Thursday, November 29, 2012

Women Are Ruining Marriage

I know you all have probably already seen Suzanne Venker's article on Fox News, in which she bemoans the fact that there are no marriageable men and then asks, "What if the dearth of good men, and ongoing battle of the sexes, is women's fault?" But, UGH. Things like this article make me want to scream. And throw up.

Who are these men who are refusing to get married because "women aren't women anymore"? They sound like misogynistic jerks. And I don't know why anyone, especially any woman, would think that these men become more "marriageable" if women only stopped going to school and pursuing careers.

Thankfully, we have Suzanne Venker to try and convince us that we should think that way because, well, because of SCIENCE. You see, according to Venker:
"The so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to be self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families - it's in their DNA. But modern women won't let them." 

So, women, we are undermining men's ability to do things in life because we are also doing things with our lives. This makes the men  - and apparently their DNA - sad. And yet, even though the men are apparently the ones who are sad and we're the ones running around pursuing silly things like an education and career, we lose. Because the men we would be marrying are such entitled jerks that they would rather be a "slacker" than compete with women.

We are really missing out on all these would-be-great-if-it-wasn't-for-stupid-feminism men!

Destroying these patriarchal men and their dreams of a patriarchal marriage is a serious accusation. One that, if true, does demand some reflection. I encourage all women to do what Venker says and "look in the mirror and ask what role [you've] played in bringing about this transformation."

Then give your educated, employed, feminist-self a little pat on the back.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Feminist Wedding: The Budget

When I got engaged, I think I secretly thought that somehow the amazing-party-planner inside me would just emerge. That I would know whether my invitations look better printed on white or ecru, how to pick a good florist, plan a party with perfect flow, and learn all the secrets of Photoshop. I quickly learned, however, that my little ring was not full of magical powers. And that the only thing you really learn when you get engaged is that weddings are insanely expensive.

I think I also assumed that if I went into the wedding planning process not demanding the most expensive things and not buying into the idea that I had to buy all the things (customized hangars! garters! sparklers! mustache props!) that my wedding wouldn't cost that much. But the problem is, no matter how much you don't want the most expensive things or think it shouldn't cost too much, the people in the wedding industry think that it should cost an absolute ton. Around $27,000 to be exact.

According to USA Today, the, and the Wedding Channel, the average couple spends around $27,000 on their wedding. $27,000! That is the average. And that is a ton of money! Here is where they say that money goes:

Because the average couple spends $27,000 on their wedding, people stare at you like you are some kind of crazy person when you say that $3,000 for photography is out of your budget, that $1,000 for a DJ seems ridiculous, or that $35 for a bouquet of baby's breath seems like a little much (they are $5 a bunch at Whole Foods people). I thought spending less on flowers would be easy, but when I started looking at florists, half of them had minimums of $1,500. I couldn't even choose to use less flowers or use less expensive flowers. It felt like I was being forced into spending money I didn't want to spend on things I didn't even want. And indeed, isn't that half the point of the wedding industrial complex? To make you feel like you HAVE TO spend a ton of money (or set ridiculous minimums and prices to basically force you into spending it)?

Brett and I knew from the beginning that we didn't want to spend a ton of money on our wedding. And that we absolutely would not accrue any credit card debt to pay for the wedding. One of the first things we did after getting engaged - before I looked at a single dress or venue - was think about what we wanted our wedding budget to look like. For us, that meant not just thinking about what we could afford, but also what we thought was an ethical amount to spend on what is essentially one night and one party (albeit a very meaningful and special party). For us, $27,000 just seemed to high. And to be honest, for Brett, almost any amount was too high. We had a few difficult conversations about what seemed ethical and right for both of us and struggled with the fact that what seemed "reasonable" to us was still probably considered a waste of money to people all over the world. We both felt guilty that we were spending money on a party when other people lack food, shelter, and clothing.

