women, yet even we have been conditioned to look to our men for approval. Yes, it’s respectful to share information about the event, but we women have autonomy to make decisions, exercise that right, even if they are unpopular ones. So chose Vegas or whatever type of event that makes the night a happy one for yourself.
There are double standards when it comes to the party scene as well. Though equal opportunity partying is expected, it is still common for partners to be manipulated into thinking that if one partner abstains (for example, from seeing a stripper), the other should be held to the same standard. The desire to party hardy and see a stripper does not by default mean a partner is straying from the relationship (there’s a no touch policy in the strip joints anyway). Sayonara-singlehood parties do have a bad reputation, but a relationship falters not because of the nature of the party, but because of deeper, rooted issues in the relationship. If trust cannot be shown even in the brief presence of a stripper or just amongst friends, how can it ever be earned before you get to the altar?
Having experienced a bachelorette party or two already, I was constantly dismayed at how most women treated this opportunity. Most wanted to go to the beach and read – no alcohol, no scantily clad men, no penis pops or disastrous costumes only suitable for Halloween parties – not because it’s what they wanted, but because of a belief that this type of behavior was unbecoming and inappropriate since they were soon to be someone’s wife. In asking these ladies the reasons behind their choices, they simply explained, “those days are over for me.” These ladies, who in college did keg stands, flashed their assets and spent many a night praying to the porcelain god, could not let their hair down for one night. It is perfectly fine to move past college nights of drunken debaucheries – BUT – there’s no need to assume sainthood just because we’re putting a ring on our fingers. Neither extreme is a fair representation of who we are or who we will be, because the truth of the matter is once we do marry, we’re still the same girls who ran naked through the quad freshman year. History does not have to repeat itself, but we also don’t have to abandon it either. Your partner loves you for who you are now, not who you will become. Don’t change and compromise yourself because you think you have to as a wife.
The truth is there is no such thing as a “last hurrah.” We said goodbye to singlehood the moment we stepped into a monogamous relationship. A bachelor/bachelorette party is not a chance to experience singlehood for “one last time” – it’s a chance for camaraderie with your closest friends, to laugh, to relax. These parties are harmless, but when more power is given to its stereotypes over trust in a long-term relationship, it’s a sign of weaknesses in the relationship. If these issues come to light, it is my hope that the partner has enough confidence to reassess the relationship, or at least address the real issue at hand. If there is real trust and each partner understands the true reasons behind hosting a bachelor/bachelorette, which is friendship, then there should be no limitations in the style of a bachelorette party. We should be free to be ourselves amongst our friends, men and women alike – be it a night full of shots or a relaxing day at the spa.
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.
The ritual is a Freudian performance both caring and nurturing but sexual and intimate. What happens when you take the ritual out of context, put it in an informal settings and practice it with strangers? To better understand the art performance, watch Part 4: The Cutting of the Cake from the lecture.
An art performance of the ‘cutting of the cake’ wedding ritual following the Tufts University Women’s Center 2011 Symposium lecture, “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake,” by Katrina Majkut founder of TheFeministBride.com.
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.