Something old, something new, something outdated that we just don’t do…

Rebecca Johnson

The practice of marriage in our society is as old and engrained in our minds as the Golden Rule, yet as coherent as a theory by L. Ron Hubbard.

What we do know is that marriage isa right of passage in our society, and that your mother would probably like grandchildren someday. But if someone asked you to explain why cakes are tiered at weddings, or why we have bridesmaids, then I can guarantee your answer would be something like “because that’s the way it’s done!” There are few things we know for certain and true, and whenever I know I don’t know, I ask Descartes.

“For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance.”
― René DescartesDiscourse on Method

To not question why things are the way they are is dangerous for society. It allows people to act the way “we always have” and that can cause social uproar. People change, and for the most part our values have changed for the better. The practice of marriage is outdated and has never received the modern moral make-over that it so desperately needs.  

I’m definitely going out on a ledge here, but taking into consideration that our nation was founded on Quaker principles that may be a bit outdated, I would like to analyze the position of conformity we are socially suggested to partake in. America, historically, has been prone to objectify women. Between the witch trials, women’s suffrage (where’s our female president?), the 1950’s housewife and everyday inequality, women have been classically screwed over. So here’s to love and getting down and dirty with this idea of a new beginning:

1. Wearing white

In a society before manufactured textiles, fur was often worn for the dress, so it wouldn’t be until the turn of the 19th century that women would start to wear white dresses. Of course we have kept the dress as the garment of choice because women weren’t allowed to wear pants. It just happens to be that we still see the dress as the most formal attire for females, unless if it is in a gay marriage were you might see one of the couple in pants.

Once white was more widely worn, it would become a symbol of purity. Bringing me to our first thinking point. In a day where women have more freedom it is a bit foolish to widely recognize this as the color of choice. Rarely now would I say that we are all “pure,” when we get married. And what of the man? Where is his symbol of purity, patience and faithfulness? Can the guy just be a whore while the woman is scorned? It does seem a bit dogmatic for women to be the only one to show they fulfilled their “duty” to their husband. We should be thankful that we don’t have to wear white anymore, it is almost a symbol of a more ignorant time. However nice and clean white looks, it is liberating to understand the reason behind why we make the choices we do socially.

2. The veil

This is not as common as it use to be, but that is probably because women are not an acceptable form of compensation.

“I will trade you two donkeys for my youngest daughter.”

The veil symbolizes the groom taking possession of his belongings, or wife as we may know it. It was seen as a gift, lifting the veil was revealing the treasures for the groom.

So, thus far we know that the women is a virgin and a gift. So what do we get in return? Pregnant? That’s not good enough for me yet.

The veil showed off the bride to the groom’s parents, where they would decide if she was worthy of her groom. Also, weddings began more for political gain, reparation or for basically anything that would favor the parents.

3. Bridesmaids and groomsmen

These friends of ours today held a very important role historically in the marriage process. It is believed these people were in place to ensure the bride would get married. Bridesmaids made sure to lead her to the wedding site and the best man who would have the best interest for the groom, would aid if the bride tried to flee.

Sounds like a foundation for love. Now that I have done my best to shatter that sacred unity, may I simply suggest this reform?


Yes, these things happen. Maybe only around leap year, but more and more they happen.We no longer need to be married off to our first cousin or the 30 years-our-senior guy next door to save our family dowry. So why are we still behaving as though we are trapped in this time machine?

To answer the question, no I don’t hate the sanctity of marriage. Thanks to Descartes, I just know now that the ceremony aspect of it is out-dated and silly.

I certainly don’t want to be served up as a hot virgin, looking to please my man by all means possible. And I realize that just having a normal marriage ceremony won’t transform me into that. But playing the devil’s advocate on this situation is about not forgetting the past, why we do the things we do, and why we have stopped our curiosity.

Marriage should be about equality. If it doesn’t begin with equality then it will never gain equality.

My idea? In the end you should do what makes you happiest. But knowledge is power, and it never hurts to find out why we behave by certain sociatial guidelines. We don’t have to become the object that our past has set us up to be. You don’t have to wait to have sex to be a good bride. You don’t have to be someone’s little innocent gift.

By the power invested in me by the state of Idaho, I now pronounce you enlightened.


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