The biggest story of the day is, of course, the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Every detail of the story – from the ring to the proposal – has been dissected in the press. One of those details is the fact that William asked Kate’s father for permission to marry his daughter. (To be fair, he asked Kate first, but still.) Many people consider this an incredibly romantic act, but I disagree. I find it old-fashioned at best and sexist at worst. Asking fathers for permission to marry their daughters is something that should go the way of chastity belts.
Women aren’t legally their fathers’ possessions, and they get to pick who they want to marry without any input from their male relatives. Here’s the thing – of course I want a person I marry to get along with my family. And I’m very close to my parents, so their opinion of any future son-in-law matters. But there is a difference between them liking and approving of someone I intend to marry and their being asked for permission. For one thing, the fact that William (like many prospective grooms) asked her father and not her mother is a clear sign that this isn’t a sweet act about joining families together, it’s just two men making a decision on a woman’s behalf. Would the marriage have gone ahead if for some reason Mr. Middleton had said “hell no”? I suspect he wouldn’t have said no, but even if he had, it doesn’t really matter. His approval is sweet, but it’s not necessary. Kate is an adult woman with the ability to make her own choices.
If there comes a day when a dude wants to marry me? I want him to love my family and vice versa. And, ideally, if my parents hated him, I would know that well before deciding whether to marry him. But ultimately, a marriage is about two people – the ones entering into the marriage, and no one else.