I’ve never been one for tradition.
Call me nuts, but I’ve always liked to know why I’m doing the things that I do. Maybe it’s my naturally inquisitive nature or my “youngest child of four” sensibilities where I feel inclined to rebel against just about everything set out before me, but I’m not ready to chock it up to just my personality.
See, I don’t think that it’s too much to question these institutions that people invest a disturbing amount of time and effort into. Then again, you know me, I’ve always been a bit of a free thinker… but seriously, there are certain events that are entirely worked around these archaic ideas and superstitions that I can’t quite wrap my head around.
The event that I’m thinking of, or at least the one that has some of the most prevalent superstitions, would be the traditional wedding. Now, considering I’ve never been a champion of marriage and I’ve never much cared for its traditions, I’m gonna do my best to make som e sense of it, but it’s not an easy thing to do.
Now, I understand some of the traditions are cultural and as such, they come from a long history of being perpetuated decade after decade. For instance, wearing a white wedding dress. White symbolizes purity and innocence and basically re-assures the audience that “it’s cool, guys, tonight’s gonna be a mess because this poor girl is still a virgin.” Now, call me a cynic, but how many women does that apply to these days? How many wear white in order to play along with the game, but secretly feel the shame that they’re wearing one of the most elaborate and expensive lies they’ll ever come across in their lives?
Personally, I have an issue with any traditions that stems from America’s Puritanical roots. Whether inadvertently or on purpose, this reinforces this idea that women should remain chaste so that the first experience of marital bliss is one of pain and awkward discomfort. Seriously, think about it, folks, has anyone described their first time as good sex? Sure, they may say it was more meaningful because it was with someone they loved, but you’ll notice a clever absence of the word “good” when talking about the act itself.
But the thing that always gets me is that the superstition doesn’t stop with the bridal party. It’s like a contagion, spreading throughout the entire reception. In one of the most bizarre, and arguably brutal, bridal traditions, the bride pits her friends and casual acquaintances (Donna from HR honestly didn’t think she was gonna get invited if she hadn’t overheard about it in the break room, did she?) against each other for a bunch of flowers. Now, I guess I can make sense of why the flowers would have particular significance for the bride herself, or even some of her closer friends as reminders of the beautiful day, but to actually fool women into thinking that these flowers mean anything? I can tell you now that flowers don’t get you married. On the rare occasion, flowers will get a guy laid, but that’s about the extent of their magical powers. You still have to work to find a guy, make a relationship work, and a thousand other things before marriage even becomes a viable option, so ladies, you can fight over those flowers all you want, but that’s not gonna change a damn thing.
They say that the Devil’s greatest trick was to convince the world that he did not exist. The wedding industry has somehow managed to one up the devil with an array of beautiful smelling bouquets and back issues of Modern Bride. Somehow, we’ve convinced women that this is what women should want. For women that do want this, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t. I’m a firm believer in “live and let live” and if this is your scene, that’s totally cool. I just find it a little disturbing how these bizarre traditions became such a central part of, supposedly, the most important day of a woman’s life. The construction of these ideals has been years in the making, so I don’t expect it to change anytime soon, but questioning them is a solid first step.