Brides being Given Away — sexist?

An interesting post over on deprofundisclamaviadtedomine (parse THAT word I dare you!) talks about an article in the Telegraph from 2010. The telegraph article reports that the swedish princess is wanting to emulate the British tradition of the father giving away the bride. The church of sweden is up in arms about it because it’s a sexist tradition:

“Being given away is a new phenomenon which occasionally occurs in the Church of Sweden. I usually advise against it, as our marriage ceremony is so clear on the subject of the spouses’ equality. The couple know where I stand on this matter,” he said.

I can speak as a father — that was one of the happiest moments of my life, being able to “give” away my daughter to a young man that I respect and love greatly. (and who have since produced the two best grandkids on the planet!) I know it no longer has the meaning it once did .. there wasn’t any way she was under my protection or care while she was in college meeting this young man and building a relationship with him.

Still, the article makes several good points:

Where did this history of walking down the aisle together come from? Not from the norse history!

Nobody in American weddings wants to have the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, in my experience. The main reason for this, I think, is because it takes a way the bride’s big moment, when all eyes are on her.

Anyway, here’s the article .. feel free to comment!


Kate Walking Down the Aisle with her Father
Kate Walking Down the Aisle with her Father
This is several years old, but an interesting story anyway.

1. “Sexist British tradition of father giving bride away.” If the historical practice in Sweden is that bride and groom walk down the aisle together, that is probably not because Swedes were feminists centuries ago when the tradition started. I know it’s hard to believe that the Vikings, in between splitting skulls and capturing slaves, weren’t also working to create an egalitarian society. But I’m afraid that they probably weren’t.

Nope. Olaf probably wasn’t like, “What’s that, Hedvig? You say you want to go out with the warriors in the longboats and make a career out of slaughtering monks and then get married and have kids later? Sure thing, hon!”

“What’s that, Hedvig? You think you’d like to go out on some dates with the blacksmith’s son rather than marry the son of the earl? You say you want to marry for love, and you can’t guarantee you’ll stay a virgin until you find the one you’re ready to settle down with? And if you get pregnant and then no one wants to marry you you’ll just leave the kids here with me and your mother while you get a job looting? Whatever you say, sweetheart! We’re here for you!”

“What’s that, Hedvig? You want gender neutral wedding vows, and for you and Ragnar to both hyphenate your last names? That seems fair. And I don’t think Ragnar is less of a man at all if he agrees to that!”

Nuh-uh. Sorry. That was not what Sweden was like whenever the tradition of walking down the aisle together started.

2. It’s probably right that the British custom is gaining popularity in Sweden because young women are influenced by the custom as it comes to them through American movies. But isn’t it fascinating that many young women, even in Sweden, are attracted to, or at least willing to tolerate, the pretense that they are under the protection and authority of their father until given to the protection and headship of their husband?

Of course, it’s all make believe. If dad’s are going to give away their daughters, they should make sure their daughters aren’t giving themselves away while they still live in their father’s house.

I mean, just a thought. At least the Swedish ladypriests are sort of paying attention.

Daniel Westling, Crown Princess Victoria, Queen Silvia and King Carl Gustaf Photo: REX
Daniel Westling, Crown Princess Victoria, Queen Silvia and King Carl Gustaf Photo: REX
3. Nobody in American weddings wants to have the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, in my experience. The main reason for this, I think, is because it takes a way the bride’s big moment, when all eyes are on her.

And to be honest, I’m not sure that pastors ought to be too critical of this. It is true that our sinful flesh wants to be front and center and make things about us. But that’s true of the pastors too.

Besides, Christologically: the Church is the beloved of Christ. And when He presents Her to Himself as a radiant Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, the eyes of all creation will be on Christ’s bride, admiring the beauty that Christ has given to her and the love with which He wed her.

So I don’t think it’s wrong that the bride wants her “moment”, although it’s important to try to work with that desire to try to get the couple to see that their wedding is not the culmination of their existence, but rather points to the wedding that will be–the wedding of Christ to His Church.

Isn’t it interesting that after all these years so many women still love this ceremony?

They want to walk down the aisle alone and be the bride whose husband is waiting for her to receive her like his treasure–even though once they get married they will work outside of the home and inside of the home and essentially not be taken care of at all.

They want to have their fathers walk them down the aisle and give them away, even though neither European nor American girls are in any real sense under their father’s authority after adolescence begins. Teenage boys in America deflower virgins and then talk about it on facebook in front of their dads. I imagine most teenage boys would be shocked if a father said, “No, you can’t go into my daughter’s bedroom alone with her and close the door.” And if you opened the door and caught some little boy clambering all over your daughter and ejected him from your house after introducing his rear end to your shoe (which incidentally you paid for, just like you will pay to feed any grandchildren randy teenage boys might accidentally sire with your daughter)? The teenager would quite possibly feel self-righteous indignation at your tyrannical interference in his love life. Not to mention the fact that any hint of physical force used against such a child would almost certainly result in your arrest. Although if he is a child and therefore should not be beaten by a grown man the question is–why should he get to act like a grown man in terms of freedoms? A grown man should be able to protect his wife and baby as well as provide for them. If a teenage boy wants to take liberties with someone’s daughter the very least expectation he should have is that he might have to take a beating for it.

I wish when I was in high school dads had been like that with their daughters. I would have appreciated the encouragement toward chastity implicit in that.

But no. It’s horrible to take any steps to make sure your kids are chaste. It’s being a good dad if you let your daughter sleep with one or two or three or four or more selfish and irresponsible adolescents while she still lives at home with you. Do that and don’t say a word and you’re a good dad.

And yet brides want to be given away by their fathers.

They want to pretend that they have been protected by their fathers, and treated like a hidden treasure, and are now being entrusted to a man who is good and trustworthy and will provide for her and protect her, even though neither of those things is true. If women were guarded and protected by fathers and husbands, that would be the end of feminism.

And yet apparently it’s attractive to a lot of women, at least on their wedding day. How come feminism hasn’t destroyed this tradition yet, even though the reasons for the tradition were annihilated decades ago? Why did the tradition of the would-be groom asking the father of the bride for his daughter’s hand come back from the dead in the US, long after fathers had allowed their daughters to choose whom they would give their hands to and for how long?

It’s almost like young women wish that their fathers and husbands would be…dare we say it…


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