I both agree and disagree with Amanda Hess when she takes issue with the media backlash against all the attention placed on the Royal Wedding. I agree with her argument that it’s getting degraded largely because it’s perceived as feminine. But I disagree that the public obsession with the Royal Wedding is something to be defended. In its defense, she says that “the royal wedding is this year’s Superbowl of girl culture.”
I can agree with that much. The Superbowl is a pointless, idiotic ritual focusing on people with way more money than they deserve that gets way more media attention than it deserves. Oh hey, so is the Royal Wedding. So it’s a good analogy.
Lavish wedding ceremonies, the institution of marriage itself, the adulation of monarchy, the popular mythology surrounding princesses – these are not things to be upheld or defended. Sure, some women celebrate these things. That doesn’t make them feminist. That’s something that some feminists refer to as “participating in their own oppression.”
But Hess’ response to this Washington Post column is otherwise pretty spot-on. Ah, WaPo. Even when you try to be feminist you still manage to be wrong. The columnist, Petula Dvorak, also has a problem with the Royal Wedding craze. But her basic argument is that girls like dumb things, so they should act like boys instead. This is the telling paragraph:
The average age of the American bride is about 26 today, though it’s probably higher in this area. Here, 26-year-olds are still joining kickball leagues while getting their advanced degrees in international affairs. They are more into debating U.S.-China policy and less into picking out a China pattern.
So let’s get this straight. Kickball is okay for intelligent people to do (presumably because it’s coded masculine in our culture). But picking out China patterns is not okay for intelligent people to do (presumably because it’s coded feminine). I’m afraid I just don’t see it.
As Hess points out, “boy culture” isn’t exactly filled with intellectual activities. Kickball involves kicking a ball. It’s not a thought-intensive process. But Dvorak seems to just unconsciously assume it’s a more intelligent activity because it’s a guy thing. She’s wrong about that.
But I disagree with Hess in her attempt to defend “girl culture.” Let’s face it, girl culture is stupid. It should be torn down. That being said, boy culture is also stupid, in equal measure. And it should also be torn down. Just as some feminists in the past wanted to celebrate supposedly “feminine” qualities, Hess wants to celebrate supposedly “feminine” activities. Many feminists today feel that it would be far more beneficial to simply tear down the distinctions between “masculine” and “feminine.” I’m one of them.
So diss the Royal Wedding. But don’t do it because it’s the cool thing to do. Do it because marriage, lavish marriage rituals, and monarchy are all institutions that need to be thrown out the window.