A now-deleted post (that you can still see in Google’s archives) by blogger Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review has been weighing heavily on my mind. Entitled “You’ve Never Met a Bridezilla Like a Feminist Bridezilla,” the post is little more than an excerpt from a post by blogger Jessica Valenti of Feministing. Valenti, you see, is getting married. She also identifies as a feminist. While Lopez’s post doesn’t include any outright insults directed toward Valenti, the title implies that there is something unusual and perhaps even a little icky about the thoughtful way Valenti is approaching matrimony.
What, I have to wonder, is wrong with carefully considering whether or not to take the name of one’s partner… with thinking about the plight of those who cannot at this time get legally married… or with delving into the origins of established wedding traditions? My take is that the answer is nothing. Nothing is wrong with planning an examined wedding, and anyone who is threatened by another woman’s choice to plan just such a wedding probably has a pretty big chip on her shoulder.
What it comes down to, in my mind, is this: Not taking a partner’s last name isn’t automatically a feminist decision any more than taking a partner’s last name indicates that you’re a slave to the patriarchy. The same goes for wearing a white wedding gown, tossing the bouquet, including gendered words in your wedding vows, and being walked down the aisle by daddy. The reasons people do or don’t do these things go waaaay beyond “I’m rebelling against socially-sanctioned gender inequality” or “I’m a woman, so this is what I have to do.”
The feminist wedding is basically the examined wedding, which is what most brides and grooms really ought to be planning whether they identify as feminists or not. Sometimes the choices they make will adhere to the tenets of feminism (making it an uppercase Feminist Wedding), and sometimes they won’t, but to imply that Jessica Valenti is a ‘feminist bridezilla’ because she’s exploring all her options is patently absurd.