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May 01 2011

Obscene British patriarchy-fest inspires a few auntly words on weddings

Marriage is the ultimate expression of compliance with the culture of oppression. It is the bedrock of misogyny, the ideal upon which heteronormativity is based, the primary unit with which patriarchy replicates itself. Thus does the spinster aunt die a little inside whenever one of her friends or acquaintances makes with the big announcement that she’s engaged.

Royal broodmare in shuttlecock burqa

“Wwwhyyyyyy?” I always chide the cosmos. I chide with my hands clenched in the air and my face twisted into an expression of agony. Flocks of startled pigeons take flight as my anguished cry echoes into the infinite reaches of space and time. Because not only has the friend or acquaintance basically signed up for the accelerated Tool of the Patriarchy Program (which bums out anybody familiar with special inequities visited upon women who formally merge their identities with patriarchal culture), but I’m lookin’ at months of giddy wedding planning during which unholy interim I will be expected to make girly remarks about gowns and reception halls.

Failure to express sufficient giddiness always puts a strain on the relationship. I know this because I have never once managed to express sufficient giddiness. It is only with the most superhuman of efforts that I manage not to recoil in horror and disgust.

“Can’t you just be happy for me?” is the refrain.

“Sorry,” I say. “The best I can do is hope that he doesn’t beat you, cheat on you, stick you with all the diapering and toilet cleaning, and rob you blind in the divorce.”

Did you know that not being happy for people on demand is some sort of crime? It’s true! The minute you aren’t happy for somebody who is making the worst decision of her life, they absolutely have to take you off their speed-dial and snub you in social situations.

Western women are always so appalled at “third world” traditions of misogyny, but they think nothing of volunteering for duty themselves. I reiterate that Western vs “third world” misogyny is merely a matter of style, and more often than not the twain shall indeed meet. Thus did guffaws of horrification rumble around the bunkhouse when poor, shriveled Kate Middleton, this century’s quintessential Blushing Bride, sailed up to St. Patriarch’s Cathedral for her sale as a broodmare to the British monarchy, encased in a designer chadri.

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Photo: BBC: “Kate Middleton’s Wedding Dress Revealed!”. This video is a hoot, containing the following commentary from the giddy presenter: “I am beside myself! This is such a fashion moment, I can’t tell you!”

96 comments

1 ping

  1. Gayle

    People really were giddy over this particular wedding. Why are so many women so obsessed with it? I find the whole spectacle baffling.

    They were taking about it on one of my local radio shows yesterday and everyone seems to have watched it. The worst comment I heard was from the host who declared women love this stuff because they all want to be princesses. The middle aged woman he was chatting with wholeheartedly agreed.

    And then watching these newswomen parading around in those ludicrous hats! Whats happening? It’s like the Women’s movement never happened.

  2. gogo

    Seriously, who fuckin cares about such events?

    Wait, *I* don’t fuckin care. Do. NOT. Care.

    Thats who, for one.

  3. Radical Weasel

    It’s a shame my first comment here has to be so unoriginal, but here I go – thank you for writing about this. Being British, I’ve been mightily irritated by the seemingly never ending media speculation – the dress! The shoes! The relatives! Perhaps my favourite – the BBC News website headline describing the happy, happy couple as “man and wife.” A person and a role? I suppose it’s just all tradition, and I mustn’t get upset, must I? Huh.

  4. Killerchick

    I do care about the Royal Wedding. I care about the fact that my country is currently subject to the most punitive and ideological austerity measures in living memory. These include devastating cuts to public spending on health and welfare for the most vulnerable: the old, the disabled, the sick. They include the destruction of the Higher Education system as the UK has always known it and “reform” to ensure the exclusion from HE of all but the most wealthy and privileged. Somehow, however, these measures put in place by the almost entirely male, white, multi-millionaire, Eton-and-Oxbridge-educated government *exempt* expenditure on extravagant patriarchal rites for blue-blooded twits and the women chosen to act as their brood-mares.

    For this reason I care profoundly about the offensive farce that is this wedding. I care so much that it has resulted this weekend in near-total obstreperal lobe-blowage.

  5. FemDoc

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! My sentiments are the same, though I can’t express it as well. That damn wedding depressed me all weekend. I keep reminding myself that Queen Elizabeth I was the greatest monarch to ever rule that kingdom, and she NEVER married (having witnessed the beheading of her mother, Anne Boleyn, by her father, Henry VIII). There’s a lesson in that bit of history for women regarding marriage (get married, lose head; stay single, usher in the Golden Age of Western Civilization), but it escapes notice in the excitement of sending out those precious “Save the Date!” notes (with magnet attached so you can stick it right on your refrigerator). I wish I had learned it–I made the mistake twice now (though I avoided the whole “wedding” pitfall, as I would rather scrape out my eyeballs with a fork than spend any amount of time deciding on seating arrangements and choosing useless china to put on my bridal registry). I’m currently mired in “marital (ever notice how a slip of the fingers produces “martial”?) bliss” (snort!), for various reasons. It’s so great to come here and keep my head straight. You’re awesome, Twisty/Jill!

  6. Feminema

    Sing it, Twisty. No one who’s even glimpsed at the history of this institution can hold any truck with marriage, much less enter into it willingly.

    It’s even worse when it’s a high-profile event with two very pretty young people and lots of celebs and weird European royalty in attendance. Viewers latch onto it as an uplifting example of love in a sea of otherwise miserable-making news. It blurs the reality of this as an event designed to make viewers reaffirm their faith in the institution.

  7. FemDoc

    Oof–sorry for all the parentheses. That’s how my mind works nowadays.

  8. Melissa

    Bonus factor of the Royal Wedding: It’s part of the patriarchy outside the U.S. I too die a little inside when a friend announces a wedding. I have wriggled my way out of being a bridesmaid more than once. I died more than a little inside when my daughter told me she and her boyfriend had purchased “promise rings.” A small consolation that she insisted he wear a ring as well.
    I am actually becoming angry at the level of coverage of the wedding. It’s on the news. It’s on the talk shows, the gossip shows, all the shows, most of which I don’t watch anyway, but still. There are replays of it everywhere. It’s on the internet. It’s literally everywhere. There is no escaping it!

