Why are we so obsessed with tradition?

By Lindsey Child on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

By Lindsey Child on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Exactly a week ago today, my partner proposed to me. I thought we were just going to Bath to meet up with our gaming friends, but it turned out he’d arranged the whole weekend around it – with the help of my friends, of course. He even designed the Portal-themed ring himself! He arranged all that, in secret – but do you know what he didn’t do? Ask my dad for permission to marry me.

Why? Well my answer is, why should he?

People start asking you a lot of questions when you get in engaged: When’s the wedding? Where’s the wedding? How did he propose? But both Alex and I have been asked a lot if he asked my dad before proposing. This struck us as odd; we assumed it was very old hat to do such a thing these days. I didn’t know people still did it! To those that asked me this question, I stated that I am not a piece of property. I don’t belong to my father. I own my own house, have my own job and live with my partner.

When Alex was asked that same question, some people were confused by his similar response. In their eyes, it’s tradition. Therefore, you just do it, without questioning. This is perhaps what angers me most about so-called ‘tradition’. Because it’s perceived normal to do things that are traditional, we stop asking why we do them. Back in the day, daughters did belong to their fathers. Traditionally, fathers pay for the wedding too, but I don’t expect, or even want, mine to. I am a big girl, I can pay for things myself.

Under marriage, I am also expected to take my partner’s name. We have discussed this before in length and I have already decided that I don’t want to do this. Not because I want to purposely break tradition, but because I like my name, and I feel as if I would be losing part of my identity by changing it. These days, the only real reason for a woman, or indeed a man, to change their name is for the sake of the children, should you have any. Sadly, society would probably laugh or look down upon any man who chooses to take his wife’s name. Sexism and marriage, it seems, go hand in hand.

Although gay people have long struggled for the right to be able to marry, now that they have that right they are lucky. The latest episode of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ featured a gay couple, and the groom-to-be planning the wedding made a very good point: gay people don’t have any traditions when it comes to marriage. They don’t have to follow the rules, they can do anything they want when it comes to their big day. But really, don’t we all have that same opportunity?

Let’s drop the bullshit. No one has to ‘give you away’ if you don’t want them to. You don’t have to take someone’s name and you certainly don’t have to listen to anyone who says you have to do so for the sake of tradition. It’s time we all started making our own traditions.

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