Bridal Speeches Should be the Norm | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Bridal Speeches Should be the Norm

Comment Writer Rahim Mohamed laments the sexist attitudes still prevelant in society

I was intrigued to see that Meghan Markle’s announcement that she would break with tradition by making a speech at her own wedding received the extensive coverage that it did.

On reflection of my own experiences at weddings (I’ve been averaging an attendance of around two weddings a year for the last three years), the brides have indeed delivered speeches on more than half of these occasions. Its encouraging therefore that we live in a time where the generation of people getting married are more liberal in their approach to the ceremony’s proceedings.

Less encouraging, however, is that a huge majority of people still believe that the bride should not give a speech – ‘a YouGov poll in 2016 found that only 16% of those surveyed thought the bride should give a speech at her wedding.'

This is indeed troubling and reinforces the view that traditions stemming from patriarchal society are so institutionalised that they are taking a lot of time to break down.

Less encouraging, however, is that a huge majority of people still believe that the bride should not give a speech

And this comes at a time where the issue of gender equality hits the news on an almost daily basis.  The reaction to this is mixed; there are those that believe it to be justified and those that will inevitably roll their eyes and continue to mutter under their breath: ‘this is political correctness gone mad.' Based on these YouGov results, you can easily put a case forward to say that political correctness hasn’t gone far enough.

The Carrie Gracie saga is a particularly interesting one.  Working at the BBC as China editor, she discovered that her male counterparts were earning ‘at least 50% more’ and subsequently stepped down from this position.

Rod Liddle wrote an interesting article in The Spectator titled ‘Women’s pay could bankrupt the BBC.'  I probably don’t have to elaborate much for you to guess the thesis of Liddle’s article, but indulge me for just a few paragraphs. A singular valid point (and an incredibly important one) is raised: merit should be the main determinant of pay, not gender.  

However, Liddle uses an odd set of criteria to measure merit in this instance.  His argument goes something like this: Jon Sopel, USA editor for the BBC, physically lives in Washington (Gracie has not had to move to China) and gets more TV coverage, and therefore deserves to be paid well in excess of Gracie.  Note further that Liddle makes no reference to the fact that Gracie’s a fluent Mandarin speaker (impressive in my books anyway).

Add to this the provocative language used by Liddle – examples include ‘Carrie’s plaintive squeals’, ‘very stupid BBC Women’ and ‘utter dimbos’ – and it kind of feels like he doesn’t get the point.  

Yes, promotions and equal pay simply for the sake of equality cannot be the way forward, but the problem is that gender bias is so rampant that a world in which merit is the only consideration is still a distant dream. Flippancy such as this may be amusing and in all likelihood attracts greater readership, but it also points to an attitude so ingrained in many factions of society that makes breaking down preconceptions of the roles that women should and should not assume so much more of a challenge.

Gender bias is so rampant that a world in which merit is the only consideration is still a distant dream

It is this same flippancy which is adopted in setting unequal wages between men and women, that led to the organising of THAT men-only charity dinner where hostesses were sexually harassed , and which shapes the perceptions of a large part of society that believe that brides should not speak at their own weddings.

It will take time for attitudes to change but until then, let us take some solace in the fact that people are now being held to account for sexist behaviour, even if there are those that haven’t yet woken up to the issue.

Postgraduate student studying Political Science at the University of Birmingham


8th February 2018 at 9:00 am

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