  9. Unree

    Bummer that Violet Socks over at Reclusive Leftist, who has stepped up again to call herself a radical feminist, has been live-gushing the event all weekend. With approval. The dress, the groaning-board reception, a video clip of a hymn, St. Patriarch’s cathedral, why it’s okay for the groom not to wear a wedding ring, and much more.

  10. Cimorene

    The one good thing about the wedding is that I heard various people on NPR say things like, “No we’re not going to talk about the Royal Wedding. This is a Royal-Wedding-Free Zone. I don’t want to hear another g-d word about it.” And that made me happy.

    Also my partner and I had to get commonlaw married (i.e. get a notarized piece of paper saying that we consider ourselves commonlaw married) so’s he could get health insurance through me. I made the mistake of mentioning this several months after the fact to my parents, who fucking blew their shit and stopped speaking to me for 6 months. My father is still not speaking to me. My mother apparently had to get medicated because she was so upset. It’s unclear whether they were upset because I did a big thing (marriage?) without consulting or informing them, or because I did a big thing (marriage?) in an overly banal way–which is to say, didn’t really get married at all, as much as signed a piece of paper. My mother also accused me of “cheating the system” in order to get my partner health insurance. I was like, “…well, fuck the system, amirite?” But she did not agree with me. She loves the system.

    My friends–who heard about it after my parents essentially ended our relationship as it was over this piece of paper and my unenthusiastic attitude towards marriage–were all shocked, SHOCKED that I got “married” and didn’t tell anyone. It’s hard to explain to your well-meaning, engaged friends why I feel ambivalent about the whole thing, even as un-marriage-like as this technical marriage is, because I find the idea of marriage rather repulsive. I was, myself, shocked at their surprise–I was like, “Have y’all be listening to me talk shit about the patriarchy for the past ten years? Did y’all think I was joking?” Just goes to show how the patriarchy and it’s alter-ego, capitalism, are so deeply embedded in most people’s psyches, that they can’t even understand what I’m talking about.

  11. Erinyes

    Trying to avoid wedding coverage proved impossible. Exposure to anything wedding related immediately results in feelings of doom (DOOM!) and sets in motion the thoughts of how being a princess is what all girls should aspire to. Then the vomiting happens and after a day or two of total shutdown for recovery, I emerge to find that absolutely nothing is better.

    IBTP.

  12. Paula

    I do have to wonder about what kind of world we live in where a fricking wedding gets as much news coverage and analysis as a presidential election or military action.

    As for the that bullshit clique about all women wanting to be princesses – fuck that, I want to be the Queen, the one who MAKES the rules. Elizabeth I is my idol, too.

  13. Stella

    Thank you for this.

    As a 31 year old feminist, I am mired in the middle of this patriarchal phenomenon, and find myself continually baffled at the giddiness and pride of my female peers upon being chosen by some dude, fussing over the details of a self-indulgent party often costing tens of thousands of dollars, and obliterating one’s personhood by taking said dude’s name.

    Having said that, I did excitedly watch said wedding, but more because I am an unrecoverable Anglophile than because of any support for monarchy or marriage. Indeed, I hate both. But a whole day of London scenes was nice for me, as I was involuntarily repatriated from that country a few years back due to a (surprise!) terrible breakup involving an abusive, misogynist asshat.

    I found it particularly interesting that all the bobblehead television commentators – from the BBC to TLC – took the huge turnout as a sign that “the British people” now support the monarchy; apparently, we’re to view this as some kind of “turning point” for the institution. What, then, did the millions who turned out in March 2003, in the very same streets of London, to protest the invasion of Iraq mean? Nothing, as it turns out.

    It was also interesting that the groom actually appeared to be rather nonplussed by the whole performance; very often, he was suppressing giggles, fidgeting, making eyes at the bride, or looking incredibly bored – and rightly so! As British journalist Johan Hari has been arguing for several years now, the monarchy is not only anachronistic, anti-democratic, wasteful, etc., but it is also a cruel prison for the Windsor family themselves who, instead of living regular, individual lives, are stripped of their right to privacy, religious freedom, political beliefs, choice of partner, and many other important things – all in the name of Duty. It’s bullshit.

    Mr. Hari spoke eloquently on the royal wedding and the nauseating nature of its erasure of the reality of centuries of British imperialism on Democracy Now!, in an episode that aired as the royal couple were waving to the plebs from the palace balcony. He makes many excellent points: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/29/johann_hari_frenzy_around_britains_royal

  14. tinfoil hattie

    Whew! I did the whole thing. Big White Dress. China (my in-laws bought it). Photographer, cake, friends in fluffy matching dresses, men in manly morning suits.

    I did it while simultaneously ridiculing it. How’s that for buying into the P? “Well, weddings ARE stupid, and I AM too old to be doing all this (32), and it IS a racket, but …. ”

    Would I do it again? NO. I wish I’d had the insight, not to mention the guts, not to do it back then.

    I AM glad I brood-mared my two kids, though. They’re like Kelloggs Frosted Flakes.

  15. Frumious B

    “monarchy is not only anachronistic, anti-democratic, wasteful, etc., but it is also a cruel prison for the Windsor family themselves who, instead of living regular, individual lives, are stripped of their right to privacy, religious freedom, political beliefs, choice of partner, and many other important things – all in the name of Duty. It’s bullshit.”

    I’m glad someone is pointing this out. I feel kind of sorry for Will and Catherine, in a way. They have privileges I will never know, but they also have constraints I will never know. I mean, they don’t really have the option of common law marriage.

  16. Comrade PhysioProf

    And then watching these newswomen parading around in those ludicrous hats!

    Some of the wedding hats were fucken awesome. My favorite is this one:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1QpwTkf1BNE/Tbvj4yEJI8I/AAAAAAAAAG0/9pn4K0cXlWo/s1600/beatrice+hat.jpg

  17. Nora

    @Cimorene: Oh my god that’s horrific.

