I recently read an article written by a young woman who argued that all women should refrain from marrying any man who would ask their father for her hand in marriage before asking her.
As far as the author is concerned, this is a sexist affront performed by a man who sees the woman he’s with as little more than property, which is one of the corniest relationship takes I’ve ever heard in my entire adult life.
First off, I have to seriously question the alertness of any woman who can’t identify the conventional sexism of her significant other until the day he asks for her hand in marriage. In today’s modern relationship scene—where most couples are likely to date for years before getting engaged—how in the hell would a woman miss her man’s rampant, old-school misogyny for so long if he truly viewed her as property? But aside from that point, the reason her advice is so incredibly corny is because it’s predicated on the practice of half-assed neo-feminism.
While I have the utmost respect for cogent, historically qualified and profound feminist thought, there’s far too many women wading into these relationship conversations with culturally strict and myopic outlooks on what constitutes appreciation as well as disrespect. The logic is rooted less in serious feminist thought and more so on an à la carte gender ideology. Instead of saying that one aspect of a traditional process is rooted in sexist thought, don’t stop there and call out the entire institution for what it is. While you pride yourself on not being “objectified” by your spouse asking your father for your hand in marriage, please make sure to also pride yourself on telling your father that he won’t be allowed to walk you down the aisle at your wedding because “giving you away” is little more than an ode to sexist hierarchical religious views.
Be sure to exult your abandonment of wearing a white dress, conducting a bouquet toss, having a garter toss, being carried over the threshold, or even wearing a ring. Hell, if you’re really about that life, just scrap the marriage altogether. At least then you’d be upholding your view of traditional marriage entanglements as highly objectionable.
The truth is that many women like her won’t do that. Not necessarily because they are outright hypocrites, but rather because they have simply redefined classic marriage traditions to fit their modern taste and desires. Our generation doesn’t celebrate weddings with the same devotion to it’s old-school intent, just like we don’t celebrate Christmas today with it’s old hat origins in mind either.
So the reality for some men is that they ask their potential future father-in-laws for their daughter’s hand in marriage not because they view her as property, but rather because some young men are taught that it’s a condition of being polite, thoughtful and behaving like a gentleman. He’s not saying, “Aye, lend me the keys to your daughter right quick so I can drive it around.” He’s mostly asking for a man’s blessing, not his permission and doing it in a manner that shows deference and respect.
Look, modern day marriage ceremonies are essentially celebrations of our own appropriations of traditional weddings. From the outfits, to the rings, to the best man and the maid of honor, most of us merely use these things as a nod to tradition, not a slavish devotion to it’s ancient origins. So if you want to extol the virtues of your feminism as it relates to Western societal norms, that’s all good. But you might want to have an open conversation with your dude about that before you relegate him to “f*** boy status” simply for honoring the one part of the entire tradition that you don’t like.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.