My "baby" girl is getting married next week. Never mind that my "baby" graduated from college a few years ago. And marrying a man she chose for herself, a man who doesn't need to be enticed with a dowry.
Because my daughter (and every other daughter out there) has a mind of her own, is capable of making her own decisions, and is valuable—no dowry needed. Thankfully, we live in a culture that finally recognizes this.
Years ago women were "given away" to a man in marriage, usually accompanied by a cow or goat as a little carrot waved in front of the man. As if the daughter herself wasn't enough for the father to give away. Of course that was back in the days when women had little value placed on them, little chance of speaking their mind, and little opportunity to make their own way in the world.
Remember the movie “Fiddler on the Roof”? I’d have been one of those strong-willed daughters, determined to choose a man for myself—no matchmaker, thank-you-very-much.
Thankfully, times have changed. At least in our small slice of the world. I know there are many countries requiring a dowry for a marriage, and yes, in the news there are still horrifying stories of "dowry death." Also in the news is the disturbing practice of some Muslim men who arrange marriages with girls under the age of ten. Girls who have no say in their future, their worth.
I could blog forever about the horrors of the treatment of girls and women in many areas of the world, but right now I’m focusing on the worth of a woman.
Anyone who calls women the “weaker” sex has never met the women I know. Or looked back in the history of their own family at the struggles both men AND women endured in the past.
Let’s look at my great-aunt Unity. A strong Irish woman who, at the age of fourteen, was promised to a man twice her age who was looking for someone to raise his five children. Unity’s parents arranged the marriage, shipped her off to the man’s house (with her kicking and screaming, I might add. She had a good Irish spirit!) She bore him another handful of children, working in the field in the morning, going inside to give birth, then back out in the field at night. Seriously.
Same with her sister, my great-grandma Hannah, (yes, I was named after this inspiring woman) who not only worked right alongside her husband, but lived another fifty-plus years after he died and continued working their farm alone.
I’m not belittling men in any way. They are worth their weight in gold—just like women.
And now I understand what I didn’t years ago as my dad came to walk me down the aisle, handkerchief in his hand and tears in his eyes.
I might not be "giving" my daughter away. But a little piece of my heart is going with her as she starts this new chapter in her life, following her heart. No goat required.