Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…
…to reinvent what feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez has branded the “antiquated and needlessly discriminatory” marriage certificate. The activist has pledged that she will not be tying the knot until marriage certificates in England and Wales include the names of couples’ mothers as well as those of their fathers’.
But it’s only a bit of paper, isn’t it?
A bit of paper with space for the names of the father of the bride and the father of the groom, plus their occupations, but none for the mothers’. Civil partnership certificates and Scottish and Northern Irish marriage certificates do allocate space for them. It might appear trivial, but Criado-Perez, 29, has argued it is symptomatic of the wider practice of silencing women and writing them out of history.
Good thing she’s not planning on getting hitched any time soon!
As it happens, she is. Criado-Perez, who came to public attention last year when she was targeted by online trolls when she successfully petitioned to have Jane Austen’s portrait featured on a Bank of England note, got engaged to her boyfriend several months ago. However, she recently discovered that only her father’s name would appear on the marriage certificate.
That sounds quite archaic…
In an article published in the New Statesman yesterday Criado-Perez wrote: “I cannot, in good faith, take part in an institution that, in the 21st century, thinks this is an acceptable state of affairs. I will not take any vow issued by a system that is complicit in the symbolic and cultural annihilation of women.”
So she’s called the whole affair off?
Not yet, and she’s hoping it doesn’t come to that. Instead, Criado-Perez is encouraging the public to add their names an online petition appealing to the Equalities Minister Sajid Javid, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Registrar General for England and Wales, Sarah Rapson, to dispose of this anachronism.
What’s the reaction been like?
More than 24,000 supporters had already signed the change.org petition as of last night, signifying that plenty of people would like to cast off any remnants of the outdated idea of marriage being a financial transaction between the father of the bride and the father of the groom.Reuse content