The woman fixes her veil and straightens out her train once more before she exchanges her vows with the one she loves the most. As the first piano chord lets out thunder in the chapel, each guest stands up and awaits to see the bride on her big day. She wraps her arm around her father’s arm and waits for him to walk her down the aisle. Blinded by the profound inscription of society’s unjust norms, she is unable to realize how the traditional heterosexual marriage is engraved with the oppression of women.
German-American businessman, Levi Strauss, brought up these valuable points in his book The Elementary Structures of Kinship. He mentioned how in a traditional heterosexual marriage, the woman is being exchanged as a gift. Strauss writes:
“The entire relationship of exchange which constitutes marriage is not established between a man and a woman, but between two groups of men, and the woman figures only as one of the objects in the exchange, not as one of the partners […] this remains true even when the girl’s feelings are taken into consideration, as, moreover, is usually the case. In acquiescing to the proposed union, she precipitates or allows the exchange to take place, she cannot alter its nature.”
Delving deeper into Strauss’ point, in a traditional marriage, the father walks his daughter down the aisle and passes her down to her groom. A woman being passed down from one man to another represents the woman as merely being an object — an object that can be exchanged. It allows men to have power over women. It shows you a glimpse at how patriarchal the norms of our society are. That is why I’m saying this now: We should change the tradition and have our mothers walk us down the aisle.
In films, it is always the father walking the bride down the aisle. It is always the father having a problem with the groom. It is always the woman being portrayed as if she’s property who belongs to a man. Having your father walk you down the aisle on your wedding day does not mean that you are submitting to oppression. If a bride wants her father to walk her down the aisle, that is perfectly fine. However, society is taken aback when it comes to a mother walking her daughter down the aisle. It should not be that way. We should change our traditions and make our mothers a more significant component of our big day.
It was revealed that actress Meghan Markle wants her mother, Doria Ragland, to walk her down the aisle. Of course, many unconfirmed rumors are now speculating that Prince Harry may be the one to walk her down the aisle instead of her mother, once again showing that a man should be the one taking charge in the bride’s big day. The validity of the stories are not what is relevant here, what is relevant is how taken aback society is at having a mother walking her daughter down the aisle on her daughter’s big day.
Society should not be surprised when a mother walks her daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Such a tradition should already part of our societal norms. A mother’s role in her daughter’s wedding should go beyond picking out her dress. A mother should be the one to walk her bride down the aisle at weddings.