I am having a feminist wedding. Some may say this is an oxymoron since marriage itself is an agent of the patriarchy. My response is that some of us, interracial interfaith couples, have not always been allotted that right, but that’s a different post. So far we both have engagement rings, I will not wear a veil, and I have a best woman and brideswomen, no maids to be seen. I also will not have my father walk me down the aisle. Not because it’s a sexist tradition that treats women like property but because he died when I was 14.
When you lose a parent you immediately think of all the things they will not be around for. At 14 those things included high school graduation, learning to drive, attend and graduate college and in the far off distance, my wedding. All those other milestones and many more have passed. I was sad but worked through them. For some reason this feels different. Getting engaged was so wonderful but his absence became immediately present. And quite frankly I’ve barely been able to talk about it.
My father was the funniest person. Ever. This is a man that after a very long day of painting houses created a game with the 5 of us (often times more since the neighborhood kids all considered him Papi and would be over) called the Dark Game, which was basically hide and seek in the apartment in the dark while he wore a glow in the dark skeleton mask. He loved to sing and dance. He was the life of the party and we always had a packed apartment because free time meant time to be with friends and family. This is all to say, a wedding would have been a perfect stage for him. He would have loved the large group, the music, everything. I can’t even imagine what sort of silliness would have ensued during the ceremony itself. I just picture him wearing a kippah, because he would want to try it and dancing like a wild man during the hora. He would have probably tried to lift me in the chair all by himself. He wouldn’t have given a speech but probably heckled all of them. The father/daughter dance would have probably been a Gypsy Kings track. At the end of the night he would have had enough beers to pretend he was drunk and throw one dollar bills to all the grandchildren.
A father walking his daughter down the aisle and “giving her away” traditionally views women as property being transferred from one man to another. The history, as with most wedding traditions, is a sexist mess. If my father were here, would I have participated in this tradition? Knowing me, probably not (and he would have been totally cool with it, btw). But I don’t get to make that decision. Instead my sisters will walk with me down the aisle. What’s more feminist than the bonds of sisterhood on display at such a momentous occasion? Although I am excited to share that moment with my sisters and to be gaining two dads on my wedding day, I would give anything to have him there. It’s hard to have a strong feminist stance on something when the choice has been taken away.
This year, for the first time in the three years since my partner and I have been together, I observed Passover with him. It has taken me a month to put to words what this experience meant to me.
Passover is my partner’s favorite Jewish holiday. He loves the symbolism, the message and most importantly the gathering of family and friends. Last year we hosted our first seder and it was amazing to watch him lead our group of Jewish and non-Jewish friends and family through the rituals. His passion for his faith and culture are one of the many reasons I fell in love with him in the first place.
This year since we are planning our wedding, we decided not to host. Although I had known for a long time that I would be spending the rest of my life with him, getting engaged made me think even more about our future and what it truly means to be in an interfaith relationship. While reading The New Jewish Wedding, we came upon the chapter on creating a Jewish home and quickly realized we had already done that. We keep a fairly kosher kitchen, we have mezuzot on door frames and our kiddush cup makes an appearance on the dining room table on Fridays (when we can). But with Passover approaching this year, our first as an engaged couple and our last before we’re married, I started to think more about what it means to create a Jewish life for us and for our future children.
I decided to observe Passover this year for several reasons. I wanted to stand in solidarity with my partner. To him, Passover is more that just a week of eating matzah, it’s a week to reflect on the excesses in our lives. I wanted to experience being mindful of what I eat, when on the daily I have the privilege of not having to. I also wanted to be able to share with our future children that just because Mami isn’t Jewish doesn’t mean she can’t be a part of everything they experience as Jews.
It wasn’t an easy week. Meal planning was crucial and I definitely ate more fruits and nuts than I ever thought I would. I made it though the week. And that slice of pizza and first sip of beer after it was all over was truly amazing. In the end Passover wasn’t about giving anything up. It was about gaining a new perspective of what my life will be like going forward. And just one more reminder that I made the right decision when choosing my life partner.
It’s been three months since my last post. The new year hit and away I went. For the past three months I have been quite busy. With each new adventure I vowed to blog about it and yet here we are three months later and zero posts to show for it. So in order to wipe the slate clean I’m giving you a good old fashioned roundup.