But ultimately, we want a wedding. We want to be able to invite our closest family and friends, feed them yummy food, give them a space and some music to dance their little hearts out, and dress up a little. And that costs money. So we came up with a number much lower than $27,000 that we felt comfortable with and that, luckily, our parents felt comfortable contributing. Because let's be honest, Brett and I have no money and quite a bit of student loans. If our parents weren't contributing to our wedding, this wedding blog series would go something like: "I bought a little white dress. Brett put on a blazer. I picked up a bouquet of flowers. We went to the courthouse and got married. We celebrated by drinking margaritas and eating lots of cake." And while that actually sounds quite awesome, it wouldn't involve all the people, yummy food, and dancing that we'd like to have.

So, thanks to our parents, we can still have the wedding we want without going into debt. I'm happy that we're resisting the idea that we have to spend $30,000 on a wedding and hope that our wedding can be an example to others that you can have a wedding for less than that (if everybody refuses to spend a ton, i have a small flicker of hope that the wedding industry might change). I enjoy the process of thinking creatively about how to spend less, prioritizing what is important to us, and have been overwhelmed by the amazingly crafty and generous things friends and family have offered to do and make for the wedding. I'm ridiculously excited about getting married, about crafting a meaningful ceremony, and about throwing a fun and pretty party. Whenever I get sad that I can't afford something (which does happen from time to time) or think that it wouldn't be that big of a deal if I go way over budget on something, I remind myself that this does not have to be the wedding to end all weddings, that this is not the only time in our lives we'll host a party, that we are not planning a photo shoot but a wedding (they're not the same!), and that this doesn't have to be the most magical, wonderful, happiest, and most perfect day of our lives. Because if, at the end of the day, we end up married, I know we'll have a magical, wonderful, and happy life together. And that's what really matters.

P.S. If you were hoping that this post would actually include some helpful tips about budgeting, I recommend downloading the budget template from Google's wedding spreadsheets. I've found it really useful (although I totally ignored all the recommended percentages/amounts). I also highly recommend an idea that I picked up in the book A Practical Wedding: make a list of things you care about and things you don't care about before you do any wedding planning. When you start thinking that you have to have letterpress stationery or get bummed that you can't afford to have flowers absolutely everywhere, it is nice to look back at that list and remind yourself that a few months ago you didn't care that much about paper or flowers.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

[Brandi] The Last Name Project

In this series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com.  

The following post is by Brandi, a lawyer in Denver who spends very little time actually lawyering. She can usually be found working for free at a nonprofit, hiking up mountains, or bossing her husband around because he made the mistake of asking her for help with his business one time. 

This post originally appeared on the Curvy Girl Guide. It has been re-posted with permission.

I had the idea of how I wanted an ideal marriage to go long before I ever conceded that I myself might get married one day. I didn’t want kids, and on most days still don’t. I wanted a husband who took as much responsibility for the house as I did. I never would tolerate being called “woman,” and I for sure would never change my last name.

So when I met a man who loved the fact that I was strong-willed and progressive, I scooped him up fast and we got married earlier than anyone (us included) would ever have imagined.

From the start, I made it abundantly clear that I would not take his name. First off, I don’t love his last name for me. I love it on him as it suits him and is indicative of his extremely Irish heritage, but it’s just not a great name for me. For me to give up my last name, a name I adore, a name that suits me and has in a weird way been a sort of identity to me, outside of being a mere moniker, I would have to love how his name sounds with mine, and frankly, I don’t. Second, my name is extremely important to me. I grew up in a tight family. Our name has always been a badge of pride and I didn’t intend to give it up for a name I had very little connection to. Lastly, my husband is so supportive and has always made it clear that he was happy with whatever name I chose to have.

It’s not that I don’t respect every woman’s choice to do what she will with her name once she is married, but for me it was a no-brainer. I had no intention of becoming my husband’s “property.” (Cue the eye-rolls because I know, it’s so clich├ęd feminist and hippy-liberal.) It’s also just how I feel about it.

