Reconciling My Inner Feminist With My Traditionalist Behavior
I am a feminist, and the symbolism of watching Meghan Markle walk unescorted down the aisle gave me goosebumps. Inevitably, it got me thinking about my own wedding, and my recent engagement. Here’s the thing: I strongly believe gender should not dictate what you can, cannot, should or should not do. “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,” as Simone de Beauvoir once put it. In today’s climate of women empowerment, how do I reconcile my traditional engagement experience with my modern-day feminist philosophy? My boyfriend paid for my ring, asked for my father’s blessing, coordinated a (splendid) surprise, and spent beyond what I expected on my ring. So, I am flabbergasted –I work in the industry where every single day I strive to break with traditional gender norms, and yet the story of my engagement is a highly traditional story.
There was something both exciting and beautiful about my engagement, don’t get me wrong, but there was an undertone that made me uncomfortable. Is my ring a dowry? Is it a message that he can support me, spoil me, and provide me a fruitful life? Did he actually go and get permission for my hand from my father? Yikes. I felt like a traitor to my feminist core. On the flipside, should I have proposed when I started getting antsy? Why did I wait for him? I was ready, and I knew he was the one. So why keep waiting for him to get down on one knee? Most importantly, why doesn’t he wear a ring around his finger to show he is intended to be wed?
At the end of the day here’s what I know to be true: I control a lot during my 9 to 5 but that passion and desire to solve problems doesn’t abide by my office hours. I tackle everything I do with the same tenacity. Lucky for me, my fiancé is the most laid back and supportive partner. It was important to him to create and design our symbol of love, and he also felt it would liberate me from the weight of deciding on a style. True story— I love a new style every day, one of the dangers of working in this industry! He had put a lot of thought and excitement into this process and his vision; whereas I could argue myself into wanting to design it myself, sporting bands only, tattooing our fingers or flipping the script on him all together. So, I can’t confidently say I had a strong or unwavering position beyond wanting to be married to him.
Feminism to me is not about forcing role reversals. Going back to Simone de Beauvoir’s statement, feminism to me is not putting anybody in a socially or culturally constructed box, full of expectations. But in my case, it just happens that my fiancé designed our symbol of love, coordinated the proposal, listened to my ever-changing design inspirations and found great joy in creating our symbol of love. Truthfully, it was kind of liberating. People are always curious about my vision and it has been nice to wear something that was created with such thought and care by the man who will marry me. I never expected him to do all of this, but it’s the way the cookie crumbled.
Where I ultimately landed is here –I can be a leader, a woman and a feminist and still have some traditional elements to my life.
It’s about choice, unaltered by society’s ideals, which questions like “how can you reconcile being a feminist when you are basically wearing a modern-day dowry on your finger?” force me to reflect upon.