In the video above, Julie Bindel — an English writer, feminist, and co-founder of the law-reform group Justice for Women, which opposes violence against women and helps women who have been prosecuted for killing violent male partners — makes the claim that marriage can never be a feminist act. “Dress it up, subvert it, deny it all you want: Marriage is an institution that has curtailed women’s freedom for centuries,” she says at the beginning of the astute and incisive video. And while much about the tradition of marriage has been, and continues to be, a tool of the patriarchy, it isn’t necessarily so. That is to say a marriage is what the two people in it make of it.
Traditionally speaking, the institution of marriage has been about the union of lands and families–more of a business arrangement than a romantic union of two souls. But even over the last century, with the rise of the love-based marriage, many outdated traditions can be done away with. So why not start it out on more equal footing, and ask your man to get married instead of waiting for him to ask you? Here are some of the most obvious benefits to doing so:
- It demonstrates that you are more focused on him and your relationship than you are on meaningless traditions. Just because society has fed you the idea that you need to wait for your knight in shining armor to get down on one knee doesn’t mean you actually have to. You can take matters into your own hands.
- It shows him that you go after what you want. You are an active participant in the relationship, willing to take equal risks and make equal sacrifices in order for your love to grow.
- It gives him the opportunity to feel romanced. Let’s face it: the patriarchy limits the kind of romance that men are “allowed” to experience, and that’s ridiculous. Why shouldn’t a man get swept off his feet in a heterosexual relationship as well? Romance can be–and should be–a two-way street.
- It starts you off on the right foot. Maybe you are interesting in subverting some marriage traditions. Maybe you don’t want to take his name or wear a white gown or have your father give you away. And if you start things off by asking your beau yourself, then he’ll instinctively know that maybe this won’t be the traditional marriage the culture has told him he should expect.
- It gives you both the opportunity to build something new and unique for yourselves. Marriage can be oppressive, as Julie Bindel states. But it doesn’t have to be. A marriage is made greater by the sum of its parts, and if you and your partner enter into it with the same notion of what will work for you, you’ll both be happier for it.