Gender Roles In Marriage

A question came up recently on social media that brought up the issue of gender roles and equality in the aspect of proposals, weddings and marriage. It has struck up quite a storm on my news-feed, so I just wanted to offer my own $0.02 on the issue at hand. The initial concern was that if so many women consider themselves to be self-proclaimed progressive feminists who truly believe in gender equality and eliminating double standards, then why are traditional engagement and marriage roles so easily accepted without question? Basically, how can one be both a strong and independent woman while at the same time, waiting around and allowing her significant other to make the decision to propose and then pursuing a traditional wedding? 

Well, I think there’s a balance to be found, and a good friend who I had lost touch with over the years put it this way:

“It’s the freedom of choice that empowers us the most.”

I couldn’t have said it better. In my case, my then-fiance-now-husband and I had a mutual agreement on the general time in our lives we would be getting married, but I appreciated the sweet gesture of an unforgettable, grand proposal on an unexpected date and I would do the same for him for something that he wanted in a more traditional manner- simply because I know that we both respect each other as equals, and because I love him and want his happiness. We also went somewhat of a traditional route for marriage; in fact, neither of us wanted to go this direction, but again, it was something we chose to do together for the happiness of our families which to us, is just as important as defying gender and cultural norms to prove a point. 

Now in our day-to-day life within our marriage and relationship, we are for the most part, equal: equal in financial contribution to the costs of living as well as household chores for the family. However, we have a mutual understanding and agreement on the level we both think is acceptable, and that is a decision we’ve also made together. Personally, I like the idea of my husband taking me out for dates and buying me random surprises, and my husband enjoys the idea of me, as his wife, taking more initiative of cleaning when I am home and cooking meals for him when he’s tired after a long day of work. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, because it is a decision made via the mutual choice of two people who love each other.

Although many traditions are damaging to feminist progress and their implications on gender dynamics can be confusing at times, sometimes people forget that the whole base of being a feminist has to do with choice. Society didn’t always allow women to choose what they wish, but the active decision- for whatever reason- to pursue a traditional route in certain aspects of life is just as feminist as doing something outside the tradition. As long as there is a mutual understanding of equality and respect between two people, then it should be perfectly acceptable to pursue a more traditional route in some cases and a modern route other times without receiving backlash from society. I believe it is most certainly possible to be both a loving wife who accepts certain traditions for the happiness of someone she loves, and an empowered feminist who can create lasting change on societal norms…and equally excel at both!


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