The first thing a lot of people said when I told them my partner and I decided to get married was something along the line of, “You’re getting married?! The one who used to say she would never get married?!” It’s funny, mostly, because I used to say that any chance it came up. My family would bug me about finding a boyfriend because I was getting old and because they thought a man would finally calm me down. I guess they thought that a man would make me fall in love and that his love would change me into the sweet, nice young lady they always wanted me to be. Every time I had my quick little retort locked and loaded. “I’m never going to get married.”
I’ve never been a very societally traditional feminine spirit. Most people would describe me as aggressive and passionate. Those who know me and love me well would say that I was really a big softy despite my rough and tough exterior. I’ve never kept my mouth shut when my parents wanted me to and I’ve never allowed anyone to talk down to me. If you asked me how many times people have called me a bitch, I wouldn’t know what to tell you other than it’s what I call myself in an effort to reclaim the word. I’m a bitch because I say I’m a bitch because people think my personality doesn’t match my gender and I think it does.
This is why some of my family wanted me to get married. Whether they were joking or being serious, they cited my personality as being incompatible with marriage, but the only cure for who I am is a man who will finally put me in my place, traditionally speaking.
You can probably guess that it didn’t take me very long to decide that I would never get married if all it meant was being submissive to another human being. I never really listened to and obeyed to my parents, let alone some other God-created creature with different genitalia than me. The feminist in me would never allow it.
That’s not to say that I didn’t think about it. My friends fell in love and married their partners and some of them assured me that their marriage was not one of submissive roles. They were equals. But deep down, I was certain that I would never be able to find someone like that. As secure as I am as a person, I still believed that finding someone who would love me for exactly who I am and then meet a short list of criteria I made up in my head would be an impossible ask of the universe.
My mom never taught me to cook because I wasn’t very good at cleaning up after myself, but I taught myself the basics despite the fights we had over sticky counters and dirty dishes. Through college, I had to eat something so I figured out what was easy and quick and not terribly unhealthy and I went with that same rotation of meals for five years. No recipe could change the fact that I hated cooking. So I added “be able to cook” to my list of preferences when it came to men. As you can probably imagine, my big Mexican family made it very clear that I would never find a man who would not only put up with me not cooking, but also be the sole person responsible for it. Most of the other points of my list were greeted with the same trope: No one would put up with me.
I’m the kind of person who can’t deny the existence of a higher power because life has been too good to me. The Lord has always provided for me and as someone who claims to believe, I shouldn’t have been so stupid to think that the pattern wouldn’t continue. Out of the blue, some random dude showed up and made me a cheesecake... and I fucking love cheesecake.
After decades of people telling me to change in order to attract a partner, one just showed up and was willing to love me as I am. AND. HE. COOKS. And he doesn’t care that I don’t. So take that mom and dad and everyone who has ever said otherwise, someone loves me and wants to marry me without changing me or what I believe in. God is good. I was in love.
Now I knew love wouldn’t cure this disease called my life, but I thought it would at least make it super easy. Well it didn’t. I still struggle with depression and people are still rude. Go figure.
Things got really hard for me when we decided to get married. Like really hard. Like this-tough-ass-bitch-started-crying-her-eyes-out-constantly hard. I cried from anger and sadness and despair and depression and happiness, too. But mostly, I cried from frustration. When I least expected it, I found a partner for life and I still felt like I wasn’t made for the task. I already hated weddings, but it was more than that. The same old bullshit I was fed my whole life kept coming up in my head. The honest truth is I don’t feel “feminine” enough for this, any of this, and sometimes I don’t feel up to the task.
When I first told my parents that we had decided to get married, they were surprised. We talked about random wedding crap after that, but the conversation eventually came back to what I was dreading all along: My dad wanted to know when the love of my life would be coming over to ask for my hand in marriage.
As a strong, independent woman, I’m sure you can infer how I feel about this as a feminist issue. I’m no one’s property. Not even my parents’. I have always made my own decisions and I still don’t feel like I need to ask for permission to marry someone and I don’t feel like I should send in a male figure to do so either, but my dad is an old school kind of guy. He’s not happy about it and he will never be happy about it, but I’m happy about it. I am beyond happy about having a partner that respects my wishes and who allows me to give a big old middle finger to any traditions that I think are useless and harmful. We don’t talk about it anymore because that decision has been made, but not everyone else is willing to drop the topic of conversation.
My dad moved from asking for my hand to my partner coming over just to tell him that we’re getting married. “It’s a sign of respect,” he says. But you know what I hear, you know what it feels like to me? It sounds like and feels like it isn’t official until a man makes it so.
Roll your eyes all you want, but I can’t control the way I feel, dammit. I already told my parents we were getting married and I’m their kid. They should hear the news and believe the news and accept the news from me. But tradition is tradition, they say. That’s the first thing that made me cry and the first thing people think they should express their opinions about.
“Just do it, keep the peace. It’ll always be between your dad and your partner. Just do it, what could it hurt?”
Me. It hurts me. It hurts to be seen as property, to feel like my word does not carry the same weight. Maybe it is my pride and my ego, but in the end, I’m the one who is hurt. So no thanks. Sorry mom and dad, you’re just gonna have to get over it.
This same concept is why I couldn’t be proposed to. You read that right, I could not be proposed to. When the topic came up, I had to keep myself from freezing and from crying. Every. Single. Time. For a long time I didn’t know why it hurt me so much. I didn’t know why I had a physical reaction to the idea of my partner on one knee. It made me nauseous and it made me want to punch the wall and cry all at the same time. It wasn’t until the last time we tried to talk about it that I realized it all came back to my simple truth: I don’t want to be treated like property.
Again with the eye rolls.
My dad wanted to hear it from the man’s mouth and the world wanted to, as well. A wedding only happens after a man gets down on one knee, traditionally speaking. No one wants to hear the story about how you mutually decided to get married, they want to hear the story about how the love of your life “popped the question.” It didn’t feel official until that step was taken and that step felt like I didn’t have an equal say in it. It had to be a surprise and it has to come with a ring and it’s weird if I propose because I have a uterus.
Well I don’t like surprises or rings and as someone who is systematically oppressed because of that uterus, all I have ever wanted was to be treated as an equal. And I cried about it because I felt like I was being forced out of the equation. People call me selfish because I could not allow him to propose, but as you’ll come to read, I won’t hurt myself for tradition’s sake. I won’t jeopardize the story I’m writing with my life because there’s a way that everyone wants it to be written. At the end of my life, I’ve got to be happy with what’s on the page.
I’ve accepted that fighting against the traditions of the world is the hardest road to travel down. Sure, it’d be easier to just give in and do what Big Wedding, my parents, and society tells me to do, but that would come at the cost of my happiness and peace of mind. For the rest of my life, I would have to feel like I gave in to a life of being property. I would feel like something that my dad and my partner exchanged and that just doesn’t sound so fun. Maybe it isn’t a big deal to the rest of the world, but it sure is to me. So I’m not going to give in to the exchange of property bullshit and I’m not going to allow myself to feel like I don’t have an equal say in life decisions because I guess I’m the bride now and it’s not what I want.