I love my dad, but I don’t want him to give me away.

In this week’s Hitched column for The Frisky, I write about how I understand that people see the “giving away” part of a wedding ceremony as adorable and sweet, but for me, it’s too rooted in traditions of ownership to be something I’m comfortable incorporating into my own wedding:

But just because something is sweet doesn’t mean it doesn’t have terribly sour undertones. For me, there’s no escaping the fact that being “given away” is rooted in a long, long tradition of women being treated as pieces of property to be transferred from one man to another. However moving the question “Who gives this woman in marriage?” may seem in the moment, it’s fundamentally a sales transaction.

I have a lot to offer Patrick, but I don’t come with a dowry — however good I may be at mixing cocktails and emptying the cat boxes. You can’t put those things in a wedding chest. And even if you did, you wouldn’t want them if they’d been sitting in there for any length of time.

Predictably, commenters are pissed that I’m being so uppity and disrespectful.

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in feminism, marriage, personal essays, relationships, wedding. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I love my dad, but I don’t want him to give me away.

  1. I don’t necessarily agree with you, but think you have a valid point. No matter what you write, haters are going to hate. Cuddle a cat and stay strong 🙂

  2. Patrick Harhai says:

    I totally agree with you! “But just because something is sweet doesn’t mean it doesn’t have terribly sour undertones” Great post!

  3. DK says:

    There’s some great guilt tripping going on in those comments. If it makes you feel better, I’m also a terribly selfish daughter who should feel shame shame shame for refusing to engage in traditions I find oppressive.

  4. Lucy says:

    Great post! I totally agree and have felt the same way for years. I do not want to start off my marriage with a tradition rooted in oppression.

  5. That Disturbed Guy says:

    We thought the giving-away thing was pretty unsupportable too. Plus, my bride felt that if anybody was going to be honored in the ceremony as her, I don’t know, ‘creator’ or ‘most important influence’ or anyway someone to be honored, it should either be her mom, or mayyybe her mom and dad together. That caused some friction with her traditionalist stepfather, let me tell you.

    On the lighter side, let me share this snippet from our premarital deliberations about the ceremony.

    Bride (flipping through book of marriage ceremonies, having found a section devoted to her ethnicity): “OK, this says that when he gives me away, my father is symbolically transferring his lifetime of control over me, to you.”

    Me (trying to picture this): “Oh. His ‘control’ over you. I see. And that would be worth, exactly…?”

    Bride: “Zzzzip.”

    Which being indisputably the case made the giving-away concept all the more absurd.

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