In my latest effort at sullying an otherwise fine publication with my ramblings, I wax ambivalent on bridal fauxbivalence.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
As a rule, I do my best to incorporate even the trolliest criticisms of my writing into something positive. As a grad student, one can get used to all feedback on one's writing being couched in a great deal of positivity and support, so the harsh world of anonymous commenters can be - yes, really - of great use. It can be difficult, when, for example, the comments are along the lines of, ‘this is the dumbest thing I ever read,’ or are furious tirades based on misinterpretations of headlines I didn't even write. The lesson learned can feel like, more nuance! Always more nuance! Or someone will be upset that you oversimplified what is in fact a complicated issue! The addition of extra hemming, hawing, and cautiousness is probably the opposite of what would improve my writing, and yet.
But I want to take something from a comment at the Atlantic claiming that my latest post felt mean-spirited, although the commenter him/herself admits to not knowing why they have this impression, nor towards whom this alleged meanness is directed. This I can work with, even if I'm not exactly sure to whom I should direct the apology. When I reread my initial WWPD post on fauxbivalence, I found it far too snarky, although I continued to believe the basic premise. What I do in the more recent post, and hadn’t in others there, is position myself in the issue in question. I wasn't sure about doing that at first, but it didn’t seem right to pin it all on Jessica Grose and other writers who’ve put their fauxbivalence before a wide audience. (I have ample stores of anecdata on fauxbivalence, but prefer to cite publicly-available examples.) My own wedding involved a mix of good-feminist and bad-feminist moments - as I find they nearly all do. And I find myself playing up the good-feminist ones, playing down the bad-feminist ones, rather than simply owning (as another commenter puts it) the lot of it. I am not above fauxbivalence! If I'm hard on the fauxbivalent, I'm hard on myself.
And... the following will address Caryatis's points in the comments there, which I'm reluctant to enter for fear of losing the week to that: I don't think the answer is to throw up one's hands and have the most 'traditional' wedding possible. We should all do what we're comfortable with, be less judgmental about what others feel comfortable with, and so on. Given that I got married at City Hall, I'm not about to tell people who get married in their backyards that they're not making a big enough fuss. We're all comfortable with different things. If you don't want a fancy-schmancy ring, more power to you. (My personal favorite in the non-traditional ring arena is this.) What I think is wrong is to turn who can be most low-key, most offbeat, into a competition in its own right. A wedding is by its very nature an unoriginal act, and I think there's a certain value to acknowledging it. Not acknowledging it by having a more 'traditional' event than you're comfortable with, but just, like, acknowledging it to yourself, in conversation, etc.