I do not believe in marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I once did: the walking down the aisle with everyone’s eyes staring at me, the staged photographs that somehow will capture a day of happiness as I look back at them, and the white dress that apparently signifies my purity. But as I continue to get older, become more involved in relationships, and look at society with a more critical lens, I’ve become quite skeptical of this tradition.
Once a little girl is introduced to Cinderella and Aurora, she believes she is a princess herself, who will meet her Prince Charming and live happily ever afterward. But Disney ends the story too soon. What happens after the honeymoon stage? Prince Charming ends up working too late and too often, and Cindy finds this quite irksome. She becomes needy, he becomes distant. He was once her knight in shining armor; she his damsel in distress. Now the two could barely stand one another.
Once the little girl reaches a peak in her life when she meets her so called “Mr. Right,” next will come the idea of marriage. But more importantly will be that ring, which will be placed ever so strategically on her ring finger of her left hand. We can thank society for embedding this into the mind’s of girls, which is only promoting consumer capitalism, not promoting how much the other person loves you.
Cecil John Rhodes was the founder of De Beers, the diamond company. In 1874 and 1875, Mr. Rhodes found himself with a bunch of diamonds when the industry was in a decline. In 1880, the company of De Beers was started; however, he needed a way to make a profit. Thus, he paired up with the advertising agency, N. W. Ayer, in the 1930s to help promote the diamonds. Celebrities were glamorizing the shiny rock on their finger, and well, the rest is history.
Whenever a girl gets engaged, the first thing friends will ask is, “Can I see the ring?” However, thanks to social networking sites, newly engaged girls have eliminated the inevitable question by making their ring the default picture. So not only are women expected to have a ring on their finger, men have expectations too: the bigger, the better. Otherwise, he’s a loser.
Women have a social expectation placed upon them that I detest—to find one man, who she will cook for, clean for, and have kids with to continue his name. She is supposed to be a mother, a wife, and domestically inclined. She isn’t supposed to go to college to receive her MBA, but rather her MRS. She isn’t supposed to want to have any other fulfillment than swiffering her floor.
Granted, I realize this isn’t the 1950s, but I often wonder if we are headed back toward that mindset. Second-wave feminists were fighting against these gender roles. Yet, trophy wives, soccer moms, and desperate housewives fill our DVR space. What happened to the independent-I-don’t-need-a-man-to-take-care-of-me woman? The I-am-woman-hear-me-roar. I envy her, wherever she went.
It is this reiterated idea etched in the minds of girls that if they don’t have their “Mr. Right” by the age of thirty, they will become a spinster or they should head to their local pet store to buy a few cats. Of course this stereotype has been made up by the patriarch to scare women about Singleville, and how it is a terrible place to live.
Some may think I am a bitter, cynical feminist who is too unfeminine if I don’t want to get married. I beg to differ. I think it’s becoming an outdated, religious institution that’s only out there to put women in their place—the home.
Why is it that the woman takes the last name of the man? Why does the father “give away” his daughter? And why does the woman’s family pay for this? Centuries ago, it wasn’t ever about romance. Marriage was more of an agreement between the two families about the trading of money and property. The patriarchs would discuss business and they would trade by offering a daughter for that great patch of field.
In other words, women were treated like objects, which is only perpetuated in the advertisements. Nonetheless, with all the material possessions that go along with a wedding, it only glamorizes the idea of how great marriage is. After all, women are the best consumer. But they overlook this notion. Women see rainbows, butterflies, and forever all because of that ring, that dress, and that fantasy they envisioned in their minds as little girls.
Obviously I know most people don’t believe this, and I know most people get married because they love one another. But why does one need a piece of paper to prove they’re in love with one someone? A ring? Taking someone’s last name? Some do it for the sake of having children. But I’m not religious, and so I believe it’s quite all right to have kids if you’re not married. I don’t think it’s a sin to be intimate with a person without a contract.
Others do it for the bigger tax breaks. But isn’t it discriminating to singles, or couples who don’t want to marry to give married couples bigger tax breaks? What about couples who can’t marry? It sounds like just another traditional scheme to entice people to marry.
This is what I don’t understand.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a long-term relationship with a person. I believe in love. I believe it’s important to have somebody as your rock, someone you can depend on. I want a family—in fact I want three kids. I believe in The Beatles’ “All you need is love. Love is all you need” philosophy. But I don’t believe in an institution that fails as often as it succeeds.