    Though, I think I’ll wind up getting married someday. Not so much because ~yay weddings~. But if I died I would want my kids to live with my partner (of whatever gender) rather than my parents. And, like, health insurance benefits would be nice, so I guess it would depend on the laws of wherever I end up living. Yay personal anecdote!

    Also marriage isn’t inherently patriarchal in the same way that quantifying intelligence isn’t necessarily going to lead to eugenics and there’s nothing intrinsic to the color pink that makes it “feminine.”

  18. pheenobarbidoll

    My spousal unit and I got married so we could get residency. He needed approval for residency in Texas and I needed approval for residency in Canada (when we lived there). We did the court house thing and brought my best friend as the witness. Told people later, and only when it was brought up. The only person pissed was his mother, and that’s only because she’s a horrible, hateful person who has finally learned to not fuck with a Texan and now shuns us (*happy dance*) because not only do I refuse to take her shit but I return it with more gusto than she could muster up on her best day.

    I long for the day pieces of paper aren’t required for people to live where they want, with who they want, if anyone at all.

    NOW the news is harping on her having a baby, because an heir is needed.

    They JUST got married and she’s expected to be the brood mare or else she’s “defying” 200 years of tradition or some such shit. So the next big scandal will be in 9-12 months if she hasn’t been knocked up by Royal sperm. *gag a maggot*

    And of course there’s never a mention that those Royal assholes have some of that wealth because they enslaved and murdered aboriginal people’s all over the damn world.

  19. Fictional Queen

    “I reiterate that Western vs “third world” misogyny is merely a matter of style”
    As a third world kid who reads American feminist blogs,I agree!
    Also,he isn’t wearing a ring and only she is,right?Talk about dropping all pretentions that marriage is becoming someone’s slave…

  20. ew_nc

    I was pissed because it fuckin’ ruined TV for that entire Friday, when I wanted to kick back and zone out. The only way I participated was watching my girl Kathy Griffin snark on it on the TV guide network. The drawback there being she had these two tools called the Sklar brothers on there who spent the whole time slathering over the bride’s sister. Puke.

  21. Cara

    Giving approval to the patriarchy-fest was very nearly compulsory, with anyone who looked like they might want to protest against it rounded up beforehand and held without charge until the wedding was over.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/may/01/wedding-activists-rounded-up-police

    It seems like “OMG look at her beautiful dress!” is literally the only thought that people were legally allowed to express on Friday, at least in central London.

    IBTP.

  22. Bushfire

    I know a straight couple who got a civil union on their lunch hour. They both left work, signed the papers, and went back to work. One of their parents sent flowers. I thought that was about the best thing I’d ever heard.

    I was really excited about one of my friend’s weddings just because she means a lot to me and her husband seems really great. But now my cousin’s getting married and I just do not care at all. I find it really hard to explain why I don’t care. I tried to explain to my family one time why marriage was bad for everyone, and they just didn’t get it.

  23. Cas

    @Cara: Tell me ’bout it. A friend was arrested for dressing up as a zombie and drinking tea in Starbucks in London. She’s now made a video about it – see website link!

  24. TotallyDorkin

    My least favorite thing about the wedding planning phase is the deference the “happy couple” must have towards the wishes of their guests. Everything is about where people will be seated and will they have a good time and will they be upset by the food or will everyone feel like they’ve had enough pictures taken. I think its all just a big precursor for the woman to a lifetimes of serving other people’s needs.

  25. Notorious Ph.D.

    I recently learned the phrase “reproductive labor.” I had previously assumed that this was related to birthin’ babies, but apparently the term actually refers to a much broader scope of activities about the reproduction of culture (babies are a part of this). And guess what? People who talk about this say that women play a key role in the reproduction of culture.

    Now, this may strike some as fairly beginning blaming, but having a phrase for this kind of behavior, and women’s role in it, put the whole thing in a new light. I thought, “This is what Jill’s been talking about!”

    “Tradition” = some isolated piece of the past combined with whatever someone is trying to sell you.

  26. Notorious Ph.D.

    One more point: in TV series-land, the introduction of a wedding or a baby is usually a signal of that show’s immediate demise. Run out of things to say? Let’s get some people married!

  27. allhellsloose

    What is worse is that some in the UK wanted to express their republican – a state without a monarchy that has a friggin constitution -views on the day and *gasp* were arrested.

    “Broodmare in shuttlecock burqa” YAY!!! Brilliant.

    Hundreds of women are forced into marriage each day on this third rock from the sun. And yet we celebrate a woman who is going to be eagled eyed for every move (i.e. is she preganant yet?) on a weekly basis. Something to celebrate? I’d rather drown my sorrows.

  28. crickets

    It IS depressing – the newspapers are of the view that we all (that is to say, we all in the UK) love the monarchy again as a result of this wedding. It has ruined any remote chance we had of getting them scrapped in the next couple of generations. I read in the paper that everyone is waiting with baited breath for them to have a baby, and if their firstborn is a girl, whether she will be granted the same right of succession to the throne as a firstborn son would be – i had no idea the monarchy was still that hideously, patriarchally misogynist and old fashoned since i don’t follow them (like a football team). I should have known. If it were possible for me to go off the monarchy any more, i would.

    Also – When kate Middleton briefly got dumped by William, she joined a women only rowing team called the Sisterhood and started training to row across the French-English Channel in a dragonboat race for charity. Then she got back together with him and dropped out of the team a week before the race. That says it all really.

  29. Owly

    I got tricked into following a link that sounded interesting because I didn’t know who Kate Middleton was. I was pissed because that counted as another page view for the article.

    Since their personal lives have pretty much been defined by lack of privacy, how could the prince (or whatever he is) meet someone who genuinely interests him without the relationship being tainted by media attention? How can a famous person let a romantic relationship run its natural course?

    Side note: My friend and I have a long-running joke about the king of Sweden because the Westboro Baptist Church called him “the popinjay King of Sweden” in addition to other hilarious/foul things. We used to toast him when we took shots. When I moved to Sweden I bought a bunch of postcards at the royal gift shop (ugh) and sent my friend regular letters from the king. It was a great joke, but I still felt guilty for buying them.

  30. Ticki Tumbo

    I noticed that both Kate and Diana had to drag long cumbersome trains after them. Thats pretty symbolic.

