My sister got married on Thursday.
That sounds weird, but it’s the truth. My big sister has a husband now. She’s deciding on whether or not to change her last name. She’s inherited a niece and nephew from a family that I literally only just met three days ago.
It’s interesting to think of my sister married. I remember when we were younger (to be fair, she’s 10 years old than me) and she would talk about how she never wanted to get married. How marriage was all a part of playing into the patriarchy and losing one’s individuality. She used to talk about how she never wanted to have children or be a mother. She used to be the feminist ideal that I compared myself to. She’d lecture me on not having enough female artists on my itunes list and question why I thought that was. She’d introduce me to famous women and feminist ideas and share her anger with the sexism she faced. And now here she is — 31 years old and with a husband talking about having babies one day.
But what does that mean? Is she suddenly somebody different? Or has she evolved into a new type of feminist; one that as I grow older I’m learning to reconcile with my past beliefs? There was once a time when I was so certain on the thought that a feminist could never get married or ever be a wife. But at 21 I’m only just starting to realize just how ridiculous that idea is.
Feminism, to me, is the belief that women are equal and should be guaranteed the right to make whichever choices are best for them.
For my sister, that was changing her ideas on what feminism meant for her. It was realizing that she wanted different things from her life at 30 than what she what she thought she would want when she was 20. It was coming to an understanding that loving her now-husband (and my new brother-in-law!) made her a better person and that having him as a permanent fixture in her life was what she wanted. It was figuring out that while she wanted to have a wedding, she wanted it to be small and she wanted it to be a humanist ceremony that stressed their equality as life partners.
For me, this wedding (and subsequent marriage) has come with its own life lessons. While I watched my big sister move into a new beginning that was right for her, I was faced with more than a few awkward questions tossed my way. I had to deal with family members who wanted to know just how serious my own relationship with my boyfriend was. Not to mention other’s who had no problem not-so-subtly suggesting that I be the one to catch the bouquet (which thankfully wound up not even being thrown).
Clearly, I’m not so aligned with what those people were implying.
But, in the end, this wedding has been a great experience for me. Not only was I able to be a part of a monumental moment in my sister’s life, but I was able to witness the evolution of her feminism. And laying here a day later, I can only feel proud of my big sister and the decisions she’s made that have lead her to this point in her life. Wherever she goes — whether she keeps her last name or takes my brother-in-law’s (I’ll never get used to saying that) — I know that she’ll be making the right choices for her. And that’s all that really matters in the end.