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If you ask me, the "white wedding" is the oddest thing. I'm a modern guy and my wife is a modern woman. We're feminists. We have an equal partnership. But when it came to getting married we both agreed that I would play the role of Prince Charming and she would be the virginal maiden. A black tux for me. A white dress for her. I do believe there was even some "giving away" of the bride. I was glad to be the "recipient," if that's what you'd call it. The wedding was terrific, but I had to ask: What in the world were we doing playing lords and ladies? Well I finally got my answer by reading Katherine Jellison's terrific It's Our Day: America's Love Affair with the White Wedding (University of Kansas Press, 2008). Katherine shows how incredibly resilient the white wedding was and is. In the post-war years, American women increasingly went to college, joined the paid workforce, and entered the halls of power. They rejected the gendered stereotypes that once held them in check. Except, it seems, on their wedding days. "Seems" is the operative word here, because as Katherine demonstrates the meaning of the white wedding changed even while the form remained roughly the same. How did it change? I encourage you to read the book and find out (preferably before you get married, so you won't be confused like I was).
20th Century, Family Life, Feminism, Gender, Liberalism, Marriage, Weddings, Women
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