  31. Treefinger

    “As for the that bullshit clique about all women wanting to be princesses – fuck that, I want to be the Queen, the one who MAKES the rules. Elizabeth I is my idol, too.”

    I would rather live in a world where there was no such thing as a queen or princess. Or a king, or a prince, or a president, head of state, etc. Bring on the anarcha-feminist revolution.

    Also, Elizabeth I was okay as monarchs go. But she was still a monarch (thus, oppression a-go-go of the poor and the people England colonized under her rule), and even though she didn’t get married, she was into the beauty myth big time (very vain, made fun of Mary Queen of Scots for her height) and blathered on about her virginity as if it made her a better person. So, even on the level that aristocratic British women experienced oppression, she still made no real effort to end it.

  32. Alexandra means She Who Wards Off Men

    If you needed any further evidence of women’s position in the whole affair, the hats say it all. How could those women possibly be made to look any more risible?

  33. Jill

    Amen, Treefinger.

  34. nails

    I call the polygamy prarie outfits “utah burqas”. Some folks elope for the health insurance. I wonder how marriage rates would dip if single payer was implemented?

    Also, people are crazy for weddings in Utah. The state sponsored strongermarriage.org because its such a big deal here. It is disgusting and non-stop. Some dude felt the need to tell my coworker she was too old to marry, being 24 and all, and most people think like him outside of SLC. Its so weird, people routinely get married at 18, 19, or 20. Then they are encouraged to have kids ASAP to cement themselves into the cult, and also go to BYU, and pay tithing, and they usually end up in debt permanently as a result. The church discourages women working outside the home. Scrap booking is big business as a result. People scrap book tragedies.

  35. ginger

    I hadn’t noticed, but, you’re right, she does look like she has a giant shuttlecock on her head! The world’s most expensive one.

    Monarchy makes me heave (the whole idea of inherited leadership is sickening – how is the concept that leadership qualities are heritable and need to be kept in families by selective breeding any different from any other eugenics program?) and the mingling of state business with religious ritual is obscene. Honestly, the patriarchal aspects of the wedding itself – which, scale and cost aside, are exactly the same quotidian symbols and rituals of repression as those of any other wedding, enhanced by the religious aspects of church ceremonies – enrage me less than the fact that the damn American media, which endlessly support the argument of War For Freedom and Democracy, don’t breathe a word about the obvious fact that the concept of royalty sits in direct opposition to the phrase “all are created equal”.

    UGH UGH UGH UGH.

  36. Mortisha

    Imagine the societal pressure on Kate. “ZOMG you are so lucky SQUEEEE” and all that shit a thousand times over. Friends, family and strangers willing her incarceration. What a nightmare, she just dove into a little fishbowl.

    I watched the last bit for the horses and even that was painful. Fricken hell those guards need to be trained to ride WITH their horses and not in constant conflict. Shiny buckles mean nothing if the horses are screaming at you that their mouths are in pain. Best riders were the two women riding the grey carriage horses, a long long way for a rising trot. They did it beautifully keeping the horses calm and professional.

  37. Saurs

    Like most commenters prior to The Big Day (and the weeks prior Counting Down to The Big Day), I’ve made an effort to avoid reading, hearing, and suffering to listen to folk yammering on about the wedding for roughly the same anti-patriarchal, anti-monarchical reasons, but I still feel slightly dubious about completely dismissing it, and here’s why: everything Jill has written above resonates with me and I dig what she says, how she says it, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, there’s an equally vocal group of nay-sayers, greater in number than the radfems, who’ve made a habit in the last several weeks of shitting all over the wedding and shitting all over the participants for the simple reason that Weddings = Girly Shit, Girly Shit is to be heartily mocked and despised for the vapid, unimportant bullshit that it is, and, furthermore, too many women are getting too much attention that ought to be devoted to some dude, somewhere, and that knowledge sticks in a lot of dickheads’ respective craws. (That elsewhere in the universe all other female activities and gender-neutral activities in which women not only participate but actively kick ass in are routinely ignored or denigrated is taken as read, of course.)

    Hence, whenever I hear some smug git talking about how he’s too cool for school, relishing in and celebrating his ignorance of all the little lady stuff that has been happening lately, casually mentioning that everyone participating in the wedding (read: mostly women) are vapid, overprivileged idiots, I only just barely contain my compulsion to be loudly contrary and proclaim to the world at large (falsely) how much I dig the wedding and the Middleton, and so forth, just to shut these douches the fuck up.

    Every time some event like this happens — an adulterated celebration of patriarchy and female subordination, but one in which women happen to participate publicly, taking up space and getting talked about — I experience two opposing desires: the first to shit all over it or to use the event as a launching point for radical feminist talk, and the second to attack any dude who dares talk shit about the ladies in question, for one of the main functions of any public patriarchal ritual is the humiliation of women. Even when women are supposedly being celebrated or are the (puke!) recipients of some kind of condescending chivalric gesture, the ritual itself is still carnival incarnate: the temporary reversal of roles to prove the general rule of female inferiority.

    This whole thing bothers me.

  38. Sarah

    “Also – When kate Middleton briefly got dumped by William, she joined a women only rowing team called the Sisterhood and started training to row across the French-English Channel in a dragonboat race for charity. Then she got back together with him and dropped out of the team a week before the race. That says it all really.”

    The way I heard, that’s not even the half of it. When they got back together the pictures of her in her rowing outfit were showing up in the papers, and William and the Queen both told Kate to quit, with William paraphrased as saying that he didn’t want to see her in the papers wearing these revealing outfits, because she was his girlfriend and she should act like it. Yeah.

    “I call the polygamy prarie outfits “utah burqas”. Some folks elope for the health insurance. I wonder how marriage rates would dip if single payer was implemented?”

    Maybe that’s why we can’t get single payer in this country. The thought that women would have more power to be independent and therefore would have much less incentive to marry would put the pant-shitting into overdrive.

  39. Wuyong

    That’s a really good point, Saurs.

  40. niki

    Marriage, so boring *yawn*. Media, so infuriating *turns off*.