I attended my very first Con, Arisia. Arisia is said to be “New England’s largest and most diverse science fiction and fantasy convention.” Now since I have never been to a Con, I can’t say whether this is the most diverse in the area. But if it is, that’s not saying much. Don’t get me wrong, although that was disappointing I did attend some amazing panels. I attended panels on zombies, vampires and Hunger Games-some of my favorite things. A few others that I really enjoyed were shame on slut-shaming and race and Identity in fandom. The feminism panel let much to be desired since it consisted of 3 white women and a white male, none of whom knew who Kimberle Crenshaw is (I reminded them from the audience). My favorite panel was on respectability politics. Not only did I get introduced to Daniel Jose Older, but I got to meet Mikki Kendall in person!!! All in all it was a pretty cool three days. I got to let all my nerd hang out and I was left thinking: how do I get on a panel next year?
I became an abortion doula. I first heard about abortion doula work in 2007 while living in NY. I knew immediately it was something I wanted to be a part of. I have been a reproductive justice activist for many years. Being an abortion doula seemed to be an important and much needed way to put my activism into direct action. Several months ago at the New England Women’s Center Conference during a self care workshop, the facilitator mentioned that she was starting the Boston Doula Project and I knew immediately this was my chance to get involved. The training was great. It gave me an opportunity to meet a wonderful group of people who felt as strongly about issues of reproductive justice as I did. The organizers made the distinction between reproductive rights, reproductive health and reproductive justice. This was a really important distinction that set the framework for the remainder of the training. I feel lucky to be a part of this organization from the ground up. I look forward to helping people and doing outreach in Boston about this work as part of the Public Programs team.
I found my dress. I won’t go into too many details since my fiance will likely read this. It was a pretty easy process in that I had a clear vision of what I wanted. Some stores were better than others (nicer than others) but I refused to be swayed from my vision. In the end I found the one and it gave me the feeling I was waiting for. The moment I saw myself in the mirror I burst into tears because it was exactly how I want to look on my wedding day. It may be more traditional than one would expect from a feminist (yes, it’s white), however it is 100% me and that’s all that matters.
I attended the Five College Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference. I attended this conference as a presenter, co-leading a workshop as part of the Hollaback! Boston team. It was a fantastic weekend. There were many engaging speaking including Tristan Taormino and Jiz Lee. The panels were really engaging. My two favorites were Queering Pregnancy and Media Representations of Queer Women of Color. Although the whole weekend was great, hands down the best part was the performance given by Darkmatter. Their slam poetry made me laugh and cry. I managed to grab a clip for you.
Needless to say I have been quite a busy bee. What have you all been up to in 2014?
My friend Chanel runs a blog called The Marriage Project where she investigates, “a decision that is deeply personal and deeply political.” I have been reading her interviews for a while and once I became engaged, knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. My interview with Chanel is Reflection 118: “I will NEVER be Mrs. anything.”
For many couples I’m sure choosing a wedding venue is purely a fun and exciting time. But for a couple that is also funding the wedding on their own (mostly), with a very large guest list, it can be a very daunting task. Don’t get me wrong, it is super cool to have a vision of the day and try to find a space that fits that. At the same time it can be exhausting and disappointing, REAL TALK!
We visited one venue where the male wedding planner didn’t look at Jake when speaking to US. Oh and did I mention he also made an inappropriate gay comment, probably should’ve told him my fiance has two dads, at least maybe then he would have faked decency.
I have no doubt we will find a great space. We still have plenty of places to look at. We have also met some lovely people along the way. In the meantime I’m not going to front like it’s all rainbows and glitter. Make no mistake, the wedding industrial complex is real. I have to hike up my feminist panties and dive in fists a blazin’.
Almost two weeks ago, my partner Jake proposed. As a feminist I am aware of the history of marriage, what it meant for women in this country and the ways in which it continues to be used to create second class citizens. I do not agree that it should be the primary, legal form of relationships. However, I know with every ounce of my being that I have chosen the right partner for me. I know the history of the institution I am about to become a part of and I couldn’t be happier because I am entering it with full knowledge of what it is and how to make it mine.
The proposal was everything I could have hoped for. I was surprised at a coffee shop in my hometown with family and friends. He then proceeded to sing a song he had written for me that led into the “will you marry me?” It was perfect.
The ring, a purple (my favorite color) sapphire in white gold, was more than just a beautiful symbolic gesture, The ring was purchased at Laura Preshong. Laura Preshong is a jeweler in Boston that makes eco friendly, socially responsible and conflict free pieces. By purchasing the ring there Jake chose something that symbolizes not only who we are as a couple but the kind of future and life we want to have together.
Now the planning begins. A Jewish wedding for Jake’s background with a Latino flair to honor mine. But also a feminist wedding. We will try our best to make it as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. So listen up friends, for the next year this blog will be semi-hijacked by my wedding plans. Why? Because other feminists fall in love and want to enter into this problematic yet wonderful institution known as marriage and I want to throw my two cents into the ring of how to create a feminist wedding. It won’t be easy but here we go….