Plus, having different names means that in the areas that are important to us we can stand on our own. I am published academically under my maiden name and can write online without implicating him. He has built a successful career and presence through his own name that is not easily traced to me. We come together through our relationship and commitment, which are much deeper than eight letters can ever describe.

Of course, it hasn’t always been easy. Since we did marry so young I got the side-eye many a time when people realized I didn’t change my name. Once my husband was sick and called his doctor from work for a prescription. I went to pick it up for him and the nurse almost would not give it to me as I didn’t have the same last name as my husband, never mind that we had the same address on our ID cards. We’ve had more than one landlord ask that just one of us go on the lease because boyfriends and girlfriends often break up causing a lot of issues, and trying to do anything with a bill in just one of our names is usually a headache. Some people even refuse to acknowledge that I didn’t change my name and have continually called me by my husband’s name.

Minor annoyances aside, I can’t imagine being called anything else, and I think my husband would find it funny for me to share his name. There was a time where we thought we would both change our last names to something new but decided, paperwork in hand on the way to the courthouse, that it wasn’t in the cards for us, we were both so attached to our given names. In the end, we each have the name we have chosen to have and we feel really good about those decisions. It’s certainly not the choice most make but I recently came across a website that shares the stories of those who for one reason or another stray from tradition when it comes to married names. I love reading it and seeing a whole array of perspectives on what is really in a name. What’s in my name is family and history and loyalty and understanding.

So I’m really curious, did/will you change your last name or not? Can you ever see yourself doing it differently?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Which Retailers Are Working to Prevent Abusive Labor Practices?


Not For Sale, a nonprofit that works to fight modern-day slavery, has recently released a report on major retailers and the systems they have in place to address and prevent modern slavery*. The group has given the retailers grades, and while I didn't see anything really surprising in the report, it is always great to see a chart as detailed as this one to help guide your shopping.

What stores failed/almost failed?

  • Abercrombie & Fitch (includes Hollister)
  • Aeropostale
  • Aramark
  • Armor Holdings
  • Blauer
  • Bob Barker
  • Carter's (owns OshKosh B' Gosh)
  • Express
  • Forever 21 (why does anyone still shop here?!?!)
  • Fruit of the Loom
  • Garan
  • Lacoste
  • Propper
  • Quicksilver (owns Roxy)
  • Robinson Textiles
  • Rocky
  • Skechers
  • Spiewak
  • Walmart (owns Faded Glory, No Boundaries, and Simply Basic)
I know I'll be avoiding these companies in the near future and using my wallet to tell them that fair labor practices are a MUST.

*Note: I'm not sure how I feel about the term "modern slavery," but I'm using it here because that is the language that Not For Sale uses. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Whose House? Our House!

Source: Boston Globe

I am so in love with this photo of Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren and Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin as they attend their orientation session at the Capitol.

The only orientation I'm familiar with is my first-year orientation at Wellesley, so in my head Elizabeth and Tammy are spending the week making up chants and marching around yelling them, swimming in lakes, staying up late chatting through the night, and calling their moms every night to dish about their day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Between Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Maggie Hassan (the only female Democratic governor in the country), Tammy Duckworth (the first female combat veteran elected to Congress), Tammy Baldwin (the first openly gay senator), New Hampshire's all-female delegation, and equal marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Washington - I couldn't be happier about the way things went last night!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I was planning on doing a post with some links for weekend reading, but today I can't quite get my mind off of those affected by Hurricane Sandy. If you'd like to help, this link has a list of places you can donate.

The line for the "bus bridge" from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Photo Source: Gothamist

Photo Source: The Boston Globe
Photo Source: LA Times 
Flooded subway station. Photo Source: MTA's Flickr Stream 

And don't forget about our furry friends! Shelters in New York City allow animals, but many are in desperate need of food and supplies to help care for them. Additionally, many pets were left behind when families evacuated, and animal water-rescue teams are being deployed to try and rescue those left behind. If you'd like to help, the ASPCA or Humane Society are great organizations to donate to, and you can do so here and here