  41. Mare_Island

    Saurs–you hit the nail on the head. It’s always a catch-22 for women. “Sit still and look pretty while we nail you into this box.” “Why are you wasting all our time with your demands to be pretty and to be nailed into a box?”

  42. Milly goes for a walk

    My thoughts exactly Saurs. And Mortisha, I was tempted to have a little look for the horses too. Ended up just catching a bit of the balcony scene with the little girl covering her hears, poor thing! Cute though. You couldn’t pay me to be a royal. Talk about gilded cage.

  43. Nammu

    Where can I see the hats on the press women? I have read about them throughout the entire list of tirades but you-tube will not release its fruit to me. I saw the Lady Gaga hat on Eugenie. Heavens to mergatroid! Will someone send me a url?

    And one more thing. Marriage is repulsive. I can’t be me in that world and that is because of me, not him. My subservience training was so successful that an empty glass, to this day, requires my attention to fill it or clean it. It’s so sick. Of course Kate doesn’t have to wait on Prince William like that.

  44. Astraia

    Thank you, Twisty. Best wedding coverage I’ve read, by far. I’m in London and didn’t watch any of it on Friday. This shouldn’t need announcing, but given that telling people that I neither know nor care about Kate’s dress and/or shoes seemed to confuse them, I don’t know. Or that might have been the follow-up mention of the fact that the monarchy is horrifically outdated and classist.

    But no. Apparently, by virtue of being female, I must suspend normal critical judgement and realize that it’s all about the DRESS, right?

    Gah. At least I’ve taken the opportunity to inform my own sisters that should they ever get married, I will wish them well, but I won’t participate in a ceremony striking me as bizarre and needlessly expensive. Never a bridesmaid and certainly never a bride.

  45. Freya

    One of the Australian online news headings focused on Kate’s sister.The title “Her Royal Hotness”
    Oh the wit! Can’t imagine why I didn’t read the article.

  46. A Ginva

    It was just really saddening to see the debilitation of Kate, and how she finally surrendered to the massive machine of patriarchal monarchy. She could barely walk in that dress without being held around by two people. She looked so skinny, as if she hadn’t been eating for a week. The way she complied stoically (fearfully?) to the constraints of the ceremony while William freely showed his boredom, drove the car, could walk around as he wished and stand up straight was maddening. She just signed a contract for life-time imprisonment and compulsory breeding. And all those women screeming at the ceremony wishing deep down that they’d be the princess in the fairy tale – just to be despised in turn as frivolous and vain.

    Just a few days ago I came accross an interview of Kate an Will being asked about how they met, how he proposed, etc. The inequality of power and status in the relationship was so blatant that it was really painful to watch. He was doing most of the talking, sitting up straight confidently and casually, taking most of the space, facing the camera, showing a variety of human expressions (laughter, nervousness, sighing at the boring and intrusive questions…) Kate was just the total opposite. She looked as if she had spent 5 painful hours preparing for the interview (looking more like a barbie doll than a human being as a result), she was sitting sideways, looking at William for approval whenever she spoke, tilting her head and grimacing in a smiley excusey way at the same time, which withdrew attention from whatever she said or made it seem less important.
    According to the story they told, the proposal was all William’s initiative, he had planned everything ahead, he’s the one acting and thinking. William also admitted being crap at cooking, which is why Kate and flatmates (at uni) where happy to cook for him – at whhich Kate laughed and nodded.

    Sorry for such a long rambling post. What’s even sadder though is that we could go on and on about all the inequalities condensed in this event. I wonder if there’s a bottom to it.

  47. puncturedbicycle

    I’m with Saurs. It’s all an excuse to shit on women from every possible direction.

    I feel a bit sorry for the behatted princesses (there’s a statement I never thought I’d make). They obviously were trying hard to fit into the box they’re supposed to fit into and have been rather aggressively abused for it. They’re very young women and it seems cruel to me that they are being taken apart for their wealth, station, looks and vanity when after all, without the royal machine in which they are cogs, we wouldn’t be looking at them in the first place. I’m surprised to see it happening here. Complicit much?

    The whole thing is unsavoury.

  48. Jill

    “I’m surprised to see it happening here. Complicit much?”

    The blametariat isn’t blaming individual princesses for wearing dopey hats. And even if they were, I grow weary of the shame-on-you ‘tude with which many drive-by commenters administer their feministier-than-thou corrections.

    Despite my best efforts, not everybody posting here is an advanced blamer. So if your feminist chops are more sophisticated than theirs, how about showing it, when enlightening the group, with a little forbearance and — I know this is quite a radical notion for Internet discourse — kindness? The Internet Smackdown is an implementation of culture-of-oppression mores. It has its place, I suppose, but using it against blamers who are still learning about the intricacies of patriarchal oppression is unwarranted. We have all internalized patriarchal messages. We are all complicit, much.

  49. TwissB

    This critique of the embrace of subservience to a partner, with a side look at the skilled women riders on the carriage horses, prompted me to think about the many women who happily embrace subservience to an adored horse, spending untold hours feeding, grooming, nursing, dressing, training, and carefully observing and responding to the physical and emotional needs of an animal enslaved for their enjoyment- and fancying that it loves them back. To someone not engaged in it, this type of satisfying relationship can look passing strange too.

  50. buttercup

    The wacky hats could almost be seen as an act of rebellion against the gilded cages Beatrice and Eugenie are in. As could Princess Anne’s getup. It must be difficult to be a woman trapped in such a rigidly patriarchal system.

    The money it cost pisses me off to no end, as education and other essential services are slashed in the UK in the name of austerity.

  51. Saurs

    I sort of thought the hats were sending up all the other vaginal imagery normally associated with weddings (flowers, trains indicating the Gigantic Brood to come, white junk symbolizing the woman’s family’s assurances that all is kosher, she’s Untouched, and no bastard son is going to come out of the woodwork and fight with the Legitimate Heir, et cet). What’s more indiscreet than simply showing up to your sister’s wedding with a big flesh-toned vagina on your head?

    The hats (here, at Ascot, at other ‘dos in which white English women of wealth are supposed to show up looking spectacularly camp) do kind of put paid to the essentialist creed about dudes and their keen visual-ness, or whatever. If dudes are so visual, why aren’t they salivating all over weddings, with all the erotic shit* going on?

