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.
Brenda, what a beautiful, heartfelt essay. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for post this and I’m so sorry that your father will not be present to witness your feminist, interfaith marriage. I’ve never met my father so part of me can relate to not having a father walk me down the isle (or the idea/possibility). Sending you lots of hugs and love.
This was a lovely post to read, and I’m sure your father would be proud of the person you are and the choices you make. I’ve been enjoying seeing feminist writers move through the “traditional” milestones of life, and reading how they make them their own. I’m also hoping you someday write that post on interracial, interfaith marriages because I bet it would rock.
This post made me reflect on my values on marriage a little deeper. Thanks for sharing. My heart goes out to you for not having the choice. But it is nice to see a very powerful post and powerful comments too. <3