back to top
Monday, May 20, 2024
8.8 C
Sydney

Monica Doumit: Women who ‘marry themselves’ need our empathy

Most read

 

We should empathise with the single women who ‘married themselves’ on radio, not mock them, says Monica Doumit. Their natural longings were merely being exploited by a breakfast radio program for ratings and Instagram likes. Photo: Liz Martin/Unsplash
We should empathise with the single women who ‘married themselves’ on radio, not mock them, says Monica Doumit. Photo: Liz Martin/Unsplash

Last week, radio station 2DayFM hosted its Wedding for One, an event that featured nine women making vows to love themselves for the rest of their lives.

Aged in their 30s and 40s, some of these women had been married before, some have never been brides. Some have kids, others don’t. One even had grandkids.

- Advertisement -

What each had in common is that they are currently single and were “winners” of a radio competition, the prize package for which included a wedding dress and ring, as well as professional hair and makeup done so that they could attend their “sologamous wedding” ceremony and reception at Doltone House.

The ceremony included each of the brides walking down the aisle and reciting the vows they had written for themselves, asserting their independence and promising to love and respect themselves for the rest of their lives. They cut the cake, danced by themselves and drank champagne, all for a 6-9am breakfast radio program and its associated social media accounts.

Some might be tempted to mock these women, but I won’t be joining them. Being 40 and chronically single, I understand the desire that many of these women have for some public celebration of who they are.

I empathise with the need they have to publicly declare their non-reliance on others, particularly a male partner, and I appreciate their longing for others close to them to affirm their chosen (or, in many cases, unchosen) lifestyle.

I feel sorry for them that these natural longings were exploited by a breakfast radio program for ratings and Instagram likes. The human desire for communion is real and important and those with an unfulfilled yearning to be married aren’t light entertainment.

2DayFM is no stranger to the distortion of marriage for entertainment purposes. Remember Glen Emerton and Leif Bunyan? In 1998, 2DayFM had a competition called Two Strangers and a Wedding. A groom was chosen and then a competition held to find his bride. They “wed” live on air and then were sent to Paris on honeymoon.

Australian law requires the bride and groom to provide at least one month’s notice of intention to marry, so the marriage was not legal. It functioned more like a commitment ceremony. The two never actually married, splitting up less than two months later.

Then there was the 2005 “marriage” of on-air presenter Geoff Field and partner Jason Kerr, in what was described at the time as “Sydney’s first gay wedding.”

While each of these radio promotions appeared both fringe and harmless at the time, their twisting of marriage became mainstream in less than 15 years, either through changes to the marriage law or the popular television program, Married at First Sight.

Given this, it is quite possible that “marrying yourself” will become more common, with the wedding industry capitalising on the hype to sell wedding dresses and receptions to the desperate and dateless.

Even if the aim of “weddings for one” is to provide some consolation and affirmation to the single amongst us, it goes about it in the wrong way because it encourages those who want to be married to reject it out-of-hand or twist its meaning to make themselves feel better.

It fails because it gives into the temptation of building yourself up by bringing others down.

By that I mean it is yet another step in the societal devaluation of marriage, expanding its scope so that the word “marriage” is simultaneously used to mean everything and nothing.

It would be much better to insist that every person is of infinite value, regardless of their marital status, rather than to suggest they assert their worth by marrying themselves.

It would be preferable to encourage those who are enduring more single years than they wanted or planned to use their time and talents to support those of their friends and family who are doing their best to live married life well.

For single Catholics, this should also include supporting priestly and religious vocations too.

Yes, I know it’s just a radio program that no one listens to because we’re all tuned in to Spotify anyway. But the last thing society or single women need is another subtle attack on marriage.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -