Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Not the good kind of retro...

There's the good kind of retro (e.g. kitten heels, polka dots, cupcakes), and then there's the bad kind of retro.

Like, for instance, asking your girlfriend's father's permission to marry her.

Feministing gathered a couple of interesting pieces on what is apparently a (creepy) trend, including this gem, which explains the seven steps of asking a man for permission to buy/marry his daughter. (The editors highlight that "[a]sking [a father] permission to marry his daughter demonstrates your respect for her family and their feelings". It's quite telling that they don't mention the daughter's own feelings and preferences at all - not to mention the fact that women are not considered as chattels anymore...)

Here's another article by Ellie Levenson on the same topic, where she describes her surprise that her self-proclaimed feminist friends not only decide to tie the knot, but give in to retrograde practices such as having their hand asked in marriage.

"But I thought you didn't believe in marriage?" - I have spluttered, "Well, at least he didn't ask your dad for his permission!" In each case, I have expected my friends to laugh along, before being shocked by the mumbled admission that, yes, their boyfriend did ask their father, and, worse, they were very pleased he had.

*sigh* I acknowledge that, under certain circumstances and with certain people, it may sound like a sweet and tactful thing to do. However, it remains that this tradition is really about discussing an eventual exchange of wealth between two families, not about love and sincere family connections.

I really liked the conclusion of Levenson's article:

My dad is lovely. He is a kind, intelligent man, and I am sure we have the same outlook on most things. But the idea that he would have any say whatsoever in my major life decisions distresses me. I rang him for permission to quote him in this article. This aside, we couldn't remember me asking him permission for anything since I was about 14. "I would refuse permission to any bloke who is wimpish enough to feel he has to ask me," he says. "And if he took any notice of me I'd think even worse of him."

Now, that is a sweet thing to do!

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