    *I think I’m right in supposing this particular wedding (and marriage) is more about William assuring The Public he won’t abdicate and he will be “producing” (gross) a future monarch. It was a really dour affair, based on the photographs. Also, what’s with everyone on US tv winking and nodding about those dry little pecks they gave each other after all the ritual business?

  52. Metal_teaport

    I considered the royal wedding a contractual agreement, with Kate aware of what she was sacrificing, and what she would gain in return. One thing that bothers me, is the descriptions of Kate Middleton as a commoner given the school she went to, and her background. I don’t think it is fair to describe anyone who went to a school, where the annual fees are higher than the average annual salary as common.

    It strikes me, that a lot of the wedding was about trying to convince us that we lived in a egalitarian society, and that the royal family where “just like us”, rather than incredibly privileged and separate from reality. I come from a good background, but every now and again, I become aware how there are people who don’t understand money in the way the ordinary person does, because they have so much of it, it is trivial. Politically, it is probably best the general population don’t think about that too much, particularly when we are cutting public services, welfare, and money into the education system. I don’t think it is insignificant though, that while a lot of students will shrink from university because it is too expensive with the new fees, that some other people can afford to spend that much on a watch. I think things like the royal wedding, are a political spectacle to stop us thinking about that, and to bolster support for the royal family, because even though you don’t Twisty, a lot of people like a wedding.

  53. Yardshark

    Although I pretty much agree with the overall assessment of the royal dealio and its public reinforcement of patriarchal norms, all marriage doesn’t *have* to be patriarchal. Mine isn’t, and neither was our wedding, which was not “planned,” cost about $25, took all of five minutes, and was heralded by nothing girly at all. Our witness was the appliance delivery man who happened to be stopping by the officiant’s that day.

    It is quite possible to be a marriage subversive, I say – gut the whole thing and make it mean what *we* want to. Is same-sex marriage inherently patriarchal? Hetero marriage doesn’t have to be either. (Although I acknowledge for sure that we all still live in the P and getting married doesn’t change that; but then, not getting married also doesn’t change that.)

    Anyway, I had absolutely no interest in the whole thing and didn’t watch any of it. Even though I too am technically a British ex-pat and apparently shared a pediatric doctor with the prince.

  54. Yardshark

    (Clarification – should have said “a” prince – ’twas Edward, not William. Whatevs!)

  55. Shabnam

    Metal-Teapot: I completely agree with you that the Royal Wedding was just a case of bread and circuses for the masses.

    Concerning the use of the word’commoner’: here in the UK, technically ‘commoner’ means anyone who is not the Sovereign or a peer – so everybody who is not aristocratic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commoners_in_the_United_Kingdom

    Technically William’s mother Diana was also a commoner, since she was just a child of Earl Spencer and not a peer herself. This wedding is different in that Kate Middleton’s parents are not aristocrats, however wealthy they may be. She was not `Lady Kate’, like Lady Diana.

  56. crickets

    Sarah – thanks for the rest of the story! I knew there was some pressure on her to quite the race (which i meant to mention but completely forgot to – which makes my post seem like a criticism of Middleton rather than the pressure on her to obey William and the palace so thanks for adding to the story!) I hadn’t read that William made comments about “skimpy” rowing outfits though. Ugh. I think Middleton is seen as an ideal bride because she obviously keeps her emotions and personal opinions well in check – constantly described as a “reserved” person – and does what she’s told. Yet she’s portrayed as a woman in control of her situation and allowed to speak her mind by the media. Hardly.

  57. Comrade Svilova

    Asking your partner to quit something she’s passionate about for you? The smell of ROMANCE is just overwhelming.

  58. Tigs

    “all marriage doesn’t *have* to be patriarchal”

    I disagree, though bummed might I be (as a happily married het woman) that this is the case.

    Committed monogamous relationships don’t have to be patriarchal. Even committed monogamous relationships that are celebrated as families don’t have to be patriarchal, but I believe *marriage* does have to be.

    Marriage, as marriage, is an institution sanctioned by the state, religious entities, and patriarchal culture as the *right* way to create and exist in a family. This has the inherent result of de-legitimizing other kinds of social arrangements: spinster aunt-itude, polygamous relationships, two-partnered monogamous relationships that don’t adhere to rules about marriage. This sanctioning of a certain form of a relationship also has the effect of re-inscribing all of its cross-framework demands, such as the two-worker household (economic), the nuclear family (cultural reproduction), individual housing units (environmental impacts), just to name a few.
    I might want to think that *my* marriage is different, and well, my marriage is different than a lot of het marriages. We work pretty damn hard at treating each other like human beings. But my marriage, whether I like it or not, reinforces the primacy of the marriage structure in state and society.

    Le sigh.

    Hell, though I might not go so far as to call it patriarchal, the family itself as a naturalized unit is probably anti-revolutionary.

  59. Cara

    Holy crap, this article spends several paragraphs explaining that it is now Kate Middleton’s job to look really fashionable all the time, and if she doesn’t she will be smeared in the press and hated by everyone. Then the last paragraph is about how wonderful it must be to be a Princess and how everyone envies her, even though for the rest of her life she’ll be constantly scrutinized and if she makes a single fashion mistake ever she’ll be publicly shamed and reviled forever.

    Wow.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/02/kate-middleton-dress-sarah-burton

  60. cin17

    “Marriage is the ultimate expression of compliance with the culture of oppression. It is the bedrock of misogyny, the ideal upon which heteronormativity is based, the primary unit with which patriarchy replicates itself. Thus does the spinster aunt die a little inside whenever one of her friends or acquaintances makes with the big announcement that she’s engaged.”

    Okay, now that’s just perfect.

    Jill, thank you for never letting us down. Whenever there is some current newsy patriarchal narrative being force-fed, droog-like, into our minds and bodies, I can always depend on you to, incisively and honestly, take it down. And, damn but you do a mighty fine take down.

