Marriage traditions inherently sexist

Current institution of marriage considers women inferior to men



Despite feministic movements bringing awareness to women’s rights, our society continues to fuel and pass off sexist wedding rituals as tradition. These traditions are inherently sexist, but our society ignores their historical significance and continues to use them today.

SAMANTHA RADCLIFFE, Evergreen columnist

Editor’s note: The columnist solely discusses traditional heterosexual marriage.

There is a worldwide consensus that one of the happiest days in someone’s life is tying the knot with a loved one.

Many of you, perhaps, already have your wedding planned out, even when you do not currently have a significant other. Some of my friends actually have scrapbooks of their wedding plans – and most of them have not even dated anyone yet!

Personally, I do not understand why Americans put so much emphasis on an inherently sexist traditions. It does not make any sense.

Josie Austin, sophomore elementary education major, said the continuing sexism of wedding traditions is based on a fear of change.

“Many people do not understand where these traditions originated from, hence why they are still in place today,” she said.

The wedding day is said to “belong to the woman,” but how can that be true when we continue to use sexist traditions that degrade women?

The traditional white dress, for example, is supposed to symbolize the woman’s virginity. Unlike men, women were considered dirty if they had sex before marriage, which is why the white dress was so significant back in the day.

So, my question is: in our contemporary society, where it is readily accepted to practice premarital sex, why are women still wearing white dresses to display their purity?

It does not matter if the bride is a virgin or had sex with 70 people, just like how the groom’s sex life does not matter. So, why is this inherently sexist tradition still in place today?

Kate Hellman, sophomore psychology major, said that most people do not even know about the historical significance of the white dress.

“Although the white dress originated from a horrible historical tradition of purity, I believe our society has altered the meaning of the white dress,” Hellman said. “Some people may think that it is a display of traditional Western values rather than a display of purity.”

The father walking the bride down the aisle and giving her away to the groom – a scene depicted in many romance movies – is utterly demeaning to women. The father’s presence hinders the bride’s independence, and he literally passes off his daughter like property. Women are not property; we are people!

Although Austin understood my reasoning regarding women being passed off as property, she had a different opinion on the matter.

“Personally, I believe that it is a beautiful tradition to show the audience the father’s approval by passing off his daughter to the groom,” Austin said. “It is also like the audience is holding the groom accountable for his promise to the bride and her father to love and cherish her ‘until death does them part.’”

The whole concept of needing the father’s approval diminishes the bride’s independence and voice. The bride does not need her father’s permission to marry someone.

Although I can understand why many people view it as a sign of respect to the father, she can marry whoever she wants because she is her own person and not a piece of property.

The minister, who is traditionally male, gives the groom permission to kiss the bride as if the woman does not have a voice of her own.

Brides are not silent snowflakes that need to wait for the minister to tell the groom to kiss her. She can kiss her soon-to-be husband if she wants to without the minister’s permission.

For the icing on the (sexist) cake, the bride adopts the groom’s last name, completely stripping her past identity and independence. If our society finally acknowledges women’s right to be independent, why do brides continue to give up their identity for the groom?

“At this point, regardless of whether the bride does adopt the groom’s last name, she will always be linked to a male – either their father or the groom,” Hellman said.

There are other inherently sexist marriage traditions, most transcending the marriage ceremony, but this column would be too long to publish if I named them all.

Nevertheless, I leave this column with a question for you: why does our society, especially women, emphasize the beauty of marriage? We, as a society, need to implement more traditions that are not inherently sexist, but what do those look like?