Don’t let the state of American politics fool you--it is in fact 2017. For a second there I did have to check, though.
I will say that our country is in serious need of a conversation about what it means to live in a modern world. In a modern world, men and women are equal and are treated equitably. In a modern society, male and female aren’t the only gender options. In a modern society, words matter.
So what’s going on with all of this gendered married stuff that I keep seeing? As the co-founder of a progressive marriage blog, it’s my duty to explore the vasts depths of the internet to ensure that you’re being provided with the best marriage content known to woman, man, and [insert every gender in-between]. And based on everything I’ve encountered/read so far, here’s my general diagnosis:
WE. NEED. HELP.
What’s with all of this gender binary rhetoric that permeates online marriage blogs? Why do the headlines for marriage articles constantly feel so heteronormative? Not only is it non-inclusive of LGBT or gender non-conforming couples out there, but it just doesn’t feel necessary, modern, or helpful. Even worse, it makes our society a less safe place.
If you want to live in a world where everyone can move through it without being marginalized, we need to ditch all of our gendered married conventions ASAP. Let me start with four of them that really grind my gears:
1. Maiden Name?
If you walk into my office, you’ll notice that all of my diplomas and award plaques still say “Vitaliz” on them. A student noticed the name difference and asked about it. I explained that my partner and I decided to combine our last names, to which the student replied, “Ohhhh, so Vitaliz is your maiden name!” Me: “Uh...well, I guess that is the only name we have for it, currently…? I’ve never been a maiden though, so…” It was a weird conversation. Why maiden? Is it because we always expect women to change their names? Again...it’s 2017. Gender no longer has to determine the name, so why do most legal forms still use the “maiden name” box? It’s time to call it something else. My vote goes to calling it my “when I was a sad sack of shit” name. Just kidding, but you get the idea.
2. Blogs about “Keeping Your Man Happy” or “Why She Won’t Have Sex”
As someone who identifies as a male, let me just say: how I experience happiness is rarely ever tied to my gender. If you were to ask my spouse why she’s not in the mood for sex, she’ll probably tell you because Stranger Thing 2 is finally on Netflix or something else that has nothing to do with her being biologically female. Why do we make all of these sweeping generalizations about what men or women want from their spouse based on gender? It just feels like we’re accidentally creating all of these unhelpful gender norms. I get that these titles are meant to be clickbait, but it is possible to have click-worthy titles that aren’t gendered? If you need ideas, here’s a good website for that: www.anniegoesjack.com
3. “Bridesmaids” and “Groomsmen”
I mean, what even? So just because I identify as a man, my beloved sister has to stand on my spouse’s side of the wedding party? Because my spouse was born a woman, she can’t include her hilarious buddy, Doug, on her side of the wedding party? Tell me if that makes sense to you! We should be able to have whoever we want on our side of the wedding party. It’s high time that we change this very outdated convention. Don’t call them bridesmaids or groomsmen anymore. Call them what they actually are: close friends/family who are doubling as cheap labor. Or you know, something sexier than that :-) I’ll let you decide on the name.
4. His and Her [insert random, sexist novelty item].
Gross. These items cause me to avoid major department stores in the month of February. I’ve said it twice already, but I’m going to say it again: it’s 2017. Not every couple is a him or a her. A marriage can have any and all genders now. Additionally, selling items based on a “his and her” mentality seems like a lazy business practice. Don’t sell me on “his and her” bath towels--sell me on the fact that the towels are soft! Don’t sell me on “his and her” outfits--I don’t need obnoxious apparel that shows the world that I’m taken. I have an entire website devoted to that: www.anniegoesjack.com
You get the idea. I know that these things may seem innocent or not that important, but it’s a pretty slippery slope. There is no such thing as benign sexism. More importantly, if we are complicit in allowing micro-versions of misogyny to exist in our world, we are laying the foundation for larger injustices to occur/continue. You can’t be anti-sexual assault, but at the same time promote the idea that “modest is hottest.” You can’t say that men and women should be paid equally if you think that “women need to have sex [x] times per week to make their man happy!” Misogyny is a serious cancer to society and when it comes to eradicating it, even the smallest tumors need to be purged from the body. If we start with the small things, the big things will follow.
After all, it is 2017. And by that I mean it’s almost 2018 and we have some serious work to do.
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Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.