  61. Hedgepig

    I like to think the princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were having a bit of a jab at the establishment by presenting themselves the way they did, as their mother was not invited, despite being the aunt of the groom and mother of royalty. There was a spirit of Fergie about their choice of outfits.
    Funny to think after all that Kate’s not even a princess now, she’s just a duchess. Imagine!

  62. Jill

    “women who happily embrace subservience to an adored horse, spending untold hours feeding, grooming, nursing, dressing, training, and carefully observing and responding to the physical and emotional needs of an animal enslaved for their enjoyment- and fancying that it loves them back.”

    I guess some women think their horses love them, but I’m not one of’em. You can definitely relate with’em, though. Like with any sentient being.

  63. Jill

    “Is same-sex marriage inherently patriarchal?”

    Are you kidding me?

  64. yttik

    Having fems refer to me as a “poor, shriveled, broodmare,” would likely drive me right into the arms of Prince Charming.

  65. Wuyong

    TwisB, this is a question that’s come up in my mind many times too. What is it with women and pets, be they horses, cats, or dogs? What is it that’s so emotionally compelling about acquiring a slave to serve as object of one’s devotion? It really is frighteningly reminiscent of certain aspects of male-female relationships.

    Pet. What is a “pet,” exactly?

  66. AnnieMay

    Being in possession of the less-sophisticated feministy chops, I was hesitant to watch any wedding footage in case of back-sliding. What if I suddenly wanted a pretty shuttle-cock burqha of my own? Watched a video linked to the one Twisty posted and was heavin’ relief sighs…there she was being handed from one man to the next. From the man who walked her down the aisle to give her away, to the priest, to the guy who owns her now. No back-slippage induced.

  67. Nepenthe

    There’s a sentient being that lives with me because 5000 years of domestication, local ecology, and a highly contagious disease (in her case) prevent her from living “in the wild” with her conspecifics.

    But I’m not sure what a pet is.

    It is rather compelling to have a being around that does not hate you for being a woman.

  68. niki

    I saved my sentient beings from a short and sad life of starvation, disease and filth out on the streets, as they were born to a severely desocialized feral mom.

    Now they come and go as they please, using my mom when it suits them for food and bed warmth. My poor mother has no idea that she owns slaves!

  69. virago

    I spent maybe 10 minutes watching the royal wedding, and I turned it off due to boredom. Actually, I forgot about the whole thing until I turned on the tv that day. I agree that the whole thing is a big patriarchal party. Heck, even my very small wedding was patriarchal even though I skipped a lot of things like father walking me down the aisle, etc. Yes, I did take his last name. Good thing a divorce fixed that. Anway, my marriage was so terrible that I hesitate to repeat the experience. However, I have mixed feelings about it too. Sometimes, I think I’ll just be happy to live with someone instead. That said, I cringe at the way the monarchy expects the royals to dress. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of person, and those old lady clothes they force on Kate Middleton, Beatrice and Eugenie, etc., and even Princess Diana back in the day make me break out in a cold sweat. Every royal function has these women wearing clothes that look good only on the queen. Why doesn’t the groom have to wear a ring? I don’t understand that one. My ex and I both wore rings, but frequently neither one of us wore them that much. I was never one to wear rings for ornamentation let alone to show I was the “property of the patriarchy” through marriage. My ex husband never was asked why he didn’t wear a ring. I was asked that several times when I worked as a supermarket check-out by both men and women. Customer politely would ask if I was married, or my husband would walk in the store,etc, and right away people would zero in on the fact that I didn’t have a ring. I always gave some lame excuse, but the truth was that I can’t stand wearing rings on my fingers. The one time I admitted that you could hear the collective gasps shoot round the world! I didn’t spawn during the marriage either, and that’s another cardinal sin. Unfortunatley, Kate Middleton won’t have that choice.

  70. awhirlinlondon

    “Western women are always so appalled at ‘third world’ traditions of misogyny, but they think nothing of volunteering for duty themselves. I reiterate that Western vs “third world” misogyny is merely a matter of style, and more often than not the twain shall indeed meet.”

    An excellent point and an important one to make again and again and again: the difference is simply one of degree. Most of us are so soaked in it that we can’t see that it’s the same spectrum. That said, the question of degree matters too, and I’m not willing to brush over that.

  71. LondonFalling

    The compulsory endorsement of the wedding was made visible on every store front in London. “Congratulations Will & Kate” signs were plastered across all prime commercial glass space. The logic of capitalism is one of bandwagon uber-patriarchy, classism, and godbagism. “Oh, but did you hear, they mostly paid for the wedding themselves!”

  72. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Auntie Jill, you so nailed it with the “Can’t you just be happy….” bit. My niece’s best friend (a member of the family since she was 10) sent me the save-the-date magnet early last month. Which prompted a rather heated discussion between my sister (my niece’s mom) and I, led off by my foolishly mumbling, “I hate weddings.” I shoulda shut my pie-hole. One day I’ll learn.

    A chum referred to the royal nuptials as “The Super Bowl for Cat Ladies”. I’ll cop to enjoying the ridiculous hat parade. And cheering for the Virgin Queen (Elizabeth I), one a my role models.

  73. Italian Meringue

    Virago, yes, I hardly ever wear my wedding/engagement rings just because I hate wearing rings. I haven’t spawned either. I find just not answering people’s questions to be effective and satisfying.

    ‘Poor shriveled Kate Middleton, broodmare in shuttlecock burqa’…what was that you were saying about kindness, Twisty Jill?! Sure, the whole wedding thing is depressing bullshit and patriarchal propaganda, but presumably she wants to be with a man she loves (William. Okay, I don’t get that), and she might want to have children of her own accord.

  74. tinfoil hattie

    Elizabeth I wasn’t a virgin.

  75. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Maybe not, but she kept the title.

  76. Jezebella

    Yes, THIS, Nepenthe:

    “It is rather compelling to have a being around that does not hate you for being a woman.”

    The cats who live with me are not slaves. They don’t do any work at all, for heavens’ sakes, and all three of them are rescues. One was a porch kitty who waged a six-month campaign of Mighty Cuteness to be allowed indoors. Resistance was futile. I, like many other humans, enjoy companionship and affection when at home, but not enough to live with another human. The cats seem to be a-okay with our arrangement, and yes, it is a total bonus that human gender is completely irrelevant to cats.

