Is there a link between celebrating marriages and re-inforcing male privilege that leads to domestic violence?

Many in my community are terribly saddened by the loss of a young mum’s life at the hands of domestic violence. Two lives in Australia are lost every week as a partner violently harms the person they are supposed to care for the most.

I’ve been simmering on this thought for a while now and as mentioned in the post title, it’s a long bow to draw, but I think that outdated and sexist wedding traditions have an indirect link to domestic violence. This blog post ignores the medical and health side of domestic violence, if only because I’m not the expert there.

A man taking out his anger physically and violently on his partner must partially stem from an illness deep inside him, but it also carries a lot of male privilege. That guy has got to believe he almost has the right to hurt his wife or partner. That’s the kind of male privilege that our ancestors were used to. The kind of male privilege that our society has been fighting since the 14th century, and locally the movement has gained momentum through the 60s and onwards. Feminism, in my view, is merely about removing the privilege and balancing the decks so that regardless of gender we all have equal rights and responsibilities on a social level. With that said I see a tonne of male privelage in wedding tradition, and quite frankly: it’s got to stop. Not giving the bride away won’t stop domestic violence, but it will go a long way to re-inforcing the message that men and women are equals.

Here’s some wedding traditions that reinforce male privilege that I think we ought to throw out the back door:

Giving away the bride

There was a time where a bride quite literally had to be given away, she didn’t have the right to give herself into marriage, that was her father’s doing. There’s so much in this old tradition, even the groom waiting at the end as his bride is brought to him, and the father being asked to verbally confirm that he is totally ok with his female property/child marrying this guy. It all just screams male privilege and sexism.

You can make your own new tradition out of it, like it’s beautiful to honour your parents in the beginning moments of the ceremony, but let’s make it an equal thing.

Not seeing each other before the wedding

The origin of this tradition stems from the giving away of the bride, and the fact that the groom quite literally couldn’t see her because she was probably being torn away from the arms of her lover and being dragged across the country to marry some this strange guy who’s dad did a deal with her dad. Now there’s something beautiful about a stunning reveal, a big wow-wow at how hot someone is, but don’t religiously abstain from seeing your favourite human on the day you begin your marriage. I’d endorse even getting ready together like you would for any other important event in your life.

The cake

Who would have thought that cakes could be sexist?!?

But the wedding cake originates in the worst of male privilege, where as a symbol of how awesome men were and how submissive women were, the groom would smash a piece of food, generally a loaf of bread or a cake, over the brides head just to show how strong and powerful he was.

I love cake, don’t get me wrong, but the now traditional ‘cutting of the cake’ is a cleaner version of that.

What if we just had cake, and ate it, like normal good people?

Gender specific bridal parties

Do men only have men friends and women only female friends? The whole thing is weird. Even the idea that you have a group of friends, and they’re all coming to the wedding, but some friends you like more than the others so they get to buy an expensive dress or buy a matching suit. Just ditch the bridal party and acknowledge that everyone there is your bestie.

Bride’s side and groom’s side of the ceremony

It’s the 21st century now, let’s not do this. Full stop.

Bye bye sexism

I think a powerful way of enforcing strong families and strong communities is by celebrating the good things in those families and communities, and good marriages are at the heart of both of these. A good marriage is one where the two people in the marriage are equally joined in the union. There is no leader, there is no privilege, both the bride and groom, or bride and bride, or groom and groom, are joined together in marriage, a union.

It’s a long bow to draw, but I think eliminating sexist ways of beginning marriages is a powerful way of eradicating male privilege and hopefully as a flow-on effect, saying goodbye to domestic violence.