Friday, February 15, 2013

Today in judge-a-woman

I kind of loved Liz McDaniel's account of working as a temp at a bridal mag, just after being dumped by a fiancé. A darkly amusing premise, and well-told. It's a great first-person account, in part because the secrets of everyone but the author are left out. We know a dude left her, but not who he is, nor why things ended. If there's mockery, it's very much directed inward.

The NYT commenters, on the other hand, are up in arms. First off, why is this in the paper of record? (Why, I want to know, do opponents of lifestyle articles keep acting as though the one they've just arrived at is the paper's very first piece on something other than Mideast strife?) Then there are those who simply can't handle that a woman wouldn't express ambivalence (fauxbivalence) at the very idea of a wedding in the first place. This, eh. Just because this wouldn't be for you (and it wasn't for me, either - I got married at City Hall, in a short, white-ish dress from a non-bridal department store) doesn't mean anyone it is for doesn't deserve happiness. The author appears to be from the South. I don't know much about the South, but it is my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) that elaborate, "traditional" weddings just might be a bigger deal in South Carolina than among the Zabars set.

But then there are the really judgmental commenters, who accuse McDaniel of caring about the wedding, not the marriage. There's even this insinuation that she had it coming, getting dumped. A reiteration of the tired trope that a woman must show her worthiness of marriage by proving her utter indifference to the institution, especially to its trappings.

As for her not discussing the marriage,  it never happened, did it? We might assume that the author was very deeply mourning what must have been quite a close relationship, but maybe did not want to share the details of that with the paper. (As we know from Dan Savage, or common sense, the reason may have been very personal.) And what this job was reminding her of would not have been her ex's quirks, but the trappings of the wedding that never was. The details are there not to show that the author fetishized The Wedding, but because they show just how planned everything was, just how late in the game she got dumped. How is this not poignant? Do we need to translate this to something a hipper reader would understand? Like, imagine if she got dumped, and then a piece of bubble wrap reminded her of the dress she'd planned on crafting for herself for the casual backyard wedding she was going to have, that was going to be catered by the local taco place. Wouldn't that have counted?

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