  77. Denise

    Catherine Middleton waged a nine year campaign of Mighty Cuteness to be allowed indoors. Hope she’ll think it’s worth it.

    Our next door’s cat Twom-Twom has cleary been reading tips in Catmopolitan on how to hang around looking cute so as to get fed roast chicken and lamb dinners.

  78. Comrade Svilova

    My sentient being companions were abused and abandoned, one was tied up in a yard for a year because her gait was “wrong” for the Iditarod, the other was dumped on the side of the road and left to starve. Both had serious psychological problems, that now, 5-10 years later (5 for one, 10 for the other) are resolving. They no longer flinch when a person looks at them. They can play with other dogs. They get regular food and exercise and attention.

    I wouldn’t go all anthropomorphic and say they “love” us like we love them, but they are delightful to have around and I believe that their lives are better for being with us.

  79. Fergally

    Pics of Catherine Middleton as a happy, sturdy rowing woman with her mates and then as a royal bride who has lost almost a third of her body weight make a sad contrast.

  80. TwissB

    Suggested reading for People Who Care About Cats (and all the other independent-minded sentient beings who frequent this unique habitat: “The Cat That Walked By Itself” by Rudyard Kipling (!)but only in the edition of “Just So Stories” that has the author’s unforgettable drawing of the cat illustrating the title. The story is also relevant to the contract and cuteness campaign issues cited above.

  81. TwissB

    Insert ) after “habitat.” Thank you.

  82. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My eldest tried “walking by himself” and rather quickly discovered he like regular meals better.

  83. Jezebella

    Oh, dear. Denise, Catherine Middleton is rather more capable of living well without a husband than your average stray cat is capable of living well without human assistance. The comparison is kind of obnoxious.

  84. puncturedbicycle

    Jill, I’d be the last person to hold myself up as an exemplary top-of-the-class feminist, which is why I don’t often (ever?) comment here. I have felt particularly sore about the ridicule and general media aggression toward those two young women. When Eugenie was mentioned here, I commented out of weariness, but apologies for my unkindness. Of course we are all complicit. I see it in myself every day.

  85. Kali

    I have the same reaction as Jill to anyone announcing their heterosexual marriage – a feeling of defeat and hopelessness, a feeling that there will never be The Revolution. However, I like weddings, like any other party. I wish we could keep weddings and get rid of marriage. Also, I agree with Saurs. A lot of pooh-poohing of weddings and demonization of brides doesn’t come from a feminist place or any feminist analysis of the patriarchal nature of marriage, it comes from a place of denigration of anything associated with women. There are lots of activities around the world where money is being wasted (sports, wars, rituals of the church heirarchy, state dinners, transporting important men around in private jets), but how many of those activitities are held in contempt the way that some people hold expensive weddings or expensive bridal gowns in contempt? There are entire TV channels dedicated to making fun of “bridezillas” and their wedding-mania, and getting entertained by their tears.

  86. Kathleen

    oy, Saurs, yes (about the damned if you do, damned if you don’t talk about the royal wedding). I have had about a zillion conversations of that variety, particularly with men, about how beneath contempt it is all is and also, COOTIES!

  87. lawbitch

    I didn’t know that William had broken up with Kate. Wow! She should have never taken him back.

  88. Denise

    Jezebella, I’m well aware of that. Sorry you think it’s an obnoxious comparison, I didn’t intend it as a comparison at all.I just thought I was being funny, given what this post was all about and given that C.M. went out with Willie boy for sooooo long. But point taken. I am a cat adorer.

  89. mythago

    What Saurs said. The Wedding is absolutely about patriarchy, but it’s also about “her day” for a reason – like Mother’s Day, it’s supposed to be the diamond-rare occasion where the female gets to arrange things according to what she desires and the male just shows up and does as he’s told. It’s the last big female hurrah before she steps into her lifetime of doing what the boss tells her to do.

    Of all things, I think the wedding scene in Rocky Horror Picture Show captured it: the car reading “she got hers, now he’ll get his”. It’s contempt heaped on the woman for daring to make something about her, and boy will she pay for it in spades.

  90. Elisabeth

    I made a decision 30 years ago not to participate in anyone’s nuptials, thus walking the walk to go with my belief that marriage is a property transfer (who gives this woman?) and the sine qua non of the subjugation of women. I declined to attend my brother’s wedding, my father’s second wedding, my best friend’s and so on, and have held the line all these years. The repercussions have been profound and life altering and very hard to live with.

  91. Sue

    Spot on, Tigs.

  92. Christina

    It never ceases to amaze me how brainwashed some Western women are. They seem to think that only women in third world countries get oppressed.
    Yet these women cannot explain why such violent crimes against women are constantly on the increase, and men continually believe that women and girls are their own property to do what ever they please with.
    Western women seem to believe that submitting to and allowing males to treat them like property is acceptable.
    Women need to start waking up.

  93. Julezyme

    Kate’s empowerful rowing team: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-486706/Kate-Middletons-girl-rowing-team-naked-ambition-saucy-calender.html

    There’s a lot going on here.

  94. romana klee

    your description of your anguished cry reminded me of this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LstAIe7Qvwo

    i love to cry at weddings!

  95. virago

    “Western women seem to believe that submitting to and allowing males to treat them like property is acceptable.
    Women need to start waking up.”

    Tell that to my niece who agonized over who was going to “give her away”-her biological father or her stepfather. In the end, they both walked her down the aisle while everyone thought it was great that they could get along well enough (never did before) to agree to it. How nice to have to two different patriarchs for the price of one. If this stupid tradition didn’t exist, my niece wouldn’t have had to worry about it.

  96. Doctress Julia

    Wow, Elisabeth- you have more guts than I. I come from a Catholic family with some money (lots of doctors and lawyers), and I have been a bridesmaid 3 times already. One of my sisters has since been divorced and I’ll probably end up in her next wedding, too. Argh. I think I may just do it for the free booze… I guess…? sigh.

  1. Here, kitty-kitty « I Blame The Patriarchy

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