’Tis the season, ladies! Chances are good that you will be attending/participating in one or more nuptial celebrations in the coming weeks. In honour of this fact, we here at SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS are devoting a series of Concessions to the Patriarchy to all manner of wedding-related acquiescences. It’s our version of TLC’s Bride Day, if you will. This is the third installment. Read the first two here and here.
Concessions to the Patriarchy is a regular feature about the battles, big and small, we women choose not to fight. Today’s topic: inviting people you hate.
Congratulations on your decision to get married and have a wedding! As we’ve already discussed, planning such an event is really, really easy, hardly any work at all, so just sit back for the next several months and rela— AHAHAHAHA JUST KIDDING.
Throwing a wedding involves approximately seven million decisions, one of which is figuring out who gets an invite. Make no mistake, this is a difficult task — partly because you have to work within finite limitations (venue size, budget, etc.) but mainly because inevitably you feel obligated to invite people you don’t know and/or don’t like. People such as:
- Your parents’ friends who you’ve met maybe twice and whose lives you know nothing about, save for the fact that they play golf/own rabbits/had a heart attack a few years ago (although you’re not actually sure if that was them or someone else).
- Random extended family: the creepy uncle who always stands too close to you, the cousin whose wife enjoys ‘racial humour,’ the aunt known for getting drunker than appropriate and making a tearful scene.
- Co-workers who actually annoy you most of the time but, because you really DO want to invite the few cubicle mates you like, you have to invite them, too, otherwise you’ll look like you’re playing favourites and it will create tension.
- Childhood ‘friends’ who aren’t actually friends but who invited you to THEIR wedding and would be offended if you didn’t return the gesture.
Additionally, there is the expectation that certain people must participate in the festivities — your nieces have to be flower girls or ‘junior bridesmaids,’ your sister’s son has to be the ring bearer, your mom’s BFF has to give a toast — and God help you if you have a blended and/or dysfunctional family (which let’s face it, is kind of all of us), because such situations present their own unique challenges: Mom won’t sit next to Dad because Dad’s new wife is a bitch; Dad refuses to be in the same room with Uncle Jimmy because that asshole owes him money; Auntie Kathy won’t speak to Second Cousin Sheila because she cheated on her husband; and on and on, etcetera to infinity.
Creating a guest list is challenging is what I’m trying to say.
There’s an acute irony here in that the commonly perpetuated narrative around weddings is that it’s The Bride’s Big Day — THAT’S RIGHT, LADIES, YOU GET EXACTLY ONE WHOLE DAY — and therefore, whatever she says goes. (Case in point: the concept of a ‘Bridezilla.’)
In reality, however, brides must make multiple concessions while wedding planning for a variety of reasons — one of those reasons being, you guessed it, patriarchy.
Women are socialized from birth to be people-pleasers. Helpers. (Or ‘helpmeets,’ to borrow a term used in certain Christian communities. The support team to the primary players, if you will.
AND GUESS WHAT THE PREDOMINANT GENDER IS AMONG THE PRIMARY PLAYERS?
We are taught that our desires and opinions are secondary to the desires and opinions of men, aka the important members of society. Accordingly, we quickly learn to disregard our own wants and go along with what others want, lest we be labelled ‘bitchy’ or ‘loud’ or ‘aggressive’ or ‘difficult’ or ‘uppity’ or ‘man-hating’ or ‘un-lady-like’ or any of the other terms used to shut up women who dare speak their minds or stand their ground.
We play nice. We keep sweet. We acquiesce. We accommodate. We compromise — where compromise means we do all the giving. We avoid hurting others’ feelings — even if it means our own feelings get hurt. We don’t say no. We stay passive and subservient. We do the unpaid work. We let others take the credit. We give in. We suck it up. We don’t make a scene. We smile on command, like well-trained dogs.
We put the needs of others ahead of our own needs and we do what is expected of us — which means we invite people we don’t know, care nothing about or actively dislike to The Best Day Of Our Life. Then we buy them dinner and supply them with free drinks all night.
Hey — in good times and in bad, right?