Enough of the bride-bashing!

This morning I found myself reading a blog on the Independent about a very ungrateful bride, who mocked a wedding guest for sending her a personal gift rather than money. Or rather, that’s how the blog started off. Following on from that particular tale of selfishness and greed readers were treated to first, a rather weak attempt at observational comedy (“why weddings are crap if you’re a guest” sort of thing) and second, a full-on sexist rant about the sheer horribleness of brides, or bridezillas, to give them their properly sexist name:

The mistake too many brides make is to think that their wedding is a gift to all those invited and therefore they deserve remuneration. Their addled brains think their finely-tuned bonanza of self-indulgence is every bit as meaningful and exciting for her guests as it is for herself. She forgets that most of those attending are only there because it would be rude not to turn up; that if they had the choice they would be in the pub or at home watching TV with a pizza; that the only real draw to the reception is the free food and booze and the chance to see old mates.

Oh, just sod off, Andy West, and take your difficult transitions from the third person plural to the third person singular with you. Yes, weddings can be a pain, but guess what? Brides are not wholly responsible for all of the materialistic, trivial-yet-high-pressure expectations that surround them. Bride-bashing might seem like a bit of fun but in a pink-blue world where little girls are still encouraged to hold out for taffeta and handsome princes it’s not fair to then castigate them for vanity and self-indulgence. They’re trying to do what’s expected, even though they’re damned either way.

It’s perfectly possible not to buy into wedding culture. I didn’t. I got married in an H&M maternity dress and had cheese and pineapple pizza in the street for my wedding breakfast before going back home on the bus. This wasn’t, however, some great anti-capitalist statement, some showily “alternative” way of doing things. It was just how we wanted to do things and it was lovely. Even so, that’s no reason to attack those who go for a more traditional approach. The sexist double-bind that women find themselves in – mocked for aspiring to be the very things they’re told they should want to be – really isn’t fair.

Our attitude towards men getting married is very different – despite the fact that they too might require all this fuss and they too get to keep the presents. In heterosexual marriages, the man is viewed with a kind of admiring pity. He’s done the decent thing, made an honest woman of her, bowed out of all those amazing, fun, action-packed bachelor things he’d otherwise be doing . Meanwhile a bride who follows the script is patronized, as though while her husband may understand the magnitude of being tied down, she’s just in it for the dress. There’s no recognition of the element of play-acting behind it all. It’s as though we really believe brides are frivolous, unthinking idiots in need of being looked after, at least for one day of the year. There’s no acknowledgement of the way in which women – always having to choose between Ms, Miss or Mrs, always being judged by whichever they go for – are constantly forced to tread a difficult path as far as marriage is concerned. In so many social environments cooing over a white dress is just expected, while refusing to play at being desperate to catch the bouquet is considered rude. You think she’s fussy? Maybe she’s just trying to be polite.

I don’t know whether it should be surprising that the highest rated comment following West’s piece is this:

Always ignore the greedy cows and get the man a PS3 or an air rifle. Makes great viewing come present opening times.

To be honest, I’d quite like a PS3 but I’d hate to be mocked for conforming to the mocker’s own hackneyed idea of “femaleness”. Thus on balance, much as I’m against violence, in this one instance maybe I’d prefer the rifle.


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